Rhubarb Compote: 10 Ways to Use a Tart Summer Spread

Rhubarb shows up just in time every year. Sweet, juicy, early summer fruit is starting to appear – strawberries and stone fruit and cherries – and we need something to temper all that sugary goodness.

Traditionally, rhubarb is relegated to sharing the spotlight with strawberries in pies, tarts, and crisps. But if you haven’t experimented more with rhubarb in the kitchen, you’re missing out!

Tart and assertive, rhubarb’s strong flavor is ideal in sweeter desserts. It’s bold enough to cut through sugar, so it can hold its own in jams, syrups, and sauces. For anyone looking to get a taste of rhubarb, I recommend turning it into a simple compote, which you can then spin into myriad desserts and snacks.

With just two ingredients, rhubarb compote is excellent to keep on hand. It’s versatile, flavorful, and can transform a bowl of yogurt or a slice of toast into something memorable.

Rhubarb Compote via @kingarthurflour

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Procure some rhubarb! Buy as much as you can possibly carry. Just kidding. (Sort of.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Slice the rhubarb in 1/2″ slices.
  4. Measure out how much rhubarb you have: For every cup of chopped rhubarb, add 2/3 cup of sugar. Note: You can dial down the sugar, but it will get more tart and sour as you do. Adjust to your own taste!
  5. Toss the rhubarb with the sugar in a shallow baking dish or pie pan.
  6. Bake for about 60 to 70 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so. The rhubarb will soften and bubble.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool. You can “mash” the compote with a spoon if you prefer a smoother consistency, or leave it as is. For a very smooth, jam-like texture, process the compote briefly in a blender or food processor.

Rhubarb Compote via @kingarthurflour

Now you’re the happy owner of sweet, ruby-red rhubarb compote! How should you put it to use? Here are our best-loved suggestions.

Rhubarb Compote via @kingarthurflour

1. Swirl it into a bowl of yogurt for a breakfast that will make you want to get out of bed in the morning.

2. Top a large meringue with sweetened whipped cream, rhubarb compote, and chopped toasted pistachios for a pretty finale to a summer dinner party.

Rhubarb Compote via @kingarthurflour

3. Spoon warm rhubarb compote over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

4. Finish off a bowl of oatmeal with a dollop of rhubarb compote.

Rhubarb Compote via @kingarthurflour

5. Layer it with pastry cream (try our mix for a make-ahead shortcut!) or custard and crushed almond cookies for a sophisticated but quick dessert parfait.

Rhubarb Compote via @kingarthurflour

6. Fold chilled rhubarb compote into whipped cream for a fast rhubarb fool.

Rhubarb Compote via @kingarthurflour

7. Take your PB&J up a notch: Spread rhubarb compote on one slice of bread and crunchy peanut butter on the other, then sandwich.

Rhubarb Compote via @kingarthurflour

8. Top pound cake with warm rhubarb compote and sweetened mascarpone.

9. Stir a spoonful of puréed rhubarb compote into a glass of cold sparkling water, drop in a few fresh raspberries, and top with a slice of lime for a refreshing summer drink. To make it an adult beverage, swap the sparkling water for Champagne.

Rhubarb Compote via @kingarthurflour

10. Split open a scone, toast it, and spread it with butter and rhubarb compote.

How will you put your rhubarb compote to use? Tell us in the comments!

About

Posie grew up on a farm in Maryland and spent her summers in Vermont. As an editor for King Arthur and Sift magazine, she feels lucky to bake every day and connect through writing. She loves homemade bread warm from the oven, raw milk cream, ...

comments

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you make the compote slightly less sweet and add some lemon juice, you’ll be in the business of savory applications, Patricia! A tart-lemony topping will pair perfectly with a whole roasted chicken. Feel free to adjust the sweetness and tartness of the compote by adding more or less sugar/lemon juice, to taste. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  1. Rebekkah

    I needed some jam to go on my King Arthur Classic White Bread. I tried this recipe. I usually cook my rhubarb on the stove-top, but I tried the oven today. I mixed up 8 C of chopped rhubarb. I also cut the sugar to 1/4 C to each 2 C of chopped rhubarb. Then I added 2 C of fresh blueberries, and 1 C of fresh blackberries. I did not add additional sugar for these two fruits. I like my jam tart, and this was wonderful. After it cooled, it tried mashing it, but that didn’t work for me. Then I put it in my Ninja Smoothie Maker, and that made it perfect. A smooth jam that is tart enough for my palate. I can’t wait for next spring when I can get my hands on some more fresh rhubarb. I know what I made today won’t last that long.

    Reply
  2. Marilyn

    I just finished making a batch and it’s excellent. I can hardly wait to try it in some of the ways suggested here.

    Reply
  3. Beth

    Would this turn out as well (quality wise) if I freeze my rhubarb now, and then make the compote later? My garden has a few too many things coming on all at once (what a tough problem to have, I know 😉 ), and I’m getting behind!

    Reply
  4. Nancy

    Rhubarb is a gift! Although I make rhubarb sauce and compote and freeze it, too, my very favorite is rhubarb custard pie.

    Reply
  5. Lynn

    Read about rhubarb ginger jam. Does your baker at KA have a recipe to share? Love those flavors. Just started growing rhubarb again since I lost my old plants when new neighbor built fence right over my old plants. I cried.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      How sad, Lynn! We’re so glad to hear that you’ve got a new crop at least. The jam recipe that was referenced above was from the New York Times, but our baker has a couple of other rhubarb ginger recipes she thinks you might enjoy: http://bit.ly/2bh6Cp9 and http://bit.ly/2aSUWb8 Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  6. Angela Castro

    I layered a thick ribbon of it in a bundt cake and it was heavenly! I decided not to marbelize it so that the taste would be obvious and it was just the right decision.

    Reply
  7. Joanna

    Can I use rhubarb compote in place of butter or oil in baked goods? I have used applesauce and ‘Lighter Bake’ (a product you don’t see around much any more) but I would like to try the compote.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Joanna,
      We’ve found that replacing about 25% of the butter or oil in a recipe with applesauce (or another fruit puree) tends to work well. If you exceed 25%, you’ll likely notice a difference in the structure and appearance of your baked goods. One thing to note is that typically a mild flavored puree works the best in these kinds of substitutions (something like applesauce) because the other flavors in the recipe can shine through. If you use a strong flavor like rhubarb, you will be able to taste it in the final product, so just make sure the flavors will all work well together. Each recipe will take a little bit of tweaking to get just right. Good luck! Kye@KAF

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