Wondering what goes with watermelon? Learn the best ingredient pairings, meal ideas, popular flavor combinations, and other helpful tips.
Knowing what goes well with watermelon gives you a starting point for putting meals together using the ingredients you already have on hand.
Whether you want to reduce food waste, get more creative in the kitchen, or improve your cooking skills, it starts with understanding what flavors pair well together.
What is Watermelon?
Watermelon is a sweet and refreshing fruit that's 91% water and is a great source of antioxidants and vitamins. Although they're loosely defined as melons, they're actually a berry. The whole fruit is edible - rind, seeds, and flesh.
There are hundreds of watermelon varieties grown throughout the world, but these are the most common. Each of these varieties has several types that vary in flesh color, size, and sweetness.
- Icebox - this variety ranges in size from 5 -15 pounds, which allows them to fit more easily into the refrigerator.
- Picnic - these are much larger than icebox watermelons and range in size from 15-50 pounds, but can grow much bigger. This can fit a bigger crowd at picnics and BBQs, hence the name.
- Seedless - these weigh from 10 - 20 pounds but aren't always seedless as they do contain tiny, white, edible immature seeds in smaller amounts than other varieties.
- Yellow-orange fleshed - these can weigh anywhere from 10-30 pounds, can be both seedless and have seeds, and have flesh that ranges in color from orange to yellow.
When To Buy
Watermelon is in season from May through September. Look at the seasonal produce guide to see what else is in season right now.
What To Look For
You want to pick a ripe watermelon because it won't continue to get any sweeter. Here are a few ways to know if it's ripe:
- Gently thump or knock on the skin. If it sounds hollow inside, it's ripe.
- It should feel nice and heavy for its size. Need a comparison? Pick up another watermelon beside it.
- Look for the field spot. This is the yellow patch on the rind of a watermelon that rested on the field as it grew. If the field spot is more white than yellow, it was picked too early and won't be sweet enough.
How To Store
Store whole, uncut watermelon on the counter for 1-2 weeks. Once cut into, cover tightly and store in the fridge for 3-5 days.
To freeze, remove the rind and cut the watermelon flesh into cubes. Arrange them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer the cubes of watermelon to an airtight container, this will prevent them from freezing together into one giant brick.
What Goes Well With Watermelon?
Cucumber, fennel, and jicama.
Blackberries, blueberries, lemons, limes, melons, oranges, pomegranates, raspberries, and tomatoes.
Black and white pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, kosher salt, and sea salt.
Basil, cilantro, kaffir lime, mint, and parsley.
Nuts & Seeds
Cream: use coconut cream or cashew cream for dairy-free, and feta or goat cheese.
Brown and white granulated sugar, honey, olive oil, tequila, vanilla, and vinegar (esp. balsamic, rice, sherry).
Popular Watermelon Pairings
- cilantro + cream + tequila
- fennel + lemon juice + parsley + salt
- feta cheese + red onions
- kaffir lime + vanilla
What To Make With Watermelon
It's also a popular ingredient in fruit salads with herbs, salsa, smoothies, and chilled soups such as gazpacho.
For dessert, you can make watermelon popsicles, granita (an icy Italian dessert), ice cream, sorbet, or pizza (cut into a round slice and topped with whipped cream or coconut whipped cream, and fresh berries).
Did you know?
Although nothing compares to ice-cold watermelon on a hot summer day, you can also grill it. To do this, brush wedges with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill them for a couple of minutes on each side then serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice and a drizzle of honey.
You can also roast watermelon seeds and eat them as a nutrient-dense snack.
Another great way to reduce your food waste is by making pickled watermelon with the rind. You do this by using a vegetable peeler to peel off the green skin until you're left with the white rind and a little bit of the red flesh on one side. If you don't want to pickle them right away you can always prep them and store them in a freezer-safe bag until ready to use. Add pickled watermelon rinds to salads and slaws, or eat them alone as a snack.