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, 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

HOW DO I KEEP MY RHUBARB CRISP FROM BEING RUNNY?

The simple elegance of this recipe means that there aren’t a lot of extra ingredients, like flour or cornstarch, to thicken up the juices in the filling. This means that you’re relying on cooking down the fruit to get a good consistency. Don’t overcook the fruit but do let the juice simmer enough to reduce. It should only take 5 minutes and you’re going to want to keep an eye on it. Also, keep in mind that the filling will set up a little bit as it cools, so you might be just fine.

Easy Rhubarb Crisp

A white baking dish filled with easy rhubarb crisp and a spoon resting in the center.
Leftovers are great for breakfast; just substitute yogurt for the whipped cream.
Peter Berley

Prep 15 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 45 mins
Dessert
American
6 servings
337 kcal
4.67 / 9 votes
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Ingredients 

For the rhubarb filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh rhubarb trimmed and sliced (about 4 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest preferably organic

For the streusel topping

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar preferably Demerara
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch kosher or fine sea salt
  • 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 oz) unsalted butter cold, cut into pieces
  • Whipped cream or ice cream for serving

Directions
 

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

  • Dump the rhubarb mixture into 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.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 337kcal (17%)Carbohydrates: 51g (17%)Protein: 3g (6%)Fat: 14g (22%)Saturated Fat: 9g (56%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 37mg (12%)Sodium: 16mg (1%)Potassium: 362mg (10%)Fiber: 3g (13%)Sugar: 35g (39%)Vitamin A: 549IU (11%)Vitamin C: 10mg (12%)Calcium: 114mg (11%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

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 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.


Originally published May 30, 2014

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Comments

  1. 4 stars
    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 5 stars
    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.

  4. 5 stars
    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.

  5. 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.

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