This easy apple rhubarb crisp gets sweet-tart flavor from pink rhubarb, a bit of zip from fresh ginger, and oat-flecked cobbles of salty streusel. Now with gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, and paleo options.
Find all of my favorite crisp and cobbler recipes here!
I first shared the recipe for this apple rhubarb crisp (a.k.a. apple rhubarb crumble) back in May of 2010 and it's since become a reader favorite! Brightly spiced, cozy, and lidded with a crunchy oat topping, it's so satisfying with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or ginger ice cream melting over the top.
Armed with a bunch of rhubarb plucked from my mother-in-law's garden, I revisited this apple rhubarb dessert to give it some fresh images. I used the gluten-free crisp topping that I developed for my cookbook Alternative Baker to test a GF option. My original recipe uses wheat flour from before I went fully gluten-free, and I've left it here.
When I took a bite of crispy streusel and sweet-tart fruit laced with spicy fresh ginger, I was thrilled by how well this old favorite has stood the test of time.
Apple and Rhubarb Desserts
I have Deborah Madison to thank for turning me on to the combination of apples and rhubarb with a pandowdy recipe in her beautiful cookbook Local Flavors (that I adapted here). Apples and rhubarb meet seasonally in the spring, when wintered over apples that have been stored since the fall coincide with fresh, field-grown rhubarb. They meet again in the fall when rhubarb grows its second cool-season crop and apples are beginning to ripen.
Though a lesser known combination than strawberry rhubarb, apples tame rhubarb's tartness the same way that berries do. Additionally, they provide structure that berry-rhubarb desserts can lack. Try this combination in any sort of baked fruit dessert with a silly name: pies, cobblers, crumbles, brown betties, pandowdies, or buckles.
Forced Rhubarb vs. Field Rhubarb
In some regions such as the UK, rhubarb is grown in hothouses during winter months where it gets harvested by candlelight. This "forced rhubarb" is bright magenta in color, with slim, tender stalks that bake up bright pink.
Here in California, it's more common to find field-grown rhubarb during late spring and early summer. The kind shown here, field rhubarb stalks tend to be fatter and tinged with green. Both types of rhubarb work beautifully in this recipe.
I'm lucky enough to have access to rhubarb nearly all year long. It grows in hearty patches in my mother-in-law's garden in Santa Cruz county thanks to their mild winters and not-too-hot summers (and my MIL's sick gardening skills of course!). If you're patiently waiting for rhubarb in order to make this apple rhubarb crumble, try checking the freezer section of your grocer for frozen rhubarb, which should work just as well.
Healthy Apple Rhubarb Crisp
Though this apple rhubarb crisp tastes like dessert, it's nourishing enough to eat for breakfast – cool from the fridge with a scoop of plain yogurt if you like. Apples and rhubarb provide lots of good nutrients and fiber, and so does the whole grain topping packed with oats, optional nuts, and whole-grain flour. Maple syrup sweetens the filling, and you can use maple sugar in the topping if you'd like to avoid refined sugars altogether in this dessert.
Vegan Gluten-Free Apple Rhubarb Crisp
I've updated this apple rhubarb crisp recipe with vegan and gluten-free options, so that everyone can enjoy some! I originally adapted the topping recipe from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook. I love that it gets simply stirred together with melted butter rather than rubbing the butter into the topping, and that it forms crispy clusters of varying sizes.
In the gluten-free version, I've swapped teff flour combined with sweet rice and tapioca flours for the all-purpose flour. This is the same crisp topping I use in my cookbook for cranberry pomegranate apple crisp, a lovely fall variation that's perfect for fall feasts.
For a vegan variation, simply swap in plant butter (such as Miyoko's) for the dairy butter and serve this with your favorite dairy-free ice cream.
Looking for a paleo apple rhubarb crisp? Try this grain-free almond flour crumble topping here instead!
How to make Apple Rhubarb Crisp & Ingredients
Crisp is truly one of the easiest desserts one can make, and imminently satisfying too. Just prepare the apples and rhubarb, toss them with maple syrup, fresh ginger, thickener (flour or cornstarch), vanilla, and salt. Spread this mixture in a large baking dish. A 9x13-inch lasagna pan will make thin layers that cook well. Or for a deeper crisp, use a large oval gratin dish as shown here. You can cut the recipe in half and bake it in a 9- or 10-inch round baking dish or an 8- or 9-inch square dish.
To make the crumble topping, combine the oats, flour (or flours if making the gluten-free version), brown or maple sugar, cinnamon, salt, nuts (if using) and melted butter (or plant butter if vegan). Stir to combine until the topping forms large, moist clumps.
Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and bake the crisp in the lower third of the oven. This ensures that the fruit cooks fully without scorching the topping. If the topping is browning too quickly, lower the oven temperature. This crisp likes a nice, long bake to fully cook the fruit and crisp up the crumble, so be sure to let it go until the fruit is bubbling up vigorously around the topping.
*Bojon appétit! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, purchase my gluten-free cookbook Alternative Baker, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this apple rhubarb crisp recipe, I’d love to know. Leave a comment and rating below, and tag your Instagram snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
Homemade Apple Rhubarb Crisp (gluten-free option)Print Recipe Pin Recipe
- 4 large semi-tart apples, such as Pink Ladies, Honeycrisp, Cameos, or Fujis (1 1/2 pounds / 680 g, 4 cups prepared)
- 1 pound rhubarb, leaves trimmed away, in 1" slices (4-5 large stalks, 4 cups prepared)
- 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger root
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or 1 tablespoon cornstarch)
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup (more if your apples are very tart)
- 1 1/4 cups (110 g) old-fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free if needed)
- 1 cup (140 g) whole wheat, spelt, or all purpose flour (see variation for gluten-free option)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (70 g) maple sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 tablespoons (113 g) unsalted butter, melted (Use plant butter for a vegan option. Omit salt if using salted butter.)
- 1/2 cup (55 g) coarsely chopped nuts, optional (sliced almonds, pecans, or walnuts)
- vanilla ice cream, for serving
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350ºF.
- If the apple skins are red and pretty, leave them on; or peel them, it's your call. Cut the apples off the core and into 1-inch chunks; you should have 4 cups. Toss the apples and rhubarb in a very large bowl with the ginger, vanilla, salt, flour, and maple syrup. Scrape into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, an 8 x 12-inch gratin dish, or the equivalent.
- In another large bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt (and nuts, if using). Stir to combine, then add the melted butter and work with your fingers until it begins to clump into a gravelly texture. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit.
- Bake the crisp for about an hour, until the crisp in golden brown and the fruit is bubbling up furiously around the sides. Remove and let stand for at least 10 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with scoops of vanilla ice cream.
- Store leftover crisp in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat before serving, or enjoy cold with yogurt for breakfast.
Gluten-Free Version:Use 1 tablespoon cornstarch in the filling instead of flour. In the topping, increase the brown or maple sugar to 1/2 cup (80 g of maple sugar, 100 g brown sugar). Use certified gluten-free oats. Omit the flour and use:
- 1/2 cup (80 g) teff flour
- 1/4 cup (37 g) sweet rice flour or GF AP flour blend
- 2 tablespoons (15 g) tapioca flour
Just had an amazing meal cooked for me and a bunch of friends. Despite how many compliments were used up to describe how delicious dinner was, people still had plenty of praise for the crisp that I put together while dinner was cooking. I added plums and wish I hadn't forgotten the nuts. So delicious though, everyone agrees.
Stephan Tobin says
I am going to make this for an Assoc. Humanistic Psych--Oregon pot-luck meeting for tomorrow. One thing I would suggest: listing the size and shape of the container in which things should be cooked. I have a few rectangular pyrex baking dishes, but they're only about 2 inches high. You show a bowl; was it cooked or just served in that?
Stephan Tobin says
Sorry, Alanna! I just read the recipe more carefully and see that you do list the kind of baking dish. I should have known that you would be thorough.
I've never had rhubarb before but, I've been wanting to try it. This seems like a perfect place to start! That crisp looks amazing! The fact that its healthier makes it even more tempting! Yumm!
Thanks! I hope you love it as much as we do!
Lisa Rudolph says
This was really yummy, but I think I'll cut back on the maple syrup next time. I like to taste some of the tartness from the rhubarb!
Cool! Thanks for giving the recipe a go and for the feedback. :)
OMG that looks terrific! Our rhubarb will be ready in a couple of weeks. Can’t wait!
Mignon Dobbins says
I love your apple rhubarb crisp. I've made it many times. I sometimes eat it for breakfast with plain Greek yogurt. It's too bad that fresh rhubarb is available only in spring and apples are at their best in fall. I have used frozen rhubarb in fall and non local apples in spring, but I was thinking about trying this today with readily available fresh cranberries instead of frozen rhubarb. Would you recommend any other adjustments for this variation? Or would you recommend against it for any reason?
I think this would be great with cranberries! They're pretty tart, like rhubarb, so I'd imagine that you wouldn't have to change anything else, but go with your instincts. And please come back and let me know how it comes out!
SJ Carey says
I just made these for a charter, and my guests absolutely raved about it! I think the ginger is a really nice touch. I did however have a dairy allergy so I didn't use butter on the crumble, I swapped it with equal part coconut oil and it came out perfect! ou! and I used pecans instead of the almonds, it was fantastic.
The boat smelt awesome!
If anyone has a dairy allergy, I would suggest the SOdelicious Vanilla Almond Ice Cream, it was great on top of the crisps.
Thanks, will definitely be using again.
Shauna Ianson says
I made this crisp with rhubarb and apples from our garden. The apples are golden delicious, but a little on the tart side. It is completely delicious! I served it with plain yogurt. Thank you for the recipe.
I'm so glad you liked it! Envious of your garden. :)
It's too early for rhubarb, I think. I live in Florida, so you never know. But you're torturing me by posting a rhubarb recipe before I can buy it! Lol!
Aw sorry to be a tease! I got this from my mother-in-law's garden in central California where it grows nearly year-round. Keep this in mind for when you find some, or look for frozen in grocery stores. :)
thank you so much, love rhubarb pies but have never made a crisp, and paired with apple too even better, thank you!
Hello there, I absolutely love the look of this recipe! Since rhubarb is not available at this time of year where I live, I was thinking of substituting it for another fruit (either more apples, pears, or peaches?) Do you have any suggestions for a substitute, and if so, would the amount of sugar need to be reduced/altered in any way?
Thanks so much!
Hi Phoebe! You could certainly use any of those. Blackberries would be lovely too! You can probably reduce the sweetener a bit since rhubarb is pretty tart. Please let me know what you end up making. :)
Lisa Baumgartner says
I am in Austria and about to make your lovely rhubarb crisp (which I have made before in the U.S.-- excellent!). Today, just to keep things consistent, I am using grams for everything possible, and I just noticed that the listed quantity of butter (in grams) for topping is incorrect: it is double what it should be. I am pretty familiar with 8 Tbsp. equaling 113 grams, so it wasn't an issue for me, but it might be for other European bakers!).
I have your beautiful book at home and love it... just sent it to my sister-in-law who was diagnosed with celiac.
Stay healthy and thanks for all your lovely recipes!
Thank you so much for catching that - fixed! Thanks so much for trying my recipe and for sharing my book with your SIL, I hope she loves it!
I just made it yesterday for a snack, and had the leftovers for breakfast and it came out really good !! I didnt have rhubarb so I made it without but it came good anyway! Thanks for sharing!
I made this today with the apples and rhubarb I got in my weekly CSA box! It's delicious! The ginger is a great touch! Thank you for sharing your amazing recipe!
Lucky you to get rhubarb in your CSA box - I'm envious! And I'm so glad you liked the crisp! Thanks a bunch for the sweet note. If you feel like giving the recipe a star rating, that will help others find it! :)
Helen A says
This was the best rhubarb crisp I've ever made. It's so great that adding apples means you can cut down so much on the sugar content. The texture and flavour were just perfect. I used Fuji apples. Everyone loved it - thank you!
Aw I'm so glad you liked it! That's such a good point about how the apples add natural sweetness - I never thought about it that way! The two are such a nice complement to each other aren't they?
Shelley B says
I've been make Apple crisp for years and this was the best recipe I've tried!
I'm so glad you liked it Shelley!