Warm Vanilla Rhubarb Crisp

Updated 20th June 2024

Rhubarb crisp/crumble is a delicious crisp recipe made with the tart bright pink Rhubarb and juicy raspberries or strawberries if you are looking for a more classic combo. It’s topped with a sweet crunchy crumble topping. Delicious red fruit bubbling away underneath a crunchy oat streusel topping — this rhubarb crisp is one of the easiest and best desserts for the summer season. It’s perfect for any occasion and is one of those desserts you can prep before hand when you have company, stick it in the fridge before they arrive, and pop it in the oven while you are enjoying dinner. It will be ready to serve after dinner warm right out the oven with a dollop of whip cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. What’s easier, more delicious and as low maintenance as that?!?

Warm Vanilla Rhubarb Crisp

Crisps/crumbles and cobblers are my favorite desserts to eat especially in the summer months with all the fruit available and in season. They aren’t too sweet (especially this one) and can almost pass for breakfast with yogurt with all the fruit and oats involved. This particular one is a perfect balance of tart and sweet. The rhubarb definitely shines as it’s not completely masked by tons of sugar. It has just enough sweetness to make it appealing to the palate, while still keeping that signature tartness that we want and are looking for in a rhubarb dessert - or at least I am.

Warm Vanilla Rhubarb Crisp

What is Rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a vegetable similar to celery but is utilized and cooked with like a fruit. Despite its similar appearance to celery, rhubarb has no relation other than its stringy crisp nature. These pink thick stalks are classed as a fruit. It’s very tart and sour, and when you add sugar and cook it down, it becomes sweet, releasing a beautiful syrup-like juice like berries. The stalks are edible - I usually trim the top green ends because they tend to be tough and a lot less tender and crisp and could have the potential of cooking unevenly. The leaves are NOT EDIBLE - in fact they are poisonous - they might look pretty or can be mistaken for some variety of bitter greens - don’t eat them. Although the stalks can be eaten raw, rhubarb tends to be way too tart this way, and it’s usually best when cooked with plenty of sugar. It goes well with both ginger and strawberries, all berries in fact, vanilla, orange, lemon and your favourite warm spices.

Warm Vanilla Rhubarb Crisp

What are the ingredients for this Rhubarb Crisp Recipe

  • RHUBARB: Fresh or frozen can be used here. Sliced or diced. If using frozen there is no need to thaw but you may need to increase the amount of cornstarch by 1 teaspoon
  • RASPBERRIES: I love the tart sweet flavour of them but feel free to swap them out with equal amount chopped strawberries for more strawberry-rhubarb pie vibes. You could also do Rhubarb alone without the berries that is up to you.
  • ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR: Flour is added to the crisp topping for structure. Feel free to use a gluten-free 1-1 all purpose flour if preferred.
  • SUGAR: I use brown sugar in the topping for sweetness and flavor, and granulated sugar to the filling to sweeten things up. I don’t like my filing to be too sweet but if you do feel free to increase the amount of sugar in the filling by ¼ cup.
  • SPICES: I use 1 teaspoon cinnamon and find that it pairs perfectly with the crisp topping and the fruit bottom. Add more or less, to taste. I like to add a pinch of ground ginger or cardamon or a little of both too for a warmer spice blend.
  • SALT: Balances out the sweetness of the dish. Just a pinch is all you need
  • BUTTER: Use unsalted butter since the amount of salt can vary between brands. If using salted butter, omit the salt called for in the recipe.
  • OATS: You’ll want to use rolled oats for the topping, which are also called old-fashioned oats.
  • ORANGE JUICE AND ORANGE ZEST: I LOVE orange with Rhubarb and cinnamon. If you’ve never tried this pairing before, you will love it I’m sure. You could use lemon juice and zest but the overall crips will be very tart - orange helps sweeten it with a lovely citrus scent.
  • VANILLA EXTRACT & ALMOND EXTRACT: Both enhance and elevate the flavors of the fruit. I will sometimes add a ¼ teaspoon of almond extract as well for extra flavour, but I think substituting almond for vanilla extract is not a good idea. Almond extract is way too strong and better as a secondary flavour in this recipe.
  • NUTS: Chopped almonds or chopped pecans are totally optional but add a wonderful nutty flavour and great texture and a bit of crunch to the crisp or crumble topping

Warm Vanilla Rhubarb Crisp

Warm Vanilla Rhubarb Crisp

How To Make Rhubarb Crisp

There are only 3 simple steps/ instructions to making a the best rhubarb crisp: Make the topping, prepare the filling & bake! It’s really that easy!

  1. Prepare the Oatmeal Topping: Whisk the dry ingredients together first. Then, cut in your cold butter and stir in the nuts at the end so you don’t chop them up into tiny pieces. The topping literally takes 5 minutes to throw together, it’s so easy. (this recipe can also be made using melted and slightly cooled butter poured over and tossed into the dry ingredients)
  2. Prepare the Fruit filling or bottom: For the filling, you’ll just need to toss your rhubarb and berries with sugar, and a little corn starch or flour to help thicken it and some vanilla, orange zest and orange juice for flavouring.
  3. Bake: Bake until fruit is bubbling and crumble topping is golden brown and crisp. Feel free to tent with foil if crumble topping is starting to brown to quickly. Allow it cool for just a bit like 20 min, then serve with a big scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.

Warm Vanilla Rhubarb Crisp

Crisp Tips & Alternatives

  • This recipe works best in and 9x9 square baking pan, 9x7 rectangular baking dish. Anything larger and the filling will be spread out to thin.
  • IF your fruit is especially juicy feel free to increase the amount of cornstarch as needed
  • Make this Crisp Dairy Free: simply swap out the butter for dairy-free or vegan margarine or butter. I have never tried using vegetable oil or coconut oil but it may be a good option as this recipe works well with melted butter too.
  • Make this Crisp Gluten-Free: make this crumb topping Gluten free easily by using 100% gluten free oats and gluten-free all purpose 1-1 flour
  • Make this Crisp with Frozen Rhubarb: frozen fruit works equally as well in this recipe.
  • If your baking dish is shallow, place it on top of a foil-lined sheet pan to catch any spills that might bubble over the edges.
  • If you’d like to double the recipe, you’ll need to bake it in a 9×13-inch pan.
  • If making the crisp in individual ramekins, you’ll need to bake them for roughly 20 minutes.

Warm Vanilla Rhubarb Crisp

Make Ahead, Storage & Freezing Tips

  • To Store: Leftover crisp can be covered and refrigerated for 4 days.
  • To Freeze Before Baking: Place complete but unbaked crisp in and air tight freezer safe storage or double layer of plastic wrap and freeze until ready to bake for up to 1-3months. To bake remove from freezer and allow to thaw 1-2 hours on counter or in the fridge overnight before baking crisp (you don’t want to shock or break bakeware (glass/ceramic especially) unless your bakeware is safe to go from freezer straight to the oven) as directed in recipe. Tent with foil if needed if crumble topping starts to burn or darken too quickly.
  • Freeze After Baking: Bake as directed in a freezer friendly dish or bakeware and then cool completely. Cool completely, and place in airtight freezer safe storage or wrap in double layer of plastic wrap and freeze. To reheat, let thaw at room temperature or in the fridge overnight, then cover with foil and warm in a 350 degrees oven just until warm. Remove the foil towards the end to crisp up the topping once more.
  • To Reheat Leftovers: Warm on a microwave-safe plate until heated through. You may also place it in a 350 degree F oven until warm.
  • To Make Ahead: You can make this rhubarb crisp ahead of time. Make the topping mixture and store it in the freezer in an airtight container or freezer bag for an easy crisp.The rhubarb filling can be made 1 day ahead of time stored in an airtight container separate from the topping. When ready to bake, put the crumble on top of the fruit just before baking.

More Rhubarb Recipes You will Love:


Yields: one 8x8 or 9x9 pan
Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 40-50 mins


For the crisp topping

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats or quick-cooking
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick/8 tablespoons), chilled and cubed
  • ½ cup chopped almonds or pecans

For the fruit layer

  • 4 cups (1 lb approx) sliced fresh rhubarb (½ inch)
  • 2 cups raspberries or chopped strawberries
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • Zest and juice of one medium size orange


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease 2 quart baking dish or a 8X8 or 9x9 baking dish
  2. In a large bowl gently toss rhubarb, raspberries, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla, almond extract if using, sugar and corn starch until combined.
  3. Spoon into prepared baking dish
  4. In a medium bowl toss together the flour, oats, spices, and brown sugar to combine. Add the butter and rub it through until the mix is crumbly. You could also cut the butter un using a pastry cutter. Toss in the chopped almonds or pecans.
  5. Top or sprinkle over the crumble topping over the rhubarb mixture evenly gently pressing it over top and bake for 45-50 minutes, until fruit is bubbling and crumble is golden brown. If the topping is browning quickly, tent a piece of foil very loosely over the pan, so the foil is not touching the crisp.
  6. Let the crisp rest for about 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or cold with scoop of vanilla ice cream

Recipe Notes

  • This recipe works best in and 9x9 square baking pan, 9x7 rectangular baking dish or an 8x12 oval baking dish. Anything larger and the filling will be spread out to thin. If you’d like to double the recipe, you’ll need to bake it in a 9×13-inch pan.
  • To Store: Leftover crisp can be covered and refrigerated for 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven or toaster oven.
  • This recipe can also be made using melted and slightly cooled butter poured over and tossed into the dry ingredients if you prefer that method over cutting in the chilled and cubed butter.

Warm Vanilla Rhubarb Crisp