Rhubarb and Black Pepper Shortbread Bars

Rhubarb Cookie Bars
Rhubarb cookies, in bar form, are jammy and luscious and quite sophisticated with a touch of black pepper, which you could leave out. But you shouldn’t!
Rhubarb Cookie Bars

Rhubarb cookie bars were new to me, because 5 years ago was the first time I tasted rhubarb!

Rhubarb was something  that grew in our neighbor’s yard. It is something I did not eat, though I also think it is something my mother did not share.

Besides stealing the neighbor’s peonies, my mother also stole the rhubarb. Yes, my mother is a thief of things, in the shade of pink.

I can remember her going through the bushes, scissors in hand and cutting from each plant so the theft didn’t look obvious.

Why my mother never asked Frances if she could have some is beyond me. I am sure she wouldn’t have minded. After all, she did let us play Cowboys and Indians in her yard.

Rhubarb cookie bars

Perhaps that’s why rhubarb always seemed so mysterious.  Mom never served it to us and if I recall she only made stewed rhubarb, which wasn’t particularly appealing to me.

It wasn’t until last year that I had my first taste of rhubarb. Someone brought me a rhubarb crumble that was particularly delicious. And pretty. And we all know everything is pretty in pink.

My first official taste found me wondering why I had waited so long. The slightly sour fruit left a tang in my mouth that found me wanting more.

So this year when rhubarb became available I was ready. I used rhubarb in my tzimmes which is a Jewish dish traditionally made of prunes, carrots and sweet potatoes. It may or may not have meat.

I threw in some rhubarb and thought it was pretty good, though the queen mother prefers the classic. Yes, it was also the first time I made tzimmes, as I never liked that as a kid either!

Rhubarb black pepper cookie bars

I actually planted rhubarb two years ago and soon I will be having my first harvest. 

This week I plan on baking a strawberry rhubarb pie so stay tuned for that recipe!

Must admit that I love these rhubarb cookie bars. But you do know I’m partial to anything with the name cookie in it.

Beginning with a shortbread crust, a rhubarb black pepper topping is then  poured over the crust.

Why black pepper? I found that black pepper and strawberries have a real affinity to each other. As does rhubarb and vanilla.

Rhubarb cookie bars

I was amazed that after baking, the rhubarb kept its pretty pink color.

However I did read that some rhubarbs are not as pink as others and that it makes no difference in taste.

Needless to say, these bars are luscious, easy to make, and quickly disappear.  Though these are bars, they are sticky; so I suggest eating them with a fork.

Serving them as dessert with a scoop of ice cream is a real crowd pleaser, too. 

Grab some rhubarb. Don’t hesitate. The world of rhubarb awaits!

Rhubarb Cookie Bars on Blue Plate

(This is an updated post from 2015.)

Last weekend found me in Chicago for another family occasion. I haven’t seen this much family in years! There was not a spare moment to be had and I came home exhausted and playing catch up.

It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that Zoe and I finally made it into the city. We set off on Michigan Avenue, took a few quick pics at Millenium Park,

Zoe and Me

grabbed some Garret’s caramel corn and headed to Eataly.

We perused the offerings and dreamily wished there was one located in each of our home towns.

Monday morning found us at Little Goat and wishing we had room for one of everything.

I had the “One Little Piggy went to China” which was a biscuit topped with Asian chorizo, a fried egg and a green onion sauce with blackberries on top. Heaven on a biscuit. Maybe that would bring Manboy home.

Sandwich with blackberries and fried egg


It was then off to the Art Institute,

Monet's haystacks


a quick lunch at the University Club, (What a view)

and then because Zoe can not be held back, a trip up State Street to grab a donut ice cream sandwich at Fire Cakes before we caught a cab to Midway.

I love the Windy City and it was true to its name. Chicago always reminds me of happy things, because as a child we often went there for special occasions. I  hope it won’t be too long before I can visit again.

Now it’s a memory for the record books and so are these rhubarb cookie bars. But at least those I will be making again and again.

A Few More to Try:

Rhubarb Parfaits

Rhubarb and strawberry parfaits

Black Pepper Strawberry Jam

Black Pepper Strawberry jam

Strawberry Crumble Bars

strawberry crumble bars on wicker plate

I’d Love it if you Follow Me On Pinterest and Pin and Share!

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Rhubarb Cookie Bars

Rhubarb and Black Pepper Shortbread Bars

  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 Minutes
  • Total Time: 75 Minutes
  • Yield: 1 13 x 9 pan 1x
  • Category: Cookies/Bars
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


These rhubarb cookie bars with a shortbread crust are so jammy and good. With a touch of black pepper they become sublime!



2 c flour
2/3 c powdered sugar
1 c softened butter

1 1/2 t salt
1/2 c flour
2 1/2 c sugar
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t allspice
4 eggs
1/2 c strawberry jam
4 1/2 c chopped rhubarb


Preheat oven to 350.

Make crust by combining flour and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Cut in softened butter until mixture resembles small crumbs.

Grease a 13 x 9 pan and pat mixture into pan. Put into oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove.

To make topping:

Combine salt, flour, sugar, black pepper and allspice.

In a large mixing cup beat eggs with jam. Stir into flour mixture and mix well.

Stir in chopped rhubarb and mix well. Spread topping onto shortbread crust.

Return to oven and bake for 55 minutes. Let cool. Serve with ice cream or not. Store in refrigerator.

Keywords: rhubarb bars, rhubarb cookies, rhubarb strawberry recipes



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  • sherry
    May 16, 2021 at 11:51 pm

    rhubarb was very popular when we were kids. everyone’s granddad grew it in the backyard! it is very zingy isn’t it?

  • Healthy World Cuisine
    May 12, 2021 at 11:00 am

    Now that is one interesting combination rhubarb and black pepper. Can see this totally working as you have the sweet, sour, spicy all going on together. Wish we could grow anything but we have too many deer and they eat everything, except the weeds!!! LOL

  • John / Kitchen Riffs
    May 11, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    Rhubarb is good stuff! I like it in savory dishes, but mainly in sweet ones. So this is perfect for me! Thanks.

    • Abbe
      May 11, 2021 at 3:30 pm

      Just sorry it took me so long to figure this out!

  • Holly
    May 11, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    I need to find rhubarb — maybe I’ll steal some from your yard just like your mom used to do with a neighbor! : ) Your dessert looks wonderful!

    • Abbe
      May 11, 2021 at 3:29 pm

      I think I have enough to share!

      • Gloria
        May 11, 2021 at 9:32 pm

        Looks delicious !

  • Anna and Liz Recipes
    April 24, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Amazing bars Abbe! Chicago is a beautiful city. beautiful photos as well ! have a great weekend !

    April 24, 2015 at 6:59 am

    Wow, these photos are making my mouth water!

  • Bam's Kitchen
    April 24, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Loving the flavours and deliciousness of rhubarb! Adding a bit of black pepper too to give it a kick sounds like a great idea. Reuniting is so much fun and it looks like despite the cooler weather had a great time.

  • Sharon D
    April 24, 2015 at 3:33 am

    Omigosh…this looks so yummy, Abbe. I've never been excited about rhubarb, but you've just about changed my mind with these pictures. And thank you for always sharing stories with us. I love reading about your adventures! Have a great week. xo ^.^

  • Juliana
    April 24, 2015 at 1:21 am

    These rhubarb bars look amazing…and I absolutely love the black pepper in it…amazing combination of flavors.
    I was in Chicago back in November for a meeting…it was so cold that I just went from the hotel to the convention center and vice-versa…did not bother to go anywhere…luckily I had been to Chicago before…
    Enjoy the rest of your week Abbe 🙂

  • Sippity Sup
    April 24, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Like the Windy City for you rhubarb reminds me of special occasions in my childhood, namely visiting my Great Grandma Hubbard in Tahlequah, OK who grew the stuff in big bunches around the trees in her yard. Thanks for the memories. GREG

  • SavoringTime in the Kitchen
    April 23, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    We love taking day trips to Chicago and one has been long overdue. Much more fun when the weather is warmer! Your certainly made the most of your visit with all of the stop you made. I am so exciting to have my rhubarb growing taller each day but it will still be a couple of weeks before the stalks are ready to cut. This will be one of the first things I make! They sound wonderful, Abbe.

    • SavoringTime in the Kitchen
      May 13, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      I had to come back and look at your post after you mentioned it in your comment 🙂 So many wonderful rhubarb recipes! Using jam must add some nice sweetness to these bars.

  • Sue/the view from great island
    April 23, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Oh wow these looks soooo beautiful! You really managed to showcase that glorious color, I need to steal some rhubarb asap!

  • shannon weber
    April 23, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    You look like you had so much fun with your Zoe! and those rhubarb bars…YUM. i bet the black pepper really brings out the flavor of the rhubarb. I haven't gotten my hands on any yet this year, but i plan to.

  • Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    April 23, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Love your photos! I enjoyed a trip to Chicago about 4 years ago – it was super windy and cold with a capital "C"! Looks like a wonderful trip with family and Zoe. Love this shortbread – especially with the ice cream – well done! I never ate rhubarb until I was older either. Kids probably don't like it anyway 🙂

  • Karen Harris
    April 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    I hate to admit it, but although I have flown in and out of Chicago several times I have never left the airport and enjoyed it first hand. So glad you had such a great time with your Zoe. I am new to rhubarb too only trying about 5 years ago.My first recipe was sour cherry rhubarb bars that were pure tart, crunchy heaven. These look amazing.

  • Liz Berg
    April 23, 2015 at 9:25 am

    My dad grew up in Chicago, so road trips to visit my grandparents and cousins were always a highlight of our year. LOL at your mom—we had plenty of rhubarb in our yard and I loved my mom's sauce and pies. Wish Bill would eat rhubarb, but I'll think of an excuse to make these bars 🙂

  • Angie Schneider
    April 23, 2015 at 9:22 am

    I wish I had picked up some rhubarb when I visited the market earlier today…these shortbread bars look mouthwatering, Abbe.

  • Kitchen Riffs
    April 23, 2015 at 5:00 am

    Chicago is a great town! The winter winds and cold would be too much for me, but it's really a fun place. In an earlier life I used to travel there at least twice a year for business — always loved it. And I love rhubarb, so I'm loving these shortbread bars, too. Really a nice recipe — don't think I've seen anything like it before.Gotta tell Mrs KR about it (she's the baker). Thanks!