Get Baked: Rhubarb

Rhubarb is maybe the best part of summer. I know that is saying a lot, because 1. margaritas, 2. bikinis and 3. margaritas, but I’m pretty serious about this. I have very strong feelings re: strawberry rhubarb pie, as previously discussed, but rhubarb can be used in so many beautiful and perfect and delicious ways outside of pie! (Also, though: inside of pie.) Here are some ways that are good to eat it, in my experience.

(PS: I totally did make the pie linked above for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day. I didn’t have any rhubarb bitters, because what the fuck even are those, and so used orange bitters instead. It was still awesome.)


This recipe is originally from Smitten Kitchen and is not actually a recipe for compote but for tarts with compote in them. Which I’ve made, and they’re fabulous, but also I would probably (hypothetically!) be happy just stopping at the compote step and eating it with a spoon. Here’s the recipe.


1 1/2 pounds rhubarb stalks

1 cup ish, brown sugar or less if you like less sweet things

1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (OR if you are always broke AHEM and can’t afford vanilla beans, a really healthy splash of real vanilla extract)


1. Slice the rhubarb stalks into small pieces. Put roughly 2/3 of them in a saucepan with the vanilla and sugar, stir to mix, and then cook covered over low heat for a while, like 15 minutes.

2.Take the cover off and cook for maybe 15 minutes more, turning the heat up if necessary, until the mixture gets thick like jam, and you can see a line of the bottom of the pan if you scrape your wooden spoon through it.

3. A few minutes before it looks like it’s going to be done, add the rest of the rhubarb in. It will cook through enough that it’s sweet/tart, but still be a little crunchy. Delicious!

Warning: this will look gross. And really brown and lumpy. You cannot stop to worry about this. You need to eat it immediately. You might put it on some shortcake and eat it with yogurt, like me, or you could put it on toast or ice cream or just YOUR MOUTH.


What if there were something really creamy and complex-flavored and sweet and tart like rhubarb compote but was also COLD because it’s basically July now? OH WAIT IT’S THIS SORBET.


1 lb fresh rhubarb

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar – lightly packed

3 Tbsps lemon juice

1 cup water

1/4 tsp sea salt

3 Tbsps Triple Sec or other orange flavor liquor

Full disclosure: I took some liberties with this when I made it, like for instance using 1 passionfruit instead of any Triple Sec because, um, that’s what we had? I don’t know. I am 100% sure triple sec would be delicious here.


1. Put water, sugars, lemon and salt in a pot and heat until the sugars have dissolved.

2. Add the rhubarb, and let cook for a while. Like 15 minutes or something.

3. Take off the heat and add Triple Sec and/or tropical fruit of choice. You can blend it at this point if you want it super smooth, but i like it sort of lumpy and also it’s usually really broken down by this point anyway.

4. Allow to cool for a really long time, until it’s actually totally cooled off (NO CHEATING) and then use your ice-cream-making method of choice. In my house, we prefer this hand-operated ice cream maker that is shaped like a penguin and named Cecil. You can also put it in a shallow tupperware and put that in the freezer and stir with a fork every 30 minutes or so though.

5. When properly sorbet-like, inhale.


I know what you’re thinking – this rhubarb sounds ok and all, but I’ve already eaten dessert. GOT YOU COVERED. Because here is a SAVORY rhubarb recipe. Will wonders never cease?


2 tbsp olive oil, divided

2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds

2 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds

3 tbsp minced fresh ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium red onion, chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight

3 1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided

1/2 lb fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/4-inch slices

6 cups spinach leaves

1/2 cup chopped cilantro


1. Heat oil in pan, and then add mustard seeds and cumin seeds and fry until they smell good. Add onion, garlic and ginger (I also added chili powder, because duh.)

2. When onion becomes cooked through and a little translucent, add chickpeas, raisins and vegetable broth. (I actually had cooked chickpeas on hand, so I kind of eyeballed it and added the cooked chickpeas with half the amount of broth called for.)

3. Let simmer until chickpeas are cooked through, or until already-cooked chickpeas are heated through and the broth has reduced some.

4. Add rhubarb and let cook for about 6 minutes.

5. Add spinach and stir in until wilted. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro if you deem it appropriate.

Now you should eat the entire pan, which is roughly 4-6 servings, all in one sitting and mostly by yourself. Or maybe that’s just me! Worth it, though.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. But what about rhubarb crisp?? In my opinion, it’s the only thing to make with rhubarb. If only I could get rhubarb where I live…

    p.s. oh hey Batia!!

    • you dont have rhubarb where you live? is this some sort of conspiracy? its almost treated like a weed here. you cant walk down an alley with out seeing it every other house.
      do you need me to send you some? because a summer with out rhubarb just seems…. disheartening to say the least.

  2. Rhubarb is my favorite! Blackberry rhubarb pie is a big part of my summer, perfectly tart and not overly sweet. I can’t wait to try the curry!

  3. I confess I do not know what rhubarb is. I googled it, is it a vegetable or fruit? I have no idea what it tastes like, but I do like pies, so

    • It looks like celery but red instead of green.

      And its a vegetable, but is mainly used in sweet and fruity things. So it’s like the reverse of tomatoes (which are fruits, but are mainly used in savoury vegetabley things)…

      I hope that helps… =)

  4. “1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (OR if you are always broke AHEM and can’t afford vanilla beans, a really healthy splash of real vanilla extract)”

    A tip for people like me who are always broke! You can get vanilla beans off eBay (or TradeMe if you’re a Kiwi) and they are way cheaper than buying them almost anywhere else. In fact they’re sufficiently cheaper that you can afford to buy a couple extra to make your own vanilla extract ( WHICH I KNOW SOUNDS RIDICULOUS and like something rich foodies do, BUT considering real vanilla extract is like … really expensive, it does save.
    e.g.: 50mLs of real vanilla essence is like $5. (I’m doing this in my money because.) A cup of vanilla essence is therefore $25. You can get a litre of vodka for like … $30, 40, if you look for specials, so a cup of vodka is like $10. Then you can get 10 vanilla beans for $12. Use two of them + a cup of vodka = $2.40 + $10 = 1 cup of vanilla essence for exactly half the price of real vanilla essence AND you get to drink the leftover vodka/use the leftover vanilla beans.

    Okay, I guess I’m done with vanilla ranting. This was a good post because rhubarb is my favourite and I want to try ALL the recipes but especially the sorbet (although it’s winter here and kinda cold).

  5. Rachel, I am excited about savoury rhubarb curry! I have never even thought of making anything that wasn’t dessert with rhubarb. That said, I make some pretty excellent rhubarb puddings, but I will definately be trying some of these…

  6. I tried the savory rhubarb recipe! Finally, something else to do with rhubarb than pie! It was a total hit. Thanks!

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