How to Slice a Watermelon Without Losing a Finger

May 24, 2018

I used to conveniently disappear whenever a watermelon would roll into the kitchen. Eat it? I sure would. But slice it? Not if I wanted to avoid a trip to the emergency room.

Watermelons are big, bulky, and, erm, bulbous, with a propensity to tumble right off your cutting board. There have been countless times when I've lost the entire blade of my knife to the melon, Sword in the Stone-style, and have had to call in reinforcements to rescue me it.

But the more I approached watermelon prep methodically, stealing smart steps from segmenting oranges and breaking down pineapples, the less I feared for my digits.

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Here's how it works (and nope, I'm definitely not the first person to think of this!):

  • First, create a flat surface to avoid the Wobble Problem™: Slice the cap off the top and bottom of the melon so that it can stand up on your cutting board, straight and stable. (Talk about good posture.)
  • If you're making cubes or slabs, follow the curve of the melon with a sharp knife, removing the skin as if you were segmenting an orange or denuding a pineapple.
  • Now that you've got a bald melon, you won't have to wrestle with that tough skin. Cut it down the center, then turn the halves onto their flat sides and cut those into thick slabs, which can then be cross-hatched into squares, rectangles, triangles, or even diamonds (rhombuses might be challenging...).
  • Or, if you want wedges with the rind still on, skip that step: Instead, slice down the center of the watermelon, top to bottom, while the skin is still on. (It'll still be easier now that you have a flat, soft point of entry at the top.) You'll be left with two flat halves that you can lie face side down on the board and slice into half-moons or wedges.

It's fast, easy, and safe. You'll get consistent-sized pieces, if you care about that sort of thing, and you'll have zero reason to avoid slicing watermelon or to not make any of these refreshing, summer-shrieking recipes:

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • BerryBaby
  • Matt
  • rainbow girl
    rainbow girl
  • Warren Allen
    Warren Allen
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


BerryBaby July 10, 2018
The 1st thing is WASH IT!
The watermelon has sll kinds of stuff on the outside and if you cut through it before washing, all of that ick is now on your fruit.

I agree with rainbow girl. I have a very similar way of cutting watermelon. Really quite simple.
Matt May 25, 2018
Um, I hate to be "that guy", but watermelons aren't very structurally sound. If you just poke it with a knife to create a starting hole, you can basically tear the whole thing apart with your hands.
Matt May 26, 2018
You could cut a watermelon with a butterknife if you're so nervous.
rainbow G. May 24, 2018
My favorite way to slice a watermelon is to (and this is totally stolen from G. Zacharian): 1) slice around middle and set each side face down, 2) cut four mostly-rind slices off each side, leaving the top round. Then cut a grid pattern down, with about 2-3" between slices. You end up with square watermelon "pops" with rind handles, perfect for parties.
Warren A. May 24, 2018
Following the venerated tradition of my late sainted father who would each 4th of July, bring a cold huge watermelon along with fresh manually churned French Vanilla Ice Cream to our elderly aunts and have a watermelon-ice cream party, which was the best thing possible for me as a child. Now, I have created all natural Watermelon Ice Cream, Mango Ice Cream, and numerous others and will continue the tradition this upcoming 4th.