This easy recipe for Rhubarb Butter is made with just 4 simple ingredients. It's the perfect way to enjoy all the best that rhubarb season has to offer!
After recently sharing with you my recipe for rhubarb sauce, I figured it was appropriate to share another recipe popular during rhubarb season: rhubarb butter.
This delicious fruit butter is made with just a few simple ingredients, yet cooks up to a delightful and thick spreadable butter that is the perfect balance of tart and sweet.
It's great for slathering on toast, thick slices of pound cake, scones, or a flaky tea biscuits. But best of all? It's an easy way to preserve all that fresh rhubarb, and can even be frozen so you can enjoy it all year round!
History of Rhubarb
Rhubarb was primarily used for its medicinal benefits throughout much of its history, but once sugar was discovered in the 1600's it soon became popular to use in desserts.
In 1837, as Queen Victoria ascended to the throne, a new cultivar was created in her honor and given the name "Victoria". It was easier to grow than earlier varieties and was sweeter and more tender, causing it to grow in popularity well into the 20th century.
This is still one of the most widely grown varieties today!
- Rhubarb: You will need enough rhubarb to measure 3 cups chopped, which is about ¾ of a pound. If using frozen rhubarb, just thaw for an hour or so beforehand.
- Sugar: White sugar provides the best balance of sweetness for rhubarb, which is on the tart side.
- Water: Just a little bit prevents sticking.
- Cinnamon: To me, this is the perfect addition to rhubarb! Feel free to leave it out if you don't like it.
- Vanilla: While most recipes call for lemon juice, I find vanilla extract to give a better balance of flavors. You could use either one!
How to Make Rhubarb Butter
Step one: Add the chopped rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon, water, and a pinch of salt to a medium-sized saucepan.
Step two: Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil.
Making the Fruit Butter
Step three: Reduce to low heat and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the rhubarb is broken down and can easily be mashed with a fork.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract (or lemon juice).
Step four: If you like an ultra-smooth texture, use an immersion blender or a food processor to puree the cooked rhubarb. If you don't mind a more "rustic" texture you can skip that step.
Step five: Allow the rhubarb mixture to cool to room temperature before transferring it to a glass jar or airtight container.
Slow Cooker Method
- Add the rhubarb, water, cinnamon, salt, and sugar to a 4-quart slow cooker (feel free to double or triple the batch).
- Heat on "low" heat for 2-3 hours, or on "high" heat for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- Once the rhubarb is well broken down and smooth, turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture (optional).
- Allow to cool completely before transferring to storage containers or the freezer.
Storing and Freezing
Storing: Allow to cool before transferring to glass jars or airtight containers with lids. Store in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
Freezing: Transfer the cooled fruit butter to a freezer-safe container or bag (or Souper Cubes). Label and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw and stir well before using.
Canning Rhubarb Butter
You may have seen some recipes that allow for canning your homemade rhubarb butter recipe, but as someone who is an avid canner, I would recommend against it.
Canning foods is a science, and so I hold the position that all recipes should be tested for safety. You can access safe, tested recipes through the NCHFP or canning jar manufacturers, as well as bloggers who are dedicated to following safe canning guidelines (Healthy Canning, Little Home in the Making, and Simply Canning, to name a few).
If you are looking for a way to preserve your extra rhubarb, there are a variety of tested recipes for jams and jellies, as well as one for stewed rhubarb. Most fruit butters (with the exception of apple butter) are too thick to be considered safe to can, so the best preservation method for those is freezing.
Ways to Use Rhubarb Butter
- Tea biscuits
- Ice cream
- Spread on toast
- As a filling for layer cakes
- Used as a filling for oatmeal crumb bars
- Served with cream cheese and biscuits
- Layered with clotted cream and scones
This rhubarb butter recipe can be a little bit sassy while cooking, causing some splattering (especially if the heat is too high!). To avoid this, use a high-sided saucepan or reduce the heat until the sauce simmers gently.
With brown sugar: This will create a more caramelized flavor, but if you like a deep, molasses-like taste this may be a good fit. Substitute it 1:1 for white sugar.
Less sugar: While most fruit butters won't require additional sugar, rhubarb is quite tart and does need some sweetness. That being said, you can scale up or down according to your tastes. You could even swap it out for your favorite sweetener.
With maple syrup: This, like brown sugar, will give a bit of a caramelized flavor. If you want to use maple syrup, substitute it 1:1 for sugar. Note that the thickness of the rhubarb butter will be closer to that of rhubarb sauce.
- Strawberry Rhubarb Butter: Substitute half of the rhubarb for the same measure of chopped strawberries.
- Orange Rhubarb Butter: Add the zest of one orange, along with 3 tablespoons of orange juice in place of the water called for.
- With Ginger: Finely grate a 1-inch knob of ginger and add it to the simmering fruit.
If you loved this recipe for Rhubarb Butter, let me know by leaving a 5-star review in the recipe card, OR tag me on Instagram @maritimecountrykitchen!
- 3 cups chopped rhubarb ½" pieces (approx. ¾ pound)
- ½ cup sugar or ⅓ cup maple syrup or honey
- 3 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- Pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add the rhubarb heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, along with the sugar, water, a pinch of salt, and cinnamon (if using). Stir well to combine.
- Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Once a boil is reached, reduce the heat to low (or low medium) to maintain a simmer.
- Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring often, or until the rhubarb is well broken down and has released its juices. It should easily mash with a fork.
- Remove the rhubarb butter from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Stir well.
- If desired, puree the mixture using a handheld immersion blender, or transfer it in batches to a blender. If using a blender - be careful! Follow the instructions for your model, and drape a towel over the lid when blending.
- Transfer the rhubarb butter to glass containers or jars and allow it to cool completely before placing lids on the jars.
- Transfer the cooled jars to the fridge and store them for up to 1 week. If you need extended storage, place them in freezer-safe containers and freeze them for up to 6 months.
- Serve spooned on biscuits, scones, toast, muffins, ice cream, etc.