Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

This vegan & gluten free rhubarb crisp recipe combines tangy rhubarb laced with vanilla and lemon with a crisp, cardamom-scented topping studded with oats and almonds.

Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

An Ode to Gluten Free Crisp

If I had to pick a single dessert to make and eat for the rest of my life, it would be fruit crisp. (But only if I could also eat chocolate.) I never tire of thick, saucy fruit lidded with salty brown sugar streusel laced with nuts, oats, and spices. Ice cream is mandatory. That space where melty ice cream meets warm compote and buttery streusel is pure bliss.

Fruit crisp is easy to make both gluten free and vegan, meaning you can please the majority of your guests with a single dessert. Crisp is decadent enough to feel like a true treat, but it still has some nutritional value from fresh fruit, whole grains, and nuts. Cold crisp topped with plain yogurt makes an ace breakfast if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers the following day.

Gluten Free Crisp Topping Ingredients

As a bonus, fruit crisps are stupid easy to throw together, making them amenable to weeknight baking. Just toss the fruit with sugar and a little starch to help the juices thicken, and roast until bubbling. This releases some steam from the fruit, keeping the topping true to its name. Stir together the streusel ingredients and crumble it over the fruit. Bake until golden and bubbly. Devour!

Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb CrispVegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb CrispVegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb CrispVegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp… or is it Crumble?!

It’s both! In the US, the terms are interchangeable, with crisp being the more common term. Call this a rhubarb crisp or a rhubarb crumble – just don’t call it late for dinner. Or maybe do, because it’s a dessert…

Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

Rhubarb Varieties: Field Rhubarb vs. Forced Rhubarb

Rhubarb grows in patches of slender stalks crowned with large, green leaves. The leaves are toxic if consumed in large quantities (and they can be toxic to cats and dogs too), so be sure to trim them away.

In warmer climates like coastal California, field rhubarb can grow outdoors much of the year, though it’s happiest in the spring and fall during mild weather. Field rhubarb comes in varieties that range in hue from green to bright red and everywhere in between. In California, I’ve only ever found red stalks tinged with green. When cooked, the color can look drab, which is why I often use only the lower reddest parts of the stalks. I’ll sometimes add red-hued ingredients such as beet or hibiscus powder or blood orange juice as well. A handful of red berries adds color and flavor too.

In cooler climates such as the UK, forced rhubarb is commonly grown in dark hothouses. Stalks can grow quickly in these conditions – up to four inches per day – and are harvested by candlelight. With no light for the leaves to photosynthesize, the leaves stay small and pale yellow. These stalks are bright magenta all the way through.

Forced rhubarb is hard to come by in California, perhaps because our hothouses are occupied by more profitable berries and lettuces. I was lucky enough to find some forced rhubarb from Washington State, which I used to shoot the process photos for this vegan & gluten free rhubarb crisp. But then I overbaked my crisp and had to make it a second time using field rhubarb (which I was lucky enough to harvest from my mother-in-law’s garden). To this version, I added a spoonful of beet powder and little fresh raspberry puree to bump up the color.

Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

The Key to Truly Crisp Gluten Free Fruit Crisp

I’ve made my fair share of soggy fruit crisps. Over the years, I’ve developed a recipe and process that yields a crunchy, clumpy topping every time.

First, I give the fruit an initial bake in the oven. This releases some steam from the fruit, meaning there’s less to sog up the topping when it’s added. Next I add just enough starch to help the filling form a thick compote. If the fruit is too watery, more moisture will absorb into the topping. I prefer cornstarch (as opposed to flour or tapioca) for its thickening power, neutral flavor, and light mouthfeel. Sugar also helps the fruit juices thicken (think: boiling jam until it reaches its setting point). Here I use just enough sugar to keep the rhubarb tangy but still lusciously thick.

Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

Flours for Gluten Free Crisp Topping

The next step is making sure the topping is sturdy enough to stand up to the fruit. Gluten free flours are more delicate than wheat flour and more prone to falling apart and getting soggy in crisp. It’s essential to use enough sticky ingredients to hold it together in clusters so that the topping forms a solid lid rather than sinking into the fruit. Here I use tapioca flour for stickiness, almond flour which helps the topping form crunchy clusters, and oat flour to create a delicate, streusel-like consistency.

Rolled oats and almonds give the crisp topping nubby texture, while brown sugar adds earthy sweetness. Melted butter brings the ingredients together into clumps. I like a good hit of salt in my streusel, and I also add a whiff of cardamom, which pairs nicely with the rhubarb.

Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

Vegan Rhubarb Crisp…or not!

Use a good plant-based butter to make this recipe vegan. I’m obsessed with Miyoko’s vegan butter, which is made from cashews and coconut and cultured so it has a salty tang. Serve with a vegan vanilla ice cream that you love. A couple that I’m partial to are Green Girl and Nada Moo. If you prefer to go dairy all the way, use dairy butter and ice cream. I’ve tried it both ways and it’s delicious!

Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

Looking for more gluten free fruit crisp recipes? Try these:

Looking for more gluten free rhubarb dessert recipes? Try these:

*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 vegan & gluten free rhubarb crisp, I’d love to see. Tag your Instagram snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet  and  #bojongourmet.*

Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp
4.8 from 5 votes

Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

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This vegan & gluten free rhubarb crisp recipe combines tangy rhubarb laced with vanilla and lemon with a crisp, cardamom-scented topping studded with oats and almonds.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

Rhubarb:

  • 5 cups (600 g) rhubarb, leaves trimmed away, cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
  • zest and juice of ½ large lemon (preferably Meyer)
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) organic granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (15 g) cornstarch or tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup (55 g) almond flour
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) GF old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup (25 g) oat flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons (11 g) tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) packed organic light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (I like my streusel salty with ½ teaspoon, but use the smaller amount if you prefer!)
  • 5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted dairy or vegan butter (such as Miyoko’s), melted
  • Dairy or non-dairy vanilla ice cream, for serving
  • Dried rose petals for decoration (optional)

Instructions

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF.
  • In a large bowl, toss the rhubarb with the lemon zest and juice, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla. Scrape the mixture into a 9- or 10-inch round baking dish, pie plate, or ovenproof skillet. Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips, and bake until the rhubarb starts to bubble, 25-30 minutes. Gently stir the rhubarb to redistribute.
  • To make the topping, combine the almond flour, oats, almonds, oat flour, tapioca flour, brown sugar, cardamom, and salt in a medium bowl (you can reuse the rhubarb bowl if you scraped it clean enough). Stir in the melted butter until the mixture forms large clumps.
  • When the rhubarb has baked, sprinkle the topping over the fruit. Return to the oven and bake until deep golden and bubbling furiously, about 25-35 more minutes. Let cool for a few minutes or to room temperature. Scoop into bowls and serve with ice cream and a sprinkle of rose petals if you like.
  • The crisp is best when freshly baked, but leftovers keep, covered and chilled, for up to 3 days. Enjoy cold or warm.

Notes

Don’t skip the ice cream: that space where melty ice cream meets warm compote and buttery streusel is pure bliss.
If your rhubarb is on the less-pink side, you can boost the color by adding any of the following: ½ - 1 teaspoon beet or hibiscus powder, the juice from a blood orange, or a handful of strawberries or raspberries.
Nutritional values are based on one of six servings.

Nutrition

Calories: 428kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 191mg | Potassium: 457mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 395IU | Vitamin C: 12.9mg | Calcium: 165mg | Iron: 1.7mg
Making this? I'd love to see!Tag your snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet!

Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

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31 thoughts on “Vegan & Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp”

  1. Making this for Mother’s day on the weekend!
    Quick question–I usually just keep arrowroot powder on hand and use it interchangeably when cornstarch or tapioca are called for. It seems to do the same job. Any thoughts?

    1. Yay! Hm, I haven’t experimented much with arrowroot flour, but my guess is that it would probably work. You could try a half batch to practice with and see if you like the consistency before making the real deal. Let me know if you try it – I’m curious now!

  2. Stunning photos. My mouth is watering just looking at them. Rhubarb isn’t ready here yet, but soon I hope. I have a sort of make-shift crumble topping recipe that I use for these sorts of things and I’ve used flaked quinoa in place of some of the gf flour or oats. Turned out marvellous so now I like to put it in all crumble toppings and also homemade granola.

  3. This is just so stunning Alana. I think your tip on giving the fruit a quick bake in the oven is genius. Now I know why mine usually ends up being soggy.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Any day I get a new Bojon Gourmet recipe in my email inbox is a good day! I made this to bring to a Sunday gathering . Everyone seemed to enjoy it as seconds were had by all. I doubled up the crisp topping because I can’t get enough of it, chopped up some whole almonds I had on hand instead of the sliced almonds, and used Earth Balance (omitted salt because it’s already pretty salty). I made a rhubarb strawberry crisp from Stella Parks (on Serious Eats) last week and think I preferred this one. Thanks for the lovely seasonal recipe!

    1. Hm, I’ve only tested this with this blend of flours and oats, so you’d have to do some experimentation! I’m sure there are other grain-free recipes out there; you might be able to take some ingredients from a different formula and apply them here. Let me know what you try!

  5. This tasted delicious and I loved the crunchy topping; however, my rhubarb was stringy and mushy underneath. Any tips for keeping is from turning to absolute pulp? Thanks!

    1. Hi Emma! I’m so glad you liked the topping for this. But I’m sorry to hear about your rhubarb woes! I’m a bit stumped because my rhubarb held up pretty well when I baked this. I wonder if your rhubarb stalks had more moisture in them than mine did? I could also imagine that stirring the rhubarb too vigorously after the first bake could cause it to break down more. Thoughts?

      1. Hello! I did notice that the rhubarb started to turn to mush right after the initial roasting— this might have been because there was too much moisture. I also might have cut mine into smaller pieces. Oh well, it still tasted delicious. Already contemplating what to bake next!

  6. I’ve been trying to nurture a rhubarb plant for years here in California. I have five precious stalks finally! I can’t wait to try this recipe.

  7. I was obsessing over that intense color until I finally read carefully and saw the reference to beet and raspberry powder. That is genius! I have some dried raspberries I could use. (On the east coast, it seems to be easier to grow varieties of rhubarb that are not brilliant red.)

    1. Yes, same here in California! It’s rare to find that perfect pink forced rhubarb. Yummy powders to the rescue! Please let me know if you give this a go. :)

  8. Incredible! I only had 3 cups of organic rhubarb so I added 1 cup of strawberries and 1 cup of blueberries. I really wanted vegan ice cream but I haven’t found one I’m willing to pay for :) it was divine without the ice cream.

    1. That sounds delicious! I want to try adding berries to mine next time now too. :) Yes it’s hard to find a good vegan ice cream. Nada Moo and Green Girl are my two current favorites. Sometimes I use Coyo (really rich coconut yogurt) in place of ice cream or whipped cream. Have you ever tried making some?

  9. I made this for a neighborhood get together, and everyone loved it! One of the attendees was dairy-free, and I didn’t have vegan butter on hand, so I used a mix of virgin coconut oil and avocado oil. Probably not as clumpy as if you’d use vegan or regular butter, but still a wonderful, crisp texture!