Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble is naturally sweet and bursting with flavor. Simple ingredients form the fruit base, while oats and pecans star in the streusel topping. Served warm with ice cream, this is the ultimate summer dessert.
It’s spring in North Carolina, which means rhubarb and strawberries are showing up in grocery stores and maybe at farmers’ markets if you’re lucky enough to live in an areas where it grows, and it’s time to combine them for a strawberry and rhubarb crumble.
This time of year I’m busy whipping up desserts like rhubarb upside-down cake, rhubarb galette, rhubarb berry crisp, rhubarb bread pudding and rhubarb strawberry jam. Anything with strawberries and rhubarb because I just love the combination of strawberries and rhubarb.
However, fruit crisps and crumbles are some of my favorite desserts to make because the flavor of the fresh fruit really shines.
And of course, it doesn’t hurt that they’re topped with streusel and pair perfectly with ice cream or fresh whipped cream. It’s a combination that never gets old.
This Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble is so simple to make that you really can’t mess it up. I can assemble the entire thing while my oven preheats. And while the fruit is delicious, the topping is everyone’s favorite part, it’s buttery and crunchy. What’s not to love!
The tart flavor of the rhubarb in this strawberry rhubarb crumble recipe is offset by the sweetness of the strawberries. You’ll still need sugar but not as much as if you were just using rhubarb.
For the best flavor, choose strawberries that are ripe and dark red and rhubarb with crisp stalks. If you’re making this during a time when they aren’t in season, you can use frozen rhubarb and strawberries instead. They’ll have more flavor than unripe fruit.
For the freshest berries, find out when it’s strawberry season where you live. There’s nothing like sweet strawberries from the farmers markets. Rhubarb season is short in many areas, but frozen rhubarb will work great in fruit crumbles. I can find it a Sprouts where I live.
You’ll find that rhubarb produces a lot of liquid when it’s cooked and when combined with juicy strawberries, you can end up with fruit soup. There are a couple of things you can do to reduce the liquid in the strawberry rhubarb filling.
First add the sugar to the cut rhubarb and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Then drain all the rhubarb juice out. This is a crucial step for this recipe. You’ll also need to add some cornstarch. The final step is the crispy crumble on top. This helps absorb some of the liquid.
Crisps, crumbles and cobblers
Here in America we love our fruit desserts, as seen by the many titles we give these variations of crustless pie-like recipes.
Cobblers have a batter or biscuit-style topping that is spooned over the fruit. Sometimes they are more like a deep-dish pie with a top and bottom layer.
But what about crumbles? These are like crisps, except that they don’t always contain oats. More often than not, people use crisp and crumble interchangeably. For some reason I’ve always called this a crumble although it’s actually a strawberry rhubarb crisp because it has oats in the topping.
To make things even more confusing, I’ve heard of other similar variations. I don’t know if they are as popular as the others, but since they contain cooked fruit they all sound good.
Betty – like a crumble except the topping is layered throughout the fruit before baking
Buckle – kind of like a coffee cake where the fruit and cake are combined, topped with streusel, and baked
Slump or grunt – dumpling-like puddings with steamed fruit that are like cobblers except they are cooked on the stove
Pandowdy – the fruit filling is baked beneath a biscuit crust. It’s another dessert that’s like a cobbler, except the topping is broken up and pushed into the fruit while baking.
Looking for more easy crisps and cobblers?
Cabernet-infused Blackberry Crisp is an easy and elegant dessert
Simple Strawberry Crisp Bars have an oatmeal coconut crust
Bumbleberry Crisp with fresh lemon curd is made from a combination of berries
We love the pecan topping on Blueberry Rhubarb Crisp
Why you’ll love this rhubarb recipe
- The spiced oat crumble has pecans for extra crunch
- It has the flavor of a pie but you don’t have to make a pie crust
- The amazing crumble on top creates a delicious dessert
- The flavor of in-season tart rhubarb and strawberries can’t be beat
- It tastes great served cold or warm with vanilla ice cream
- Fresh fruit is full of vitamin C, fiber, calcium and antioxidants
Other desserts perfect for spring
Banana Cream Pie – Creamy vanilla custard topped with fresh bananas
Strawberry Chiffon Pie – A light and airy no-bake pie
Lemon Chess Pie – A tangy Southern classic with a light citrus flavor
Bumbleberry Crisp – Topped with homemade lemon curd
Peach Cake with Blueberries – A simple bundt cake full of fresh fruit
Pistachio Lemon Bars – Perfect for a picnic or potluck
What you’ll need
Strawberries – use fresh strawberries if you can; if not, substitute frozen ones. You’ll use about 3 ½ to 4 cups of strawberries.
Rhubarb – once chopped, about 3 cups of rhubarb equals 1 pound. When choosing rhubarb try to find rhubarb stalks that are firm, the color doesn’t matter. Remember to discard the leaves which are poisonous.
Lemon juice – citrus adds a tangy flavor. If you’d like, you can substitute orange juice for lemon juice. Or add a bit of lemon zest or orange zest for even more zing.
Cornstarch – to thicken the fruit juices
Cinnamon – adds a warm, sweet flavor to the crunchy topping
Cardamom – find ground cardamom in the spice aisle of most grocery stores. Or substitute vanilla paste
Rolled oats – I prefer the rolled variety, they are called Old Fashioned Oats, rather than quick or instant
Pecans – adds a nutty crunch to the crumble topping
Pantry staples – flour, brown and white sugar, butter, vanilla and salt
How to make rhubarb crumble with oats
For the filling, combine the brown and white sugars in a medium bowl. Chop the rhubarb into 1-inch pieces, then place it in a large bowl. Sprinkle with part of the sugar mixture and toss to combine. Let it sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a separate bowl toss the chopped strawberries with the remaining sugar and let it sit.
Use a slotted spoon and remove the rhubarb from its bowl and add it to the strawberries. Discard the rhubarb juice. Combine the cornstarch with the lemon juice and vanilla, then add it to the fruit. Stir it all together and pour it into a 9 x 13 baking pan. Or, for a more rustic-looking classic crumble, you can bake it in a 12’ cast iron skillet.
To make the topping, process the butter, flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until the butter is in pea-size pieces. If you don’t have a food processor, use a pastry cutter. Add the oats and pecans.
Use your hands to form the topping into clumps and sprinkle it over the fruit.
Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature and bake for another 30 minutes until the fruit is bubbly. If the top starts to get too brown, tent it with aluminum foil.
Pro Tip: If your baking dish is shallow, place a sheet pan lined with foil underneath it to catch any drips that result from the bubbling fruit juice.
Top the warm rhubarb and strawberry crumble with vanilla ice cream.
FAQs and tips
When buying fresh rhubarb at the grocery store or farmers’ market, select crisp, shiny stalks. Trim the bottom and top of the stalk, removing the poisonous leaves and woody ends. Use a knife or vegetable peeler to remove any blemishes. Rinse the stalks in cold water to remove any dirt or debris.
Arrange several stalks next to each other on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the rhubarb into 1-inch pieces.
After you’ve washed and cut the rhubarb, place it on a baking sheet and freeze. Then remove the frozen rhubarb from the pan and transfer it to a freezer bag. It will last for a year when stored this way.
Rhubarb and strawberry make a great combination, as strawberries add sweetness to counteract the tartness of rhubarb. Most everyone has heard of strawberry rhubarb pie, but the options for other combinations are endless. I’ve seen the two fruits paired in cheesecake, muffins, chutney, cake, sauce and even drinks.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam is the perfect topping for ice cream, biscuits, yogurt, pancakes and toast.
Although it’s not required, rhubarb and strawberry crumble will keep better in the refrigerator. It tastes wonderful cold, or you can heat individual portions in the microwave.
The crumble is best eaten within a day or two when the topping is crunchy. It will keep for several days at room temperature or up to a week in the refrigerator. After a few days, the crumble does get softer but the flavor is still wonderful.
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Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
- 2 lbs rhubarb chopped, fresh/frozen
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- 1 lb strawberries quartered
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cardamon optional
- 1 cup butter
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup pecans chopped
- Preheat oven to 375º.
- Combine brown and white sugar. Place cut rhubarb in a bowl and add ¾ cup of the sugar mixture. Toss to combine and let sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a separate bowl add the cut strawberries and toss with the remaining sugar and let sit.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the rhubarb to the bowl of strawberries, and throw out the rhubarb juice. Add cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla to the mixture, stirring and pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish.
- Using a food processor or a pastry cutter add butter to flour, sugar and salt and process until you have small pea size pieces of butter. Add oats and combine then add pecans. Use your hands to form the topping into clumps and scatter it over the fruit.
- Bake for 30 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 325º and bake for an additional 30 minutes until the fruit is bubbly. If the top starts to get too brown, tent it with aluminum foil.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Place a cookie sheet under the baking dish to catch any drips as the fruit mixture bubbles.
- You can substitute frozen rhubarb.
- If using frozen strawberries, drain the juice from the strawberries.
- You can make this in individual ramekins.
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