Rhubarb Custard Pie

Rhubarb Custard Pie Secret? What secret? THERE IS NO SECRET.

Rhubarb Custard PieNo really, there’s not anymore. I’ve been planning my mom’s surprise retirement/birthday/anniversary party for months now and while the event itself was amazing, I’m just so glad it’s over so that I don’t have to worry about giving away the surprise anymore.

Rhubarb Custard PieI have a pretty bad track record. Once I threw a surprise party for Eric and a few hours before the event I said to him, “I have to go to the store to get stuff for your surprise party tonight” and then I caught myself and widened my eyes and slapped my hand over my mouth. He didn’t get it somehow. (??)

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Later, our first guests arrived exactly when I asked them to, except he was the one to answer the door because I had yet to send him on his get-out-of-the-house-errand. I had to awkwardly make eye contact with the arrivals and say, oh you guys are just here [30 minutes away from your house] dropping by right? I seriously have no idea how he was still surprised.

Rhubarb Custard PieMy mom, on the other hand, wasn’t surprised in the slightest. No matter how old you get, you just can’t keep secrets from your mom. At least I never could. Oh well, it was an awesome party, if I do say so myself, and bonus! We have enough food leftover to feed the armies of 3 nations.

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Me and my 4 siblings were all together for the weekend, which rarely happens since we’re spread across 4 states. We were celebrating her retirement after 20 years of teaching, my parent’s 40th anniversary, and her 60th birthday. That right there made up for any potential ruined-surprise deflation. Pretty hard to stay upset when there is so much awesomeness happening. 

Rhubarb Custard Pie

My mother-in-law Kris has been talking up this Rhubarb Custard Pie for years. I’ve never had it because I don’t visit when rhubarb is in season. I just know that it has family-legend-status. I wanted to make it for Eric’s birthday this year, so I asked for the recipe, and she texted me a photo of the recipe in her Betty Crocker cookbook. “It’s basically the same,” she said.

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Except that the crust burned, the rhubarb was undercooked, and it was super runny. I asked her about it and she said, “Oh did you cover the crust? Did you beat the eggs well? Did you add tapioca? Did you up the salt?” Um, NO!!! “Oops, forgot to tell you those parts. Guess it’s an excuse to make another pie!”

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Honestly though I can’t be mad. The first one was still pretty good, and it made me appreciate the second one–perfection–even more. This it my new favorite pie. No really. It used to be this Strawberry Glace Pie, and that one is still up there, but Rhubarb Custard Pie trumps it now. I am jumping on the family-legend-pie bandwagon because this. is. it my friends.

Do you guys give up? Or are you thirsty for more?
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Rhubarb Custard Pie

Yield: Makes 1 9-inch pie


    For the crust:*
  • ¼ cup very cold water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons butter-flavored shortening
  • ½ egg, beaten
  • For the pie:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant tapioca
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup flour, spooned and leveled
  • fresh nutmeg, grated (up to 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 4 to 5 cups rhubarb, sliced and chopped 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces


    For the crust:
  1. Measure out 1/4 cup water into a glass measuring cup and stick it in the freezer.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. Use a pastry cutter or fork to cut in the shortening. Cut until it looks like coarse crumbs. Don't overdo it!
  4. In a small bowl beat one egg. Pour out half (into the sink or into another container, or heck, into a frying pan). You can just eyeball it.
  5. Add the half beaten egg to the cold water that you put in the freezer. Beat it together, then add it to the shortening mixture. Stir until it is just coming together, then use your hands to knead it once or twice (only to make it come together). Divide the dough in half.
  6. Generously sprinkle flour onto a sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough with a rolling pin, using as much flour as you need so that it doesn't stick. Invert the parchment paper onto a 9-inch pie pan and gently peel off the paper. Arrange the pie crust and trim edges as necessary.
  7. Repeat with the remaining dough, up until the invert step.
  8. For the pie:
  9. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  10. In a stand mixer or large bowl, beat eggs on medium speed for about 2 or 3 minutes, until they are a light lemon color.
  11. Add the sugar and beat on medium for one more minute.
  12. Add 2 tablespoons of instant tapioca and combine thoroughly.
  13. Add the salt, flour, and nutmeg, and beat well.
  14. Stir in the rhubarb with a rubber spatula.
  15. Pour into the prepared pie crust. Mound the rhubarb slightly in the middle. Sprinkle the cut butter evenly over the mixture.
  16. Transfer (invert) the top crust over the pie and seal the edges.
  17. Cover the edges of the crust with a pie crust cover or foil (see note).
  18. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden.
  19. Remove from the oven and let stand until room temperature, several hours. You can speed things up by putting it in the fridge if you want.
  20. Store covered on the counter. Warning: this means you will take bites of it every time you pass through your kitchen. Sorry in advance.


*You can totally use store bought crust to make things go faster.

If you don't have tapioca, cornstarch will make a great substitution.

I like to slice my rhubarb into 2-3 strips, then chop them.

If you don't don't have a pie crust cover, take a square of aluminum foil, fold it into quarters, and cut out the middle so that when you open it you have a circle. Place over the pie crust.


Source: Eric’s great-grandma Prudie (a family legend). Crust is from my best friend’s mom, Anne.

Rhubarb Custard Pie Cut your shortening in to the point that it looks like the left. After adding the egg and water and stirring, use your hands (right).

Rhubarb Custard PieRoll that baby out. (I swear I don’t really have wrist cankles.)

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Then flatten that puppy out. I like to use parchment paper so that I don’t have to worry so much about the transfer. Just peel it right off.

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Left is what your eggs should look like after beating the eggs. Right is what it turns into after the flour step.

Rhubarb Custard PieDon’t forget the tapioca! It’s a great thickener. I used good ol Kraft.

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Rhubarb Custard Pie Seal up those edges unless you want a mess in your oven!

Rhubarb Custard PieMy mom gave me this pie crust cover thing a long time ago. But foil will work just fine.

Rhubarb Custard Pie





    • says

      Hi Terra! I haven’t used frozen rhubarb. If I were to try it, I would drain the measured rhubarb completely in a colander (with a bowl to catch the juice–save it for syrup or something). Let thaw completely. If you use frozen it would release a ton of liquid and your pie would be runny. Pat the rhubarb dry with paper towels and proceed with the recipe as usual. I would try it with the amount of tapioca indicated the first time, but be aware that I haven’t tested this, so you may need to increase the amount the second time you make it. I would love to hear a review of what you do and how it turns out Terra! Thanks for commenting, and happy Wednesday!

  1. says

    Your moms surprise party sounds amazing! What great milestones to celebrate! So cool that they’re big, important years, 20-40-60. That worked out verrrry nicely! Glad you and your siblings were all together again! I’m so lucky my sister only lives 4 freeway exits from me, and even that seems like too far for me. I should really try and keep it in perspective, *wink*.

    This pie looks amazing! Wanna know a secret? I’ve never cooked or EATEN rhubarb. AHHH! I know. So bad. I don’t know what I’m waiting for, I should just dive head first and try it. This pie sounds like a pretty fool proof way to start. Shawn will be very happy, he loves when I make pie : )
    Natalie @ Tastes Lovely recently posted…Wine Marinated Chicken with Lemon & RosemaryMy Profile

    • says

      Okay Natalie, I’m going to drive to your house and deliver this pie to you. That is how strongly I feel about rhubarb. I didn’t grow up eating it either and only tried it the first time a few years ago. I’m HOOKED. Here’s another one you should try if you don’t feel like dealing with pie crust: http://thefoodcharlatan.com/2012/04/13/rhubarb-meringue-layers/ (btw your eyes might actually break when you see those pictures but I SWEAR it’s delicious.) The crust, the meringue…it’s perfection. DO IT!!

      Oh and I’m super jealous that you are 4 exits from your sister! That would be amazing!!

    • says

      Thanks Laura! No I promise it’s not bitter at all. Just deliciously sweet-tart. It’s kind of sad to me that people are always adding strawberries to rhubarb. I mean, it’s a great combo, but rhubarb stands alone just fine. Now you are making me want rhubarb flavored greek yogurt…mmmm!!!

  2. Sarah says

    UGH so jealous! There is no rhubarb to be had in Del Rio, “not even for ready money” (haha I love that part in The Importance of Being Earnest”). Brian loves rhubarb more than anything but you can’t get it here…and apparently it’s pretty hard to find even in San Antonio. “Not a Texas thing,” I heard. Tragic. I wonder if you can order rhubarb on Amazon…?

    • says

      Duuuude that is tragic Sarah. I’m seriously thinking about how I could send you some in the mail. Or you know what, rhubarb is really easy yo grow isn’t it? You should look it up. Eric’s mom says it grows like a weed in Montana.

  3. Sha Lene says

    This came at a perfect time. I bought rhubarb last week all excited to make something because I never catch it when it’s in season. This just reminded me it’s in the veg. drawer. Checked it and it’s still edible :).

  4. says

    hahahah!!!!!!!!! I can’t get over that anecdote!!!!!!! It’s soooo cute and totally hilarious! That milestone definitely needed some excellent celebration and this is just the perfect way to do so! Lovinggggg that pie and adding tapioca is just sooooo awesome! Need to give that a try!
    Samina | The Cupcake Confession recently posted…Tofu Tikka SandwichMy Profile

  5. says

    The men in my family have all been blessed (or cursed, depending on your view) with OMS: Oblivious Male Syndrome. They never get any clues, hints, or subtleties, even if they’re doing the disco in front of them with bright tie-dye clothes on. And no, that’s not an exaggeration! But anyway, that’s so wonderful that the party was a blast, and this pie — I need to find out just how far away you live because I would’ve died for a slice!! I’m the worst pie-maker in the world at the moment (it’s been 2 years since my last attempt, other than one a month and a half ago that I’m trying to pretend never happened because the crust was so soggy and never set up — help!!), so yours looks absolutely perfect, flaky, and delicious to me!
    Amy @ Amy’s Healthy Baking recently posted…Honeyed Peach CheesecakeMy Profile

  6. says

    Last year we planted rhubarb in our garden. I’m going to list that as number 8 on the top ten things I ever decided to do. I made a rhubarb-strawberry crumble with it this spring that knocked my socks off. I was sockless- it was that good.
    This recipe looks like it could make me sockless as well.
    Ami recently posted…Early morning thoughts.My Profile

  7. Misty says

    The party was so great! And I’m so glad it’s done too, keeping secrets suck! But I’m sad its over because it didn’t last long enough.
    So I know you said that the rhubarb stands alone without strawberries but that combo is my father in laws favorite, so do you think it’d work and still be good? I thought I could make it when we come down in a few weeks.

  8. says

    Hahaha! I don’t have a good track record when it comes to surprises either. I don’t even try anymore. At least you know you’ll always be able to surprise Eric ;). Wow! What wonderful milestones! Def calls for celebration. Congratulations mom! I adore pies but I’ve never made homemade crust before. Your photos and step-by-step instructions are quite helpful! I shall attempt soon ;). Thank you for sharing and hope you’re having a wonderful weekend so far.
    Min recently posted…Chicken Pesto Naan PizzaMy Profile

  9. says

    Oh my goodness. I need this pie crust cover thingy in my life now! How have I never seen one of these, but on to more important things, like how this pie looks spectacular. I love all of the ingredients going on in this recipe…ESPECIALLY the rhubarb! I wish it never went out of season. I have dreams about it. ;) Pinned!
    Justine@CookingandBeer recently posted…Orange Coconut CreamsiclesMy Profile

  10. Janice says

    It was one of the best parties ever, no doubt due to the presence of many wonderful people! And great food, some of which we’re still enjoying :) But no rhubarb pie, I’ll have to try that myself!

  11. says

    This is the most utterly perfect pie crust I have ever seen! Absolutely gorgeous! I want a lesson too! I swear it took me years to get my pie crust passable…I think I’ve got some more practicing to do. I’m going to give this one a try. Love the idea of rhubarb custard.
    Sarah @ Running On Brie recently posted…Russian Tea CakesMy Profile

  12. Elise says

    Thank you for this recipe! I just made it and it is devine!
    I used regular butter and corn starch instead of tapioca. Also I used the remaining beaten egg for an eggwash. Best decision ever!
    Greetings from Austria

    • says

      Doing an egg wash is a great idea Elise! I’m so glad you loved the pie. I’m making this for my mom for Mother’s Day this weekend. YUM! Thanks for the comment and feedback!

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