Exploring the Top 7 Substitutes for Rhubarb: Discover Delicious Alternatives

7 Best Rhubarb Substitutes

Rhubarb is a versatile vegetable that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. However, its availability is limited to the spring season, making it difficult to enjoy rhubarb recipes throughout the year. Fortunately, there are several alternatives that can be used as substitutes for rhubarb. In this article, we will explore the seven best rhubarb substitutes and discuss their flavors, textures, and benefits in various recipes.

1. Strawberries

Strawberries are an excellent substitute for rhubarb because of their versatility and complementary flavors. When prepared with lemon juice, strawberries can mimic the tart sweet flavor of rhubarb. This combination can be used in a variety of dishes, and the level of acidity can be adjusted to personal preference. Strawberries are easy to find and widely available during the spring and summer seasons.

2. Cranberries

Fresh cranberries can also be used as a substitute for rhubarb. While they have a distinct flavor, cranberries have a natural tartness that is reminiscent of rhubarb. When cooked or sweetened, cranberries provide a fruity flavor that can complement a variety of recipes. They are especially good for making jams, sauces, and desserts. It’s important to note, however, that cranberries can be quite tart, so adjustments in sweetness may be necessary.

3. Sour Cherries

Sour cherries are another good alternative to rhubarb. These cherries have a tartness similar to rhubarb and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Sour cherries work well in pies, tarts, compotes and sauces. Their bright red color adds visual appeal to recipes, and their tart flavor provides a unique flavor profile. Sour cherries are usually available during the summer season and can be found fresh, frozen, or canned.

4. Tart Apples

Tart apples, such as Granny Smith or Bramley, can be used as a substitute for rhubarb in certain recipes. While they do not have the exact flavor profile of rhubarb, tart apples provide a pleasant tartness that can work well in pies, crumbles, and sauces. When cooked, these apples soften and develop a slightly tart flavor that can be similar to the flavor of rhubarb. Available year-round, tart apples are a versatile ingredient in a variety of culinary preparations.

5. Quinces

Quinces are a lesser known fruit that can be used as a substitute for rhubarb. They have a distinct tart flavor and a unique floral aroma. Quinces are often cooked and used in jams, jellies, compotes and desserts. When cooked, quinces develop a soft texture and a sweet-tart flavor that can resemble the taste of rhubarb. It’s important to note, however, that quinces may not be as readily available as other substitutes and may require some effort to find.

6. Raspberries

Raspberries can be used as a substitute for rhubarb in certain recipes, especially those that call for a fruity and slightly tart flavor. While raspberries are sweeter than rhubarb, their natural acidity provides a balance that can mimic the taste of rhubarb. Raspberries can be used in jams, desserts and sauces, and their bright red color adds visual appeal to dishes. These berries are widely available during the summer season and can be used fresh or frozen.

7. Pomelo Fruits

Pomelo fruits, also known as Chinese grapefruits, can be used as a unique substitute for rhubarb. Although they do not have the same texture as rhubarb, pomelos offer a pleasant combination of sweet and tart flavors. The citrusy flavor of pomelo can add a refreshing twist to recipes that traditionally call for rhubarb. Pomelo fruit is typically available during the winter season and can be found in specialty grocery stores or Asian markets.


Although rhubarb is a unique and delicious vegetable, its limited availability can be a challenge when trying to incorporate it into recipes year-round. Fortunately, there are several substitutes that can replicate the flavor and texture of rhubarb. Strawberries, cranberries, sour cherries, tart apples, quinces, raspberries, and pomelos all offer their own unique characteristics that can enhance a variety of dishes. Whether you’re making pies, jams, sauces, or desserts, these substitutes can provide a suitable alternative to rhubarb and allow you to enjoy its flavors year-round.


Can I use these substitutes to replace rhubarb directly in any recipe?

While these substitutes can mimic the flavour and texture of rhubarb, it’s important to consider the specific recipe requirements. Adjustments in sweetness and cooking techniques may be necessary to achieve the desired results when substituting for rhubarb.

Are these substitutes as sour as rhubarb?

Some of the substitutes, such as cranberries and sour cherries, have a natural acidity similar to rhubarb. However, the level of acidity can vary. Adjustments in sweeteners or balancing ingredients may be required to achieve the desired flavour profile.

Where can I find these alternatives?

Most of these substitutes, such as strawberries, cranberries, tart apples and raspberries, are readily available in grocery stores or farmers’ markets during their respective seasons. Quinces and pomelos may require a visit to speciality shops or Asian markets.

Can I use these substitutes in savoury dishes?

Yes, these substitutes can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Rhubarb alternatives such as sour apples, cranberries and quinces can add a unique tang to savoury recipes such as sauces and chutneys, providing a delightful balance of flavour.

Can I freeze these alternatives for later use?

Yes, most of these substitutes can be frozen for later use. Strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and sour apples can be frozen if properly packaged to maintain their quality. However, it’s important to note that freezing can affect the texture of certain substitutes, so they are best used in cooked or blended preparations after thawing.

Are these substitutes as nutritious as rhubarb?

While these substitutes offer their own nutritional benefits, they may not have the exact nutritional composition of rhubarb. Rhubarb is known to be low in calories, high in fibre and contains significant amounts of vitamin K1 and calcium. The nutritional profile of each substitute can vary, so it’s best to eat a varied diet to get a range of nutrients.