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13 Delicious Watermelon Recipes for Summer Cookouts

Savor the summer’s most refreshing fruit with cooling salads, sides, desserts, and more.

Longer days and warmer temps mean watermelon season is finally here. Whether you’re grilling it, cubing it, blending it, or just munching as is, watermelon is the unofficial star of summer produce. Its versatility is unmatched with tons of watermelon recipes to choose from, shapeshifting from morning smoothie to savory salad with ease.  

Selecting and prepping a watermelon is easy with these tips. Choose a ripe melon that appears symmetrical with a rind that has a matte sheen. If it has a small area that’s faded or yellow, this is most likely a field spot, where the melon rested against the ground while growing and can indicate a ripe and sweet watermelon. Avoid any fruit with dents, cracks, bruises, or bumps. A fully ripened watermelon will also feel heavy, and you’ll hear a hollow sound when you tap it.  

When you’re cutting up a watermelon, the shapes you choose to cut it into depend on how you’ll be serving it. Wedges and sticks with the rind attached are finger-friendly and ideal for picnics, playdates, and any time you don’t want to bother with utensils (but you will need plenty of napkins or wet wipes for sticky fingers). For watermelon recipes, like a salad, bite-sized cubes or spheres made with a melon baller, like in this Triple Melon Fruit Salad, work well.  

Sliced watermelon will stay fresh refrigerated in a sealed container for three to five days. But be careful when combining melon with other ingredients, particularly anything salty or acidic such as cheese or salad dressing. Those ingredients can start to break down the melon causing it to lose water and make your dish soggy. It’s best to store those ingredients separately and add them just before serving 

Once you’ve got the basics down, here are watermelon recipes to make the fruit the star of backyard barbecue season.   

Spicy Tomato and Watermelon Salad    

Watermelon and ripe summer tomatoes are a flavor match made in heaven. This recipe adds another dimension with a rich medley of spices, like cumin, turmeric, paprika, and cayenne which are warmed in oil to coax out even more flavor. The final salad is garnished with fresh basil ribbons for an ideal balance of savory, sweet, and spicy notes.   

Get the recipe: Spicy Tomato and Watermelon Salad  

Retro Watermelon Pie  

Guests will be tickled pink when this showstopping throwback to the 1960s hits the table. Watermelon-infused gelatin and marshmallow whipped cream combine into a mild-flavored mousse that lets the flavor of the freshly squeezed watermelon juice shine. A blender and a strainer are all you need to extract the juice, and a store-bought graham cracker crust lets you get a jump on the rest of the easy prep.  

Get the recipe: Retro Watermelon Pie

Chili Lime Watermelon Wedges  

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself craving this riff on a Mexican street food favorite all summer long. The combo of fresh watermelon, chili-lime seasoning, and cotija cheese is a sweet-spicy-salty-sour explosion that hits every part of your tongue. Fortunately, it’s a quick and easy snack you can make in 10 minutes.  

Get the recipe: Chili Lime Watermelon Wedges

Watermelon Pizza  

This fresh fruit “pizza” is an opportunity to let kids play with their food while also sneaking in extra nutrients at dessert or snack time. Watermelon wedges topped with mixed berries and other fruit are a tasty canvas for creating funny faces and other colorful designs.  

Get the recipe: Watermelon Pizza  

Sweet and Sour Pickled Watermelon Rind  

Don’t throw that watermelon rind in the trash. Instead, this watermelon recipe turns it into a tangy condiment from the South. Star anise, ginger, and cinnamon add spicy complexity to quick-pickled slices of rind that keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. Try them in place of traditional pickles in sandwiches and salads or alongside grilled meat. 

Get the recipe: Sweet and Sour Pickled Watermelon Rind

Watermelon and Jicama Salsa

Jicama and watermelon share a similar crunchy, juicy texture, so they’re a natural pairing in this chunky salsa. Jalapeño and chili powder add mild heat balanced with fresh lime and cooling mint. A whole watermelon doubles as both an ingredient and serving vessel for this party-ready dip. Serve this with a side of chips or on as a condiment for your favorite grilled meat.

Get the recipe: Watermelon and Jicama Salsa

Watermelon and Berry Salad with Feta  

The union of fresh, sweet watermelon and tangy, salty feta is a classic opposites-attract story. We added another component to this love affair—peak summer blueberries and strawberries. The result is a refreshing, red, white, and blue side that works with any cookout menu. 

Get the recipe: Watermelon and Berry Salad with Feta 

Watermelon Punch

If your favorite part of a watermelon is the sweet juice dribbling down your chin, this recipe is for you. An immersion blender makes it easy to whip up and serve this watermelon punch directly inside the rind itself. A homemade, basil-infused simple syrup and bottled lemonade round out each sip with just the right balance of tart and bright herbal flavors.  

Get the recipe: Watermelon Punch

Watermelon Ice Pops  

You won’t believe all of the refreshing flavors we packed into one frozen pop. These tri-colored treats look as good as they taste, starting with a pink layer of watermelon, raspberry, and fresh lime juice. Then comes a tropical layer of creamy coconut gelato followed by a combo of kiwi, fresh mint, and cucumber. Together, this three-layered stack is guaranteed to beat the heat on summer days.   

Get the recipe: Watermelon Ice Pops

Watermelon and Mozzarella Panzanella with Prosciutto   

This bowl full of Italian flavors will make any cookout feel like a summer night in Tuscany. Cubes of watermelon add unexpected sweetness and crunch to this take on Panzanella, an Italian bread salad. Plus, the salty prosciutto, creamy mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, crunchy bread cubes, and peak season melon sing together in perfect harmony.  

Get the recipe: Watermelon and Mozzarella Panzanella with Prosciutto 

Grilled Steak with Watermelon and Rice Noodles

The umami-rich flavors and variety of textures in this one-of-a-kind salad will keep you coming back for more. Watermelon, fresh veggies, and chewy rice noodles get Southeast Asian-inspired flavor from fish sauce, mint, and fresh lime juice. Grilled sirloin rounds things out with filling protein for a complete meal in one.   

Get the recipe: Grilled Steak with Watermelon and Rice Noodles

Fruit and Cheese Sparklers

A miniature cookie cutter and wooden skewers are all you need for this stellar, budget-friendly backyard barbecue snack. Star-shaped bites of mild mozzarella and blueberries pair perfectly with peak-season watermelon. Together they stack up as patriotic kabobs that will be the standout of any festive summer spread.  

Get the recipe: Fruit and Cheese Sparklers  

Mojito Fruit Salad

The mellow but distinctive flavor of watermelon pairs well with all kinds of summer fruit, including whatever you add to this mix-and-match salad. A mojito-inspired dressing bursting with fresh mint and lime juice turns your combination into pure refreshment on a plate.   

Get the recipe: Mojito Fruit Salad

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