25 Delicious & Refreshing Watermelon Recipes
When you picture summer BBQs what’s the first fruit that comes to mind? If it’s watermelon, you’re definitely not alone. There’s something about biting into a fresh, cool, juicy piece of watermelon that’s so definitively summer. Especially when it’s paired with salty, savory dishes like hot dogs, burgers, potato salad, and other BBQ staples.
And while we recommend just enjoying watermelon on its own, if you want to chop it up and try it out in salads, side dishes, desserts, and savory entrees, we definitely support that decision!
Here are some of our favorite watermelon recipes to try out all summer long.
Let’s face it, watermelon is best-served ice cold, making it the perfect sweet addition to salads. Here are some of our favorite sweet and savory summer salads to try out on one of these warm, sunny days.
Mojito Watermelon Salad
Here’s a simple watermelon salad to start us off!
Watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, zippy tequila, and tangy lime juice come together to create a side dish that would pair well with grilled flank steak or cod.
- 2 cups seeded watermelon, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 large red heirloom tomato, cored and chopped
- 1 large yellow heirloom tomato, cored and chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons tequila (optional)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons agave nectar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
- Pinch each of salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place the watermelon and tomato pieces on a paper towel to absorb excess moisture.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice, tequila, agave nectar, vinegar, mint, salt, pepper and olive oil. Add the watermelon and tomatoes, toss well to coat and serve immediately.
Tomato-Watermelon Salad with Turmeric Oil
Watermelon and feta pair together so well because watermelon is juicy and sweet, while feta is light and salty.
This combination shows up a lot in salad recipes, but what sets this salad apart is the addition of a spiced turmeric oil that adds the fat element that brings this dish to the next level.
To make it even more special, use heirloom tomatoes for a stronger flavor.
Tomato, Watermelon, & Avocado Salad
Similar to the previous salads, this recipe from EatingWell also incorporates heirloom tomatoes with fresh watermelon.
But here, refreshing avocados and mint are added for a cooling element.
Jalapenos add a spicy kick to the mix, making this a well-rounded side salad for summer BBQs or Taco Tuesday.
Watermelon and Jicama Salad with Jalapeño and Lime
If you aren’t familiar with jicama, it’s a root vegetable that’s grown similarly to potatoes, yams, and carrots, hence the nickname, Mexican Yam.
Jicama has a mild flavor and a crunchy texture, and it’s water content allows it to soak up whatever flavors you cook it in.
When it’s paired with watermelon in this salad, it adds a nice crunch that complements watermelon cubes perfectly.
Serve this salad alongside salty carnitas or moist and flavorful carne asada.
Watermelon Quinoa Salad with Fermented Honey
If you’re looking for a salad that has a little more protein in it, check out this watermelon quinoa salad from Bob’s Red Mill.
This salad is simple and only calls for a few ingredients, but that’s not to say it isn’t unique and full-flavored.
If you aren’t able to find fermented honey, feel free to sub in your favorite local honey instead. The flavor profile of the dressing will turn out a little different, but you’ll still get that subtle punch of sweetness to balance out the citrus juice and pungent red onion.
Watermelon Side Dishes & Snacks
Whether you’re having a few friends over for a backyard picnic, or you have lots of watermelon and want to whip up a quick snack, here are some watermelon side dish recipes to try out.
Watermelon Feta Appetizers
You might be sensing a trend of watermelon recipes calling for feta cheese, and it’s not without good reason!
These simple feta, watermelon, and balsamic vinegar appetizers are a perfect midday snack before the BBQ gets going.
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon raspberry preserves
- Dash each of onion powder, freshly-ground black pepper and sea salt
- 1 pound seedless watermelon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 6 ounces feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade
- Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, raspberry preserves, onion powder, pepper and salt in a small bowl until sauce becomes smooth. In a small saucepan, heat the sauce over medium heat until bubbling. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring regularly, until the sauce is reduced by half and becomes syrupy, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Using toothpicks or appetizer skewers, stack a piece of feta between two pieces of watermelon on each toothpick. Place each stack neatly on a platter, and sprinkle with basil. Drizzle the raspberry balsamic sauce over the watermelon-feta stacks before serving.
Grilled Green Beans with Watermelon-Radish Salsa
If you’re only familiar with canned or frozen green beans, try using fresh in-season green beans for this recipe, and be amazed at just how different the flavor is!
Well-seasoned, grilled-to-perfection green beans are the perfect summer side dish, especially when they’re paired with juicy watermelon.
Serve this side dish along side whatever protein you decided to toss on the grill, whether it’s chicken, steak, or ribs.
Bonus points if you opt to use watermelon radishes in this dish!
Yes, watermelon jerky is a thing!
When it comes to dehydrating fruit, you’re probably more familiar with dehydrated strawberries, mangos, or tomatoes. But you can also dehydrate watermelon!
The end result is something that resembles fruit leather and is packed full of that sweet watermelon flavor that we all love.
If you have a melon laying around that needs to be processed before it goes bad, this is the recipe for you!
Traditionally, sashimi consists of raw fish or meat that’s thinly sliced and served with soy sauce and garnishes.
But here, watermelon replaces raw meat and is topped off with jalapenos, ginger, and a drizzle of honey.
This is a quick and simple appetizer that’s too cute not to try out. It could even work as an appetizer for homemade sushi or traditional sashimi!
Spiced Watermelon Fries with Lime Crema
When you think about fries you probably don’t think of anything other than potatoes.
But here, watermelon is sliced into a fry shape and coated in chili powder, ground coriander, and cumin to create a sweet and salty snack that’s fresh, healthy, and delicious.
The lime crema is simple and tasty and contrasts well with the sweet and juicy watermelon.
If you didn’t want to bother with mixing up a spice blend for the watermelon, though, tajin would be a wonderful substitution.
Watermelon Rind Pickles
Chances are that you probably toss your watermelon rinds in the garbage or compost rather than eating them. But what about pickling the rind?
Pickled watermelon rind is a staple in the South, and takes the saying “waste not, want not” to the next level.
These pickled treats are slightly sweet and super tender and will be a unique addition to your next charcuterie board.
Watermelon Drinks & Desserts
Of course, sweet watermelon lends itself perfectly to drinks and desserts!
Watermelon-Strawberry Lime Cooler
If you’ve got some watermelon leftover from another recipe, here’s a quick and easy way to put together a refreshing summer drink.
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 4 cups cubed watermelon, seeds removed
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Mint sprigs, for garnish
- In a blender, combine the watermelon and strawberries. Add the lime juice and puree. Serve immediately with mint sprigs for garnish.
Charred Watermelon Punch
Charring the watermelon for this tequila-based punch isn’t entirely necessary, but it adds a summery-touch that is perfect for backyard summer BBQs.
All you’ll need are a few common cocktail ingredients including seltzer, lime juice, sugar, salt, ice, and of course, your favorite tequila.
Not a fan of tequila? Sub in vodka or rum.
Looking for an alcohol-free version? Swap out tequila for extra seltzer or lemonade.
Watermelon and Mascarpone Parfaits
Parfaits are simple and delicious but look super fancy: perfect for all sorts of different gatherings and backyard parties!
In this parfait, pieces of fresh watermelon are layered with a mascarpone mixture to create a sweet dessert that’s on the healthier side.
Lime zest and mint balance out the sweetness of the watermelon and add a tangy addition to this dessert.
Watermelon Rosè Paloma
How pretty is this Paloma?!
Traditionally a Paloma is made up of grapefruit soda and tequila, but here fresh watermelon and Rosè wine are added for a fruity flavor with floral notes.
Chili lime salt is added to the rim to accompany the tequila and add a salty flavor to balance out sweet watermelon and rosè.
Watermelon Rosé Granita
And while we’re on the subject of rosè, what about making a boozy watermelon snow cone with the rest of the bottle?
A granita is a simple Italian dessert that can be made out of just about any fruit and the only other ingredients are sugar and water.
But here, water is replaced with your favorite rosè and is combined with either fresh or frozen watermelon chunks.
Layered Watermelon Ice Pops
As you know, we love the idea of turning fresh fruit into cold and refreshing ice pops, so we had to include one on this list, too!
This ice pop isn’t as simple as just freezing some blended fruit, but it’s definitely the cutest ice pop ever!
All you’ll need are 6 simple ingredients and some ice pop molds to create watermelon ice pops that look like, well, an actual slice of watermelon!
Salted Spicy Watermelon Margarita Popsicles
This popsicle recipe includes all your favorite parts of margaritas: the saltiness, the spiciness, and of course, the limes and tequila.
And while sipping on a margarita in the sun is pretty fantastic, enjoying a cold and icy popsicle with the same flavors is arguably better.
For this recipe, you’ll need common margarita ingredients along with popsicle molds or dixie cups.
Savory Entrees With Watermelon
Watermelon probably never comes to mind when you think of savory meals, but here are some of our favorite recipes that might change your mind.
Chicken with Pickled Watermelon Salsa
When it comes to using watermelon in savory dishes, oftentimes less is more.
Here, watermelon is chopped up and added to salsa, and served alongside grilled chicken breast.
This dish features a variety of flavor profiles ranging from sweet to salty to acidic.
Watermelon Steaks with Warm Pickled Shrimp
You’re familiar with beef steaks and pork loin steaks and eggplant steaks, so why not try watermelon steak?
Grilling slices of watermelon gives them a subtle smoky flavor that totally transforms what you imagine a watermelon to taste like.
Adding pickled shrimp, jalapenos, and red onion to the top of sweet watermelon creates a dish that’s sweet, salty, smoky, acidic, and totally delicious.
If you’re not a fan of shrimp, fresh cod would be a good substitution.
Cedar Plank Salmon with Watermelon Feta Salsa
Salmon is one of those meats that can take sweet flavors incredibly well, especially when it’s balanced with a smoky cedar flavor and aromatic spices.
This cedar plank salmon recipe features a rub that’s made up of brown sugar, paprika, cayenne, garlic, and thyme.
The watermelon feta salad on top adds a sweet and salty flavor that’s cool and refreshing to balance out the herby salmon rub.
Don’t have a grill? No problem! Simple bake the salmon, on the cedar plank, at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes. If you want your salmon a little crispier, pop on the broiler and leave it in the oven for just a few more moments.
Roasted Watermelon Pork Ribs
Here’s another watermelon recipe that might have you a little skeptical. After all, ribs are watermelon are usually served separately, and perhaps alongside each other, but not usually in the same dish.
Fresh watermelon is blended up into a puree and mixed with vinegar to create a simple sauce that’s then spread over pork ribs.
You don’t even need to fire up the grill to make these ribs, all they take is a little time under the broiler and then you slow-cook them in the oven for 2-3 hours.
Hot soup might not sound particularly appealing in the summer, but chilled soup, on the other hand, is refreshing and delicious.
Traditionally made out of tomatoes, gazpacho is a flavorful chilled soup that can be customized with whatever fruits and veggies you may have on hand.
Here, the tomato base is substituted for a watermelon base, and cucumbers, avocado, and radishes are added for a flavorful celebration of summer.
Fish Tacos With Watermelon Salsa
And finally, we had to finish off the list with a taco recipe since watermelon lends itself so well to salsa!
Along with sweet and refreshing watermelon, this salsa is made up of red onion, cilantro, limes, and jalapeno. Though they aren’t called for, heirloom tomatoes would be a delicious addition.
This recipe calls for bass, but if you can find it, cod would be a good substitute.
Tips For Picking a Perfectly Ripe Watermelon
Nothing is more disappointing than cutting up an entire watermelon just to find that it isn’t quite ripe enough. You can avoid that heartbreak all together by learning a few tricks for ensuring that your watermelon is sweet and juicy rather than bland and disappointing.
1. The Field Spot Test
Given that melons grow on the ground, laying on their side, most of them have a spot that’s not red. Usually, the spot is a white, cream, or yellow color. This is called the field spot, and it’s the part of the melon that was touching the soil as it was growing.
The color of the field spot is a quick and easy way to tell if your watermelon is ripe. If it’s a creamy yellow color, it means the melon is ripe. A white color, on the other hand, indicates that the fruit isn’t quite ripe.
2. The Sniff Test
As with other fruits, a good way to tell if a melon is ripe is to give it a sniff. If it smells subtly sweet, it’s ripe for the taking. But if it smells super sweet, it may be a tad overripe. But if you’re planning on making a smoothie or sorbet, overripe isn’t necessarily a bad thing!
3. The Sound Test
Have you ever seen someone knocking on a melon in the produce department? You might think they look silly, but there’s actually something to it!
A ripe melon will make a deep, hollow sound. An unripe melon, on the other hand, will make a high pitched sound.
If you ever are wondering whether a watermelon is ripe, you can always ask a team member in the produce department for assistance. They’d be more than happy to help!