Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Crunch

Sweet and tangy with an earthy oatmeal crumble this old-fashioned favorite rhubarb crunch recipe is delicious.

This easy dessert made fully with rhubarb or a mixture of half rhubarb and half strawberries will remind you of days gone by, maybe gathered around a farmhouse table.

Serving of warm rhubarb crunch on a white plate showing softened pieces of the fibrous vegetable coated in a shinny sugar glaze.

Easy Rhubarb Crunch Recipe

This Farmhouse Rhubarb Crunch recipe is a vintage favorite that’s been in our family for generations.

Like our “Best Cake Recipe” and Gingersnap Cookies, this crunch recipe came on handwritten cards from my grandma. 

My husband remembers having a rhubarb patch outside of their farmhouse growing up.  His grandma made pie and other desserts with the homegrown rhubarb.  He had never eaten raw rhubarb, so he took a bite of ours and realized why people dowse it in sugar and bake it before eating.

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I found this rhubarb at the grocery store on a top shelf in the produce case.  Rhubarb looks, cuts, and crunches like a reddish stalk of celery.

Overhead view of rhubarb crunch in a white 9 x 13" baking dish on a white dish towel.

The crunch adds a nice contrast to a typical sweet dessert like this.  A couple more old-fashioned desserts with a sweet filling that we love are our Raspberry German Crumb Cake Bars and Pecan Surprise Bars.

White baking dish half full of baked rhubarb crunch bars with a sweet rhubarb filling oozing out from two layers of a baked oatmeal mixture.

Ingredients Needed

  • Rhubarb – Remove ends and make sure the color of the stalks are pinkish and reddish with only a little green and no mold or discolorations.
  • Granulated Sugar – Needed to sweeten up the rhubarb filling.
  • Vanilla Extract – We prefer real vanilla as opposed to imitation to enhance the flavor of the other ingredients.

Crumb Topping

  • Oats – Old-fashioned oats or rolled oats will work well and give a heartier feel than quick oats. Quick oats can be used in a pinch.
  • All-Purpose Flour – Gives a little structure to the crumble as it surrounds the sweet rhubarb filling
  • Brown Sugar – Another way to help enhance the tangy rhubarb filling.
  • Butter – When melted helps stir the mixture together.
  • Cinnamon – This simple spice adds a warmth to the dish.
Ingredients to make rhubarb crunch are chopped rhubarb, all purpose flour, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, oats, cinnamon, vanilla and a stick of butter on a white counter top.

Tips for Success With The Recipe

  • The key to any good recipe is using real butter instead of margarine or oil.  So be sure to use real butter. 
  • Butter flavored Crisco or shortening can be used, but we prefer butter.
  • Use caution when melting butter not get it so hot it makes a mess all over the microwave.  I have a silicone cover for bowls, I just need to get in the habit of using it!
  • I like to use old-fashioned oats, but quick oats will also work well.
  • This is one of those recipes that’s been in the family long enough to treasure and make once in a while for the memories.
Fork full of gooey rhubarb crunch with a baked oatmeal and brown sugar topping on a white place.

How to Make Rhubarb Crunch

Mix the crumb topping together.   

Flour, old fashioned oats, cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter poured into a silver mixing bowl.

Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan and pour in half of the topping. 

With clean fingers, press half of the mixture in an even layer across the pan.

Fingers patting rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter mixture in the bottom of a white cake pan.

Chop up rhubarb and sprinkle over the top.

Pour water, sugar, and vanilla into a sauce pan. Set to medium-high heat.

Water, sugar and vanilla extract added to a sauce pan.

Stir regularly to prevent the sugar from burning. 

It only takes a few minutes for the mixture to become clear and I continue to cook and stir for a few more minutes so that it begins to thicken slightly.

Saucepan with water, sugar and vanilla boiling until clear.

Pour the thickened sugar water over the rhubarb.

Freshly chopped rhubarb coated in a boiled sugar glaze on top of an oatmeal crumb mixture in a white dish.

Sprinkle the remaining crumb topping over the beautiful rhubarb dessert.

Final layer of oatmeal crumb topping sprinkled on top of chopped rhubarb in a white 9x13" baking dish.

Bake uncovered for about 50 minutes at 350°F.

The original recipe says to bake for 50 to 60 minutes.  I always check my food several minutes sooner to make sure it doesn’t burn because I have a convection oven.  This rhubarb crunch looks perfect right at 50 minutes for me.  Of course, baking times can vary quite a bit based on the quantity and temperature of the filling.

Old-fashioned rhubarb dessert is Farmhouse Rhubarb Crunch in a 9x13 pan on blue placemat

More Vintage Recipes:

Here are a few other old-fashioned recipes from our farm family.  We hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Sweet and tangy rhubarb filling in an earthy oatmeal crumble showing an old-fashioned rhubarb crunch in a white baking dish.

Rhubarb Crunch

Servings 15 servings
Jennifer @ Plowing Through Life
Sweet and tangy with an earthy oatmeal crumble this old-fashioned favorite rhubarb crunch recipe is delicious.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients
  

Crumb Topping

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Filling

  • 4 cups chopped Rhubarb *apples can be substituted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions
 

  • Mix together crumb topping.  Press half of the mixture into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
  • Cover with chopped rhubarb.
  • Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture is clear and may begin to thicken.  Stir often to avoid burning. Pour over rhubarb.
  • Top with remaining crumble.  Bake uncovered at 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes.

Notes

  • Rhubarb can be substituted for half rhubarb and half strawberry mixture if preferred. 

Nutrition

Calories: 215kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 2gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 61mgPotassium: 137mgFiber: 1gSugar: 28gVitamin A: 222IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 47mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Plowing Through Life” is not a dietitian or nutrition professional. Any nutritional information shared is an estimate and can vary greatly depending on specific products are used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator of your choice.

Tried this recipe?Mention @PlowingThroughLife or tag #PlowingThroughLife!

Originally shared on March 24, 2019 with pictures updated on June 12, 2023.

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