Easy Rhubarb Sauce

This Easy Rhubarb Sauce is a sweet, tangy sauce that’s perfect with ice cream, yogurt and more.

All you need is rhubarb, honey or maple syrup, vanilla and salt. That’s it!

If you’ve always wanted to make an easy rhubarb recipe but a pie or crisp is too complicated, this is perfect for you.

Plus this is naturally Paleo, refined sugar-free and, if you use maple syrup, vegan as well. But the most important thing is that no one will care once they taste it.

a sauce made of rhubarb, honey and vanilla fills a mason jar with a spoon and is poured over vanilla ice cream in two coupe glasses, all on a blue table runner on a wooden table

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Easy Rhubarb Sauce

Rhubarb, a vegetable (yes, technically it’s a vegetable!), has beautiful red stalks and a sharp, tart flavor that’s pretty hard to eat on its own.

However, once you cook it with something sweet like sugar and/or other fruit like strawberries, it becomes much more palatable. And the sweet/tart balance is positively irresistible.

(But don’t eat the leaves at all – they’re poisonous.)

And while a lot of rhubarb recipes drown the veggie in white sugar, I find that often masks the flavor and becomes much too sweet.

So here we’re not only using less sweetener, but we’re sticking to honey or maple syrup to keep it refined sugar-free.

Which one should you choose? Using a light-colored honey not only adds sweetness but also preserves the rhubarb’s pretty pink color.

Using 100% pure maple syrup will add a mellow sweetness and maybe even a bit of smokiness (depending on how dark and robust your syrup is), plus a slightly duller shade of pink.

Either way, this rhubarb sauce is irresistible and can be used in so many ways (see below for ideas). Plus you can make it as chunky or as smooth as you like.

So let’s make it!

 

What you need for Easy Rhubarb Sauce

Ingredients:

Equipment:

  1. cutting board and chef’s knife (if using fresh rhubarb)
  2. A small saucepan (2-3 quart is good)
  3. measuring spoons (these are my favorite because they actually fit into spice jars!)
  4. A measuring glass
  5. Something to blend the sauce with: a blender, food processor, mini (4 cup) food processor or stick blender
  6. A serving pitcher, bowl or mason jar

easy rhubarb sauce fills a mason jar with a spoon and is poured over vanilla ice cream in two coupe glasses on a blue table runner on a wooden table

How to make rhubarb sauce

If using fresh rhubarb, trim off and discard the ends.

If the stalks are narrow, slice them in half lengthwise. If the stalks are wide, slice them into thirds lengthwise

Then cut crosswise into about 1/2″ chunks and add the rhubarb chunks to the saucepan.

If using frozen thawed rhubarb, you can skip the chopping steps and just add it to the saucepan.

Stir in the honey/maple syrup and salt.

Place over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let it simmer for 3-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want your sauce chunkier, cook it for the shorter amount of time. If you want it totally smooth, cook it for the longer time, until the rhubarb is pretty soft.

Take it off the heat and add the vanilla.

Then blend using whatever you like to blend (blender, food processor, 4-cup mini food processor, stick blender, etc.). You can leave it as chunky or as smooth as you like.

If you want it chunky, I’d still recommend blending it at least a little bit. Otherwise the sauce will just be a thin layer of sweetener and then separate rhubarb chunks. It’s better if they’re at least somewhat blended together.

Once the sauce has cooled down (the honey/maple syrup will be very hot when it’s done cooking), taste and add more sweetener, salt or vanilla if you like.

 

What to do with rhubarb sauce

You can enjoy this easy rhubarb sauce warm, room temperature or cold in so many ways:

  1. Pour over ice cream. Vanilla is the obvious choice, but coconut, pistachio or even marshmallow would be good. If you want to really go all in on the rhubarb flavor, spoon it over this creamy rhubarb gelato. Sprinkle on chopped nuts like almonds, pistachios or hazelnuts if you like. These Spiced Candied Pecans would also be fantastic. Adding fresh fruit like chopped strawberries or sliced bananas would be great.
  2. Pour it over yogurt.  Again, sprinkle over chopped nuts if you like, fresh fruit and/or granola. Or crumble over one of these no-bake breakfast bars.
  3. Drizzle over pancakes, waffles or French toast.
  4. Warm up a thick slice of banana bread, top with vanilla ice cream or yogurt and some of the rhubarb sauce.
  5. Do the same as #4 but with a blondie.
  6. Drizzle over the strawberries in Strawberry Shortcake.
  7. Drizzle over a slice of this Olive Oil Polenta Cake.
  8. Blend into a smoothie, like this Strawberry Banana Smoothie.
  9. Add a bowl of it to this Grilled Fruit Platter to drizzle over grilled peaches, pineapple and more.
  10. Add 1-2 tablespoons to a champagne flute and pour in some Champagne or Prosecco.
  11. Mix into cocktails with vodka, gin, tequila or white rum.

healthy rhubarb sauce in a mason jar with a spoon and in two coupe glasses with vanilla ice cream, all on top of a blue table runner

Substitutions and variations

  1. I already addressed the differences between honey and maple syrup in this recipe above, but you can also just use plain white sugar. It’ll be a little sweeter with a brighter pink color.
  2. You can use vanilla paste or fresh vanilla seeds from a pod in place of the extract.

 

Make ahead/storage

  1. The sauce will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. If you want to serve it warm, heat it gently over low heat in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally.
  2. The sauce can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat as above. If your sauce is on the chunkier side, the texture might be softer after it’s been frozen a while.

 

Other recipes you might like:

  1. Rhubarb Gelato with Easy Strawberry Sauce (Paleo, dairy-free)
  2. Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp (Paleo, gluten-free)
  3. Strawberry Banana Smoothie (dairy-free/Paleo/vegan options)
  4. Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins (Paleo, gluten-free)

 

Easy rhubarb sauce in a mason jar with a spoon in it and topping vanilla ice cream in two coupe glasses
a sauce made of rhubarb, honey and vanilla fills a mason jar with a spoon and is poured over vanilla ice cream in two coupe glasses, all on a blue table runner on a wooden table
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Easy Rhubarb Sauce

Learn how to make rhubarb sauce with this easy recipe! Sweet and tart, it's perfect over ice cream, yogurt, pancakes, waffles and more!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time28 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to make, rhubarb recipe, rhubarb sauce
Servings: 2 cups (approx.)
Author: Don Baiocchi

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen (thawed) rhubarb
  • ½ cup light-colored honey or pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt or 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  • If using fresh rhubarb, trim off and discard the ends. If the stalks are narrow, slice in half lengthwise. If wide, slice in thirds lengthwise. Then cut crosswise into roughly ½" chunks. Add to the saucepan. (If using frozen thawed rhubarb, just add directly to the saucepan.)
  • Add the honey/maple syrup and salt to the saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and gently simmer for 3-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want your sauce a little chunkier, cook it for the shorter amount of time so it still has some texture. If you want it totally smooth, cook for the longer time, until soft.
  • Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Blend (using a blender, food processor, 4-cup mini food processor or stick blender) until it reaches your desired consistency.
  • Let cool a little before tasting to add more salt, vanilla or sweetener, if necessary. Enjoy warm, room temperature or cold.

Notes

What to do with rhubarb sauce
  1. Pour over ice cream. Vanilla is the obvious choice, but coconut, pistachio or even marshmallow would be good. If you want to really go all in on the rhubarb flavor, spoon it over this creamy rhubarb gelato. Sprinkle on chopped nuts like almonds, pistachios or hazelnuts if you like. These Spiced Candied Pecans would also be fantastic. Adding fresh fruit like chopped strawberries or sliced bananas would be great.
  2. Pour it over yogurt.  Again, sprinkle over chopped nuts if you like, fresh fruit and/or granola. Or crumble over one of these no-bake breakfast bars.
  3. Drizzle over pancakes, waffles or French toast.
  4. Warm up a thick slice of banana bread, top with vanilla ice cream or yogurt and some of the rhubarb sauce.
  5. Do the same as #4 but with a blondie.
  6. Drizzle over the strawberries in Strawberry Shortcake.
  7. Drizzle over a slice of this Olive Oil Polenta Cake.
  8. Blend into a smoothie, like this Strawberry Banana Smoothie.
  9. Add a bowl of it to this Grilled Fruit Platter to drizzle over grilled peaches, pineapple and more.
  10. Add 1-2 tablespoons to a champagne flute and pour in some Champagne or Prosecco.
  11. Mix into cocktails with vodka, gin, tequila or white rum.
Substitutions and variations
  1. I already addressed the differences between honey and maple syrup in the blog post, but you can also just use plain white sugar. It'll be a little sweeter with a brighter pink color.
  2. You can use vanilla paste or fresh vanilla seeds from a pod in place of the extract.
Make ahead/storage
  1. The sauce will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. If you want to serve it warm, heat it gently over low heat in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally.
  2. The sauce can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat as above. If your sauce is on the chunkier side, the texture might be softer after it's been frozen a while.

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