Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
21 Apr

Sweet & Tart Rhubarb and Berry Dessert Sauce

Rhubarb is a mysterious vegetable, one that is loved by many despite its toxic leaves and puckering, tart flavor. It’s possibly one of the least versatile vegetables out there and resists most attempts at making it palatable, unless a cup of sugar is involved. There are some savory rhubarb recipes out there, but most make an unintentionally convincing argument that rhubarb really is best served for dessert.

So what’s a Primal rhubarb lover to do? If spring is not really spring until you’ve had a taste of seasonal rhubarb, but you want to avoid the sugar and flour in cakes and crumbles, then try Rhubarb and Berry Dessert Sauce instead. Rhubarb is simmered in butter, vanilla and just enough honey to sweeten it up without masking the tart flavor. Fresh berries are mixed in and then the sauce is spooned on top of full-fat yogurt or layered with homemade whipped (coconut) cream. The contrast of the tart, fruity sauce and rich yogurt or whipped cream truly tastes like an indulgent dessert. If you need a little crunch, sprinkle ground nuts or dried coconut on top. The bold flavor of this dessert makes small amounts really satisfying, so a little bit of the sauce will go a long way.

Lest you think that rhubarb desserts are all indulgence with no virtue, there are some health benefits to be had. Rhubarb is a decent source of calcium, fiber and vitamin C and can potentially reduce heartburn, cholesterol and hot flashes in menopausal women. As you’re eating your rhubarb and berry sauce with whipped cream, however, it’s unlikely you’ll be thinking about this. You’ll simply be enjoying a fabulous new dessert.

Servings: 4-6


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 3 stalks of rhubarb, peeled if needed and sliced thinly
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries


If the peel on the rhubarb is thick and/or stringy, you can peel it off before cutting the stalks up.

Melt butter with honey and vanilla over medium heat.

Add rhubarb and simmer 10 minutes.

Add berries. You can remove the sauce from the heat immediately so the berries stay firm and fresh, or simmer for 3-5 minutes so the berries become soft and release their juice.

Serve over full-fat yogurt or with whipped cream or coconut whipped cream. To make homemade whipped cream, whisk a cup of whole cream and 2 teaspoons of vanilla by hand (or with an electric mixer) until soft peaks form.

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Goodness! That looks delicious! Wish my body could tolerate the dairy in it though. :(

    Cherice wrote on April 21st, 2012
    • There’s no dairy in coconut cream :)

      Colin wrote on April 24th, 2012
  2. That looks so beautiful and delicious!

    Rachel wrote on April 21st, 2012
  3. Cherice, can you tolerate coconut milk? Have you tried making coconut whipped cream? I love rhubarb. I want to try making this.

    PrimalPotter wrote on April 21st, 2012
  4. Oops-I’ve been regarding full fat yogurt with homemade fruit sauce as a dietary staple, not as a dessert.

    Was thinking of getting so rhubarb and wondered what to do with it. I will make this! Thanks.

    Helen wrote on April 21st, 2012
  5. I looove rhubarb! I will definitely make this.

    P.S first time first comment!

    SophieE wrote on April 21st, 2012
  6. Mmm – now I know what to do with all the rhubarb that’s sprouting in my garden!

    oliviascotland wrote on April 21st, 2012
  7. Yummo, was craving dessert last 2 days and this will help with the hot flushes too. Anybody got any winter “primallly correct” after dinner comfort food recipes… don’t want to put on the winter weight this year…..

    Shoobidooo wrote on April 21st, 2012
    • just been cruising and found out how to make coconut cream and a found a few other recipes … yeahhhaa

      Shoobidooo wrote on April 21st, 2012
  8. Rhubarb is a known cause of kidney stones. I have been told to avoid it at all costs. Similarly spinach, kale and most dark green leafy vegetables.

    Jerrymat wrote on April 21st, 2012
    • Kale, spinach and other dark, leafies do contain significant amounts of oxalic acid, the precursor to oxalate stones, but cooking them reduces the oxalic acid significantly. Making sure your diet contains adequate calcium, salt and friendly bacteria is vital in any reduced-carb scenario.

      There are four distinct types of stones, and oxalates are only implicated in one (the most common) variety: the calcium stone.

      Mamachibi wrote on April 21st, 2012
  9. Making the whipped cream by hand helps me feel that I’ve truly earned dessert 😉

    Amber wrote on April 21st, 2012
  10. Your recipes led me to this site. I love them. But here I have to disagree. Rhubarb is great as a vegetable. I use it with chicken, tuna, and lamb and it’s irreplaceable. It stays fairly crisp and has a mild, lemony flavor.

    Wenda wrote on April 21st, 2012
    • Sounds interesting, I love liver with baked unions and apples a lot. Another mix of meat with fruits.

      Could you describe the preparation of Rhubarb in a bit more detail? How do you cook it, how long, how much.

      Victor Venema wrote on April 22nd, 2012
      • Happy to oblige. I’m pretty new here, do people post entire recipes? Here’s the one for tuna: scatter about 2 pounds, about 2 inches thick, cut into cubes across the bottom of a casserole. Top with 3 cups of rhubarb sliced thin, then add a cup of chopped tomatoes (drained diced are fine), 1/2 cup red wine, 2 T each olive oil and honey. Cover, cook in a microwave at 100% power for about 15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

        The chicken one is more fun–radishes and scallions as well as rhubarb. It really tastes like spring. Would you like that too?

        Wenda wrote on April 22nd, 2012
        • Yes, people do post entire recipes here – and, yes, please do post the chicken one, too.

          rarebird wrote on April 22nd, 2012
        • Okay, here’s the chicken/rhubarb recipe:

          8 half-breasts
          3 cups rhubarb, sliced thin
          3 cups asparagus in 2″ lengths
          1 cup radishes sliced thin
          1/4 cup shallots, peeled and halved or quartered, depending on the size
          1 1/2 cup heavy cream
          3 T cornstarch
          2 T cold water
          1/2 cup scallions sliced thin

          Scatter the rhubarb across the bottom of a large oval dish that will go in the microwave. Chicken goes on top, with thick side toward the inside rim of the dish. Scatter asparagus, radishes, and shallots over the chicken. Lightly press on all the layers. Pour cream over all.

          Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Cook for 10 minutes. While it’s cooking whisk cornstarch and water till smooth.

          Take chicken out and peel off the plastic. Spread scallions on top and pour in the cornstarch slurry. Use a spoon to mix it in with the cream without disturbing the chicken any more than you have to. Recover and cook 5 minutes more.

          I let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

          Oh, and I cut the rhubarb and asparagus on the diagonal. I like the way it looks. Coconut milk is new to me. Perhaps it could be substituted.


          Wenda wrote on April 22nd, 2012
        • Thank you very much. The two recipes sound great and are combinations I would never have thought of myself.

          I see your new: a recipe with corn starch. :-)

          Victor Venema wrote on April 23rd, 2012
        • It didn’t even occur to me to use rhubarb in a savory way. Can’t wait to try. My rhubarb plants will be ready to harvest in a couple of weeks

          Girleegirl wrote on May 19th, 2012
      • Do you have any good liver recipes you can share? Thanks!

        Kevin wrote on April 25th, 2012
        • My standard recipe, which may be the German standard recipe is this. Bake one or two apples in a little butter. The normal version is probably with water. Stop well before it becomes apple sauce.

          Chop union in small pieces and slowly bake until they get a nice golden tan. Cut the liver in small pieces, heat up the pan with the unions and quickly bake the liver. Just so long that the colour changes and maybe one or two minutes more, but not much longer otherwise it becomes bitter. Add pepper and salt. I like chicken liver most.

          Before serving add some cinnamon to the apples. Depending on the apples used and your degree of primalness add some sugar or raisins.

          Victor Venema wrote on April 25th, 2012
  11. Oooh! I’m gonna try this, I have a mess of rhubarb in the freezer.

    Nionvox wrote on April 21st, 2012
  12. Sounds wonderful!

    Harry Mossman wrote on April 21st, 2012
  13. YUM! I definitely plan on trying this in the summer. :)

    Andrea wrote on April 21st, 2012
  14. Cherise and Amber:

    KEY TO WHIPPING COCONUT MILK INTO WHIPPED COCONUT CREAM: Refrigerate a can of full fat coconut milk for a full 24 hours before attempting to whip it. scoop off the fatty part that has risen to top. pour of the watery part and reserve for other recipes or smoothies. whip on high in a cold metallic bowl (put that in freezer for an hour). Cold and FAT are key to whipping coconut milk. add a splash of vanilla to “sweeten”. I have been known to add a shot of amaretto as well. hehehehe.

    Mark, thanks for such a great recipe idea. gonna go get me some rhubarb and try this

    ChiroLisa wrote on April 21st, 2012
  15. I was going to look up a rhubarb recipe. It is the season. Didn’t have to search far. Sounds mmmmm good.

    Jodi wrote on April 21st, 2012
  16. Since PrimalCon, I’ve sidelined fruit for a while, but I am going to put that Coconut Whipped Cream to use pronto!!

    Susan Alexander wrote on April 21st, 2012
  17. It would never have occurred to me to use butter (yum!) but I’ve been making a simple rhubarb sauce for years: just cook it down with a little water like you would apples for applesauce. Tastes great on pork or mixed in with yogurt (or on ice cream, in my less primal days).

    ajt wrote on April 21st, 2012
  18. Drool… Love rhubarb, love raspberries. They’re pretty good shmooshed together and topped with mascarpone too (if you do dairy).

    Sigi wrote on April 21st, 2012
  19. I’m going to be honest… I’m craving this

    Justin Miller wrote on April 21st, 2012
  20. Rhubarb, like other large leafy greens/stalks are considered “tonic” and especially healthy in the spring/early summer. Rhubarb crumble (a mix of almond flour or just some chopped walnuts, butter,w/cinnamon, stevia or touch of honey) is my favorite dessert. wrote on April 22nd, 2012
  21. Perfect! Today is my husband’s birthday and we’re headed to the farmer’s market this morning…now I know what I’m making for his birthday party dessert! Thanks!

    mars wrote on April 22nd, 2012
  22. ps… coconut whipped cream OMG

    mars wrote on April 22nd, 2012
  23. I grew up with strawberry-rhubarb pie as a Southern summer staple. I was starting to feel sad about missing out during my first paleo summer because of the sugar. I’ll give the butter/honey combo a try. Thank you!

    Decaf Debi wrote on April 22nd, 2012
  24. I love rhubarb and its great to see ways to use it in primal cooking. Thanks!

    rarebird wrote on April 22nd, 2012
  25. I love rhubarb but even with really sweet berries that sauce is TART! Like others have said, rhubarb is really good with meats. I make a chutney like relish with onions and spices and it’s really good with pork roast.

    marcella wrote on April 24th, 2012
  26. Incidentally, rhubarb leaves are toxic due to the amount of oxalic acid in them- same stuff that’s in barkeep’s friend and a few other kitchen cleaners. I wonder if you could use them in cleaning, somehow?

    Adrian wrote on April 24th, 2012
  27. We made this and put it on coconut crepes (recipe from “The Foodie and the Family”, except we use organic 2% instead of coconut milk). It was SO good. I told DH rhubarb will now be a staple on the grocery list whenever it’s in season!

    Jen wrote on May 1st, 2012
  28. Just made this and it is amazing! I might add strawberries next time and try to decrease the honey. So good with coconut whipped cream, would be amazing with Greek yogurt. Thanks! Can’t wait to share with my friends.

    Nicole wrote on May 1st, 2012
  29. Made this recipe yesterday and was totally blown away. It’s sooooo suuuper yummy! I was a little impatient with the coconut cream so it was more like a coconut “mousse”, but that doesn’t make it worse imo. With the added honey the sauce also had just the right amount of sweetness which is usually the hardest part with rhubarb.

    Isabel wrote on May 2nd, 2012
  30. I have a ton of cut up rhubarb in the freezer. How many cups does 3 stalks equate to? I’d love to try this recipe. Thanks for any input!

    Crissy wrote on May 9th, 2012
  31. I made a really yummy rhubarb crunch/crumble the other day with almond flour topping. Hopefully my rhubarb plant will produce enough to make a few more of them this summer!

    Angie wrote on May 10th, 2012
  32. I tried this tonight and it was absolutely delicious! It’s my first day trying the Paleo diet and with recipes like this, I’m looking forward to the next few weeks!

    Kaitlyn wrote on May 22nd, 2012
  33. Wow, I came to find a berry sauce recipe. Found a great new use for rhubarb (I have two varieties – my Mum’s and his Mum’s LOL and because I slackly let plants go to seed, I end up with oodles of plants as the main dies and baby plants come up). Next the great recipes in the comments…gee, I haven’t got time for this. I’ll come back!!! Thanks people, great site; great comments.

    Kerri wrote on June 8th, 2012

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