Rhubarb Custard Pie
Tart rhubarb and creamy sweet custard — with a hint of vanilla and orange zest all in a buttery flaky crust—the perfect spring summer dessert recipe for rhubarb season. It’s a simple single crust pie with no lattice top or crumb topping with a simple all butter pie crust recipe that I love to use but this recipe works just as well with a store bought or prepared pie crust - in fact its even quicker to make using a store-bought crust.
Sweet or Tart?
This super-easy pie is a classic and a great way to use up tart rhubarb. You can adjust the sugar a bit depending on exactly how sour your fruit is. I think you can get away with using 1 cup of sugar depending on the tartness of your rhubarb but for a nice balance of sweet and tart just stick to the amount in the recipe below. I like to flavour mine with vanilla extract, a touch of almond extract and orange zest - no orange juice though just the zest. They all add wonderful flavor to the custard and I recommend adding them - but they are optional and you can adjust the amounts to taste.
Classic Rhubarb Custard Pie Ingredients
- large eggs - room temperature
- fresh rhubarb (or frozen see notes about using frozen rhubarb)
- granulated sugar
- all-purpose flour
- unsalted butter - melted then cooled slightly
- heavy cream - room temperature
How to Make A classic Rhubarb Custard Pie
This is a very simple pie to make. The all butter single layer pie crust (no top crust needed) and custard only require basic pantry ingredients and really easy steps to create this custard pie. Lets break down each part:
- The Pie Crust - It can be made by hand or in the food processor. I use it for almost all my pie crusts - its easy to double if you needed to top a sweet pie with a lattice. If you prefer to use a store-bought pie crust you definitely can whether its frozen or refrigerated. The only caution I would give when using store-bought is that I personally find them on the thin and small side. If I’m using the roll out frozen ones I usually double them up and roll to the size I want to fit my pie plate or pan - you don’t want to stretch the dough in any way because this will cause shrinkage. I also do not pre bake the crust - I find this recipe does just fine without blind baking the crust (bonus - makes this pie even easier and faster to make). If you prefer to though - I have included the directions for doing so in recipe notes below.
- The Custard Filling- The custard is easy to make. Make sure the ingredients for it are all room temperature so that they combine well and also cook evenly. There is no pre-cooking the custard just whisk together the custard ingredients and pour over the rhubarb in the pie crust. I tested this recipe three times and with 3 different measures of cream and different amounts of sugar and eggs as well. I decided 3 eggs is the perfect ratio with ½ cup of cream and 1¼ or 1½ cups sugar. The custard is creamy yet stands up well and sets perfectly. That being said If you prefer your custard a little on the creamier or richer side you can definitely increase the amount of heavy cream to 1 cup - it will set beautify still with a little extra richness. It will also be slightly less sweet as well. So it is really your choice - as is the amount of sugar.
Can I Use Frozen Rhubarb In My Pie?
Yes! I always prefer to use fresh but you can use frozen rhubarb in this rhubarb custard pie recipe. Frozen rhubarb is a great alternative when it is out of season or it isn’t readily available. As long as you take these extra steps, your rhubarb pie recipe will turn out just as amazing!
- Thaw the rhubarb
- Drain and pat the rhubarb dry
- Toss the rhubarb with a tablespoon of flour to account for any extra moisture
How to Freeze Leftover Rhubarb
Rhubarb freezes wonderfully! Before freezing, I like to clean it thoroughly. I then slice the rhubarb stalks into ½- to 1-inch pieces. After slicing the fruit, transfer it to a freezer zip top bag. Squeeze all the air out of the bag and freeze for up to 1 year.
Can I use other fruit besides rhubarb for this rhubarb custard pie recipe?
Yes! You can either swap out part of the rhubarb with another fruit (like strawberries, to make a strawberry rhubarb custard pie), or replace it completely. However, some fruits will work better than others. I suggest swapping the rhubarb out with a berries as opposed to peaches or plums. The texture of the custard works really well with blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Just be sure to keep the measurements of fruit the same
How to Store Rhubarb Custard Pie
Does baked rhubarb custard pie need to be refrigerated? Yes! Because the filling is cream-based, I suggest refrigerating this pie. After baking, I like to let the pie cool completely. Doing so will crisp up the crust and firm up the custard pie filling perfectly. After that, I cover with a loose sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
How to Freeze Rhubarb Custard Pie
Can baked rhubarb custard pie be frozen? You can. Follow the recipe instructions for baking and cool the pie completely to room temperature. After that, tightly wrap the entire pie (or any leftovers!) in two layers of plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Serve chilled, or reheat in the microwave or by baking in the oven at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the filling comes out warm.
Make Ahead Tips
You can defiantly make parts of this pie ahead of time to help save you sometime. You can split the recipe up over a few days! The pie crust can be made and refrigerated for up to two days and frozen for up to 3 months. You can even roll out the pie dough and fit it into your pie plate to save you some time then wrap with plastic and store in the fridge or freezer. The custard cannot be made ahead of time but it is super easy to whisk and pour into the crust and bake in a matter of minutes.
If you love rhubarb recipes make sure to check these ones out:
For the pie crust
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar, optional
- 8 tablespoons (4-ounces) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
- 1 egg whisked for egg wash
For the filling
- 3-3¼ cups (approx 1 lb) chopped rhubarb (½-inch/1 cm pieces)
- 1½ cups granulated sugar, divided
- 3 large Eggs, room temperature
- ¼ cup All-purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
- ½ cup Heavy (35%) Cream (or 1 cup for a richer filling), room temperature
- 2 tablespoon Butter, melted then slightly cooled
Optional custard filling flavour add ins
- 1 teaspoon orange zest or lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp almond extract
Make the pie dough and roll out (skip if using store bought pie crust)
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar, if using. Whisk or blend thoroughly. You could also make this in food processor pulsing a few times to combine.
- Add the butter, working it into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry blender. Some pea-sized pieces of butter should remain intact.
- Stir in 4 tablespoons of ice water. Add more ice water, about 1 teaspoon at a time, until mixture begins to hold together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press until a smooth dough has formed. Do not overwork or the crust will be tough.
- Shape into a flattened disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
Prepare custard and Assemble pie
- When ready to bake the pie remove dough from fridge. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the pie Dough into an 11-inch (28 cm) circle, about ⅛ inch (3 mm) thick. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it over a 9-inch pie plate or pie pan (23 cm) -regular not deep dish. Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the plate, folding any overhanging dough under itself along the lip. Crimp the edges, brush edges with egg wash and transfer to the fridge to chill while you prepare the filling
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- In a medium bowl, toss the rhubarb with ¼ cup of the sugar. Set aside.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk the eggs,the remaining 1¼ cups of sugar, vanilla extract, orange zest, almond extract, flour, butter, and cream until smooth.
- Arrange the rhubarb in an even layer on the bottom of the unbaked pie shell. Pour the egg mixture over the rhubarb.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes at 425°F then REDUCE TEMPERATURE to 350°F and bake an additional 40 minutes or until the custard is mostly set. (The very center may be a little jiggly, but will set as it cools) or until the top is puffed and golden in places and the middle jiggles only slightly when you move the pie plate.
- Let cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour or overnight before serving
- Store any leftovers, covered in plastic wrap, in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy.
Using Frozen Rhubarb If you are using frozen rhubarb be sure to thaw and pat the rhubarb dry. Also toss it with a tablespoon of flour to account for any extra moisture.
When done, the rhubarb custard pie filling will be golden brown around the edges, but light in the center. Check the pie 30 minutes into its Bake Time. If the center or edges are browning too quickly, cover with a loose piece of aluminum foil or a pie shield
Partially Baking or Pre baking Pie crust (blind baking) If you would like to partially or pre-bake the crust before adding the custard filling simply follow these simple steps:
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Place a piece of parchment paper or foil into pie plate over dough and fill with pie weights
- Bake (par bake) at 400°F for 10 minutes then remove and brush the bottom and edges of crust with egg wash. And allow to cool while you make your filling. Then add the rhubarb and custard and bake as directed in recipe above.
Tip - I like to use a glass pie plate especially when I’m not blind baking the crust - it gets perfectly golden brown and crisp on all sides even the base of it. It’s not required but recommended for even baking.
FYI - I made this pie so many times and some of the photos as you can tell are from me impatiently cutting into it before it set and some when I patiently waited and even chilled it to get the most perfect slice