How much do we really know about rhubarb?

Probably best known for its signature pink hue and presence in pies and crumbles, you might be surprised to learn that rhubarb is still classified as a vegetable. Perhaps even more shocking, did you know that rhubarb is actually an ancient plant that can be traced to China as far back as 2700 BC? It has been used in Chinese medicine as a natural laxative for several millennia.

More than just a ‘pie plant’. 

So it’s more than just a ‘pie plant’. But for too long, we have been reserving the pink, tart stalks of the rhubarb plant for sweet desserts. Pies, crumbles, and compotes are commonplace when we brainstorm the possibilities of this perennial plant. But we underestimate the complexity of flavour possibilities within rhubarb, and that is something that we here at Spud are always looking to challenge.

Take it to the grill. 

This grilling season, we double dog dare you to be bold with rhubarb and pair it with unexpected, savoury dishes. And we could think of no better first step than with this sweet, tangy BBQ sauce, perfect for pairing with burgers, kebabs, grilled meat, or anywhere else you would normally use BBQ sauce.

Try it out, and let us know what you think! Just don’t forget to wash the stalks thoroughly, trim the ends, and remove any brown or scaly spots before cooking.



Rhubarb BBQ Sauce


  • 2-3 large stalks of rhubarb, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup pure maple or golden syrup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider or rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. grainy mustard


  1. Add chopped rhubarb to a medium saucepan with ¾ cup water. Bring everything to a simmer, and cook for 5-6 minutes or until rhubarb is very soft. Pour everything into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add a drizzle of oil to the same saucepan, and cook onions on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (including the cooked rhubarb), and allow everything to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until mixture has thickened. Puree in the blender until smooth. Use on grilled meats, baked beans, or on burgers.


Do you have any unique ways of cooking with rhubarb? Let us know in the comments!



SPUD has been delivering local and organic groceries in Vancouver and the lower mainland for the past 20 years, and now services Vancouver Island, Calgary, and Edmonton as well!

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