Salute Spring! Ten Ways to Enjoy Rhubarb Compote

Join us as we Salute Spring with a week-long series featuring the finest fruits and vegetables of the season.

Rhubarb is my favorite early summer vegetable. As a child I dipped the pale pink stalks in sugar and munched them raw. As a teen I paired rhubarb with strawberries, baked the pair into pies and sold them at my local farmers market for 5 dollars.

Now, I usually run out of rhubarb long before I finish experimenting with new recipes and the stalks are baked into cakes, juiced for drinks, and jarred for jam all summer long.

However, with all of my recipe testing, I’ve learned to appreciate rhubarb in perhaps it’s simplest form: cooked stove-top into a compote. If that sounds boring, I can assure you it is not, as the compote is a springboard to many delightful desserts.

Ten Ways to Enjoy Rhubarb Compote

Yes, compote is just a fancy name for stewed fruit. Here’s how I like to serve it up.

1. Over Ice Cream or Frozen Yogourt. Literally dessert in sixty seconds. Serve while the compote is still warm for a delightful contrast of temperatures.

2. Layered with Custard, Yogourt, or Creme Anglaise.  Spoon compote into a glass or bowl and top with warm custard – totally Jamie Oliver-style. Or for a special breakfast, layer yogourt and compote in a glass and top with chopped nuts.

3. Over Pavlova. Berries aren’t in season yet? Not to worry. Prepare Nigella’s Pavlova and replace the fresh berries with 1 ½ cups of rhubarb compote as a topping.

4. Rhubarb Fool. Chill compote thoroughly. Whip whole cream until stiff and sweeten slightly with honey. Fold compote and cream together ever so slightly. Spoon into a tall glass and serve at once.

5. Eton Mess with Rhubarb. Shattered meringues, a mound of whipped cream and rhubarb compote – layer all three in a tall glass or dessert dish and serve immediately, before the meringues have a chance to get soft.

6. Over Baked Oatmeal. Top of the morning to you! This Baked Strawberry Cream and Rhubarb Oatmeal from Diana looks like the perfect compliment to our rhubarb compote. Don’t forget to drown it all in cream.

7. Rhubarb Bellini. Purée compote until smooth. Spoon several tablespoons into a tall glass and top up with chilled Prosecco or Champagne. Stir with a long spoon and serve.

8. Over Cake. Slices of pound cake or olive oil yogurt cake are elevated with a spoonful of rhubarb compote and a dollop of whipped cream. First toast the cake slices in a 350 degree oven until crispy for a wonderful contrast of textures.

9. Rhubarb Trifle. Layer Ladies Fingers or pound cake with custard and rhubarb compote in a glass bowl. Finish with whipped cream. Chill.

10. Rhubarb Shortcake. My Honey Whole Wheat Scones are the perfect base for a rhubarb shortcake. Follow directions in the post for strawberry shortcake, but replace berries with warm rhubarb compote.

Recipe 1: Basic Rhubarb Compote

  • 6 cups fresh chopped rhubarb, washed
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup maple sugar or brown sugar
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover and simmer gently for about five minutes. Rhubarb will begin to soften.
  3. Uncover and continue to cook another five minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, cool.

Makes about three cups.

Recipe 2: Honey Rhubarb Compote

  • 6 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • (2 small beets – optional, for extra color)
  1. In a saucepan, bring apple juice to a boil. Peel and slice beets into halves and add to juice. Simmer for a minute or so until beets begin to release their juices and color.
  2. Add rhubarb and honey and stir until honey is melted and mixture is combined.
  3. Cook mixture slowly for about 8 minutes. Turn off heat and remove beet slices from the compote. Taste for sweetness and add more honey if desired.
  4. Cool compote completely; mixture will thicken as it cools. Store in a jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Yields: about three cups

Got a spring vegetable you’re crazy about?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. I’ve never tried rhubarb (not yet at least!) but I must admit, this looks amazing!

  2. My rhubarb is coming on nicely this year and I just made a strawberry rhubarb crumble that’s pretty amazing. Next up I’ll have to try this compote. I love your presentation and use ideas!

    In spring, color me asparagus!

  3. Perfect timing! Guess what my sister just gave me a huge jar of for Mother’s Day yesterday? 🙂

    And, now, when we run out of HJ’s, I’ve got two new recipes to try. Thanks Aimee!

  4. Thanks for the tips! I love anything sweet/sour, so of course I love rhubarb when other people make it. But I’ve been too intimidated to ever cook it myself! I feel like I can handle it after reading this! (I’ll try the layered yogurt first–it looks so delicious, and pretty!)

    • Anne, I’ve been having the layered yogourt and compote every morning with some granola. It’s such a treat. I hope you give it a try.

  5. I have an emergency rhubarb-and-strawberry question: where I now live (upstate New York) they’re not online at the same time. Rhubarb is at the market now, but strawberries won’t be ripe until June… but I love rhubarb and strawberries together! Any ideas for how to preserve the rhubarb until strawberries can join it? Blanch and freeze? Make into a compote and later combine with berries to use? What a mysterious place this New York is.

    • I understand, Julie. It will be a month before we see strawberries up here, too.
      Fortunately rhubarb can easily be frozen. I wash my stalks, chop into 1/2 inch slices, and freeze in ziplock bags, 2 cups per bag.
      Hope that helps!

  6. Great list! I always have a ton of ideas and then eat the entire jar smeared on angel food cake slices before I get to any others 🙂

  7. A spring vegetable that I get excited to see is asparagus. However I get VERY happy to see the herbs pop up in the garden. I love herbs! What a great series!

  8. I LOVE rhubarb! I once read an article in a magazine that said rhubard is inedible raw, I laughed and laughed! I like mine raw with a bit of salt….makes my mouth water to even think about it. We have a huge patch in our yard and most of it gets eaten before anything else can be done with it! Your compote looks beautiful though so I’ll have to try it. Thanks so much.

  9. Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) says

    This sounds lovely! I enjoy rhubarb, but have never cooked with it. Didn’t get it planted in our little containers this year – is it hard or easy to grow?
    Maybe I can find some at our farmer’s market and try out some of your suggestions.
    Wow, I’m SO happy spring is here and we get to talk about all this fresh, spring-y food!!!!

  10. I am intrigued by the suggestion of beets for color.

  11. Ooh, beets for colour. Such a neat idea! Do they change the taste of the compote much?

    • Not at all – that I can detect, anyway. Both honey and rhubarb and bold flavors, so the beet takes a backseat. Plus it barely cooks, just bleeds a bit.

  12. Stawberries and Rhubarb combined is one of my favorite spring flings! Grandma baked them together in PIE you didn’t mention PIE! Giggles

    And as for the growing questin, rhubarb is finicky about where it it is planted. Likes rich soil, is a heavy feeder. It takes a couple of years to get really established. I suggest planting several crowns, in a couple of different areas. If they all survive, then great….if only one location survives you are still ahead of the game. Rhubarb Pie all around! Cheers!

    • Bearlakenana says

      I love rhubarb! I remember having it the first time when I was about 3 years old. I have 5 plants. Beyond the eating pleasure, they are a beautiful addition to the landscape. I’ve also used the leaves as a form for making birdbaths. I spent Sunday afternoon digging up little starts from one of the plants that I let go to seed. I now have 40 plants to take to the farmers market ;D

  13. This is stunningly beautiful and so perfect for spring!

  14. Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says

    I’ve got some rhubarb hanging out in my freezer just crying out for every single one of these recipes. Beautiful photos too, Aimee!

  15. I adore rhubarb! I think its slightly acidic flavor pairs well with so many different fruits but I have to admit I have never tried making it with either orange juice or apple juice. Will have to try.

  16. Becky K. says

    I just made crêpes for the first time last weekend… this sounds like it would have been perfect inside them with whipped cream (or maybe some type of cream cheese filling…?)! All of your ideas sound delicious!

  17. I have been obsessed with rhubarb – it reminds me of my childhood in the Pacific Northwest. I just made a raspberry rhubarb crisp, but this compote looks fantastic – perhaps pureed with panna cotta?

  18. I just noticed that the rhubarb that we planted a couple years ago looks healthy and ready to be eaten. Yay! This is perfect timing and brought back such wonderful memories from my childhood, eating rhubarb compote straight! 🙂 Thanks.

  19. Wow, I’ve never had rhubarb before, but this looks amazing. I totally want to try some (especially layered with yogurt!). Great pictures by the way.

  20. Thank you so much for this simple but *delicious* recipe! I just made this and put it warm on top of a graham cracker with goat’s cheese. I think I can die happy now.

  21. A great list of rhubarb compote possibilities and nice recipes too!

  22. Aimee,

    I found you via Robyn’s Mingle Monday ~ so glad I did! Rhubarb – we grow it, we love it, and compote is our fav way to do do! I add the beets for color and that touch of extra sweetness.

    You are in one of our most beloved locations! Nous aimon le Quebec!

    I enjoyed reading about your upbringing – we homeschool our girls (oldest just graduated!); makes me feel proud when I am able to feel the positive impact of a rich homeschool experience in reading others’ experiences (like yours!).

    Beautiful site!

  23. This looks heavenly! My rhubarb is just getting big enough to use – I would love to try this. Each spring, I look forward to rhubarb and asparagus.

  24. BIG treat for me: I got to go to my friend’s house yesterday and chop TONS of rhubarb from her bush. I must have about 7 or 8 lbs. here. I’m making rhubarb crumble for dessert tonight, will freeze some as per your instructions in the comments section (sounds so easy!), and am making up a batch of the compote, too, and will put some freshly grated ginger in with it. We’re rhubarb-ginger freaks around here. I made a rhubarb-orange-ginger trifle for my husband’s birthday last June that stole the show. My mother-in-law in the UK gave me the idea for making Delia Smith’s rhubarb-crumble ice cream and it’s completely dreamy. We’re not doing dairy much anymore so I have to reconfigure that!

  25. My mom’s been making rhubarb-strawberry compote ever since I can remember. I got a plant off her a couple years ago so this year I have made it myself. Have to go home to the farm to get some more stalks though, I only have one plant and they never have it at the grocery store.

    Anyway, rhubarb compote is also delish on pancakes. One of my favorites, I’m planning on serving this on Sunday for my hubby – he’s never had it before.

    It is also great with corn bread. I know, sounds too weird, but try it out. You can just serve the compote and corn bread together but I like to save dishes. I just make cornbread muffins and put a nice big pile of rhubarb right inside. You can use raw rhubarb chunks or the compote itself to really moisten up the cornbread. It’s really great, I couldn’t tell a lie.

  26. My compote didn’t look anything like that. I used a similar recipe to the first one, (just rhubarb and honey) its not red at all?

    • In the photos I used the second recipe–the one that calls for beets. The beets really dye the compote, making it that deep red.

      If beets are not use then the compote is pink, at best. Hope that helps!

      • It does thank you! I’m working on my ode to rhubarb post, I mixed my compote with various sauces to help with the barf color. Its really not too pretty on its own but with raspberries it is stunning. I will link this for sure.

  27. awesome! I think I will try this with balsamic vinegar instead of orange juice and see how that turns out!

  28. Thanks for posting this! I was one of those “got rhubarb in a weekly box” folks and I had no idea what to do with it! I used your recipes but kind of mixed them up a little…came out great! Thank you!!! Or as my daughter (4yo) said “Yummy…thank you for letting me try that!!”

  29. I’d love to sign up for the emails, but it’s requiring me to have a gmail account, which I don’t. What’s up with that

  30. Hey Aimee – you’re making rhubarb look pretty darn good right here! 🙂 Great post!

  31. Simple yoghurt with rhubarb is my favourite, very refreshing! Funny though it’s a vegetable while it has all the linkings of fruit 🙂

  32. Thank you very much for your tips, I have saved and will try this. You make the rhubarb look so awesome!

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