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


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
6 servings
337 kcal
4.67 / 9 votes
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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


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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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

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