What does rhubarb mix well with?

Rhubarb is a tart, crunchy spring vegetable that has a unique and delicious flavor. While rhubarb can be enjoyed on its own, it also pairs wonderfully with a variety of ingredients. In this article, we will explore the best flavor combinations and dishes that allow the tangy taste of rhubarb to shine. Discover sweet desserts, savory main courses, jams and chutneys, and more ways to enjoy this bright pink veggie. Keep reading to find out the top flavor profiles and foods that mix well with rhubarb!

Sweet Flavor Combinations

Rhubarb has a tart, sour taste that works well with sweet ingredients that can balance out its bold flavor. Here are some classic sweet flavor pairings for rhubarb:


Sugar is a basic way to temper rhubarb’s tartness. When cooking rhubarb, it’s common to add 1/2 to 1 cup of white sugar for every 1 lb of chopped rhubarb. The sugar balances the acidity. Rhubarb is naturally quite sour – its oxalic acid content is similar to lemons! Sugar brings out rhubarb’s fruitier side.


Strawberry rhubarb is a beloved springtime combo. Sweet strawberries highlight rhubarb’s tartness. The red and pink colors also look beautiful together. Strawberry rhubarb pie is a classic. The berries add sweetness and texture to balance the crisp rhubarb. Strawberry rhubarb jam is also delicious. The two fruits have complementary flavors.


Vanilla extract or vanilla bean add a creamy, aromatic element that smooths out rhubarb’s acidity. Vanilla rhubarb custard is a popular dessert with the flavors melding together beautifully. Vanilla softens the tart edge and brings out rhubarb’s subtle floral nature.


Cinnamon has a warming, spicy aroma that enhances rhubarb’s tartness. Cinnamon’s robust flavor stands up well to rhubarb’s acidity. It adds comforting flavor and complexity. Rhubarb cinnamon crumbs are tasty topping rhubarb muffins, coffee cakes, and crisps.


Honey is a mildly sweet nectar that helps cut the sourness of rhubarb. It has a delicate floral flavor that complements rhubarb. Drizzle honey over roasted rhubarb or add to rhubarb chutneys and sauces for balanced sweet-tart taste. Honey brings out fruity undertones in rhubarb.

Maple Syrup

Pure maple syrup contains vanilla and caramel flavors that pair deliciously with tart rhubarb. Maple syrup has just the right amount of sweetness to temper rhubarb’s acidity. It gives great flavor to rhubarb baked goods like maple rhubarb muffins, pies, and turnovers.

Savory Flavor Combinations

While most known for desserts, rhubarb also goes well in savory dishes that benefit from its tart punch. Here are some savory ingredients that mix nicely with rhubarb:


Ginger’s spicy heat and citrusy flavor complement rhubarb’s tartness. They balance each other out. Ginger rhubarb chutney makes an excellent condiment for meats. Chopped ginger can be added to rhubarb relish or sauces for kick.


Garlic has a pungent, aromatic taste that enhances rhubarb’s sour notes. Roasted garlic pairs well with roasted rhubarb to yield caramelized, mellowed flavors. Garlic rhubarb sauce makes a unique marinade, glaze or dressing depending on the ingredients.


Sweet, juicy oranges go nicely with rhubarb’s lip-puckering acidity. Orange zest and juice add bright citrus flavor that accentuates rhubarb’s tartness. Orange rhubarb jam is delightful. Roasted duck with orange rhubarb sauce is amazing.

Chili Pepper

Spicy chili peppers give a big flavor boost to rhubarb’s tangy bite. Pair red chili flakes with rhubarb chutney or add chopped jalapenos to rhubarb salsa. The heat and acidity balance for intense taste.


Lean pork such as loin or tenderloin benefits from the bold, fruity tartness of rhubarb. The vegetables help cut through the meat’s richness. Rhubarb glazed pork chops and rhubarb barbeque pulled pork sandwiches are delicious.


The buttery fattiness of salmon is able to handle rhubarb’s assertive acidity. Rhubarb sauce makes a phenomenal topping for salmon filets or cutlets. The tangy sweetness also complements smoked salmon.


Like salmon, duck has a rich taste that is complemented by rhubarb’s tart flavor. Rhubarb jam makes a wonderful glaze for duck breasts. Duck legs pair well with rhubarb relish. The contrasts just work!


Rhubarb’s sourness plays well in beverages, especially when balanced by something sweet. Here are the most popular rhubarb drinks:

Rhubarb Wine

Rhubarb can be used to make wine with cherry, strawberry or raspberry for sweetness. Rhubarb wine has a dry, tart taste with fruity aroma. The vegetable’s high acidity gives crispness. Sugar balances the sourness.

Rhubarb Cocktails

The tartness of rhubarb shines in cocktails. Popular options are rhubarb gin fizz, rhubarb daiquiri, rhubarb vodka soda, and rhubarb margarita. The sour fruit works with sweet liquors.

Rhubarb Tea

For a non-alcoholic beverage, chilled rhubarb tea is refreshing. Brew rhubarb with hibiscus, ginger or strawberry for fabulously tangy iced tea. Sweeten with honey or sugar to taste.

Rhubarb Juice

Rhubarb can be juiced fresh or cooked into a syrup. When mixed with sweeter apple, grape or carrot juice, rhubarb juice adds a delicious tart flavor. It’s very strong alone.

Rhubarb Punch

For parties, rhubarb punch is sure to please. Mix rhubarb syrup with ginger ale, pineapple juice and frozen strawberries. You can add vodka too. It’s sweet and sour.

Jams, Chutneys & Sauces

Rhubarb’s intense sour flavor excels in jams, chutneys, relishes and sauces. When cooked into preservatives, rhubarb’s tartness mellows but still adds kick.

Rhubarb Jam

Rhubarb jam is classically paired with strawberries or raspberries which provide sweetness to balance the acidity. Cooked low and slow, rhubarb makes a spreadable jam with a bit of tart bite.

Rhubarb Chutney

Indian-style rhubarb chutneys accentuate the sour fruit with warm spices like ginger, coriander, mustard seed and chili peppers. Onion, garlic, raisins and vinegar add depth of flavor.

Rhubarb Relish

Relishes enhance rhubarb’s tang with contrasting ingredients like bell peppers, onion and sweet fruits. Popular additions are pineapple, dates, apricots and plums. Vinegar and mustard season it.

Rhubarb Sauce

Rhubarb cooked into a sweetened sauce retains a punchy tartness that works well with pork, poultry and oily fish. Common additions are orange, ginger, maple, honey for complexity.

Rhubarb Barbeque Sauce

For a zesty twist on classic barbeque sauce, pureed rhubarb adds delicious tartness and fruitiness. Molasses, brown sugar, garlic and spices balance with a tangy kick.

Salads & Savory Dishes

Rhubarb’s assertive flavor upgrades both sweet and savory recipes. It adds bright acidic contrast. Here are tasty dishes featuring rhubarb:

Rhubarb Salad

Rhubarb pairs well in fruit, veggie and grain salads. It adds tart pops of flavor. Balsamic dresses it nicely. Ideas: rhubarb walnut spinach salad, rhubarb quinoa mango salad, rhubarb slaw.

Rhubarb Soup

The sour apple flavor of rhubarb works well pureed into chilly gazpacho-style soups. Pair with cucumber, tomato, strawberry, ginger and orange. Garnish with yogurt.

Rhubarb Pizza

Rhubarb makes an amazing savory topping for pizza. Pair with chicken, bacon, caramelized onions, goat cheese for sweet, sour, salty tastes. Drizzle balsamic too.

Rhubarb Curry

In India, rhubarb is used in some yellow curries. It maintains texture and adds sourness. Pair with lentils, chicken or shrimp. Add ginger, garlic, cumin and coriander.

Rhubarb Chutney Cheese Ball

For an appetizer, blend rhubarb chutney into cream cheese or chevre log for tangy flavor. Coat the outside with chopped pistachios or pecans. Spread on crackers.

Baked Goods

Rhubarb is the star ingredient in numerous classic spring baked goods. It really shines paired with sweet doughs.

Rhubarb Pie

This is one of the most popular ways to eat rhubarb! Sweet flaky crust with a rhubarb filling balances the mouthwatering tartness. Strawberry rhubarb pie is a favorite. The berries balance the acidity.

Rhubarb Muffins

Rhubarb muffins studded with chopped rhubarb have a sweet tart flavor and pretty pink color. Add nuts, oats, cinnamon or fruit like strawberries. The sourness cuts through the batter.

Rhubarb Cake

Layer rhubarb into sweet vanilla or almond cake batters to create tender cakes with pleasant sourness. Rhubarb compote between cake layers is divine. Icing pairs nicely.

Rhubarb Crisp

For old-fashioned goodness, rhubarb crisp has a lightly sweetened rhubarb filling topped with an oat and nut streusel topping. The crisp oats offset the rhubarb’s texture.

Rhubarb Bread

Quick breads and loaves with chopped rhubarb have delicious bursts of tangy flavor. Banana rhubarb and zucchini rhubarb breads are tasty combinations. The acidity cuts the richness.

Rhubarb Cookies

Chewy rhubarb oatmeal cookies speckled with diced rhubarb are a delightful treat. The tart bits add nice texture contrast against the cookie base.

Rhubarb Pudding

For creamy comfort, rhubarb pudding has rhubarb baked into a custard of milk, eggs and vanilla. Top with whipped cream or crumble for sweet sensations.

Other Tasty Rhubarb Combos

Looking beyond main dishes and desserts, here are more ways to enjoy rhubarb:

Rhubarb Lemonade

Puree stewed rhubarb and mix into traditional or pink lemonade. It gives a tangy flavor boost that’s not as puckering as straight rhubarb juice.

Rhubarb Onion Marmalade

Caramelized onions work surprisingly well paired with rhubarb in a chutney-like marmalade condiment for meats and cheese. Sweet onions balance rhubarb’s acidity.

Rhubarb Ribs

For barbeque with a kick, rub pork ribs with a blend of rhubarb rib rub spices. Finish with rhubarb barbeque sauce. It delivers sweet, savory and sour!

Rhubarb Salsa

Dice rhubarb into a chunky pico de gallo or salsa fresca for a fabulously tangy dip. Add jalapenos, cilantro, garlic and lime juice for a taco topper.

Rhubarb Kimchi

Korean-style fermented rhubarb kimchi highlights the sourness of the veggie. Napa cabbage mellows the tartness. Pair it with rice, noodles or protein.

Best Practices for Cooking With Rhubarb

Now that you know the many ingredients that complement rhubarb’s bold flavor, here are some tips for handling and preparing rhubarb:

Selecting Rhubarb

  • Look for firm, crisp stalks with good color
  • Avoid blemished, wrinkled or mushy stalks
  • Color can range from pale pink to deep rosy red
  • Wider stalks tend to be more tender
  • Harvest in spring and early summer for optimal flavor

Preparing Rhubarb

  • Wash and dry stalks well
  • Trim ends and peel any stringy parts
  • Cut into 1/2 inch chunks or dice as needed
  • Toss with sugar to draw out juices (if using for pie or baked goods)

Cooking Tips

  • Roast rhubarb with olive oil, salt and pepper to mellow flavor
  • Saute rhubarb briefly to maintain crunchy texture
  • Stew rhubarb with sweetener to soften and puree into sauce
  • Add rhubarb early when baking so it softens fully
  • Let rhubarb’s strong flavor shine by avoiding heavy spices

Storing Rhubarb

  • Refrigerate fresh rhubarb stalks in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks
  • Wrap chopped or cooked rhubarb tightly and refrigerate for 4-5 days
  • Freeze chopped or sauced rhubarb in airtight containers for up to 1 year
  • Can or preserve rhubarb using proper canning methods


Rhubarb is a versatile spring vegetable that mixes well with a wide variety of flavors. Its tart, citrusy taste pairs nicely with sweet ingredients like sugar, strawberries, vanilla, cinnamon and honey. Rhubarb also holds up to savory foods like ginger, onion, garlic, pork and oily fish. Beyond desserts like pie and crisps, rhubarb works well in beverages including wine, juice and tea. Try cooking rhubarb into jams, chutneys, relishes, BBQ sauce and curries. It’s great in salads, pizza and cheese balls too. Baked goods like muffins, cakes and breads benefit from rhubarb’s sour punch. With proper preparation and storage, you can enjoy seasonal rhubarb year-round. Now that you know all the flavors that complement tangy rhubarb, you can give this beautiful spring veggie a tasty starring role!

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