Rhubarb Crisp Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 15 min. Bake: 45 min.
Make rhubarb crisp with strawberries in spring and apples in fall to enjoy a simple, year-round dessert.

Updated: Jun. 11, 2024

While growing up in the Pacific Northwest, in the cool spring I learned to love rhubarb long before I could spell it. My dad grew more plants in the garden than we probably needed, but my mom and grandma happily baked all the stalks into delicious desserts and sauces. Rhubarb crisp with oatmeal was one of my grandma’s favorite rhubarb recipes (and in my memory it is second only to her pure rhubarb pie).

This rhubarb crisp recipe is still one of the first homemade desserts I make as soon as I can harvest stalks from my rhubarb plants, which I divided from my dad’s and transplanted to northwest Montana nearly 20 years ago. A crisp takes less work than rolling out pie crust and tastes just as delicious. The crunchy topping balances the soft fruit and almost screams for ice cream. When polishing off the leftover fruit with its granola-like topping for breakfast, leave off the ice cream to avoid feeling too guilty about starting your day with dessert.

Ingredients for Rhubarb Crisp

  • Sugars: For the 1/2 cup brown sugar, choose dark brown sugar for a bolder molasses taste in the crumble topping or choose light or golden brown sugar for a hint of smoky caramel flavor. Otherwise, light and dark brown sugar have the same sweetness and texture.
  • Cornstarch and flour: In this recipe for rhubarb crisp, cornstarch and flour act as thickeners, one soaking up the fruit juices and the other helping the topping cling together.
  • Rhubarb: Look for firm, straight stalks with a slightly shiny surface when harvesting rhubarb or buying it at the store. The cut end will dry out the longer it sits, so use fresh rhubarb as soon as possible. Rhubarb that has been sliced, bagged and frozen works just as well as fresh in this recipe.
  • Apples or strawberries: Counter rhubarb’s tartness with the natural sweetness of apples or strawberries. Because they both ripen in the spring, strawberry-rhubarb recipes are classic at that time of year. Apples make a tasty substitute if you have frozen rhubarb or get a second crop during the fall harvest.
  • Oats: Rolled oats add crunch to the top of this rhubarb crisp recipe. They’re often the key difference between crumbles and crisps.
  • Butter: When tossed with the topping ingredients and baked, butter turns the surface toasty and crunchy. Without it, the topping will be dry and coated with raw flour, which you don’t want.
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon enhances the taste of sweet fruit and baked goods.


Step 1: Prepare the fruit

A bowl of rhubarb and apple piecesTMB Studio

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Add the rhubarb and apples or strawberries, and toss to coat. Spoon the mixture into an 8-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet and spread it evenly.

Editor’s Tip: If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, bake the crisp in an 8×8-inch or similarly sized baking pan that can withstand the oven’s heat. Ceramic or glass won’t react to the natural acidity of rhubarb as steel or aluminum bakeware might.

Step 2: Mix the topping

A bowl with a mixture of oats and other ingredientsTMB Studio

In a small bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, butter, flour and cinnamon until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Rhubarb Crisp Tohvs19 4530 Bl 06 03 3TMB Studio

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit.

Step 3: Bake and serve

Bake the crisp until bubbly and the fruit is tender, about 45 minutes. If desired, serve it warm with ice cream.

A pan of rhubarb crisp with scoops of vanilla ice creamTMB Studio

Recipe Variations

  • Keep it simple: If you love the tartness of rhubarb, you can make this recipe for rhubarb crisp from 5 cups sliced stalks without adding any extra sugar. The dessert is so simple that you can make a crisp with any fruit.
  • Switch to honey: Substituting honey for sugar affects the texture of some baked goods, but not crisps. Mix just 2/3 cup honey into the fruit for the same sweetness, or cut back to even less depending on your taste. Honey would make the topping too sticky to sprinkle, so stick with brown sugar there.
  • Add nuts: To give the topping even more crunch, replace half the oats with chopped nuts. Walnuts are more affordable than pecans, which have a richer flavor. Hazelnuts must be peeled before chopping.

How to Store Rhubarb Crisp

Let rhubarb crisp with oatmeal cool completely, and then transfer it to a container with an airtight lid, trying to keep the topping on the surface of the dessert. The crisp can be stored at room temperature for two days or in the refrigerator for up to five days. The topping will lose some of its crunchiness the longer it sits. Leftover crisp can be served at room temperature or returned to the ovenproof skillet and reheated in a low-temperature oven.

Can you freeze rhubarb crisp?

Fruit crisps, especially the top layer, get soggy when frozen, but fresh rhubarb freezes easily, allowing you to make quick crisps all year. To freeze rhubarb, slice it first. Thawed rhubarb works best so the filling doesn’t become too juicy.

Rhubarb Crisp Tips

A bowl of rhubarb crisp topped with vanilla ice creamTMB Studio

How do you cut rhubarb for rhubarb crisp?

Cut rhubarb across the stalk so that you break the stringy strands that run up its length. The thinner the rhubarb slices, the more they will cook down in a crisp, so cut 1-inch pieces if you like chunks in your crisps and smaller slices for a smoother filling. You want to cut rhubarb only after you’ve harvested it; gently twisting and pulling is the best way to remove the stalks from the plant. Then, cut off each stalk’s top and broad leaf, and slice the stalks to use or freeze.

Why is the rhubarb crisp soggy?

To keep the topping from sinking and becoming soggy, thoroughly coat the flour and oats with butter. If bits still seem dry, mix in another tablespoon melted butter before you sprinkle the topping on the fruit. The beauty of this rhubarb crisp recipe is the crunchy topping layered over a soft base. For the crunchiest topping, let the crisp toast under the broiler for just a minute or two after it finishes baking, watching carefully to avoid burning the sugary surface.

How do you serve rhubarb crisp?

With vanilla ice cream, of course!  Just scoop the crisp from the skillet into individual bowls and pile on the ice cream (crisp with ice cream can get a bit messy when served on plates). Rhubarb crisp with oatmeal is also delicious with a scoop of frozen lemon yogurt or fridge-cold Greek yogurt. This dessert is a delicious follow-up to some of these super-quick spring dinner ideas, which you can make and eat while the crisp is baking.

Watch how to Make Rhubarb Crisp

Rhubarb Crisp

Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 45 min
Yield 8 servings


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 cups sliced fresh rhubarb or frozen rhubarb, thawed
  • 2 cups sliced peeled apples or sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Vanilla ice cream, optional


  1. In a large bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add rhubarb and apples or strawberries; toss to coat. Spoon into an 8-in. cast-iron skillet or other ovenproof skillet.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, butter, flour and cinnamon until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake at 350° until crisp is bubbly and fruit is tender, about 45 minutes. If desired, serve warm with ice cream.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 320 calories, 12g fat (7g saturated fat), 31mg cholesterol, 124mg sodium, 52g carbohydrate (36g sugars, 3g fiber), 3g protein.

I found this strawberry rhubarb crisp recipe on a box of Quaker Oats about 20 years ago. It's quick and easier to make than pie. It's versatile, too, because you can add strawberries in spring or apples in fall. I usually pop it into the oven shortly before we sit down to eat so it's still warm for dessert! —C.E. Adams, Charlestown, New Hampshire
Recipe Creator