Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce

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This is a soft, old-fashioned Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce: a simple one-bowl cake to stir together and bake in a 9 x 13 pan. This is perfect for a potluck or picnic.

Tangy Rhubarb Cake with Sweet Butter Sauce

Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce

Tangy Rhubarb Cake becomes completely irresistible when paired with the sweet Butter Cream Sauce. This cake is a twist on a classic Christmas dessert, cranberry cake with butter sauce.

I’ve updated it for spring and substituted rhubarb for the cranberries. It works so well, as both cranberries and rhubarb are tart and pair well with the butter sauce.

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How To Make An Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake

This is an egg-less cake which makes it super easy to make in one bowl. First, you’ll sift all the dry ingredients together. They are just the basics: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

To that mixture you’ll gently stir in the milk, melted butter and diced rhubarb. Pour into a pan and bake.

Classic Rhubarb Cake

This is seriously the easiest dessert. It’s just as fast as using a cake mix and doesn’t require and special ingredients (other than rhubarb, of course.)

The Rhubarb Cake is perfect for last minute company or anytime you want to bring a dessert somewhere. 

The lack of eggs in this cake makes it especially tender and I love that. Be careful not to over bake it as it will be dry. Don’t worry though, a healthy dose of butter sauce will fix it. 

Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce

How To Make Butter Sauce

Butter sauce is just butter, heavy cream and granulated sugar – and it is oh, so delicious when poured warm on cake. Think of it as a superior frosting since frosting is just sugar and butter too. 

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, stir in the heavy cream and sugar, bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute.

Ta da, magic butter sauce that is perfect over cake.

In addition to seeing this butter sauce over cranberry cake, I’ve also seen it served over a Pecan Praline Cake and a Warm Gingerbread Cake.

Rhubarb Cake with Warm Butter Sauce

More Rhubarb Recipes

Both my family and my reader’s love rhubarb recipes. If you’re looking for ways to use up extra rhubarb, check out one of my other rhubarb recipes. 

Can I Freeze Rhubarb?

Rhubarb season is short, but never fear, you can use freeze rhubarb and use it throughout the year without any issues at all. You can also purchase frozen rhubarb at most grocery stores.

To use frozen rhubarb: thaw the rhubarb first and let any excess liquid drain off. Don’t squeeze any liquid out, just drain what naturally thaws out of the rhubarb. 

Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce

Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce

4.19 from 33 votes
Old fashioned rhubarb cake with butter sauce. This rhubarb cake is made in a 9 x 13 pan and is a perfect easy dessert for a potluck or picnic.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 15 servings


For the cake

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups rhubarb diced (see note below about using frozen rhubarb)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter melted

For the butter sauce

  • 1/2 cup 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


  • Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the diced rhubarb, milk and melted butter. Stir just until combined.
  • Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and cool
  • To make the butter sauce, combine the butter sugar and cream in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 1 minute stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  • To serve, cut pieces of cake and serve with a generous amount of warm butter sauce. The sauce can be gently reheated on the stove or in the microwave if necessary.


To use frozen rhubarb: thaw the rhubarb first and let any excess liquid drain off. Don’t squeeze any liquid out, just drain what naturally thaws out of the rhubarb. 
Cranberry Cake recipe adapted from A Farm Girl Dabbles.


Serving: 1piece · Calories: 363kcal · Carbohydrates: 58g · Protein: 4g · Fat: 13g · Saturated Fat: 8g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g · Cholesterol: 37mg · Sodium: 257mg · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 34g
Tried this recipe?Mention @chocolatewithgrace or tag #chocolatewithgrace!

{originally published 4/20/19 – recipe notes and photos updated 5/6/21}

Tangy Sweet Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce
Rhubarb Cake with Butter Sauce

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  1. Jen says

    Rhubarb is such a favorite of mine and totally takes me back to my childhood. This cake sounds amazing and I can’t wait to take my first bite!

  2. Patty says

    Just whipped this up. In the oven as I type. There was no pouring batter into the pan. It was very stiff. Then needed to spread it out into the 9×13 pan. Fingers crossed it works out, time will tell!

      • Patty says

        Was it to be a very stiff batter? Well I liked it…it tasted like a shortcake I make for strawberries…I’m thinking if I make this again…I will pour the butter sauce all over the cake when it comes out of the oven!

  3. Kathy says

    5 stars
    This recipe is great. The butter sauce makes it. I use 2 round cake pans. One to keep at home and one to share at work.

  4. San says

    3 stars
    My daughter and I made this cake this morning. We love making Rhubarb shortbread. This seemed like a nice change of pace but we aren’t sold on it. It tastes very much like a super sweet biscuit with very little rhubarb taste. We made notes; if we make it again we would cut the sugar in the cake to 1 cup and up the diced rhubarb to 6-7 cups. For us not a keeper as is; if you really love rhubarb – the tang/ sour taste is just not there.

    • Mary says

      I’m sorry to hear it wasn’t a hit with your family, San. Typically, this cake has that tangy flavor that I love as well. I know that when rhubarb is more green it will have a sharper taste, but even if it was completely red, it still should have given you rhubarb flavor here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts either way!

  5. Lisa says

    1 star
    Made this recipe to take to a 4th of July potluck! I wanted to love this recipe but I can’t. I was so embarrassed by the way it tasted. It was so dense and doughy even though it was cooked all the way through. I ended up bringing over half of the pan back home. I was initially going to make another recipe I have made for a long time but I decided last minute to try this one! I wish I had never laid eyes on this recipe. It is clearly needs oil and or eggs or something else because as is it is not good! Disappointed 😢

    • Mary says

      I’m not sure what went wrong with the recipe for you, Lisa. It’s always frustrating when things don’t turn out right. The butter and milk should’ve added plenty of moisture and the baking powder leavens it nicely. Did you substitute any ingredients? or change something in the directions?

      • Lisa says

        I changed nothing with the recipe. I don’t know how it can’t turn out dense without eggs or oil or something else added to it. It needs something else! Perhaps some like dense cake but I don’t!

  6. Kathy Raabel says

    The cake was very good although the butter sauce is what makes it. I make the same cake using raw whole cranberries and it is more flavorful with the contrast of the sour cranberries and sweet sauce. Of course a little ice cream on the side is also good!

  7. Shirley says

    1 star
    This cake had no flavor at all.. and the butter sauce did not help it.. I’m sorry but this was a huge disappointment.

      • Tammy says

        I started reading the reviews on this cake, because I felt that any cake recipe without eggs was not going to turn out well. BUT the really shocking part was the statement “Usually takes 1 stick of Rhubarb” That is SO far off. I have been growing Rhubarb for 3 years, which is still a pretty young crop. My plants produce all different sizes of stalks. There is nothing generic or predictable about the size of a Rhubarb stalk, hint– 4 cups!! For an author to generalize the amount, makes me SUPER leery about her recipe. This recipe is not worth wasting Rhubarb. I’ll pass!!!!!

        • April says

          I think there was a mistake in reading. I think she thought Bernie was asking about butter maybe, not rhubarb. It clearly states 4 cups of rhubarb so 1 or 2 would definitely be far off. But again, I think it was a miscommunication.

  8. Bonnie says

    5 stars
    I’ve made this cake several times. I do cut out 1/2 c sugar as its pretty sweet. If I make the butter sauce, we just spoon it on the individual piece, but usually don’t make it at all, as its very sweet and not necessary. It mixes up quickly, is moist and always turns out.

  9. Mary Kay says

    The recipe looks fabulous, but your print button is not working. It just takes you to the same posting in a different tab.

  10. Carol says

    4 stars
    Made this today. It seemed very very dry added another cup of milk was better but not cake like more like a cobbler. Per other comments I added about 1/2 of chopped rhubarb to the sauce. It was very good next time will add some pecans or walnuts

    • Mary says

      The extra milk likely worked to turn it into more of a cobbler than cake. It’s a fairly dry batter for the cake. I’m glad it worked out for you! I’m sure it will be delicious with nuts too.

  11. Michelle Thoma says

    5 stars
    Made this today & it came out amazing!! I plan on making it again soon. Thank you, everyone really enjoyed it.

  12. Don says

    4 stars
    Made this cake today, it’s sooo good. I made the cake into a poke cake. I waited till the cake had cooled for about 20 min. and cooled the sauce for 10 min before pouring it on the cake. Warm up the cake before eating.

  13. Candy says

    2 stars
    Although, the cake seemed to be cooked, it was super moist and had a gummy texture. Maybe my cups of rhubarb were more than level adding more moisture to the cake?
    I don’t know how one stalk of rhubarb could ever equal 4 cups. It would have to be super long and super thick.
    The butter sauce though is fantastic! I will use it on some other desserts. Not sure if I will try this cake again. I’d give the sauce 5 stars.

    • Mary says

      Candy – Not sure what happened for you. The cake gets great reviews. I would say try it again before giving up on it completely. Enjoy your summer!

  14. Mary says

    5 stars
    I made this cake last night and it is delicious! The butter sauce adds such a great contrast to the tartness of the rhubarb. Definitely a keeper.

  15. Bonnie says

    5 stars
    Have made this several times. I cut the sugar a bit. Its a dense, moist, thick cake. Always turns out. I don’t always make the butter sauce. It doesn’t really need the extra sweetness.

  16. Kelly says

    5 stars
    This turned out good. Not doughy. Maybe a hair sweet so I would cut some sugar out next time. I add the sauce right before eating to the individual slice. I can see it being doughy if done to the whole cake and left to sit. My Rhubarb was very tart too so lots of rhubarb flavor!

    • Mary says

      Kelly – I am glad you enjoyed it. Sugar and rhubarb is an interesting balance to try to strike. Some people prefer really tart and others really want to sweeten it up. It is great when you can find the balance you enjoy.

  17. Kim says

    On the rhubarb cake with butter sauce can you use gluten free flour ? Or how to substitute to make it gluten frew

  18. Wendy says

    1 star
    Epic fail! I made this with frozen rhubarb and followed the directions on how to handle it in a frozen state. I cooked it as directed, even left it in the oven for 5 extra minutes as the top of the cake was very pale, only looked a bit brown on the edges. A toothpick inserted in the middle came out clean.
    While it was technically cooked it was so heavy and doughy it was inedible. I saved about an inch and a half around the edge and the rest went in the bin. We tried to eat some of that but it still wasn’t great.

    • Mary says

      Wow. That is a bummer, Wendy. My guess is there was quite a bit of excess liquid yet with your thawed rhubarb.

    • Mary says

      Hello, Penny! I don’t know how well that would work in the recipe, to be honest. The cake would have a very different consistency. Still, if you decide to try this idea, let me know how it turns out!

  19. Becky Cooper says

    5 stars
    Ok. My sister in law gave me a ton of rhubarb, so my friend sent me some recipes she saw.😊
    This one looked great. I read all the reviews. And I must say, some of them were incredibly rude.🥺
    Anyhoo, I decided to go for it. I can’t figure how people had any trouble with this recipe. I found it to have great tart rhubarb flavor. I did decrease the sugar by one half cup. The batter was not stiff. The cake raised like any normal cake and is not gummy after 45 minutes of baking. Yes, it took considerably more than one stalk of rhubarb….I can understand the question if you have to buy it and want an idea of how much to purchase.

    • Mary says

      I”m so glad you liked the cake, Becky! Strange reviews are everywhere; it’s not too bad. I hope you enjoy the recipe, and happy baking!

  20. Joni Vannucci says

    5 stars
    I made this yesterday. DELICIOUS! I read some of the comments, and I would suggest, whisking the dry ingredients thoroughly. I did not add any eggs or anything the recipe did not call for. I did stir the rhubarb in first, then stirred in the milk. The cake rose nicely and tasted great! I picked my rhubarb early and had more red pieces than green so I think that helped with the bitterness of the rhubarb. The butter sauce was an amazing addition.

    • Mary says

      Yes, Joni, mixing the dry ingredients thoroughly really does help balance the consistency of the cake. I’m so glad it turned out well for you! The butter sauce really is a great topping, isn’t it? Happy baking!

  21. Lisa Kucera says

    5 stars
    Such a fantastic cake! I’m wanting to try cupcakes with a buttercream frosting….what changes would I need to make? Time and Temp?

  22. Ginny says

    5 stars
    This is obscenely delicious!!! I admittedly put more rhubarb in than called for (oops) which only meant I cooked it a bit longer. It was soooo good. Thank you!

    • Mary says

      I think that should work, Amy. It sounds like a delicious idea. I would swap some of the rhubarb for strawberries to keep similar proportions.

  23. Cherie says

    4 stars
    Loved this recipe. I cut the sugar in the cake to 1 1/2 cups and it was perfect, not to sweet. Tasted delicious with the butter sauce.

  24. Carol says

    5 stars
    I made this cake exactly as the recipe reads and served it to my card group. Everyone asked for the recipe! The cake was moist, flavourful and I must say a definite keeper. I can definitely use the butter sauce for many other desserts.

    • Mary says

      I’m so glad your group loved the cake, Carol! The butter sauce is very versatile as well. Enjoy, and happy baking.

  25. Lynne says

    Loved this , couldn’t believe you could make a cake without an egg so I added an egg and reduce the milk maybe to one and three-quarter cups. I would like more rhubarb taste so would maybe up to 6 cups or adding some to the butter sauce is a terrific idea, I also think a larger pan would be better 11 x 15 maybe as it was stuffed into a 9 x 13 but it taste terrific and I will certainly make it again.

    • Mary says

      I’m glad you loved the recipe, Lynne, and that you were able to make the recipe your own. Enjoy the recipe, and happy baking!

  26. Linda A says

    2 stars
    all the while I was making the batter I said to myself, something is missing here but I followed the recipe. If you like dense cake, you’ll love this one. If I were to make it again I would definitely add 2 eggs and double the rhubarb.

    • Mary says

      Hi Linda, as you can see in the photos, this is a fairly dense, moist cake. Adding eggs should work to make it a bit lighter in texture.

    • Mary says

      Sure. You can do that. You can also skip the sauce. If you pour it all over the cake at once, it will soak into the cake after a bit and the final result will be different from when you top a piece of cake with the warm sauce as you serve it.

  27. Julie Adams says

    5 stars
    Made a half of the recipe. Looks just wonderful! Used more rhubarb than it called for and treate the rhubarb with red food coloring (2 Droosj. Made the butter sauce. Looks just yummy! Will let you know how it tasted later!

  28. Juanita Guzman says

    Can you still add butter sauce to cake ,even though its not being served at that time? Or will it be too soggy?

  29. Joy says

    5 stars
    Great cake, did reduce sugar to 1 1/2 cups as some others commented. We prefer a bit tart on rhubarb recipes. Also only made 1/2 the butter sauce and was plenty for us for the cake. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe!


    5 stars
    I took this to a family reunion. It was an instant hit and a new favorite. I took along a small crockpot to keep the sauce warm. If your crock does not have a “warm” setting, keep on eye on it and turn on low/off as necessary! I used the frozen rhubarb and it turned out great!