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Easy Rhubarb Sauce Recipe (& Tasty Tips)

Mom always kept a container of homemade rhubarb sauce in the fridge during rhubarb season. It's one of the easiest rhubarb recipes – so simple, and so good! I'm sharing a basic rhubarb sauce recipe, plus some variations, and serving and storage tips.

rhubarb sauce recipe
Homemade rhubarb sauce tastes great over yogurt or ice cream

We relocated our rhubarb patch a couple years ago to make room for the new woodworking shop, but the plants settled in nicely to their new home in the west orchard. They're currently growing in partial shade near a Prairie Fire crabapple tree. Keeping the plants in partial shade means that they start a little slower in spring, but it also helps to extend the season a bit longer into summer.

Over time, I'd like to add a patch in full sun, and one in full shade. I'd like to see how each one does compared to the other.

Plus, it's never a bad thing to have more perennial food crops. Plant rhubarb once, and you can harvest for years. Now that's resilience! Learn how to grow rhubarb here.

How to Make Rhubarb Sauce

You can use fresh or frozen rhubarb to make sauce. I usually start with around 4 large stalks of fresh rhubarb, washed and trimmed. Cut the rhubarb into 1/2 inch to one inch pieces. We should have around 4 cups of chopped rhubarb.

Ruby Red rhubarb pieces

You don't need to peel the rhubarb before you cook it. Most of the color in rhubarb is in the skin, so leaving it on makes for brighter sauce. Just trim off any leaves or damaged bits.

Place the chopped rhubarb into a medium saucepan with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, and 1/3 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.

Keep in mind that older stalks may be more tart, so you may want to adjust sugar levels accordingly.

Reduce heat and cook on low for 15 to 20 minutes, until rhubarb chunks are as soft as you like. Stir occasionally to avoid scorching the sauce.

Cutting the rhubarb pieces smaller means faster cook time. Leaving them larger makes it easier to retain bigger bites of fruit. We like our rhubarb sauce fairly smooth, so I opt for longer cooking. If you want an even smoother sauce, use a stick blender.

bowl of red rhubarb sauce
Cook sauce until the rhubarb is soft and tender. Cook longer or blend for a smoother sauce.

Serve the sauce warm or cold. Cool completely before storing any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use within two weeks, or freeze for longer storage.

Rhubarb Sauce Recipe Tips

If you prefer, sweeten your rhubarb sauce with honey or maple syrup. For honey, use half as much (1/4 cup to around 1/2 cup), and skip the water. For maple syrup, skip adding the water, but use about the same amount of sweetener. Honey will keep the color brighter.

Taste the sauce and adjust the sweetness if necessary. If you prefer a sweeter sauce, you can add more sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until it reaches your desired level of sweetness. Keep in mind that the tartness of rhubarb can vary, so it's essential to taste and adjust accordingly.

For a sugar free sauce, substitute your preferred sugar substitute. Alternatively, you can use equal parts rhubarb and a sweeter fruit, and skip the added sweetener. Peaches, apples, and strawberries all pair will with rhubarb.

If you like to spice things up, try a pinch of salt in your sauce, along with your choice of a half teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger, or cardamom. You can also add vanilla extract to the saucepan during the last few minutes of cooking.

Lemon and orange also work well in rhubarb sauce. Zest the fruit and add the zest to the sauce, and use the juice in place of some of the water.

Serving Tips

Mom always enjoyed her rhubarb sauce on toast for breakfast. We like it swirled into yogurt or oatmeal. (Confession – sometimes I simply eat it by the spoonful.) It makes a good substitute for jam in your PB &J, too.

Use the sauce as a glaze for grilled chicken, pork chops, or salmon for a sweet and savory flavor combination. The flavor is similar to a sweet and sour sauce.

Serve the rhubarb sauce warm over vanilla ice cream or pound cake for a tasty dessert. If you want to get fancy, layer the sauce with cake chunks and whipped cream in serving glasses to make parfaits.

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Easy Rhubarb Sauce Recipe

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This simple rhubarb sauce is quick to prep and a delicious way to add the sweet-tart taste of rhubarb to any meal.

  • Author: Laurie Neverman
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb (about 1-inch pieces)
  • 1/23/4 cup granulated sugar (adjust according to taste and tartness of rhubarb)
  • 1/3 cup water

Instructions

  1. Wash the rhubarb stalks thoroughly under cold water. Trim off the ends and any tough or stringy parts. Chop the rhubarb into approximately 1-inch pieces.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the chopped rhubarb, granulated sugar, and water. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Once the mixture starts to simmer, reduce the heat to low and let it cook gently for about 15-20 minutes, or until the rhubarb breaks down and becomes soft and pulpy. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
  3. Once the rhubarb has cooked down and is soft, you have the option to either blend the mixture for a smooth sauce or leave it slightly chunky by mashing it with a potato masher or fork.
  4. Allow the rhubarb sauce to cool completely before transferring it to a clean jar or airtight container. Store the sauce in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to two weeks. You can also freeze it for longer storage.

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rhubarb sauce for ice cream

    More Rhubarb Recipes

    We love the sweet-tart taste of rhubarb recipes, and these are some of our favorites.

    Laurie Neverman, fall 2023

    This article is written by Laurie Neverman. Laurie grew up in the kitchen, learning baking and home cooking from her momma. At age 15, she and her mom and two sisters created Irene’s Custom Cakes & Catering, which was her summer job through most of high school and college.

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