Cinnamon Streusel Rhubarb Bread

This Cinnamon Streusel Rhubarb Bread is an easy mix-by-hand moist and tender quick bread jam-packed with fresh rhubarb and a double dose of cinnamon streusel.

overhead view of a rhubarb bread with fresh rhubarb in the background

If you follow a lot of food blogs (which I do), you might notice a certain theme this time of year.  The sun starts rising a little earlier and setting a little later in the northern hemisphere.  The temperatures start to get a little warmer.  The first daffodils start to sprout.

And… every food blogger in existence shares a rhubarb recipe.

Rhubarb.  It’s like the pumpkin spice latte of the food blogging world: it’s not spring unless you’ve baked with rhubarb and made sure everyone else knows that you’re using the strangest, trendiest of spring vegetables.  Guilty as charged.

Two years ago, this rhubarb simple syrup went into Rhubarb Collins.  Last year, strawberry rhubarb oatmeal bars.  And this year, I will be fulfilling my contractually required food blogger rhubarb recipe with this Cinnamon Streusel Rhubarb Bread, serving as my fifth recipe in my year-long Quick Bread of the Month series.

Seriously, why do we even eat rhubarb?  I can answer that on a personal level — because my CSA gives it to me every year — but how did we, as a species, start eating rhubarb?  It’s stalky, it’s bitter, and oh yeah… it’s poisonous.  Grab a stalk and start chewing, everyone!

measuring cup filled with chopped rhubarb

Ingredients and Substitutions

Rhubarb is a stalky vegetable, similar to celery.  Unlike celery, however, rhubarb is tart — so tart, in fact, that it’s very rarely consumed raw and almost always cooked with lots of sugar.  In fact, because it’s used like a fruit in baking so much, a New York court deemed rhubarb a fruit for tax purposes, even though it’s really a vegetable.

So now, we use it baked in pies and cakes and, in this case, quick bread, to soften the texture and sweeten it with sugar. Here’s what we need to turn our bitter, stalky rhubarb into a delicious bread:

  • Sugar: We’re using brown sugar in the bread to keep it extra moist and hydrated. The streusel calls for both brown sugar and granulated sugar for a little texture difference, but if you want to keep it simple, you can use all brown sugar for the streusel.
  • Oil: Use your favorite neutral baking oil, like vegetable oil, canola oil, or grapeseed oil.
  • Eggs: Two large eggs, room temperature is better but if you forget, you can use them straight from the fridge.
  • Buttermilk: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, this is a great recipe to use the lemon juice trick. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or vinegar) to whole milk and let it sit for 5 minutes before adding to the batter.
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract adds a little extra flavor, but if you like almond, add in 1/2 teaspoon almond extract too.
  • Flour: Use all-purpose flour, but to keep this recipe gluten-free, you can also use a 1:1 gluten free baking mix.
  • Baking Soda: Because we’re using buttermilk, the pH of this batter leans towards acidic. We’ll use baking soda to neutralize the acid.
  • Salt: The recipe is written for table salt or Morton Kosher salt. Adjust accordingly if you use Diamond Crystal salt.
  • Rhubarb: Choose fresh rhubarb stalks that are firm and crisp, not soft and wilted. While everyone loves the look of bright red rhubarb, there’s actually no real taste difference between redder or more green stalks.
  • Butter: Melted butter (unsalted) is mixed into the crumble.
  • Cinnamon: This is a cinnamon streusel rhubarb bread, after all. Adjust the amount to your own personal preferences.
sliced quick bread covered with a cinnamon streusel crumble on top

Rhubarb Toxicity

Have you ever wondered why rhubarb purchased at the grocery store is sold as just the stalks, while other vegetables, like beets, come with the greens still attached?  It’s time for my favorite subject… kitchen chemistry!

Kitchen Chemistry

Don’t eat rhubarb leaves!  Rhubarb leaves  contain oxalic acid — a reducing agent.  The conjugate base (high school chemistry flashback!) of oxalic acid is oxylate, which chelates metal cations —  meaning that oxalic acid is great at removing rust.  

Oxylate is the major active ingredient in Bar Keeper’s Friend.  And yet someone, somewhere, decided we should cultivate this plant for human consumption.  I’m a huge fan of using all the parts of a vegetable and routinely make pesto out of beet greens or carrot tops, but steer clear of those rhubarb leaves!

(On a practical note, you would have to eat something in the vicinity of 10 pounds of rhubarb leaves to actually die from a lethal dose of oxalic acid.)

loaf of rhubarb quick bread on a white rectangular serving plate

Easy Rhubarb Bread

You know how some quick breads are really dense and sturdy and perfect for a smear of butter or jam?  This is not that bread.  Thanks to oil, buttermilk, and a whole lot of rhubarb, this bread is soft, moist, and full of cinnamon streusel crumbles.

Literally full of them – there’s a layer in the middle of the bread, in addition to a coating on top!  Be prepared for streusel crumbles everywhere when you slice the bread. (I highly suggest cutting it ahead of time so you can eat them all yourself before sharing the rest of the bread.  Not that I did that before bringing the rest of the bread into the lab or anything. )

Oh, and did I mention how easy this cinnamon streusel rhubarb bread is to make?  One large bowl for the batter, one small bowl for the streusel, and a whisk.  That’s all you need.  The easiest.

Cinnamon Streusel Rhubarb Quick Bread: a moist, tender quick bread jam packed with fresh rhubarb and a double dose of cinnamon streusel layered into the bread and coating the top.  {Bunsen Burner Bakery}
  • Mixing Bowls: This set contains multiple sizes, perfect to make the bread and the crumble.
  • Whisk: Use a sturdy, slightly heavy whisk to properly mix the batter.
  • Loaf Pan: This recipe is written for an 8.5 x 4.5 – inch loaf pan.
  • Serrated Knife: Because of the crumble, the rhubarb bread is easier to cut with a serrated knife.

Tips and Tricks for Cinnamon Streusel Rhubarb Bread

  1. Because this recipe includes baking soda, make sure to use buttermilk.  We need the acidity of the buttermilk to activate the baking soda so the bread rises.
  2. If you don’t have buttermilk, make your own equivalent to buttermilk by combining one cup of milk with one tablespoon of lemon juice and vinegar.  Let this sit for 5 minutes before stirring into the batter.
  3. Cut the rhubarb into small pieces – since rhubarb is so stalky, we want to make sure each piece is no larger than bite size.
  4. Cut the cooled bread with a serrated knife to help slice through all the delicious streusel topping!  

More Rhubarb Recipes:

2016 Quick Bread of the Month Series

Cinnamon Streusel Rhubarb Bread

Cinnamon Streusel Rhubarb Bread

Yield: 2 loaves
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

An easy, mix by hand, moist and tender quick bread jam packed with fresh rhubarb and a double dose of cinnamon streusel.


For the Rhubarb Bread:

  • 1 1/2 cups (310 grams) loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (99 grams) canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (227 grams) buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups (300 grams) rhubarb, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

For the Cinnamon Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (106 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease two 8.5×4.5-inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, oil. egg, buttermilk, and vanilla until no clumps of brown sugar remain. Slowly whisk in the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring until just combined. Stir in the rhubarb.
  3. To make the streusel topping, combine all the streusel ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Pour a quarter of the batter into each of the loaf pans, using half the batter, total. Sprinkle half the streusel over the loaf pans, pressing down gently into the batter. Carefully spread the remaining batter over both loaf pans, topping with the remaining streusel.
  5. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out with a moist crumb.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack and allow the bread to cool. Cut with a serrated knife.


Cinnamon streusel rhubarb bread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days, or frozen wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw to room temperature before enjoying.

Recipe adapted from Quick Cooking magazine.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 252Total Fat: 8.5gCarbohydrates: 41.7gProtein: 2.9g

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Cinnamon Streusel Rhubarb Bread: an easy one bowl quick bread jam packed with fresh rhubarb and a double dose of cinnamon streusel layered into the bread and on top.