These delicious rhubarb cupcakes are the perfect springtime treat! They’re filled with a super easy homemade rhubarb filling and topped with rhubarb frosting.
These cupcakes are a bit more work than your usual plain cupcakes. There are three components: vanilla cupcakes, rhubarb jam filling and rhubarb frosting (that uses some of the rhubarb jam filling).
But they’re totally worth it! And they’re overall actually not that time-consuming.
These are the easiest and tastiest vanilla cupcakes. There’s no beating, no butter to melt, no eggs to separate or anything like that.
You just stir together the dry ingredients. Stir together the wet ingredients.
Then mix together, just until combined. Done! Time to bake.
Once they’ve cooled, you’re going to scoop out about 1 teaspoon of cake from each cupcake. But don’t eat up all those little bites of cake! You’ll need them to cover up the filling.
This filling is also super easy. You just add everything together in a saucepan and simmer until it’s thickened.
If you can’t find rhubarb or don’t feel like making your own jam, you can absolutely use store-bought rhubarb jam. You’ll need 3/4 cup.
I used sugar in the jam recipe, but I’m thinking this honey-sweetened strawberry jam would be great. There’s rosemary in there which sounds interesting, but I’d personally omit it for these rhubarb cupcakes.
The next step is to frost them. It’s your basic buttercream… but with rhubarb jam! Which cuts down on the sweetness, and adds that delicate sweet pink color to the frosting.
It pipes beautifully. I think these would be great for Mother’s Day or a spring baby shower. They’re just so dainty!
What you need to know about rhubarb
Rhubarb has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes throughout history. You can eat the stalks raw but really, it isn’t good. It’s sour and bitter which is why it is usually cooked with sugar or other fruit to get a tangy-sweet taste.
Although rhubarb is technically a vegetable as of 1947, it was declared a fruit. Legislators changed its status to avoid high tariffs. It works well in sweet dishes, so in some ways, it makes sense.
Rhubarb has long thick ruby red, subtle pink and lime green stalks with large green leaves. The stalks can be long and thick, or small and slender. They taste pretty much the same so whichever you find is the best to buy. Rhubarb has a short growing period, so get them while you can.
⚠️ Be aware, those large green leaves are not edible and are actually toxic because they contain oxalic acid. Don’t eat the leaves! ⚠️
Normally, you will see rhubarb with the tops already cut off, but just in case you find them intact, you will want to cut off the leaves, promptly discard, and use only the stalks.
If you’re not using it right away, just wrap it in a plastic bag, and store it for up to two weeks in the fridge. If your stalks have leaves, keep them on the stalks to help keep the rhubarb fresher for a longer period.
Rhubarb is a spring and summer crop: rich in antioxidants, high in fiber, and loaded with calcium and Vitamin C. It pairs well with berries, ginger, citrus and makes terrific sweets.
How to prepare rhubarb
Give the stalks a good rinse in cold water.
Trim off the ends, and chop it up like you would stalks of celery.
Some people like to peel the rhubarb stalks, but I’ve never found a need for that. It’s basically unnecessary work for you in the end. That deep red color is what contains the antioxidants, so I don’t recommend peeling it, leaving as much nutrition and fiber as possible.
Once you have the rhubarb ready to go, just follow the directions for the rhubarb jam!
What else can you do with rhubarb?
- Every kid loves fruit leather, and this Rhubarb Berry Fruit Leather is no exception.
- This Honey Rhubarb Compote is easy to make with just 3 ingredients and it’s a perfectly healthy dessert. You can substitute the honey with maple syrup to make this compote vegan.
- This Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp has a thick layer of oat-based topping and is gluten-free and whole grain.
- This vegan, Paleo Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp is maple-sweetened, nut-free and AIP-friendly.
- Top off the crisps with this Vegan Custard. It’s thick and creamy and super flavorful. It can also be made paleo.
- And if you decide rhubarb isn’t your thing, try these Raspberry Muffins or Honey Ginger Cranberry Apple Crisp.
- Or turn the tartness of the rhubarb into a sweet Rhubarbarita?!
These delightful treats only come around once a year, so take advantage of the season with these lovely rhubarb cupcakes.
So that’s it! 🙂 If you make these rhubarb cupcakes or any of my recipes, I’d love to see 📸 pictures of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #fooddoodlesrecipes so I can check them out.
For the jam filling:
- 4 cups (500 grams) rhubarb into ½” pieces
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1/2 medium lemon)
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1/2 medium lemon)
- pinch of salt
For the cupcakes:
- 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup (166 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (120 ml) milk
- ¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large egg (50 grams, out of shell)
- ⅓ cup (80ml) hot water
For the frosting:
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of the above rhubarb jam
- 2 cups (260 grams) powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
For the jam filling:
- Put a large saucepan over medium heat and add in the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest (but not the lemon juice) and salt.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, or until the mixture has started to boil and thickens a bit.
- Cover the saucepan with a lit and let it to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to thicken even more.
- If the jam hasn’t thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon after 20 minutes, then stir in 2 teaspoons cornstarch and simmer for another 5 minutes (but not longer, as it might break down the whole mixture into a runny mess).
- Once the jam has thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
- Transfer the jam to a container (I prefer a wide one, so that jam cools quickly) and allow it to cool completely in the fridge (about 2-3 hours, depending on the size of your container).
- While the jam is cooling, make the cupcakes.
For the cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla, egg, and water.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just combined. Do not overmix! The batter will be extremely thin!
- Fill each muffin liner ½ full and bake for 15-17 minutes or until the tops turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Turn them out onto a cooling rack and let them completely cool before frosting.
- Once the jam and cupcakes have completely cooled, prepare the frosting.
For the frosting:
- Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together the butter, vanilla, ½ cup rhubarb jam and salt on medium speed until smooth.
- On low speed, add in the powdered sugar gradually and mix until it becomes light, smooth and airy (about 3 minutes).
- Use a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop out 1 teaspoon of cake from the center of each cupcake. Fill the hole with 1 teaspoon of rhubarb jam and cover the with the piece of cupcake that you removed.
- Frost and serve. Refrigerate leftover in an airtight container for up to 3 days.