Rhubarb Cupcakes

by Erin @ Food Doodles on May 9, 2021

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.

rhubarb cupcake being held up

The cupcakes

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.

cupcake before filling with jam
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.

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. 

cupcakes with rhubarb jam inside
The frosting

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. 

rack of frosted rhubarb cupcake
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.

rhubarb cupcake with bite in it

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!

close-up of rhubarb cupcake

What else can you do with rhubarb?

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. 


5 from 1 vote
hand picking up rhubarb cupcake
Rhubarb Cupcakes
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cupcakes, rhubarb
Servings: 12 cupcakes
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
  • 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)
  • 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:
  1. Put a large saucepan over medium heat and add in the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest (but not the lemon juice) and salt.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, or until the mixture has started to boil and thickens a bit.
  3. Cover the saucepan with a lit and let it to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to thicken even more.
  4. 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).
  5. Once the jam has thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  6. 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).
  7. While the jam is cooling, make the cupcakes.
For the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla, egg, and water.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just combined. Do not overmix! The batter will be extremely thin!
  5. 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.
  6. Turn them out onto a cooling rack and let them completely cool before frosting.
  7. Once the jam and cupcakes have completely cooled, prepare the frosting.

For the frosting:
  1. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together the butter, vanilla, ½ cup rhubarb jam and salt on medium speed until smooth.
  2. On low speed, add in the powdered sugar gradually and mix until it becomes light, smooth and airy (about 3 minutes).
  3. 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.
  4. Frost and serve. Refrigerate leftover in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Leave a Comment

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leah Haskell-Cummins July 1, 2021 at 09:43

Made the cupcakes for a family bbq and it happens to be my birthday as well. I didn’t have lemon zest so I made the jam without and followed the steps. My jam wasn’t thickening (made a double batch) so I sprinkle about a pinch of cornstarch and that did the trick. I was nervous about adding 4 teaspoons of cornstarch so I’m glad I went with my gut. The jam turned out amazing, I did use a hand mixer to puree it a bit and then stored it in container and chilled it overnight.

This was my first time making vanilla cupcakes by scratch and the instructions seemed odd. I follow the instructions and filled the silicone cups half full and I got really small cupcakes. I think next time I’ll get a box mix, but luckily there will be a lot of desserts available so the smaller cupcakes will work. I wasn’t sure what hot water meant so I went with the hottest setting from the tap. I do wish the cupcakes where bigger, and they stick to the paper cups.

The frosting was a hit an amazing, since I made extra I just cheated and spread some on some sugar cookies.


2 Erin @ Food Doodles July 1, 2021 at 13:11

I hope you have a great birthday! 🙂 The cake part is indeed not huge so that there’s enough space for the filling and the frosting. What about the instructions seemed odd? I would like to clarify anything that seemed strange. Hot water is just that – hot water. So the hottest tap water is fine. 🙂 I’m glad that you liked them and I hope that the others are the bbq will, too! Thanks for your feedback.


3 Beth May 12, 2021 at 00:03

Oh wow! My daughter and I are going to absolutely love these cupcakes! We love rhubarb anything! So excited to make these tonight!


4 Beti | easyweeknightrecipes May 11, 2021 at 23:20

I love rhubarb! These cupcakes are absolutely amazing!!


5 katerina @ diethood.com May 11, 2021 at 23:19

WOW! These are gorgeous!! I bet they taste AMAZING!


6 Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessert May 11, 2021 at 12:11

These Rhubarb Cupcakes are on my must-make list!


7 Catalina May 11, 2021 at 09:37

These cupcakes look amazingly delicious! I love rhubarb flavor so much!


8 Cathy May 11, 2021 at 04:10

This is the best way to use rhubarb!


9 Jen May 11, 2021 at 03:36

The filing was a fun surprise for my kids when they each took their first bite. So delicious and perfect for summer!


10 Mariem July 19, 2019 at 19:07

These were delicious!!! I had to add more powdered sugar in the frosting. It was probably because I used rhubarb that I had frozen from last year’s crop. Thanks for sharing. The kids want me to add strawberries or pineapple to it next time.


11 Marsha June 7, 2015 at 13:59

Another rhubarb recipe!


12 Colleen June 16, 2011 at 13:24

I’m new to rhubarb. Is the 1 cup for the icing the amount of rhubarb you get before cooking it, or after cooking/reducing/pureeing?


13 Heidi @ Food Doodles June 16, 2011 at 15:13

Sorry! 1 cup is the amount of rhubarb raw, then cooked and reduced. I’ve changed the recipe slightly because it was a bit confusing.


14 Katie May 24, 2011 at 11:31

These look fantastic! I made a strawberry rhubarb tart over the weekend, but now I’m kind of wishing I had made these instead! Yum!


15 Julie May 22, 2011 at 18:36

These look amazing!!! How do you make the puree???


16 Heidi @ Food Doodles May 22, 2011 at 18:44

Just put the rhubarb in a blender or food processor. You can add a tablespoon of water if you need to get it going, but don’t add too much 🙂


17 Beany von Doom May 22, 2011 at 11:44

These look amazing! I just got a bunch of ‘barb yesterday. The frosting is such a unique colour and I never use food colouring, so I’m super proud of you. Can’t wait to try!


18 Heidi @ Food Doodles May 22, 2011 at 18:44

Awesome 🙂 The color will depend on your rhubarb. You can always add a couple drops of beet juice to color it as well – you wont be able to taste it!


19 Rachel May 21, 2011 at 09:27

You say milk is an ingredient but it isnt added….


20 Heidi @ Food Doodles May 21, 2011 at 13:46

Sorry! I’ve added it!


21 birdie to be May 19, 2011 at 14:04

These are so pretty! Great job on the frosting!


22 Heidi @ Food Doodles May 19, 2011 at 14:40

Thank you! It was all my sister-in-law! I only wish I could have made them that pretty 😀


23 Jenny (Fit Girl Foodie) May 19, 2011 at 13:51

Those cupcakes are so cute. Anything with pink calls my attention 😉


24 Katie's Something Sweet May 19, 2011 at 05:42

Wow! Beautiful cupcakes! I love your pale pink frosting^^


25 Heidi @ Food Doodles May 19, 2011 at 11:11

Thank you!


26 Ari@ThE DiVa DiSh May 18, 2011 at 23:16

This looks SOO yummy! You KNOW how much I love cupcakes!! Delicious!! Seriously. ..and I seriously don’t know why I have never tried rhubarb! what does it taste like?


27 Heidi @ Food Doodles May 19, 2011 at 11:11

I don’t think I’ve ever seen rhubarb cupcakes before. My sister-in-law suggested it. They’re really fruity tasting actually considering it’s just rhubarb. The frosting is amazing, sweet and tart and really fruity. So yummy, but really sweet. If I make them again I’ll reduce the sugar but that might just be me.


28 Cate May 18, 2011 at 15:15

These look fantastic! I’m SO obsessed with rhubarb right now… but I never would have thought to put it in cupcakes!


29 Heidi @ Food Doodles May 19, 2011 at 11:08

Thank you 😀 It was actually my sister-in-laws idea. And it was an awesome idea 😀


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