This Rhubarb Custard Pie pairs the delectable tartness of rhubarb with a nice creamy custard for the perfect balance of sweetness, all wrapped up in a perfectly-flaky crust. Rhubarb is summer’s favorite dessert flavor and once you try this pie, you’ll agree. Don’t forget to serve it a la mode!

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Originally posted June 4, 2014

Secret? What secret? THERE IS NO SECRET.

No 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.

I 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 Recipe

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.

My 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.

Delicious flaky crust

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. 

How to make Rhubarb Custard Pie

My mother-in-law Kris has been talking up this Rhubarb Custard Pie for years. I’d never had it because I hadn’t visited 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!”

A bite of 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.

So what does rhubarb taste like?

Rhubarb is sort of like a red, sour celery. Weird, right? It’s one of the strangest vegetables and is used more often as a fruit would be in dessert dishes. It’s easy to grow and makes a great summer crop to make something sweet with (added sugar included, of course!). I didn’t grow up with rhubarb and until I shared this pie with my mom, she had no idea what rhubarb actually looked like! It took Eric’s family to introduce me to this amazing vegetable… fruit… thing.

Chopped up rhubarb

Forming the perfect pie crust

I LOVE this pie crust. It’s simple enough. You cut your shortening in to the dry ingredients to the point that it looks like the left. After adding the egg and water and stirring, use your hands (right).

Cutting up the pastry dough

Divide the dough in half and then roll that baby out. (I swear I don’t really have wrist cankles.)

Laying out the pie dough

Take one of the halves of dough rolled out on parchment paper and transfer it to the dish. Peel off the paper until it’s rest on the dish.

How to set the dough in the pie dish

From there you gently press it into the dish. Trim and form the edges. Don’t worry if you’re edges are not perfectly formed! It will still taste just as good. The most important thing is to not trim it too short so when you put the top layer of crust you can push them together.

Forming the pie dough to the dish

Making the Rhubarb Custard

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

Mixing up the custard

Don’t forget the tapioca! It’s a great thickener. I used good ol’ Kraft. After the tapioca come the spices and the chopped up rhubarb.

Kraft Minute Tapioco for the rhubard custard filling

I like to split the rhubarb stalks down the middle the long way before chopping the smaller pieces to go in the custard.

Close-up of rhubarb chopping

Putting the pie together

After you pour the rhubarb custard mixture into crust you’re ready to add the top. Doesn’t that look beautiful!

Rhubarb custard filling in the pie crust

As before, us the parchment paper to your advantage as you place it on top.

After adding the top crust layer

Seal up those edges unless you want a mess in your oven! It’s a good idea to split the crust with a knife so it can vent the steam produced by the filling while its baking. You can go for something fancy, or not.

Rhubarb Custard Pie prior to baking

My mom gave me this pie crust cover thing a long time ago, but foil will work just fine. It prevents the outer edge from burning.

Pie crust protector for in the oven

And voila! You’ve got a beautiful flaky crust, the perfect complement to the sweet filling inside.

Rhubarb Custard Pie

More great fruit pies and desserts to try:

Apple Custard Pie with Cinnamon Streusel

Peach Apricot Slab Pie

No Bake Cherry Cream Cheese Pie

Peach Custard Pie

Fresh Blackberry Glacé Pie – A delectable fresh fruit pie without a top crust that will impress

Cherry Pie for Fourth of July  Obviously you can eat it any time of the year!

Rhubarb Meringue Layers – You’ve gotta keep trying rhubarb recipes!

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Rhubarb Custard Pie

4.75 from 4 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Standing Time: 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 8 Servings
This Rhubarb Custard Pie pairs the delectable tartness of rhubarb with a nice creamy custard for the perfect balance of sweetness, all wrapped up in a perfectly-flaky crust. Rhubarb is summer's favorite dessert flavor and once you try this pie, you'll agree. Don't forget to serve it a la mode!


For the crust:*

  • ¼ cup water, very cold
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 & ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter-flavored shortening, + 2 tablespoon
  • ½ egg, beaten

For the pie:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant tapioca
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup flour, spooned and leveled
  • nutmeg, fresh, grated (up to 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 4 to 5 cups rhubarb, sliced and chopped 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into pieces


For the crust:

  • Measure out 1/4 cup water into a glass measuring cup and stick it in the freezer.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.
  • Use a pastry cutter or fork to cut in the shortening. Cut until it looks like coarse crumbs. Don't overdo it!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough, up until the invert step.

For the pie:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  • 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.
  • Add the sugar and beat on medium for one more minute.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of instant tapioca and combine thoroughly.
  • Add the salt, flour, and nutmeg, and beat well.
  • Stir in the rhubarb with a rubber spatula.
  • Pour into the prepared pie crust. Mound the rhubarb slightly in the middle. Sprinkle the cut butter evenly over the mixture.
  • Transfer (invert) the top crust over the pie and seal the edges.
  • Cover the edges of the crust with a pie crust cover or foil (see note).
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 528kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 79mg | Sodium: 420mg | Potassium: 242mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 254IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 528
Keyword: custard, pie, Rhubabrb
Did you make this? I'd love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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  1. Delicious pie! I forgot to add the butter before putting the upper crust on, but it still turned out great. I will make this again. Simple and super tasty, especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

    1. I can’t even tell you how often I forget the butter on double crust pie recipes! It always comes out anyway, it’s true. So glad you enjoyed this recipe!! It’s truly a family favorite for us. Thanks for commenting!

    1. Hey Mari! I never have, I like the nutmeg. I think it would still be good without it. Let me know how it goes!

      1. I just made it on Monday and YUM!! I ended up using about 1/8 tsp. of nutmeg and you’re right… it was delicious! It added the perfect amount of depth to the pie. I followed the recipe exactly, but did have an issue with the pie turning out a bit watery. I can only assume this was due to the rhubarb because everything else seemed fine. I used 5 cups of rhubarb and am not wondering if I should’ve used 4 instead. What should I try next time? (And there WILL be a next time!)

        1. Hey Mari! I’m so glad you liked the pie! One of my absolute favorites. I wonder if your rhubarb was ripe all the way? Or perhaps the problem was too much fruit. Try it with 4 cups next time! Thanks so much for commenting!

  2. 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

    1. 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!

    1. You sure can Meg! It will work fine! I just prefer the butter flavor..flavor. Haha. My mother in law recently made this with lard, she said it was awesome!

  3. Soo…. I made a rhubarb custard pie from a cookbook a few weeks ago and it was a total flop. I can’t wait to try this one – it looks perfect!!

    1. Oh no! Floppy pies are the worst!! This recipe is a family classic so hopefully it will work out for you :)

  4. I have rhubarb growing in my yard and eggs under my hens, if I bring you some will you make it for me?

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    1. Misty, you could definitely try half strawberry and half rhubarb. I’ve never done it but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.

  10. 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.

    1. It will literally destroy all your socks Ami. Get some flip flops, I don’t even feel bad for you.

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