Our 22 Juiciest Watermelon Recipes for Summer

Cool off with one of these easy sweet or savory dishes.

July 21, 2021
Photo by James Ransom

Watermelon is as intimidating as it is delicious. It's the ultimate summer fruit, yet its refreshing charm can be diluted by the sheer obstacle of dealing with one. Lugging it, chopping it, storing it—it can be daunting. The hulking melon, like most things in life, is always scarier before you dig in. Quarter it, put your apprehensions aside, and consider your options. These 22 watermelon recipes for summer make such quick use of the seasonal fruit that you might even want to buy two. 

1. Tomato Watermelon Salad With Mint Vinaigrette 

Cool off on a hot summer day with this refreshing fruit (yes, fruit!) salad made from two kinds of tomatoes—cherry and heirloom varieties—plus an entire pound of watermelon. Dress it up with a light citrus vinaigrette accented with fresh mint leaves.

Tomato Watermelon Salad With Mint Vinaigrette

2. Watermelon Steak Salad With Heirloom Tomatoes & Sangria Vinaigrette

Grilled watermelon? We know what you’re thinking—things have gone too far. But trust us. The charred, juicy fruit is the ultimate summertime treat. And when you pair it with an assortment of colorful heirloom tomatoes, mixed greens, and a genius summer vinaigrette made from red wine sangria and olive oil, it’s gone just far enough.

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Watermelon Steak Salad With Heirloom Tomatoes & Sangria Vinaigrette

3. Spicy Watermelon With Tomatoes, Prosciutto & Salted-Lime Yogurt

Our summer watermelon recipe is easy on the eyes and tastes delicious to boot. Over a smear of lime-infused yogurt, a combination of melon cubes, cherry tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, and prosciutto are scattered about.

Spicy Watermelon With Tomatoes, Prosciutto & Salted-Lime Yogurt

4. Watermelon Rind Kimchi

Instead of the usual cabbage, chopped watermelon rind is fermented with garlic, ginger, gochugaru, and shredded carrots for a summery twist on a Korean classic.

Watermelon Rind Kimchi

5. Gin Watermelon Basil Smash

On a hot summer day, this watermelon cocktail recipe hits just right. Shake up a refreshing combination of watermelon purée, gin, lemon juice, and fresh basil leaves for a crowd-pleasing summer drink.

Gin Watermelon Basil Smash

6. Boozy Watermelon Rosemary Lemonade

No matter how old we get, pink lemonade is always a sugary-sweet delight. But we felt like it was time for a little bit of an adult upgrade, which is why we used watermelon purée for a natural pink hue and added fresh herbs for an accent of earthy flavors.

Boozy Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade

7. Watermelon & Goat Cheese Salad With a Verbena-Infused Vinaigrette

Sometimes the best recipes are the ones that are a little spontaneous and of course perfectly summery. This watermelon salad recipe checks both boxes, since recipe developer Loli picked and chose a few ingredients to add as she created this seasonal side. The result feels totally meant to be.

Watermelon & Goat Cheese Salad with a Verbena-Infused Vinaigrette

8. Jalapeño-Marinated Chicken Tacos With Watermelon Salsa

This is the taco recipe that made me stop hating tacos, finally,” says recipe developer Eric Kim. Even though we love tacos, this made our ears perk up. A spicy watermelon-lime salsa dresses up roasted chicken thighs, which are tucked into soft flour tortillas.

Jalapeño-Marinated Chicken Tacos With Watermelon Salsa

9. Watermelon Pudding (Gelo d'Anguria)

“Made with a simple preparation, this pudding relies only on three main ingredients: fresh watermelon juice, cornstarch, and sugar. The result is a slightly wobbly but set pudding to eat by the spoonful,” writes recipe developer Emiko.

Watermelon Pudding (Gelo d'Anguria)

10. Watermelon Paloma

Instead of the usual grapefruit juice which makes a Paloma, well, a Paloma, this version calls for watermelon juice for a fun and fruity spin on the traditional tequila cocktail.

Watermelon Paloma

11. Watermelon Campari Granita

All you need for this delightful watermelon dessert is three ingredients—watermelon (of course), sugar, and Campari, which is a bitter Italian liqueur. When mixed together and frozen, they create one cool treat.

Watermelon Campari Granita

12. Grilled Watermelon With Tequila

An upgrade on a party classic, tequila-soaked watermelon is seasoned with chili powder and salt and grilled until each slice of fruit forms beautiful grill lines. It’s then topped with a zesty crème fraîche.

Grilled Watermelon with Tequila

13. Watermelon, Arugula & Pickled Onion Summer Salad 

Pair this pickled watermelon salad with grilled meats and vegetables on a hot summer day, as suggested by recipe developer Dee.

Watermelon, Arugula, and Pickled Onion Summer Salad

14. Watermelon-Habanero Lemonade

Not exactly our kid-friendliest lemonade, this watermelon-based drink recipe also introduces some serious spice thanks to a habanero pepper.

Watermelon-Habanero Lemonade

15. Watermelon With Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

Watermelon is juicy, watery, and sweet on its own. It hits the spot on a hot day, but we loved changing it up by adding a salty, sour vinaigrette made with preserved lemons on top.

Watermelon with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

16. Watermelon, Tomato, & Four-Herb Salad

“This salad is exactly what I want to make and eat during the heat of summer—either as a light dinner or a side to grilled meat,” says recipe developer EmilyC. Same here, Emily. 

Watermelon, Tomato, and Four-Herb Salad

17. Olia Hercules' Watermelon Rind Jam

Here’s a fabulous upgrade to your morning toast—a chunky, fruity jam made from the rind of watermelons, sugar, and a touch of lime juice. 

Watermelon Rind Jam

18. Frozen Watermelon Five-Spice Daiquiri

Strawberry, mango, peach...there are so many varieties of daiquiris to sip on, but why not make a batch with frozen watermelon cubes? With a gentle simple syrup infused with Chinese five-spice powder, it’s the ultimate summer cocktail.

Frozen Watermelon Five-Spice Daiquiri

19. Black Bean With Melon(s) & Feta Salad

Black beans aren’t exactly colorful, but they bring heartiness and a nourishing amount of protein to many different dishes. In this summer salad, they’re paired with bright pink watermelon, cucumbers, and feta cheese.

Black Bean With Melon(s) & Feta Salad

20. Roasted Melon Seeds 

Come fall, we’re all about roasted pumpkin seeds but those aren’t the only baked and salted seeds that you can enjoy. Here, you’ll find directions for how to roast both watermelon and muskmelon seeds.

Roasted Melon Seeds

21. Watermelon Gazpacho With Feta & Mint

Normally, gazpacho is made with tomatoes and red peppers, but for a sweet summer spin, why not add loads and loads of cubed watermelon, too?

Watermelon Gazpacho

 22. Watermelon Tomato Salad, for Picnicking

A vibrant, colorful trio of bright greens, oranges, and pinks are so enticing for a light summer salad. Juicy watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, creamy avocado, and Persian cucumbers create the vegan dish of our dreams.

Watermelon Tomato Salad, for Picnicking

What are your favorite ways to cook with watermelon? Share your best ideas in the comments below!


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Virginia
  • Naomi woodspring
    Naomi woodspring
  • Beauty Follower
    Beauty Follower
Former Food52 Staff Editor


Virginia June 12, 2021
My biggest problem is finding a sweet watermelon, I have tried all methods suggested to check the melon, but it's always a hit or miss. Love the fruit as it is so refreshing as well as delicious.
Naomi W. July 23, 2017
Bryan Terry's (Vegan Soul KItchen) Citrus and Spice Pickled Watermelon Rind is simply the best.......mmmmmm
Beauty F. August 3, 2014
My fave summer dish: watermelon+feta cheese!