Easy Rhubarb Crisp

This easy rhubarb crisp is made with a buttery cinnamon streusel topping—without oats, thank you very much—and beneath it lies just humble rhubarb, sugar, and orange zest. A quintessential spring dessert. Not too sweet. Not too tart. Just right. And superbly simple.

A white baking dish filled with easy rhubarb crisp and a spoon resting in the center.

This rhubarb crisp goes beyond being a truly inspired dessert to also being a lovely breakfast dessert—so much so that some of us have been known to wake early and bake a batch especially for said purpose. (And while it’s perfectly lovely all on its own, although we wouldn’t kick it out of bed with a little ice cream, whipped cream, or yogurt. Do with that information what you will.)–Renee Schettler

Easy Rhubarb Crisp

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 15 M
  • 45 M
  • Serves 6
4.5/5 - 4 reviews
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  • For the rhubarb filling
  • For the streusel topping


Make the rhubarb filling

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425°F (218°C).

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the rhubarb, sugar, and orange zest and simmer until the sugar dissolves into a gooey syrup and the rhubarb is sorta but not totally tender, about 5 minutes.

Make the streusel topping

If using a food processor, toss the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of the food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles very coarse crumbs containing pea-sized blobs of butter.

If not using a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Use 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture until what you have in the bowl resembles very coarse crumbs containing pea-sized blobs of butter.

Bake and serve the crisp

Transfer the rhubarb mixture to a 9-inch pie plate or 10-inch gratin dish and sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over the top. Bake until the topping is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Let the crisp cool ever so slightly. Serve it warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. Originally published May 30, 2014.

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Recipe Testers Reviews

The first thing I have to say is this will be my new go-to recipe for rhubarb crisp. We love rhubarb in this house (except for my son and son-in-law) and this was definitely a big hit here. Even though this is a really simple recipe, the orange zest really makes the rhubarb sing. My daughter smelled the filling simmering and said this smells amazing and asked what's in it. She couldn't believe it was just rhubarb, orange zest, and sugar. The topping is perfect, too, as it doesn't overwhelm the filling.

Whipped cream was a great addition to this warm dessert, but my daughter and I agreed it would be good even without the whipped cream.

In just a little over 45 minutes, with only about 15 of those hands-on time, you have a perfect dessert to top off most any meal. Next time I have a craving for rhubarb, I know what I'll be making.

It's almost summer and this rhubarb crisp recipe fits in just right. It's light and fresh, sweet and fruity, and very easy to make. Just cook the sliced rhubarb with some sugar and orange peel for 5 minutes, put it in a nice gratin dish, top it with streusel, and bake for 25 minutes. That's all. You can assemble it in advance and pop it in the oven just before dinner. We had some whipped cream with it, and everybody liked it.

Quite the tasty rhubarb crisp recipe! I grew up with rhubarb, so it's one of my all-time favorites. My mom would make pies, cakes, crisps, sauces, etc., as long as it grew in our yard each spring. Sometimes she'd plop me on the back steps outside with a stalk and a small bowl of sugar for dipping. Not sure I'd try that today, but I loved it as a kid!

I sliced the rhubarb stalks into 1/2-inch pieces, added the sugar and orange zest, and turned the flame on medium. It cooked for about 7 minutes and broke down into a chunky sauce. I combined the dry ingredients, added the chilled butter, and mixed until the butter was in pea-size bits. I poured the rhubarb into a 9-inch pie plate and added the crumbled butter mixture. It baked for 30 minutes, until brown on top.

After it cooled a bit, I tried some and found it to be very good, but I didn't really taste the orange zest or the cinnamon. Next time I'd double the zest and use at least 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon. I might even add some chopped nuts or oatmeal to the topping so it has more crunch. While rhubarb is in season, this makes a quick and easy dessert to throw together.


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  1. I would make this again, but would add some oats, also I topped it off with whipping cream, but next would add vanilla ice cream, or vanilla yogurt ice cream.

    1. That sounds like a fantastic addition, Heidi. Do let us know how it turns out if you try it this way.

  2. I have no oven right now, so I FRY the topping and put it on the still warm rhubarb. It is Rhubarb Season in Alaska and the rhubarb can reach 12 feet in some parts! What a wonderful plant barb is. Beautiful to look at, too.

  3. Almost identical as what I make only called a crumble rather than a crisp. Very happy with this. Especially as is did not call for oats in the topping. I’ve only ever used them once on/in a fruit crumble/crisp and no one in the family would eat it. Ended up throwing the topping out. It’s not light and melt in your mouth crisp just hard & chewy with oats. This is my, & my family’s, opinion of course.

    1. We’re so pleased that you’ve found a version that you love with this recipe, Robyn! Can’t wait to hear what you try next.

  4. It looks FABULOUS!!! This is the first recipe I have ever seen for rhubarb without strawberries. I hope to try it, but I can’t wrap my head around the saucepan being filled with three solids only. There is no mention of a liquid to simmer it in or dissolve the sugar….am I supposed to add water to the saucepan, and it so, how much?

    1. Hi Kimberly, the sugar will melt and the rhubarb will break down and you will be left with a lovely “goo,” for lack of a better word.

  5. This recipe has become a favorite for a simple, crowd pleasing treat. I love the subtle orange aroma and the tart-sweet taste of this delicious crisp.

    1. Lovely to hear, Brendalyn, thank you so much for taking the time to let us know! I’m a big rhubarb fan, I know well the satisfaction the soul takes in that sweet-tart taste.

  6. This is the simplest rhubarb crisp ever. So good. Boiling down the rhubarb definitely gives it a great consistency. I made a full size recipe, and I divided a divided a recipe in two to give to my Dad and son.

    1. Sue, magnificent to hear! Clearly you and I are kindred souls when it comes to our love for rhubarb. And clearly you are a kind and gentle soul to have parted with some of the dessert! So lovely that you made a gift of it. Thank you so much for letting us know.

  7. HI David:
    Looks great! My family loves rhubarb and I’m anxious to give it a try for Father’s Day. Thinking baking it in several 4″ springform molds, serving 1 per person. Any thoughts or adjustments come to mind on cooking time or serving on a bed of something?
    Thank you!

    1. Peter, as we didn’t test it like that, I can say for sure. I’d follow the directions, “Bake until the topping is golden brown.” That would be a good guide. I wouldn’t so much think of a bed but rather a topping: sweetened and gingered whipped cream, crème fraîche, ice cream, etc.

  8. Hello David. I am new to your site and have just signed-up to receive your emails on a regular basis. I am so very happy to have found you.

    I am also very excited about trying this recipe. I absolutely love, love, love rhubarb!

    My grandmother used to make rhubarb pie and I am sure that at least part of the reason I like it is because it reconnects me to fond memories of her. One of the things I especially like about your recipe is that you, like me, are a “rhubarb purest”… meaning you have not added strawberries to this recipe. And… you know it? My grandmother didn’t either.

    A am ALWAYS on the lookout for rhubarb recipes that do not add strawberries, and it it pretty darn hard to find them. I am looking forward to adding this one to my collection.

    When I make this, however, I would kinda like the option to share it with my son…but he is allergic to gluten. Any suggestions from you (or possibly some of your readers) as to what to substitute for the flour in the crust?

    Many thanks.

  9. Again, the same question. There is no thickener in the fruit mixture. You responded that there was flour. But, 100% of the flour is in the topping none of it in the rhubarb mixture. I’m making a rhubarb crisp today for Memorial Day. Should I add just a little of the flour to the cooking rhubarb?

    1. I know, Stu, David was mistaken. We tested this recipe as-is, just as we test all our recipes, and there were no complaints whatsoever regarding the consistency of the rhubarb. Because the fruit is simmered before being baked, it breaks down into a sorta chunky consistency.

  10. Not fair…Not fair…I oh so want to make this but I have no rhubarb and no neighbors willing to share…poor me. Is there any other fruit to sub? Can I use frozen rhubarb from the supermarket? Thanks for making my mouth water.

    1. Oooooh Lexy, I know your pain! Yes, you can use frozen rhubarb, just be certain to thaw it completely in a colander or strainer and then pat and press it with paper towels to remove as much excess water as possible so that the resulting crisp isn’t watery from the excess moisture that frozen fruit tends to have. Enjoy!

  11. I have seven healthy rhubarb plants in my backyard so we are using it often. We love rhubarb crisp but have not been able to pleasantly reduce the juiciness of the filling.
    Your recipe makes no mention of thickener for the filling. Are you relying on the flour in the topping to thicken the filling?

    1. Bruce, this is a simple crisp and is for those of us who don’t like the sorta gummy consistency that can come from thickeners. When we tested it, we found it to be slightly juicy but not crazy watery. Of course, different rhubarb plants will vary somewhat in their water content, but we didn’t have any issues. It’s just sorta a chunky sauce.

  12. Hi David, our rhubarb cobbler (which is what we make in my family because the topping like a biscuit) recipe uses some corn starch to firm up the rhubarb juiciness.

    1. Hello, Kristen. Yes, cornstarch is also a good thicker. But it’s fussier than flour. You need to make sure the mixture comes to a good strong bubble for the cornstarch to thicken properly. You, apparently, know that already!

  13. David, is this the recipe you used after your friend brought you “rhubarb in the rain” last week? I prefer a crisp to a pie any day. Now if I could only get my hands on some rhubarb.

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