34 Ways to Make the Most of Watermelon Season
Double-Serrano Watermelon Bites
These bites are a step up from classic prosciutto-wrapped melon and provide sweet, spicy, salty, tart, and meaty tastes. If you can’t find serrano ham, use prosciutto; you also can use balsamic glaze in place of pomegranate molasses.
These towering tiers of summer-ripe fruit will make a stunning centerpiece for your next cookout, potluck, or shower. Use your favorite fruits to customize the design; simply secure firmly with wooden picks.
Although it’s tempting to try and make this ahead of time, don’t make it any earlier than 4 hours before you plan to serve it; the cut watermelon will get too juicy. We’ve offered sample sizes for the tiers in the recipe below; feel free to use them as a guide and scale the tiers up or down depending on the size of your watermelons.
Steamed Shrimp and Watermelon Salad
This summery dish is full of the season's freshest ingredients and pair perfectly with shrimp. Steaming the shrimp helps prevent overcooking and keeps it succulent. Watermelon makes a surprisingly good pairing.
Fruit and Arugula Salad With Fig Vinaigrette
There’s only one thing better than the juicy watermelon and peaches in this salad—the outstanding fig vinaigrette. Jammy and sweet with a subtle savory essence, fig preserves provide a flavor foil for tart vinegar and act as an excellent thickener for this dressing, which helps it cling to all the ingredients in this salad.
Peppery arugula adds the perfect spicy bite that stands up to the sweet summer fruit. Make a double batch of the vinaigrette and use it to marinate chicken or brush over salmon before grilling.
Spoon this over grilled pork chops or fish, or serve it with tortilla chips for a twist on salsa.
Watermelon Caramel Sauce
Regular caramel sauce is great, but with all the butter and cream, it is a special occasion indulgence. Watermelon caramel is a sticky fruity way to top ice cream or frozen yogurt to make a fun summer sundae with no added fat, or drizzle over grilled fruit. It is also vegan, in case you need something like that in your back pocket.
I use some red pepper flakes and vanilla in mine, to punch up the flavors, but you can leave them both out. I also like a mix of regular and brown sugar to add some depth, but it will work fine with all of either. You can try the technique with any fruit juice, I use watermelon because the season is upon us, but experiment with other melons, or even root vegetable juices like carrot or beet.
Red Snapper With Chunky Tomato-Watermelon Salsa
The salsa combines sweetness from watermelon; acid from tomatoes and lime; a bit of heat from the chile; and a pop of herbal freshness from cilantro and mint. It pairs particularly well with red snapper and would be lovely with most any mild white fish. To get the fish skin good and crisp, be sure to forgo a nonstick skillet in favor of a stainless-steel or cast-iron one; reach for a 12-inch skillet- (or larger) so the fish doesn't get overcrowded—or cook in 2 batches if using a smaller pan.
Hot-Sweet Grilled Watermelon
The guajillo chile powder provides moderate heat. Cayenne or chipotle powder will work here as well. Make sure the grill is very hot when you add the watermelon, or the slices will steam instead of caramelize and char. Kosher salt is fine, but if you have Maldon sea salt, it’s even better, adding a little crunch with each briny burst of flavor.
Spicy Scallops With Watermelon Salsa
Here we season quick-cooking scallops with inspiration from Caribbean pepper pot recipes. To get a nice sear on the scallops without any sticking, be sure to thoroughly pat your scallops dry and preheat the skillet until it’s nice and hot.
The spicy scallops are cooled by the sweet, minty watermelon salsa. Ask for “dry” sea scallops at the fish counter. Other scallops have been treated with a sodium solution that prevents them from browning nicely and can make the texture of the meat less pleasant.
Watermelon Sesame Poke Bowls
With marinated and seared watermelon, fresh veggies, black rice and more, this fish-free riff on the popular Hawaiian dish is flavor-packed and perfect for summer. The sweetness of watermelon plays well with tangy lime juice, toasted sesame oil, and kicky ginger. If you’re looking for a shareable snack, rather than a meal, serve the poke with tortilla chips, chunky salsa-style.
Watermelon is a picnic must-have! White balsamic vinegar is best in this refreshing salad as it adds acid without overpowering the sweetness of the watermelon. You can also substitute unseasoned rice vinegar or even fresh lime juice, adding a touch of honey if needed. Fresh torn mint will work in place of the basil.
Summer Pea, Watermelon, and Farro Salad
This unusual combination brings the delicious fresh flavors of sweet watermelon and peas to farro and pecorino cheese. Try it as your next grain salad standout at the neighborhood cookout. If you don’t think it’s unusual enough, try it with a sweet yellow watermelon to turn a few heads.
Watermelon and Arugula Chicken Salad
If watermelon wedges are a mainstay at your summer cookouts, try dicing for this instant, gorgeous salad. The sweetness of the fruit pairs beautifully with the smoky rotisserie chicken and fresh mint to create a summertime staple that will keep the family asking for seconds.
Watermelon Salad With Feta and Cucumber Pickles
Sumac—available at spice stores—adds a subtle piney, tangy note, but don't worry if you can't find it—this watermelon and cucumber salad will still have loads of flavor complexity without it. You could also sub 1 teaspoon of prepared horseradish for the wasabi powder.
Grilled Watermelon Pizza
Get creative at your next cookout with this handheld take on watermelon salad. This all-star melon creates the perfect base for the bold flavors that are highlighted in the toppings.
Summer Melon Salad
To achieve beautiful, crater-free spheres, press the cup of the melon baller flat and firmly into the flesh of a halved seeded melon. Then turn 180 degrees (or 360 degrees if the melon needs additional shaping), and lift.
Spicy Flank Steak Tacos With Watermelon Salsa
Make taco night quicker and more delicious all at once. The three-pepper spice rub gives the steak wonderful complexity.
Grilled Watermelon and Halloumi Salad With Minty Green Beans
If your farmers' market doesn't have slender haricots verts, grab a handful of regular green beans and cook them a couple of minutes longer. Halloumi is a wonderfully salty-nutty cheese that's firm enough to stand up to grilling; if you can't find it, use ricotta salata or queso fresco.
Watermelon-Jalapeño Ice Pops
Sweet meets heat in this summer-ready popsicle recipe. A bit of pectin helps keep all the ingredients incorporated evenly in this treat; without it, they tend to separate.
Summer Fig and Watermelon Salad With Feta
A pop of acidic vinaigrette balances ultra-sweet figs. Balsamic glaze is a syrup of concentrated, cooked-down, sweetened balsamic vinegar; it adds a sweet and tangy element to this refreshing salad. Look for it near the vinegar.
Grilled Pork Chops With Two-Melon Salsa
Cover this quick and easy grilled pork recipe with a tasty salsa that uses summer's freshest fruits and flavors to round out the meal.
Fresh mint is, without a doubt, one of our favorite flavors. Whether it's a handful left from the farmers' market or a bumber crop of your own, use leftover leaves to create a new twist on the classic margarita.
Minted Watermelon and Lemon Ice Pops
Juicy-tangy watermelon ice pops somehow taste more of melon than the fruit itself.
Melon Salad With Prosciutto
Salty cheese and ham accent the sweet fruit in this refreshing main-dish salad, a perfect meal on a warm spring day.
Why buy canned soda when making it from scratch is so easy? Plus, making your own soda avoids the artificial sugars found in many store-bought varieties. In this recipe, watermelon, ginger, lime, and club soda make for a refreshing combo.
Chile-Lime Watermelon Wedges
A dusting of smoky chile powder, earthy cumin, zingy lime rind, and a hit of salt turns watermelon's flavor up to 11.
Grilled Scallop Salad
Grill scallops and cucumber halves for tasty toppings on this fresh and flavorful salad. You'll love how the sweet watermelon and mint flavors play off one another.
Minted Lemon-Lime Watermelon Agua Fresca
Sweet, tangy, and absolutely thirst-quenching, this beverage is one the whole family can enjoy.
Briny feta cheese and tangy lime juice make great partners for sweet watermelon.
Watermelon With Tangy Granita
Juicy-crisp watermelon chunks turn extra-refreshing with a cold topping of slushy cucumber-lime granita. If you have access to both, use red and yellow watermelon.
Basil-Infused Watermelon Lemonade
Summer's favorite beverage meets one of summer's best fruits and gets an added burst of flavor from fresh basil. Because watermelon is naturally sweet, not much sugar is needed to make this lemonade.
Watermelon and Cucumber Tonic
A reinterpretation of the familiar gin and tonic, this cocktail includes fresh watermelon and cucumber juices for a refreshing taste. Hendrick's, a small-batch Scottish gin that's infused with the flavor of cucumber and rose petals, is ideal for this recipe. For even better results, try premium tonic water, such as Fever-Tree or Q Tonic. Serve any remaining juice mixture (which you can make a day ahead) over ice for guests who prefer a nonalcoholic drink.
This drink is a twist on the classic Bellini, a post–World War II cocktail of white peach puree and Champagne, first mixed at Harry's Bar in Venice. Freezing the watermelon before pureeing lends the drink a slightly slushy consistency. If you prefer a smoother texture, simply chill the watermelon. Serve in Champagne flutes.
White balsamic vinegar, sweet and mild just like traditional balsamic, is ideal here because it’s light in color and won’t “muddy out” the salad. The salty, sharp bite of pecorino Romano is delicious here. You can also sub another hard grating cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or ricotta salata.