This recipe for Brown Butter Rhubarb Crumble is tart, sweet, and slightly spiced with notes of cinnamon and cardamom. Flexible enough for a weeknight dessert, this customizable crisp recipe is a guaranteed crowd pleaser! A dish that is naturally vegan with gluten-free options.
What is rhubarb?
Rhubarb is a perennial plant with long pink/red stems (petioles) and large green leaves. The stems are used in a variety of culinary executions but the leaves contain oxalic acid and are thus inedible. Nearly half of all rhubarb grown in the United States hails from the Pacific Northwest, where is is harvested in late spring and early summer. Around the world it is a common produce item in heated greenhouses.
What does rhubarb taste like?
Rhubarb has as astringent, tart, and vegetal taste. For this reason, it is often stewed with sugar to sweeten. The texture of the stalks is similar to a fibrous celery, though it is more dense. I do not recommend eating rhubarb raw as it is very tough.
Is rhubarb a fruit or a vegetable?
Though technically a vegetable, rhubarb is often treated like a fruit in recipes. Its most common culinary use is in strawberry-rhubarb pie. However, it can also be pickled, mixed with fruit juice, and added in cocktails.
Do you love rhubarb? Be sure to check out this round up of all of my Vegan Rhubarb Recipes.
What is the difference between a rhubarb crisp, crumble, and cobbler?
Rhubarb crumbles and crisps both have a cooked & sweetened fruit base and a streusel topping made of flour, sugar and butter. Some people say that a crisp topping contains oats and a crumble topping does not, but in many instances the terms crisp and crumble are used interchangeably.
Cobblers have a similar fruity base to crisps and crumbles but instead have a formed biscuit topping.
How to Make Brown Butter Rhubarb Crumble
- Add sliced rhubarb to a large bowl and combine with lemon juice, lemon zest, cane sugar, and vanilla extract. Add into a glass pie pan or 8 x 8 glass dish and set a timer to bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.
- Brown your butter on the stovetop.
- While butter is browning, combine rolled oats, flour, cinnamon, cardamom (if using), salt, and chopped walnuts in a medium-sized bowl.
- When butter has finished browning, immediately add to bowl with oat mixture. Stir to combine.
- When rhubarb is finished softening in the oven, remove and add crumble topping. Bake for 25-30 more minutes, until bubbling and golden brown on top. Remove from oven and enjoy with vanilla ice cream.
How to Stew Rhubarb
To stew rhubarb, place it in an oven at 350 degrees F and let cook for 20-25 minutes. “Stewing” in this instance means that we are slowly cooking the rhubarb to soften it by letting it release juices. Since it is very tough while raw, baking the rhubarb for 20 minutes before adding our crumble topping allows it to soften and create a jam-like base for this dessert.
Can you freeze cooked rhubarb crumble or make it ahead?
Yes! To prep this recipe ahead, you have a few options:
- Prep the browned butter crumble topping and rhubarb filling separately (without baking) and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze each until ready to use. Thaw topping at room temperature, spread in a pan, and add oat mixture as usual.
- Wrap the cooked crumble (once cooled) and freeze whole. Reheat in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes, until bubbling.
Substitution Options for this Brown Butter Rhubarb Crumble Recipe
- Quick oats can be used in place of whole rolled oats.
- If you’d like to skip browning the butter, feel free to simply melt it or substitute canola oil (it will have a less rich taste this way but will still be good).
- The walnuts can be left out of the crumble topping or replaced with slivered almonds or pistachios.
- Any kind of traditional “pie” fruit can be used in place of the rhubarb as the base! You may want to slightly adjust the level of sugar, but I recommend trying strawberries, blueberries, peaches, or apples.