This easy recipe for homemade rhubarb sauce is the perfect way to use your yearly yield of rhubarb! This tangy sauce is perfect for spooning on a bowl of vanilla ice cream or drizzling on a stack of fluffy pancakes.
Rhubarb is such an integral part of our Spring seasonal offerings here in the Northeast, and while it is just as popular throughout North America and the UK, it feels like we treasure just a bit more than other regions.
Our love for rhubarb probably partially stems from the British influence on our cuisine, but it's also one of the first available seasonal foods in the Spring months. When rhubarb season rolls around a quick drive down the road will present numerous options to buy bundles of bright red and green rhubarb stalks.
The most common way to use this tangy vegetable (yup - it's technically a vegetable!) is by baking up a strawberry rhubarb pie, but this rhubarb sauce is probably a close second. It's perfect on a bowl of vanilla ice cream or drizzled over a stack of pancakes. Best of all? It's SO easy to make!
Why You'll Love It:
- It's one of the easiest ways to use up a big yield from your rhubarb plant.
- This easy rhubarb sauce recipe uses just 4 basic ingredients!
- It's a simple recipe that works just as well for savory dishes as it does for sweet ones.
- Homemade rhubarb sauce is a favorite way to preserve this seasonal treat - just portion and freeze for later!
- Rhubarb: You will need 3 cups of chopped rhubarb (½ - 1-inch pieces), which works out to about ¾ of a pound (340-360 grams)
- Sugar: This helps balance the tartness of rhubarb. If you have a sweet tooth add a little extra for good measure. You can use sweeteners if you prefer a low-carb or sugar-free version.
- Cinnamon: An optional addition, but adds a nice little touch and complements the rhubarb well.
- Vanilla: While most people use lemon juice, I recommend using vanilla extract instead.
- Water: This helps to stew the rhubarb, making for a spoonable sauce.
Check the recipe card for a full list of ingredients and the quantities needed.
How to Make Rhubarb Sauce
Step one: Add the raw rhubarb, water, sugar, a pinch of salt, and cinnamon to a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low once a boil is reached.
Step two: Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the rhubarb is well broken down.
Cooling the Rhubarb Sauce
Step three: Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
Step four: Transfer the rhubarb sauce to a glass jar or an airtight container. Allow to cool to room temperature before using or moving to the fridge or freezer for storage.
Variation: Make some delicious strawberry rhubarb sauce by substituting half of the chopped rhubarb for chopped strawberries. You may also like to decrease the sugar just a little bit since the sweetness of the strawberries adds the perfect balance to the tangy rhubarb.
Storing and Freezing
Once the rhubarb sauce has cooled to room temperature you can transfer it to a glass jar or airtight container for storage in the fridge, where it will store for 1-2 weeks.
If you want to extend the storage you can freeze rhubarb sauce quite easily. Transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before using, and stir it well to help with any separation.
Ways to Use Rhubarb Sauce
- On top of a bowl of vanilla ice cream
- With pound cake
- Used as a filling in your favorite sweet desserts
- Served with plain Greek yogurt
- With angel food cake
- Served with tea biscuits and whipped cream for a quick "rhubarb shortcake"
- Adjust sweetness: Rhubarb has a naturally tart and tangy flavor, and while some people really love it, others need a little more sweetness to balance it out. Taste the rhubarb sauce first, then add a little sugar, honey, or mashed strawberries to increase the sweetness.
- Add other fruits: This recipe calls only for fresh rhubarb, but if you want to add other fruits for a different flavor experience, you can absolutely do that. Strawberry rhubarb is a classic combination, but blueberry and rhubarb works well too!
- For a smoother sauce: This sauce cooks down to a pretty spoonable consistency, but if you like your fruit sauce very thin you can blend it in a food processor, with an immersion blender, or by pressing it through a food mill.
Rhubarb sauce is made out of just a few simple ingredients: rhubarb, water, sugar, vanilla (or lemon juice), and sometimes a little bit of cinnamon for flavor. This is all cooked down until soft and pourable, and then it's ready to add to scones, biscuits, pancakes, or ice cream.
If you are using older, tougher, or end-of-season rhubarb it is a best practice to peel the fibrous outer layers off. If you are using rhubarb that is in peak season, especially smaller (and more tender) pieces, there is no need to peel the skin.
Typical recipes for rhubarb sauce cannot be canned, as they have not been tested for safety through the USDA or other regulatory organizations. There is a way to can stewed rhubarb, which is lightly sweetened and cooked down. You can find the recipe for stewed rhubarb on the website of the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
If you loved this recipe for rhubarb sauce, let me know by leaving a 5-star review in the recipe card, OR tag me on Instagram @maritimecountrykitchen!
Easy Rhubarb Sauce
- 3 cups chopped rhubarb ½" pieces - approx. ¾ pound
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup 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 begins to boil.
- Once a boil is reached, reduce the heat to low to maintain a low simmer.
- Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the rhubarb is soft but not mushy.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Serve warm, or chill and serve cold if desired.