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Rhubarb cherry pie is the perfect marriage of spring fruit. Tart rhubarb and sweet dark cherries baked in a buttery flaky crust for a delicious gooey fruit pie that’s best served on a warm spring evening.
There are few things I look forward to in the spring more than the fresh fruit, especially cherries. We’re situated between dozens of cherry orchards and are fortunate enough to be able to head out and do some u-pick several times a year.
As soon as I get those cherries home I’m immediately planning a few desserts. I love fresh cherries in desserts, they’re juicy and sweet and work beautifully in so many applications. I love my vanilla cherry jam and red wine cherry cobbler, so this year I wanted to try my hand at a pie. It seemed only natural to take another springtime classic, the strawberry rhubarb, and tweak it. Turns out, rhubarb and cherry pie is a natural combination.
What is Rhubarb?
Rhubarb is one of the most interesting vegetables I cook with. It resembles celery so closely, but aside from a similar shape and appearance, it couldn’t be more different. It’s tart, so much so that it’s almost always cooked with sugar or sweeter fruits. Rhubarb is easy to prepare, just chop, no peeling or pre-cooking needed.
Fresh or frozen, rhubarb is an excellent addition to a dark cherry pie. Pick a few stalks that are smooth and firm with no blemishes or soft spots. It should be rigid, not rubbery or flimsy. Believe it or not, color matters little and you may find it ranging from dark red to greenish. All are delicious.
The filling for a cherry and rhubarb pie is very simple, you want those ingredients to shine after all! Aside from the filling, you’ll also need a double pie crust. I’ve included instructions to make my go to all-butter pie crust, but feel free to use your favorite pie crust.
Pie Crust – for my simple all butter pie crust you need a few easy ingredients.
- Flour – all purpose
- Butter – unsalted, very cold, and good quality (flavor!)
- Ice Water – Instead of measuring out a set amount of water, have a bowl of icy water, and measure into the crust from there.
- Apple cider Vinegar – I trick from my grandma’s recipe. Though my recipe looks different than hers, I find it still lends a nice sweetness and helps the dough roll out nicely.
- Salt – Just a bit to pump up the other flavors.
- Sugar – Especially when I’m making sweetly filled dessert pies, I like to add a little sugar to my pie dough.
- Egg – This doesn’t actually go in the pie crust, but I include it as part of it because an egg wash is the key to the gorgeous golden brown of the baked pie crust.
Rhubarb Cherry Filling
- Sweet Cherries – Go for the freshest darkest sweet cherries you can find.
- Rhubarb – You only need two to three stalks to add the perfect amount of tart to the pie.
- Sugar – A key component in flavor and in creating the gooey texture of the filling.
- Cornstarch – Without this, you’d have a very wet watery filling instead of a gooey one.
- Butter – I find this adds just a little richness to the filling.
How to make this
Making pie doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does require a certain patience at some steps. Throw your pie dough in the pan without resting or chilling and you may end up with a shrunken crust. However with simple steps and a bit of patience, a golden brown pie with delicious fruity filling awaits at the end.
Before anything else, you’ve got to make your pie dough! If you have a preferred recipe, go for it, if not, follow these simple steps.
- Dice up your butter and place on a plate, pop in the freezer.
- Measure out your flour, salt, and sugar and place in a large bowl. Fill a small bowl with icy water.
- Take your butter from the freezer and begin working it into the flour. You can use a pastry cutter, or even pulse all of it in a food processor, but I usually just use my fingers to work it all around. When it resembles coarse crumbs, you’re done.
- Add in the apple cider vinegar and a two tablespoons of cold water. Begin to work the dry flour gently into it. Add more water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to form a crumbly dough that just begins to stick together.
- Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and break into two. Press each half into a disc and wrap in plastic, then place in the fridge to chill for an hour up to 3 days.
- I usually take this wait time to prep the cherries and rhubarb. Pit and half your cherries (I use this pitting tool and it saves so much time.) Next half your rhubarb lengthwise and then dice into quarter inch sections. Combine the cherries and rhubarb in a bowl and put in the fridge. Don’t add your sugar or cornstarch yet!
- After an hour, pull out one disc and unwrap it on a floured surface. I generally start by pressing down firmly with a floured rolling pin and rocking it, to loosen the dough. Then begin rolling it out until you have a circle of dough several inches wider than your pie plate. Let rest for a couple minutes.
- Place in pie plate and gently, without pulling, press the pie dough into the pan. When you have the pie plate covered, place it in the fridge.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Get out your cherries and rhubarb and toss with the sugar and cornstarch now. Then set aside.
- Get out your second pie crust and roll it out just as you did the first. This time, cut shapes if desired (I use cookie cutters) or slits into the middle to allow steam to escape. If you’re interested in making a lattice pie crust, you can also check out this fun tutorial.
- Bring out your pie plate and dump in the filling. Cut the remaining butter into small chucnks and sprinkle across the top of the filling.
- Top with second pie crust and pinch down the edges firmly. You can do this by pinching the dough up around your bent knuckle, or just use a fork. Trim off excess dough, leaving a small amount (like an 1/8 of an inch) longer than the pie plate.
- Plate the whole thing in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Please note that this step is for all butter pie crusts. If you’re using a shortening based crust, this may not be necessary for you. While that’s chilling beat one egg with a teaspoon of water.
- After the pie has chilled, brush with the egg wash and place in the hot oven. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until golden brown. If you notices the edges of the pie crust getting too brown at any point during the bake, cover with a foil ring or a pie ring.
- Let cool on the counter for at least 3 hours before slicing. Store on the counter, wrapped or covered, for up to 3 days.
Yes. I think white sugar pairs best with the fruit and rhubarb, but you can also use brown sugar or coconut sugar.
When using an all butter pie crust, one of the best defenses against shrinking or falling pie crust is to have it COLD. Popping it straight from the freezer to your hot oven is key in that.
For an all butter pie crust I recommend a metal or a ceramic pie plate. Glass and butter pie crusts don’t get along, and you’ll likely have some slipping as it bakes.
You can, but it creates the golden brown color of the final baked pie. You can use milk instead in a pinch.
Cutting a hot fruit pie will cause the juices to run everywhere. Cooling allows the filling to set up for cleaner slices. If you don’t care about that, dig in my friend. Be warned it may be too hot to eat straight out of the oven!
For an all butter pie dough, letting the pie dough chill and rest is all to prevent shrinking in the oven.
Yes! Let them thaw and discard any excess water, then use as directed.
Eat & Enjoy!
I can’t think of a more appropriate dessert to celebrate spring produce with than this fresh cherry and rhubarb pie. It’s bursting with sweet and tart flavor and cased in the most flaky pie crust you can imagine. It’s hard to have just one slice! Top it with some fresh whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’re in pie heaven. I hope you enjoy, and until next time, happy eating!
If you like this cherry and rhubarb pie recipe, you may also like:
All Butter Pie Crust
- 9 ounces all purpose flour 2 cups
- 6 ounces butter, unsalted 3/4 cups
- 2 ounces cold water 1/4 cup
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Rhubarb and Cherry Pie Filling
- 4 cups cherries, pitted
- 2 cups rhubarb, diced
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp water
Pie Dough (If using a pre made or other pie dough recipe, skip to next section)
- Dice your butter and place on a plate in the freezer.
- Combine flour, salt, and sugar, in a large bowl. Remove butter from the freezer and add into flour. Work with your fingers or a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add in the teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and two tablespoons of water. Begin mixing, adding 1 tablespoon more of water at a time until the dough begins to come together but is still loose.
- Separate into two, form each half into a flat disc and wrap in plastic. Chill for one hour.
Assembling your pie
- While dough is chilling, pit and slice your cherries in half and dice your rhubarb into 1/4 inch pieces. Combine in a bowl and set aside.
- On a floured surface, roll out one disc of pie dough until it's several inches wider than your pie plate. Let rest a few minutes, then lift gently into your pie plate.
- Lifting from the edge, instead of pulling, press the pie dough into the pie plate. Place the pie plate into the fridge.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Toss the cherries and rhubarb with the sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.
- Roll out your second pie dough and cut shapes or slits in the middle of it.
- Take out bottom pie crust and pour in filling. Dice the remaining butter over the top of the filling and place the top pie crust over the top.
- Firmly crimp the edges then trim off any excess pie dough, leaving 1/8 inch of overhang from the rim of the pie plate.
- Place the whole pie in the freezer for 10 minutes*. Meanwhile, beat the egg with 1 teaspoon of water.
- When pie is chilled, brush with egg wash and place immediately in hot oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
- Let cool completely before slicing. Serve slightly warm or room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream. Store remaining pie covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.