5-Spice Rhubarb Crisp



Spices that launched a thousand ships.  Aren’t they beautiful?


Five Spice Powder is used extensively in Chinese and southeast Asian cooking, often as a rub with meats like duck or in sauces and stews, and as many foods do it has now spread to all corners of the culinary planet.  Though there are variations including the addition of ginger and peppercorns, the commonly used five ingredients are:

  • Sichuan Pepper
  • Star Anise
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Fennel or Anise Seeds

Aromatic, warm, a little spicy, this mixture adds dimensions wherever it goes.  Probably the most dominant flavor is the star anise but they all get along just fine—this five-way marriage is an old one and a good one.


You can make your own with equal parts of these spices and grind them fresh, or buy the mix in specialty stores or online.  If you’re interested in freshly ground spices and are looking for a coffee grinder to use as a spice grinder (I wouldn’t use one for both) check out Fine Cooking‘s review of them.  Once you’ve experienced freshly ground spices you may never go back.




It’s amazing how fast rhubarb grows once it pops through the ground, one of the most energetic spring edibles around.  Even as many buds are still waiting around to be sure it’s safe out, the rhubarb boldly forges upward.  How handy.


Rhubarb hails from China so maybe this combination has been seen before, visit here for more in-depth history of this curious vegetable (yes, it’s a vegetable).  It was consumed medicinally (the root in particular) for a number of ailments and often used in cleansing and balancing the digestive system.  Check out the Rhubarb Compendium for recipes and more than you ever thought would be in one place about Rheum rhabarbarum.




Vanilla ice cream….that is what you’re thinking isn’t it?




5-Spice Rhubarb Crisp

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 50-60 minutes


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Pulse chop in a food processor (take care not to over blend) or mix together in a bowl using a ‘pastry blender’ until the butter is in pea-sized chunks:

1 stick (1/2 cup) Butter, chopped into small cubes

3/4 cup Rolled Oats

1/3 cup Rice Flour

1/2 cup Brown Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Salt


Mix together

6 cups Rhubarb, chopped into smallish pieces

1/3-1/2 cup Sugar

3 Tablespoons Cornstarch or Arrowroot

Spread onto a buttered 9×13 pan. 

Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top

Bake 50-60 minutes.

Especially tasty served with Vanilla Ice Cream.  



I used this photo in the Rhubarb Chutney recipe a few years ago, it needed another go around.







6 thoughts on “5-Spice Rhubarb Crisp”

  • I was just wondering if there was something new I could do with my rhubarb! This definitely looks like it is worth trying. Thanks!

  • I’m making this tonight. Our rhubarb already bolted last week, so I chopped off the seed heads. Looking forward to enjoying the first harvest!

    • …and since many rolled oats are processed in plants that share equipment with wheat, if you want this to be gluten free, make sure your oats are.

    • That’s great! Don’t forget the ice cream….I drove by Sonny’s on my way out of town and seem to recall they had rockin’ good ice cream.

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