Rhubarb gelato

Rhubarb gelato

What is it about iced desserts? Whether you’re 2 years old or 82, it’s hard to resist an ice cream cone. For most of us, I’m sure that frozen treats are some of our earliest, and happiest, food memories.

The only catch, as we all know, is that eating ice cream every day is not exactly good for your health. So several years ago I decided to create some recipes that would make this universally cherished dessert a bit less artery-clogging, yet just as luscious.

Instead of using the traditional tempered custard of egg yolks, sugar and cream, I developed a lighter version with no eggs, no cream and as little sugar as I could possibly use… and I’ve never looked back!

Now I have a repertoire of deliciously creamy gelatos that are laden neither with calories nor fat. So dig your spoon into this rhubarb gelato. It’s creamy, light, and packed with intense rhubarb flavors. The best part may just be that you can have seconds without giving it another thought!


Rhubarb gelato

makes 2 pints
active time: 20 min

  1. 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  2. 2″ piece whole vanilla bean – split in half lengthwise
  3. 1/3 cup organic sugar
  4. 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  5. 1/4 cup mascarpone
  6. 1 recipe rhubarb compote

  1. Step 1: Place 2 cups of milk and the vanilla bean into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to boiling point. Remove from heat.
  2. Step 2: Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of milk, sugar and cornstarch until well combined. Add the cornstarch mixture to the hot milk and return saucepan to heat. As soon as the mixture reaches boiling point, reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture slightly thickens.
  3. Step 3: Remove vanilla bean from custard, scrape seeds from the bean and add to the custard. Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours in the refrigerator or 45 minutes in the freezer.
  4. Step 4: When the gelato is well chilled, whisk in the mascarpone until well blended. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream or gelato maker and freeze according to the instructions of your machine. When the gelato is done, pour the rhubarb compote in the bowl of the ice cream/gelato maker and churn until the compote is well incorporated, about 1 minute. Transfer the gelato to a container and freeze for 2 to 3 hours before serving. (The gelato should have firmed up, but should still be a bit soft.)
  5. Cook’s note: The gelato will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks, but is best eaten the day it’s made. Remove from freezer and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes until slightly softened before serving.

Rhubarb gelato

dessert, gelato, rhubarb


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  5. Oh what a perfect gelato…very unique indeed, at least for me. I would never thought of this amazing combination. Thank you for sharing and have a wonderful the rest of the week!

  6. Oh I’m in love with this gelato, the compote as well! Huge rhubarb fan here so anything rhubarb and I’m on it. I do have rhubarb in the freezer, so once I get my kitchen back, here’s another recipe or two to try. Thanks!

    • Mj, Good luck with your kitchen renovations… I just had mine redone at the beginning of the year. It’s an ordeal… but you’ll be so happy when it’s done! Thank you for your lovely comment.

  7. This recipe is seriously meant for me–I adore rhubarb and far prefer gelato to ice cream. Lovely presentation with the martini glass!

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  11. Donna Ford

    Just in time for the weekend, thank you! Looks great!

  12. Viviane, I love rhubarb! I can’t wait to try your recipe. Sounds (and looks) divine! You are so creative. I always look forward to your newsletter!

  13. Viviane this looks really fantastic and I am so happy to see it made without eggs? do you think it could be made dairy free with coconut milk etc. This definitely is making me want an ice cream maker. Beautiful.

    • Hi Suzi! I’ve never tried to make gelato with non-dairy products, but if you are allergic to dairy it might be worth a try. I think almond milk and coconut milk might be great candidates. Do report back if you give it a try!

  14. I don’t really like ice-creams ,, there I said it :)) I know I am from another planet. BUT one look at this and I WANT this. I bookmarked this to make.

    • Ansh! You’re so adorable… I will tell you that I like ice cream, but I don’t eat it too often. It’s just too rich! If you do try this one, let me know how you liked it. I adore the tartness of the rhubarb in here!

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  17. Thank you! I am going to combine this recipe with your cardomom gelato recipe to make Rhubarb+Cardamom gelato. I can’t wait. 🙂

  18. “eating ice cream every day is not exactly good for your health”
    Oh you didn’t say this 🙂 or I didn’t read this 🙂 I eat ice cream every single day in summertime…
    I love the pale delicate colour of your ice cream and the bright specks of rhubarb in it. Also love that you whisked in some mascarpone in it. Looks wonderful!

    • Alina! Thank you for your comment. You sure made me smile. When you turn 40 you might not want to eat ice cream every day… but until then you sure can indulge yourself. Loved your rhubarb-meringue tarts on your blog – I see we are both rhubarb fans!

  19. Wow, this looks incredible. I don’t know why the thought of doing chilly rhubarb dessert has never occurred to me. When I think of rhubarb I automatically think of warm crumbles or other things from the oven. The idea of using the rhubarb compote in this recipe is fantastic. I’m going to try this recipe but I will also use my compote in an ice cream as well and see how that goes. Thanks for the inspiration!

  20. Very timely! I just made some strawberry rhubarb compote and never thought of churning it with ice cream. great idea.

  21. I love gelato and bet these flavors are wonderful! I agree that frozen desserts are great no matter how old you may be.

  22. It is boiling hot in my house right now and I could really go for this – so refreshing and inventive.

  23. Oh rhubarb ice cream sounds so delish!

  24. Your gelato looks beautiful! It’s inspiring me to finally break open my ice cream maker box and actually use it. Lovely photo.

  25. What a dream to have ice cream with low calories and fat! I purchased an ice cream machine two months ago and haven’t pulled it out of the box for shame of fattening ice cream recipes. I look forward to making your gelato as a more healthful alternative! =)

  26. This looks wonderful! My rhubarb isn’t quite ready for harvesting, but I might just have to run down the greengrocer on the weekend to buy some because I can’t wait to try out this gelato. 🙂 Mmmmm… gelato.

  27. Noelle, thank you for your comment. Get out your ice cream maker and get to work then. I promise you won’t regret it… Making another batch myself later today!

  28. This sounds so heavenly!! I want to make this so badly!

  29. Oh how I love rhubarb and this is a wonderful way to utilize it! This is a must make. Great photo!!

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