What Does Rhubarb Taste Like?

If you’ve only ever eaten rhubarb in a pie, you might be surprised to find that it isn’t a sweet food. A pretty plant that looks like pink celery, rhubarb looks like it would be a nice sugary snack. However, with the exception of a few varieties, rhubarb is rarely sweet on its own.

Overall, rhubarb is tart and sour when eaten raw, it’s often likened to granny smith apples, hibiscus and cranberries. The stalks, while sour, are juicy and crunchy. Rhubarb is often considered too tart to eat on its own and is often paired with sweeter foods. 

Rhubarb does have a few types that are sweeter than others. We’ll go through some of the most common types and see how the flavors differ. Also, we’ll mention what some of the varieties are best for. 

Types of Rhubarb

Just like apples, different types of rhubarb have slightly different flavors and are used in slightly different ways. 

Forced Rhubarb

Often thought of as a gateway rhubarb, forced rhubarb is probably the mildest flavored of the varieties. If you want a more delicate flavor, this is a good option.

It’s both a little sweeter than most types of rhubarb and has a somewhat softer texture. It will still crunch, but it’s slightly less hard.

Cherry Red

Cherry red is also a less tart variety of rhubarb. Here you will still get a sour flavor, but it will be toned down somewhat.

The taste is only vaguely sweet.

German Wine

If you want an actual sweet rhubarb, German Wine is what to look for. It’s easy to spot as its stems are green with pink streaks.

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Its stalks are often thicker and more fibrous than other types of rhubarb. Because of this, they might have less of a crunch than some of the others.

McDonald’s Canadian Red Rhubarb

This type of rhubarb also has a hint of sweetness. However, its usage in pies and sauces is more about the deep red color it produces when cooked down. 

Colorado Red

Again, this type of rhubarb is commonly used for its color, rather than its flavor. There isn’t much sweetness in these types, but they are often used for pies, jam, and jellies because of their consistent red color.


In addition to its tart flavor, Turkish rhubarb also has a citrus taste to it as well.

The stalks of this variety of rhubarb are rough and slightly abrasive. It’s a good idea to peel this type and cook with it instead of eating it raw.

Holstein Blood

This variety is known for its blood-red colored stalks. It’s tart and sour with a hint of sweetness. It also has one of the juiciest stalks of the different types.

Tart to Sweet

While you certainly can eat raw rhubarb, if you find it’s just too tart for you, try cooking your rhubarb,

When cooked, rhubarbs grow a little bit sweet, which might be why many people tend to use them in desserts.

In addition to cooking, other ways to sweeten up your rhubarb are:

  • Pairing it with sweeter fruits such as strawberries
  • Serving it with honey or maple syrup
  • Soak them in sugar syrup and dry them on a tray
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To Sum Up

If you are a fan of mouth-puckering tart flavors, rhubarb is what you’ve been looking for. Most of the varieties, when eating raw, are sour with a nice crunch. When you find a variety you like, make sure to stock up, it freezes well.

However, if you are looking for a sweeter snack, try to find the German Wine variety of rhubarb, as it’s the sweetest. Or, try one of the suggestions to transfer your rhubarb from tart to sweet.