Dessert Ice Cream KIds Rhubarb Spring Summer

Homemade Rhubarb Ice Cream

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Homemade rhubarb ice cream in small glass dishes

Rhubarb Ice Cream is a throwback to simpler times when you made your own frozen treats every summer with ingredients you grew yourself.  But even if you don’t have a backyard patch or a rhubarb sharing neighbor, grab yours from the produce aisle, this is too good to miss!

rhubarb ice cream in a small ice cream dish

Rhubarb makes a fabulous ice cream flavor because of its natural tartness.

Rhubarb is famously tangy, and that actually helps the flavor shine through in this creamy ice cream (you can taste a similar effect in my fresh lemon ice cream). The perfect soft pink color comes from several stalks of rhubarb sliced and cooked down into a thick compote, it takes just a few minutes on the stove. After chilling I fold into a classic vanilla custard ice cream base. It churns up into the prettiest summer ice cream you’ve ever seen. Oh, and definitely steal a taste while it’s churning, that’s one of the best perks of making your own.

rhubarb stalks

My rhubarb ice cream recipe starts with a few cups of sliced rhubarb.

It’s actually a vegetable, but we tend to use it as a fruit in cooking. You can see it looks like celery, even though the two aren’t related at all. You can eat the stalks raw, but they’re suuuuuper tart (not recommended,) so most of the time we cook it with sugar and make it into amazing desserts. Rhubarb’s a hardy perennial that grows almost like a weed in many parts of the country, so you might well have some growing nearby.

You can use red, pink, or green rhubarb in this recipe, it won’t matter for the flavor, but the darker your rhubarb, the prettier your ice cream will be.

Homemade Rhubarb Ice Cream in a class pan

How to make old fashioned rhubarb ice cream

  • It starts with cooking the rhubarb.  Why do I cook it?  Because cooking it down enhances flavor and reduces the moisture in the fruit.  Water is the enemy when it comes to ice cream because water creates ice crystals when it freezes.
  • Next make a custard base with eggs, sugar, milk, and heavy cream.  This makes the ice cream extra rich and creamy. And don’t stress about cooking up a custard, you’ll give it a quick strain through a sieve so we’ll catch any stray ‘scrambled’ eggs!
  • Chill both mixtures until cold. I often do this the day before. Your ice cream base needs to be perfectly cold before adding it to your ice cream machine or it won’t churn as well.
  • Churn the ice cream in your machine. Mine takes under 20 minutes.
  • Spread the soft ice cream into a freezer container and freeze until scoop-able.

Scooping rhubarb ice cream

We get into a bit of a rhubarb mania every spring and summer here at the Great Island kitchen ~

a scoop of pretty pink rhubarb ice cream




Homemade rhubarb ice cream in small glass dishes
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5 from 7 votes

Rhubarb Ice Cream

Homemade Rhubarb Ice Cream an old time ice cream recipe made with fresh rhubarb for a sweet and tangy dessert you don't want to miss this summer!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 50 minutes
Yield 1 quart



  • 13 ounces chopped rhubarb (369 grams or about 4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (52 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (more to taste)


  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup sugar (135 grams)
  • 1 cup whole milk (250 ml)
  • 2 cups heavy cream (480 ml)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (you can also use a vanilla bean)


  • Stir together the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, and a splash of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until some of the liquid has evaporated and the rhubarb is thick and soft. Be careful not to let it scorch on the bottom of your pan.
  • Let the compote cool slightly then puree in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Chill until cold.
  • Meanwhile make the custard. Whisk the egg, yolks, sugar, and milk, making sure to break up the eggs completely. Heat the cream in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan until it starts to steam and gets little bubbles around the edge. Drizzle the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the whole thing back into the pan and heat on medium, stirring constantly, until the mixture just starts to thicken. Do not bring it to a boil.
  • Strain the mixture through a sieve, stir in the vanilla, and let cool. Chill until cold.
  • Mix the cold rhubarb with the cold custard sauce and thoroughly blend. Pour into your ice cream maker and churn according to the instructions. Spread the soft ice cream into a container and freeze until scoopable.


This recipe is a little larger than others on my blog, and may be a little too much volume for smaller ice cream machines.  If you have a smaller 1 quart machine, you may want to reduce the milk or cream by 1/2 cup.

rhubarb ice cream pin


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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    September 9, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    5 stars
    Hello from Edmonton, Alberta!! I made a batch of this(thought i messed up the custard because I dumped everything in the pot at once rather than your method, but it worked!! ) and just finished trying some. Oh my. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a wonderful ice cream! I have a large rhubarb patch in my yard, and it can seem hard coming up with great recipes for all that rhubarb(I’m even making wine with it this year-that’s how much i get every summer)but this one is the absolute best yet. Thanks so much for posting this 🙂

    • Reply
      September 10, 2020 at 7:10 am

      I’m so glad you loved this Toni, check out my other rhubarb recipes, I’m a fellow rhubarb maniac!

  • Reply
    July 25, 2020 at 9:45 am

    5 stars
    Absolutely Delicious! Made it as my sister and her husband were coming for dinner and it is her new favourite ice cream. We had it with apple pie and pistachio crumbled over the top of the ice cream.

    My advice … Make it early as mine had not set fully by desert time for us. Next time, I would leave about 5 hours in the freezer.

    • Reply
      July 25, 2020 at 11:00 am

      omg sounds like you had an epic dessert!

  • Reply
    July 4, 2020 at 10:08 am

    5 stars
    I love rhubarb and ice cream! What a great combination I never would have thought together. The recipe calls for the cream to be heated. Should I be whipping it to form peaks before the heating begins? I also dont have an ice crean maker. Thanks

  • Reply
    Debra Jean
    June 30, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Can frozen cut up rhubarb be used in place of fresh rhubarb?

    • Reply
      June 30, 2020 at 12:37 pm

      Yes, for sure.

  • Reply
    2 sisters recipes
    June 30, 2020 at 9:10 am

    Love this idea! I never made anything with Rhurbarb before, now is the time to start! Thanks Sue!

    • Reply
      June 30, 2020 at 9:59 am

      omgosh you’re in for a treat 🙂

  • Reply
    June 30, 2020 at 8:52 am

    This recipe looks so yummy. I do not have an ice cream maker. Can it still be done by hand?

    • Reply
      June 30, 2020 at 8:59 am

      You can try making it with a can of sweetened condensed milk in place of the milk, and whip the cream to firm peaks. You’ll mix everything together and freeze.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2020 at 7:19 am

    I love! rhubarb. Can’t wait to try this. My mom used to chop it up and simmer with some water until soft (like a chunky applesauce) and add sugar. When cool, it can be eaten it like applesauce or used as a topping for vanilla ice cream.

    • Reply
      June 30, 2020 at 7:57 am

      Yes, that’s such a great way to enjoy it, I want to make a rhubarb applesauce for the blog 🙂

    • Reply
      June 30, 2020 at 3:34 pm

      5 stars
      I too love rhubarb! Years ago our local ice cream store sweet rose creamery had rhubarb ice cream to scream for. Also, Mrs. Knotts fried chicken restaurant serves a rhubarb relish with the dinners! I’ve used the frozen rhubarb to make the relish. Sad… we don’t have an ice cream maker, happy …I’ll try Sue’s idea with condensed milk! Also, giving this a five just because it’s rhubarb and a good summer idea.

    • Reply
      July 4, 2020 at 10:03 am

      The recipe calls for the cream to be heated so when sjould i be whipping it to form peaks? I also dont have an ice crean maker. Thanks

      • Reply
        July 4, 2020 at 11:06 am

        If you are making a no churn ice cream you would not use eggs, or make a custard. You’d use condensed milk and whipped cream, Colette.