6 Best Rhubarb Substitutes

Rhubarb has a very distinctive flavor, with a perfect balance between sweetness and tartness. That’s why, even though the flavor is unusual, rhubarb is a popular choice for desserts as well as savory dishes.

From rhubarb crumble to duck sauce, there are plenty of ways to use fresh rhubarb. However, things can get tricky when you need rhubarb for a recipe, but don’t have any to hand. 

As we’ve mentioned, rhubarb has a unique flavor, so substituting it can be quite difficult.

However, there are other fruits that you can prepare in a way that somewhat replicates the taste and texture of rhubarb. 

Read on to learn about the 6 best substitutes for rhubarb you can use next time you’re in a pinch. 

6 Best Rhubarb Substitutes

All About Rhubarb 

This information might be surprising to learn, but rhubarb is actually a vegetable, and it belongs to the rose family! 

Growing up to 1 meter in height, Rhubarb originates from Asia, but it’s now widely distributed throughout Europe and is even popular in the United States.

Although the leaves of the rhubarb plant are highly toxic due to the amount of oxalic acid that they contain, the stalks are delicious and nutritious as well as versatile.

The stalks are usually easy to differentiate from the leaves because the former are bright red or pink, while the leaves are typically green. 

However, in some rhubarb varieties, the stalk may also be green, so it’s important to be careful when picking rhubarb yourself. 

What You Can Make With Rhubarb

You can use rhubarb in a variety of desserts by adding some sugar or honey to offset the tart flavor. From crumbles to pies, the unique flavor of rhubarb makes for some incredible sweet treats. 

Pies, tarts, and crumbles are some of the most popular recipes involving rhubarb, but rhubarb jam is also quite popular. 

Rhubarb fools, rhubarb tray bakes, and rhubarb muffins are all recipes we recommend trying out, both with rhubarb itself and some of its best substitutes.

Some less common rhubarb recipes include rhubarb pancakes, rhubarb cake, rhubarb chutney, rhubarb sauce, rhubarb ice cream, and even rhubarb bread and butter pudding. 

If you’re interested in making your own gin, rhubarb is also a popular flavor, and you could replace the rhubarb in the gin with some of the substitutes we’re going to discuss in this article. 

Rhubarb is a fun flavor to work with because it’s so unique, so don’t be afraid to get creative!

6 Best Rhubarb Substitutes 

1. Cranberries

Cranberries are bitter and sweet at the same time, and their red color closely mimics that of rhubarb, so these berries are a good substitute for rhubarb. 

You can always add extra sugar to your cranberries to make them sweeter because they do lean more toward the tart end of the spectrum. 

Not only does the cranberry flavor work really well as a rhubarb replacement, but cranberries are also high in vitamin C (more so than even grapefruits and lemons) and they are rich in antioxidants, which reduce inflammation in the body, hence why they are a recommended natural remedy for UTIs. 

2. Tart Apples

Apples come in many different varieties, and not all will be suitable for replacing rhubarb. Sweet apples, for example, would not be the best choice.

However, tart apples can work surprisingly well in place of rhubarb in both desserts and savory dishes. 

Granny smiths are a reliable substitute for rhubarb because they have a sour flavor, but they’re also sweet enough that you won’t have to add a lot of extra sugar to your recipe.

After all, apple juice is already high in sugar. 

What can be difficult about substituting rhubarb for apples, however, is working out how many apples you will need. This depends on the size of the apples in question and how much flavor you want to produce.

3. Quinces

Quinces are not only a great substitute for rhubarb in terms of taste and texture, but quinces also have numerous health benefits, including high levels of antioxidants.

These tree-growing fruits belong to the Cydonia genus and are known for their strong flavor and delicious smell.

While quinces are more traditionally used as substitutes for apples or pears, they can also be used in place of rhubarb. 

4. Lemon And Strawberries

6 Best Rhubarb Substitutes (1)

Rhubarb is known for being sweet and sour at the same time. So, if you’re looking to replicate its flavor, you could try using more than one fruit: a sweet fruit, and a sour fruit.

That’s why using strawberries with lemon juice is a great idea. 

Make sure to choose ripe strawberries so that they’re sweet and able to replicate the soft texture of rhubarb. Similarly, try to avoid using too much lemon juice.

It’s best to add a small amount and then taste the mixture. You can always add more juice if you need to, but you can’t really take any away once it’s been added. 

5. Sour Cherries 

Sour cherries are exactly what their name suggests: sour. You may also hear these delicious fruits being referred to as ‘tart cherries’. 

Now, the thing about sour cherries is that you definitely won’t want to eat them as a rhubarb substitute (or at all) without cooking them, probably in a fair amount of sugar.

That’s because they are so sour when eaten raw that they actually taste quite unpleasant. 

With that being said, when cooked in a lot of sugar, sour cherries taste very similar to rhubarb. If you don’t want to add refined sugar, you could use honey instead.

The firm texture of these cherries means that you can roast or boil them without causing them to lose their shape entirely.

Sadly, it can be pretty difficult to find sour cherries locally and affordably. However, if you can find some, you will learn that they are both versatile and delicious. 

6. Raspberries

If you’re looking for a fruit that will look like rhubarb as well as taste somewhat like it, we recommend using raspberries as a substitute. 

Raspberries are sweet and tart at the same time, like rhubarb, and they also contain a wide variety of essential minerals and vitamins that could benefit your health. 

Whether you’re making jam that calls for rhubarb as an ingredient, or a pie or tart filling, you can use raspberries to replace rhubarb. You can even use raspberries instead of rhubarb in fruit juice!

However, it is important to note that raspberries are sweeter than rhubarb, so while you might want to add a lot of sugar to your average rhubarb recipe, it’s best to add sugar carefully, to taste, when using raspberries. 

Final Thoughts 

Rhubarb may have a unique flavor that is difficult to replicate, but there are actually several good substitutes for rhubarb in both savory and sweet dishes, from pies to chutneys and sauces.

You can replace rhubarb in recipes with cranberries, tart apples, quinces, cooked sour cherries (with sugar), raspberries, or a combination of lemon and strawberries. 

Remember, some of these fruits are more sour while others are sweeter, so you may need to add some sugar or citrus juice.

However, it’s best to add these ingredients carefully and taste as you go so that you don’t overdo the sweetness or tartness.

6 Best Rhubarb Substitutes

Recipe by AubreyCourse: Substitutes


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You might think that replacing the flavor of rhubarb with another ingredient would be difficult, but here are the 6 best rhubarb substitutes that really work!


  • Cranberries

  • Tart Apples

  • Quinces

  • Lemon And Strawberries

  • Sour Cherries 

  • Raspberries


  • Decide on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy
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