Rhubarb Crisp

This rhubarb crisp is like the Goldilocks of rhubarb crisp—not too sweet, not too tart, but juuuuuuuuust right.

Rhubarb Crisp Recipe

This rhubarb crisp goes beyond being a truly inspired dessert option to also be a lovely breakfast dessert—so much so that we’ve been known to wake early and bake a batch especially for said purpose. And although it’s perfectly lovely all on its own, we wouldn’t kick it out of bed with a little ice cream, whipped cream, or yogurt. Do with that information what you will. This recipe has been updated. Originally published May 30, 2014.Peter Berley

Rhubarb Crisp Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 45 M
  • Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and sliced (about 4 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest, preferably organic
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, preferably Demerara
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch kosher or fine sea salt
  • 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
  • Whipped cream or ice cream, for serving

Directions

  • 1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425°F (218°C).
  • 2. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the rhubarb, sugar, and orange zest and simmer until the sugar dissolves into a syrup goo and the rhubarb is sorta but not totally tender, about 5 minutes.
  • 3. 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.
  • 4. 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.
  • 5. Let the crisp cool ever so slightly. Serve it warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Joan Osborne

May 27, 2017

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.

Ralph Knauth

May 27, 2017

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 slice 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.

Marilee Johnson

May 27, 2017

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.

Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  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. 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.

  9. 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.

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