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Rhubarb Dump Cake Recipe {without Jello}

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For all the rhubarb lovers out there; this rhubarb dump cake recipe is made without Jello for a tiny bit healthier and oh so delicious dump cake recipe. Use fresh or frozen rhubarb, your choice, it is an easy dessert you will make over and over again.

Raise your hand if you love rhubarb? Mine is raised high; I adore rhubarb recipes, there are so many great ways to use this versatile, tart and tangy spring to summer vegetable — yes, vegetable, more on that later. And if you have tons of rhubarb then you are going to love this recipe.

We love rhubarb around here, as do my readers, try my popular old-fashioned rhubarb bread, Strawberry Rhubarb Salad, Best Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars or this simple rhubarb cake.

slice of rhubarb dump cake with scoop of vanilla ice cream, forks on side with pink napkin.

Why You Will Love this Easy Rhubarb Dump Cake Recipe

  • 5 minutes of prep time — seriously, it is not a pretty cake and has a most unappetizing name, however it is a favorite dessert in the summer months.
  • Use fresh or frozen diced rhubarb, either way the end result is the same.
  • 5 Ingredient rhubarb dump cake recipe without Jello ~ doesn’t get any easier!

Rhubarb 101

What is Rhubarb?

Even our country struggles with whether or not rhubarb is a vegetable or a fruit.

Fun Fact: While rhubarb is technically a vegetable, the USDA classifies it as a fruit. Read more about this below.

The perennial Rhubarb plant has a pretty short season for a vegetable, abundant in the spring and some yield another crop in June.

Rhubarb can be red to pink to even slightly green. The stalk is the only edible part of this summer fruit, uh, vegetable — the leaves are poisonous.

Rhubarb is super sour, like cheek puckering sour, and so is typically cooked with sugar, since it is super sour on it’s own.

What does rhubarb taste like?

Rhubarb when raw, is crunchy and super sour. It is typically cooked with sugar, softening and sweetening it up into a wonderful sweet-tart treat.

The bright red stalks of rhubarb have a stronger, sweeter more robust flavor than green stalks, but both are totally fine to cook with, which means you don’t have to do a lot of guessing when it comes to harvesting.

When is Rhubarb Season?

Rhubarb season begins in late spring through early summer, rhubarb season might be short, but rhubarb freezes extremely well and can easily be used in this strawberry rhubarb dump cake or any of your favorite desserts.

Is rhubarb a vegetable or fruit?

Well even our government was a bit confused about this, at least with regard to import tax purposes. In 1947 the US Customs Court in Buffalo, NY ruled that while rhubarb is legally a vegetable, for customs and tariff purposes ruled it a fruit since the majority of consumers used it in rhubarb desserts.

Rhubarb Dump Cake in pan golden and bubbly.

Healthy Twist

I am not sure I would go very far in calling rhubarb dump cake without Jello healthy, but since we are omitting refined sugar and red food coloring by making without Jello, that is a healthy twist-ish. 🙂

When recipe testing, I tested using regular cake mix and all-natural cake mix; I have to admit we all liked the taste and texture a bit better with the regular cake mix, but they both work. Remember it’s about balance in life, we don’t eat these every day or even once a month!

Simple Ingredients for Rhubarb Cake with Cake Mix

Full list of measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.

Labeled ingredients for rhubarb dump cake recipe.
  • Rhubarb | Fresh or Frozen, if using frozen do not thaw.
  • Cake Mix | I used Yellow cake mix, White cake mix and Vanilla Cake mix in my testing, I liked Vanilla the best personally.
  • Sugar | I used organic cane sugar, but you may use regular white sugar
  • Cornstarch | Just a touch to help create a thick slurry with all of the rhubarb juices.
  • Butter | Use a good quality butter here, you may melt and pour it over, or slice into ⅛ inch slices and layer across the top of the cake.
  • Nutmeg | this ingredient is optional, but I believe adds a light nuttiness to the rhubarb cake.
  • Strawberries | (optional) use sliced fresh strawberries, frozen or even try other berries in this quick dessert

How to Make Rhubarb Dump Cake Recipe

Heat oven to 350 degrees F and using nonstick cooking spray, spray 9×13 inch pan, or 2 quart casserole dish — the smaller casserole dish will take a bit longer to bake, and might be slightly gooey in the middle, but it’s still amazingly delicious!

Lay the fresh or frozen (do not thaw) rhubarb in the bottom of the baking dish, sprinkle sugar and cornstarch evenly over the top, then gently toss to coat the rhubarb with the sugar and corn starch mixture. Sprinkle with fresh grated or ground nutmeg if desired.

Next, evenly sprinkle the cake mix over the top of the rhubarb mixture. DO NOT MIX! Use your fingers to even out the cake mix without pressing it down.

As evenly as possible, drizzle the melted butter over the top of the dry cake mix, or you may slice the same amount of cold butter and layer it evenly over the cake as in my Caramel Apple Dump Cake.

Bake for 45 – 60 minutes in preheated oven, until golden and bubbly.

Pro Tip

If at the 45 minute mark there are still some dry cake mix patches, try using the back of a spoon to gently push them down into the liquid or add tiny slivers of butter to the dry spots and continue baking for 15 more minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool about 15 minutes before serving.

It was a toss up with my recipe testers, some loved it warm (I did) and others loved it cold!

No matter how you enjoy it, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream, you will fall in love with this easy dessert.

Rhubarb dup cake sliced and on plate with forks and the baking dish in the back ground.

Recipe Testing the Best Rhubarb Cake with Cake Mix

This super easy dessert took me 3 tries before I was satisfied! Not because there aren’t some great recipes out there, but I wanted to use less sugar, make without Jello and have it still be delicious.

  1. My first attempt I used water, cornstarch and an all natural cake mix, covered with foil — resulting in a cake that was spongy, gooey and the rhubarb too gummy.
  2. Second test, I used regular cake mix, water, baked in a smaller dish, omitted the cornstarch, the cake topping was perfect, golden with a slight crunch — however the inside was liquid! It tasted amazing, but would get soggy in a heartbeat.
  3. My final attempt, I baked in a 9×13 dish, omitted the water, used less sugar, (it’s already quite sweet) a little cornstarch and added an additional quarter cup of butter — I loved this one the best! I will try it again in a smaller dish as I personally like a bit more rhubarb in my serving, or double up on the amount of rhubarb
Second attempt rhubarb dump cake, super juicy and delicious, but not quite what I wanted. Slice on a plate ala mode with vanilla ice cream.
Second Rhubarb Dump Cake ~Delicious but more soupy than I wanted.

Variations & Substitutions

  • Strawberry-Rhubarb Dump Cake | If you are set on a strawberry flavor, but do not want to use strawberry gelatin, then I suggest, tossing up two cups of sliced strawberries (fresh or frozen) into the fruit mixture.
  • Nutmeg and extra spices as well, try adding cinnamon or a touch of cloves, enhances the flavors of tart rhubarb.
  • Have a bag of frozen cherries or blueberries? Add up to two cups and stir into the rhubarb.
  • This would be delicious with raspberries or blackberries as well for a blackberry dump cake, either replace the rhubarb with like amounts, or add up to two cups.
  • Change up the Cake Mix | I used vanilla and yellow cake mixes in my testing, however; you can also use white cake mix, or try spice cake mix or even butter pecan!

Storage

Cool on the counter, then store in the refrigerator covered tightly with plastic wrap. On the counter for 1 day, in the fridge up to 7 days, this dump cake recipe freezes well too. Seal well nad freeze up to 3 months.

Slice of rhubarb dump cake on a plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, forks in background along with pieces of rhubarb.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between cobbler and dump cake?

The biggest difference is a dump cake is made in the pan it’s cooked in (win!) and cobblers are typically made using several bowls.
Dump cakes use cake mix as the topping; whereas cobblers use a biscuit or even pastry topping over the fruit.

Why is it called Dump Cake?

A very inelegant name for a super tasty dessert. Dump cakes received their name from the process in making them, typically using canned fruit or pie fillings and dry cake mix all dumped into a pan, then drizzled with butter.

What is another name for Dump Cake?

Dump cakes are also known as Lazy Cakes, for the obvious reasons — open, pour, dump, bake – slurp!

Rhubarb dump cake in pretty white baking dish.

High Altitude Rhubarb Dump Cake

The only adjustment needed for this recipe for high altitude is you may have to bake this a bit longer at higher altitudes.

More great Dump Cake Recipes

Lemon dump cake recipe sliced and on plate topped with whipped cream and strawberries, with lemon slices in background.

Easy dessert recipes

I’m so glad you are here with me today, be sure to print the recipe card below and if you make the rhubarb dump cake recipe, please, please, give it a 5 star rating and comment.

Like this recipe?
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22 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    If you are looking for an easy, no-fuss dessert with simple ingredients – this is THE recipe to use! A great bake, with minimal hands-on time and not much washing up after, and most importantly, it tasted delicious, especially with a scoop of ice cream on top!

  2. 5 stars
    I love rhubarb and always looking for new recipes to try. My rhubarb patch is finished for this year now but saving your recipe to try next season. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love rhubarb anything and dump cakes are the best! I had some rhubarb just waiting for this recipe and we all loved it. With ice cream of course!