Watermelon Recipes That Celebrate Summer’s Juiciest Fruit

Synonymous with summer, watermelon is delicious in everything from salads and pickles to cold soups and cocktails

For many people, watermelon is an undeniable symbol of summer. Bursting with juice and sweetness, few things are more refreshing on a hot summer day. In our mind, no summer cookout is complete without a watermelon or three. Perhaps the best way to eat watermelon is to simply cut it into big slices and eat the flesh straight off the rind, but the fruit also makes a wonderful ingredient in the kitchen.

When you think of a watermelon, you probably think of a large, juicy, green-rind watermelon like the Crimson Sweet. But there are tons of other varieties to explore, so don’t be afraid to branch out at the farmers’ market. Some types to seek out include the tiny, pink-fleshed Little Baby Flower; Moon and Stars, an heirloom watermelon that can reach 40 pounds; and the Yellow Doll, which boasts soft fruit and a golden rind.

Once you lug that watermelon home, try teaming the sweet fruit with briny, crumbly cheeses, such as feta or cotija. And don’t relegate the watermelon rinds to the compost heap. Bathe them in vinegar to create delicious pickles—they make an excellent foil for smoked or grilled meats. Lastly, take note that juicy watermelon makes a great canvas for summer cocktails—the mellow, sweet flavor pairs well with all kinds of spirits. Find all this and more in our collection of best watermelon recipes below.

Watermelon Salad with Habanero-Pickled Onions and Lime Salt

Homemade lime salt brings out the sweetness of fresh watermelon in this lively salad and plays well with the crisp radishes and tangy onions. Get the recipe for Watermelon Salad with Habanero-Pickled Onions and Lime Salt »

Watermelon Rind Pickles

Get the recipe for Watermelon Rind Pickles »

Strawberry, Watermelon, and Tomato Gazpacho

This refreshing summer soup, adapted from La Guarida restaurant in Havana, is meant to be served lightly chilled. Olive oil, garlic, pink peppercorn, and smoky grilled shrimp round out the sweetness from the strawberries and watermelon. Add ¼ teaspoon of sugar if the fruit is more tart than sweet. Get the recipe for Strawberry, Watermelon, and Tomato Gazpacho »

Grilled Watermelon, Avocado, and Shrimp Salad

Grilling makes everything better—watermelons get even sweeter from the flames, shrimp gets crisp and plump, and avocado turns deliciously smoky. Get the recipe for Grilled Watermelon, Avocado, and Shrimp Salad »
Fresh watermelon, basil, and cayenne combine with pisco—a fruity, spicy eau de vie distilled from grapes—for a sweet-spicy summertime cocktail from bartender Cliff Mejia of New York’s Analogue. Get the recipe for Red Lady

Cured Fluke with Yogurt, Watermelon, Sunflower Seeds, and Togarashi

Breakfast, brunch, or snack, we could serve (and eat) this quick-cured, no-cook fish dish from John Karangis of Union Square Events, any time of day. It works exceptionally well as a summer starter, served with a savory lime yogurt and refreshing cubes of ripe watermelon, then sprinkled with flecks of shichimi togarashi: a spicy, tangy, earthy Japanese spice mix. Get the recipe Cured Fluke with Yogurt, Watermelon, Sunflower Seeds, and Togarashi »

Watermelon, Feta, and Jalapeño Salad

For a Southeast Asian spin, add fish sauce, chile, and Thai basil to the classic combination of watermelon and feta.

Gallagher Smash

For this summer refresher, Eric Johnson of Sycamore Den in San Diego makes a syrup with ripe watermelon and sugar, then combines it with sherry, gin, and muddled lemon. Get the recipe for Gallagher Smash »

Watermelon Gazpacho

Watermelon Gazpacho

Watermelon-Basil Cocktail

Exceedingly well-balanced, this juicy cocktail from John Karangis of Union Square Events gets its sweetness from yellow watermelon, herbal freshness from Chartreuse and basil, and an astringent kick from tequila. While red watermelon will work in a pinch, you won’t get the clarity of color unless you spring for the yellow. Get the recipe for Watermelon-Basil Cocktail »

Watermelon Salad with Cilantro, Radish Sprouts, and Cotija

In this refreshing salad, watermelon at the peak of its sweetness is tossed in a zesty vinaigrette with spicy radish sprouts. Get the recipe for Watermelon Salad with Cilantro, Radish Sprouts, and Cotija »

Watermelon, Feta, and Olive Salad

Watermelon, Feta, and Olive Salad

Watermelon Curry

A specialty of the Indian state of Rajasthan, this delicious curry plays the sweet, juicy flesh of the watermelon against a complex background of chiles and spices. Get the recipe for Watermelon Curry »

The Merchant’s Wife

A bright mix of watermelon, gin, Aperol, lemon juice, and a splash of club soda, this drink from Stella Rosa Pizza Bar in Santa Monica is well-balanced, effervescent, and not too sweet. Get the recipe for The Merchant’s Wife »

Watermelon Cooler

Sweet watermelon balances the heat of Scotch bonnet chiles in this summery tequila-based drink. Get the recipe for Watermelon Cooler »

Watermelon Rind Pickle

From the school of waste-not-want-not eating comes pickled watermelon rind: a spicy, tangy, tender treat from a something more often discarded. Get the recipe for Watermelon Rind Pickle »