Springtime Baking with Rhubarb: tart, sweet, and pretty in pink

Open the windows, and let the invigorating breeze of a new season swirl in. Spring’s pristine possibilities are before us, bringing many ways to celebrate the magic of the baker’s alchemy. The newest issue of Sift has just arrived, and it’s time to explore one of the season’s first fresh ingredients: rhubarb.

The stalks, rosy pink to ruby red, appear just as we’re most weary of winter, heralding the foods of a new season. No longer the maiden aunt of spring produce, it’s time for a fresh look at rhubarb. The possibilities for this tart, refreshing ingredient go way beyond pie.

Time to get your rhubarb on, and bake up these tart, sweet recipes from Sift magazine. Click To Tweet

Join us as we bring the first of the garden’s bounty into the kitchen to welcome the season.


rhubarb walnut bread via @kingarthurflour

Rhubarb-Walnut Quick Bread

Start your springtime baking with this moist bread that takes advantage of rhubarb’s tart, citrus-y flavor. The walnuts give it a hint of crunch. We like it with a schmear of cream cheese for breakfast or a snack.


rhubarb muffins via @kingarthurflour

Rhubarb-Filled Streusel Muffins

These muffins are full of surprises. The cinnamon-laced streusel crunch gives way to a tender sour cream muffin surrounding a swirl of rhubarb compote and lightly sweetened cream cheese.


rhubarb tartlets via @kingarthurflour

Rhubarb Tartlets

We know rhubarb is perfectly at home in a pie (one of its names is pie plant, after all), but our riff on that theme makes it the prize inside these pretty little tarts. Sitting on a sweet, crisp sugar cookie base, colorful rhubarb’s tart flavor provides a nice balance. A sprinkling of pistachios in the crumb topping adds another burst of color.


rhubarb juice via @kingarthurflour

Our righteous rhubarb secret

When baking with rhubarb, try our favorite technique for better results in baked goods, and an added flavor bonus.

Wash and dice the stalks after trimming, and place them in a strainer or colander over a bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar for every 2 cups of diced rhubarb. Let the rhubarb drain for at least 1 hour (or as long as overnight in the refrigerator). Use the bright pink, sweet-tart rhubarb juice that drains into the bowl to mix with seltzer, stir into cocktails, or freeze into cubes for margaritas or lemonade.

Bake or freeze the drained rhubarb as you would for any recipe; removing some of the liquid this way will give you better results (no waterlogged cavities in your muffins).

roasted rhubarb scones via @kingarthurflour

Roasted Rhubarb and Rye Scones

Baking with rhubarb takes a creative twist with this marriage of rye’s hearty flavor, a hint of orange, and the concentrated flavor of roasted rhubarb. These scones are a unique, whole grain, and intriguing take on a Sunday morning treat.

rhubarb icebox cake via @kingarthurflour

Rhubarb Icebox Cake

Sometimes baking with rhubarb means baking something else, then inviting rhubarb to the party. That’s what we’ve done with this take on the classic icebox cake. We’ve paired crisp sugar cookies with stewed rhubarb, then covered it all in lightly sweetened whipped cream. A great do-ahead dessert, a few hours in the icebox turn this combination into a crowd-pleasing delight.

There are many more discoveries for spring baking in the newest issue of Sift. We hope you’ll pick up your copy and join us for this fresh season of baking delights.

Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.


  1. Lois R

    I add little red cinnamon heart candy to rhubarb. It adds color and the cinnamon flavor enhances the rhubarb.

  2. Susan

    Is the link to the Rhubarb Tartlets recipe correct? The recipe that is linked to describes the pastry as pate sucree whereas the description in this blog says that the base is a sweet sugar cookie. Also the recipe dates back to 2012… Thanks!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for double checking, Susan – the link is correct here. Pâte sucrée is a sweet, rich, crisp pastry that has a crumbly, cookie-like texture and is often used in tarts and tartlets. You’ll see we use this term in the online recipe itself as well, and while we’ve opted to describe it as a “sweet, crisp sugar cookie base” in the blog article, the two are one and the same. Hope this helps to clarify! Mollie@KAF

  3. Georgia Jacobs

    I’d love to grow rhubarb but haven’t found that it grows in the Southern States. We live in Texas and occasionally the grocery stores have it in their freezer sections.

    1. J P Garrison

      Rhubarb grows well here in Western NC, it was very common when most folks grew a garden. There was a heirloom variety that seems to have slipped away, sadly. It was red. It does grow in the South.

    2. Nancy C.

      I live in Western NC and we’ve been growing rhubarb plants for about 10 years. We have just a small patch, but get a lot. the strawberry rhubarb upside down cake is delicious. As my daughter loves rhubarb and needs gluten, I’m going to try your vanilla gluten free cake mix with the strawberry rhubarb on the bottom.

  4. Paula K

    my rhubarb is green too….in its third year and huge already. hadn’t used it because it isn’t red….but I guess I should try. Remember yummy rhubarb jam my nana made but somehow in green it doesnt sound appetizing.
    Does anyone know the “Name” of the red one so I can look for it at the garden center?

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Hi, Paula. My seed catalogs are showing names like Canada Red Rhubarb, Crimson Rhubarb, Cherry Red Rhubarb, and Valentine Rhubarb. I think you would be safe with pretty much any plant that specifically has “red” in the title. I’m planting a new bed this year, too, and will be out there hunting right with you! Susan

    2. Sharon Karpinski

      Green tastes the same as red rhubarb. If you don’t have moral objections, use a little food coloring to improve the appearance. Valentine, Canadian Crimson, and Starkcrimson are all red varieties but be warned, unless you live in a damp, humid, not too hot climate, they won’t do well. The green rhubarb, called “Victoria,” is much hardier.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      To link to any of the recipes mentioned in this article, click on the section titles in orange, or click on the names of the recipes just under the first photo. We hope you’ll have the chance to give one or more a try sometime soon, Virginia! Mollie@KAF

  5. Sheila

    The juice from the raw rhubarb after the sugar has done its thing is the best. Why dilute it by putting it in anything? I drink it as is and can’t get enough of it. Yum, yum, yum. LOL

  6. Sue Hankins

    You can’t beat strawberry rhubarb pie or plain stewed rhubarb, but I’ll expand my horizons and give these a try☺️

  7. Karen

    We love rhubarb here, but unfortunately the only kind I can get to grow is all green. Rhubarb sauce looks like monster snot!

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Hi, Karen. I hear you. My rhubarb plants are hand-me-downs that are more green than not. I find they’re redder when they’re smaller; but even the green ones give a pinker juice than you’d expect. Susan

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