Rhubarb Streusel Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce

This cake. Oh, this cake. It is so unreal in it’s deliciousness that I had to post about it immediately.

I love me some rhubarb but have only ever enjoyed the pie and crisp variety of rhubarb desserts. Until this cake, that is. Leisel, a sweet reader, sent it my way, telling me it turned her rhubarb-hater of a husband into a rhubarb-lover.

Since I was already a lover of rhubarb, it completely sealed my fate to adore rhubarb forevermore.

Tart rhubarb is folded into a deliciously moist and sweet buttermilk cake and topped with a buttery, crunchy streusel. Baked to golden perfection, the cake retains it’s moistness and the rhubarb softens to perfect puckery tenderness. Smothered in the creamy sweetness of the warm vanilla sauce and this unbelievable cake becomes absolutely irresistible.

P.S. I’m still chasing bears in Yellowstone. Please excuse my delay in answering comments/emails/questions. I’ll be back in commission this weekend.

Rhubarb Streusel Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce

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Rhubarb Streusel Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce

Yield: Serves 6

Rhubarb Streusel Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce

Note: I doubled this cake – it was too much batter for a 9X13-inch pan so I made 9 cupcakes in liners (filling them about 1/2 to 2/3 full) and a 9X13-inch cake. The cupcakes baked for about 23-25 minutes, the cake for about 40 minutes.


  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (here is a guide for making your own buttermilk)
  • 2 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb
  • Streusel Topping:
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Vanilla Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar for the cake. Beat in the egg. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter/sugar mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beating just until moistened. Fold in the chopped rhubarb. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the batter to the edges.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the streusel topping ingredients, mixing them together until the mixture is coarse and combined. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the batter. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top of the cake is lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
  4. For the sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar and milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until slightly thickened (it will thicken more as it cools slightly). Remove from the heat; stir in the vanilla. Serve warm with the cake.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from a reader, Leisel, who got it by way of allrecipes.com

41 Responses to Rhubarb Streusel Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce

  1. Jill D. says:

    Yummy! Waiting for the cake to come out of the oven to take to work tomorrow, but wondering if you have any suggestions for the sauce? Pour it on top before I take it in or serve it on the side? I won’t be able to keep the sauce warm once I get it there. Love your recipes, I’m a long time fan!!

    • Mel says:

      Hmmm, that’s a good question. I’d probably warm the sauce and pour it on the cake before you take it to work. Hope it’s a hit!

  2. Raquel says:

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe! The cake and sauce were amazingly delicious. This one will be a keeper for my recipe box.


  3. Lex says:

    I made this for a church picnic. Everyone loved it! One person said it was the best dessert she had ever eaten.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I made this over the weekend. Holy smokes! It was amazing! I’ll definitely be making it again!

  5. Hilary says:

    Mel, my grandmother used to always use rhubarb but I’ve never baked with it. Do you do anything special before putting it in the batter? Cook it? Anything? Or do you just chop it and throw it in? Thanks!!!

  6. Kate says:

    You always come through for me, Mel! I recently received a big bag of frozen rhubarb and wanted to make this exact kind of cake. I was SO thrilled when I saw you had a recipe for it, and true-to-form, it was amazing!! My husband is a freak for “cold” sweets. Like, he always puts his chocolate in the freezer, likes frozen cookies, etc, so I made the cake a day ahead, refrigerated it and then served it with the warm vanilla sauce on top. No kidding, I blacked out for about the 2 minutes it took me to shove it in my mouth it was so good!

    Thanks for another tried and true recipe. I’ll never make a different rhubarb cake again! 🙂

  7. sofaia says:

    Mel, this recipe takes the cake (pun intended). I have never tasted such…I can’t even find the words to express the explosion of yuminess I experienced with each bite. The cake was scrumptious, but then add the warm vanilla sauce (which i wanted to eat by the tablespoon) and it was divine. I doubled the recipe and it fit perfectly in a 9×13 pan. I made it for my friend’s bday at work who loves rhubarb. I can’t thank you enough for posting this recipe. You undoubtly are a lean-mean-recipe-rocking-machine! U-know!

  8. Anissa says:

    This was seriously amazing. The cake isn’t very sweet, but that makes it perfect with the sauce. I will definitely add about double the rhubarb next time.
    I also did about 3/4 tsp of vanilla and 3/4 tsp of almond extract in the sauce and having the hint of almond in it made it AWESOME.

  9. Cathy says:

    my family loved this! some had never had rhubarb and was pleasantly surprised of how good it was, the vanilla sauce was soooo scrumptious, i could drink it! thanks again for a great dessert and after that one i need to add one more yoga and cardio class!! HA 🙂

  10. Donna B says:

    I found a bag of frozen Rhubarb in the back of my freezer this morning. A search lead me to this recipe, so good. I think I’ll make it for my friends for lunch next week.

  11. Kelley says:

    What do you do with a bag of frozen rhubarb? I knew you would have the answer. I made this tonight… yum! My picky little a 4 year old called me a culinary genius. Okay… he just said, “Yummy,” but I take that seriously when I hear it come from his lips. This is not the first recipe from your blog to elicit such a response, nor will it be the last, I’m sure. Thank you!!! Also, thanks for the effort you put into occasional gluten free recipes. With several Celiacs in the extended family, I appreciate the ideas.

  12. Shandra says:


    You did it again. I was given some rhubarb and I had remembered drooling over this cake. Thanks for giving me the perfect recipe to make with my rhubarb. This cake was amazing!! I added a little lemon, used a buttermilk substitute and more rhubarb and this cake was a perfect 10!! I posted the changes to my blog–and I figured the recipe amounts that worked perfectly in a 9×13 pan. Now I am going crazy trying to find me some more rhubarb so I can make it again.

    Thanks so much!


  13. Kristine says:

    I made this for my Friday coffee with my lady work friends this morning and brought it to work warm. They loved it and most of them asked for the recipe. I double the recipe all the way around and the cake fit nicely into my 11×15 pan. Enough to feed the entire crowd, and then some. Looking at some of your other recipes now and expect to try some of them too.

  14. Kim says:

    My family loves rhubarb so I like to make a lot of different dishes this time of year with it in. I made this last night and they really enjoyed it, especially with the sauce! Thanks for the recipe. You do a wonderful job with your blog, so many great recipes!

  15. April says:

    My rhubarb is going crazy! I made crisp last week and made this yesterday. It was delicious! I used 4 cups of rhubarb instead of 2 to give it a little more rhubarb flavor. The streusel topping was crunchy and wonderful. Turned out perfectly. Thanks for another great recipe!

  16. Hilary says:

    hi Mel! I wondered if this could be made in a bundt pan? And why did you double it? Did you want the extra cupcakes or was the recipe as is not enough for a 9×13? Also, could the sauce and cake be made ahead and then the sauce heated up? Thanks! (LOVE your website!)

  17. CarrieW says:

    Since this cake has rhubard in it, should it be stored in the refridgerator?

    • Mel says:

      CarrieW – I wasn’t aware that rhubarb needed to be refrigerated, so I’m not sure. The sauce should definitely be refrigerated and it probably wouldn’t hurt the cake to be chilled, also.

  18. Ashlee says:

    So I recently had my baby and the friend who first introduced me to your fabulous blog made this and brought me over some…Oh my heck, it was amazing!!! I’ve only had rhubarb in a jam before but this was so good, I wish I had more!

    • Mel says:

      Ashlee – well first, congrats on your baby! And second, I wish your friend would bring ME some of this cake! Maybe I should have another baby. 🙂

  19. Helen says:

    i made this today. it was delicious, thank you. the next time i make it i think i will add more rhubarb – maybe one more cup.

  20. Reyna says:

    Hey there. It’s me again. I just made this today for a big potluck and it was tastetastic! Every component is a delight from that ultra moist and yummy buttermilk cake, the tart rhubarb, the crunchy streusel and that ridiculous sauce—oh hold me! I get asked all the time for the recipes of the different dishes I make and 9 times out of 10–it’s from your website. I have sent many people your way for the best food around.

  21. ingrid says:

    Yum, that looks seriously dreamy.

  22. Hillary N says:

    Ok, this has nothing to do with rhubarb, but i have to say, you’ve been my go-to website for quite some time, and I needed a meatloaf recipe. I have never cooked a meatloaf recipe during my almost 10 yrs of marriage cuz my hubby hates it. But, i searched it on here and found the “Best meatloaf” and it was a recipe for “mini meatloves”. TO DIE FOR!!! They are literally THE BEST i’ve ever tasted, the flavor is superb and the sauce on top is so irresistable! Plus it is so simple and quick!!! My kids gobbled them up. And I may or may not have eaten 21/2 of the 5 loaves i made, who are we kidding, I could’ve eaten all 5. This was a first for us, but most certainly won’t be our last. Thanks again for a tried and true recipe that has instantly become a favorite!! THANK YOU THANK YOU!!

    • Mel says:

      Hillary – thank you so much for your comment! I always feel like I’ve made a real difference in the big ol’ world when a meatloaf-hater is converted to the mighty meatloaf. I’m thrilled the mini meatloaves were such a hit. Thanks for letting me know!

  23. Chef Dennis says:

    I have to say, I have never used rhubarb, but your struesel cake looks delicious….and you really got my attention with the warm vanilla sauce!

  24. Angie says:

    Sure — now you post a yummy rhubarb recipe. AFTER I move from the house that had more rhubarb than I knew what to do with! And now I have none. Guess I might just have to go buy me some and try this recipe out.

  25. grace says:

    streusel and sweet, succulent sauce–it doesn’t even matter that i don’t care for rhubarb!

  26. Leisel says:

    Seeing the photo’s reminded me how amazing this was! I’m going to have to make it again, right away!

  27. Dee says:

    I love Rhubarb I always ate it as a kid. I will have to try this recipe.

  28. CaSaundra says:

    Rhubarb is phenomenal–I think a strawberry sauce would go over this great as well as the vanilla!

  29. SnoWhite says:

    We love rhubarb around here — and this dessert looks wonderful! We have just inherited a bunch of rhubarb from the garden at our new house, so we’ll be trying this for sure!

  30. Kim in MD says:

    I have never had rhubarb (I know-can you believe it?), but this cake looks delicious! The vanilla sauce looks amazing, too. This will go on my “must try” recipe list!

  31. I am drooling over the vanilla sauce. That sounds incredible.

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