Foods

Best Watermelon Recipes to Sweeten Up Your Summer 2021

In the dead heat of summertime, we’ll try anything to keep cool. We eat ice cream, drink spiked cold brew coffee, put ice down our trousers…well maybe not that last one, but you get the point. The OG summertime food straight from Mother Nature, designed to keep us cool, is the watermelon.

Taking a big bite out of a slice au naturale will never go out of style, but the classic melon has more culinary applications than you might think. We’ve gathered up eleven of the best watermelon recipes, from fruit-forward dishes to flavorful, easy-to-make cocktails, from chefs, bartenders, and other food professionals.

Watermelon and Peaches

(By Chef Roland Lopez, 1799 Kitchen)

A combination of art and fine dining cuisine, this dish from chef Roland Lopez at 1799 Kitchen in the Harpeth Hotel in Franklin, Tennessee, will take your dinner guest’s breath away through taste and presentation. This recipe featuring compressed watermelon, pickled watermelon rind, whipped goat cheese, feta mousse, and charred champagne peaches will truly test your culinary prowess. Just don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t make it look exactly like chef Lopez’s version. You can serve this dish as an appetizer, salad, or dessert.

Ingredients:

Watermelon

  • 1 piece watermelon cut in 1.25-inch cubes
  • 2 cups rose’ (cook out the alcohol)
  • .25 cup sugar, granulated
  • 1 sprig basil
  • 1 sprig mint

Pickled Rind

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp mustard seed, yellow
  • 1 tbps star anise
  • 1 tbs fennel seed
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorn
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tsp clove, whole

Whipped Goat Cheese Feta Mousse

  • 3 ounces tempered cream cheese
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 3 ounces feta crumble

Peach Topping

  • 1-2 yellow peaches cut into thin slices
  • 2 tsp champagne vinegar
    3 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Watermelon

  1. Allow to steep the rosé/sugar reduction, mint, and basil for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  2. Cryovac and compress for a minimum of two days.

Pickled Rind

  1. When breaking down watermelon, save the rind and peel.
  2. Small dice and reserve.
  3. Bring all ingredients to a boil and pour over reserved watermelon rind in an airtight meal prep container.
  4. Reserve for a minimum 1-week

Goat Cheese and Feta Mousse

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and purée until smooth.

Peaches

  1. Char peaches over a stovetop in a hot pan with salt and pepper to taste.

To Plate:

  1. In a 4-inch ring mold, arrange peaches, then stack watermelon.
  2. Drizzle with reserved juice of compressed melon and brine from the pickled rind.
  3. Garnish with mint leaves and dollops of mousse from a piping bag.

Watermelon

A cup of NR's watermelon.
Photo Credit: NR

(By Shigefumi Kabashima, owner and bar director, NR)

If the watermelon and peaches dish is a test of your culinary abilities, this cocktail, appropriately coined “watermelon” from Shigefumi Kabashima, owner and bar director of NYC bar NR, will be a test of your mixology skills. This is a drink you can make ahead of time in large batches and keep in the fridge to enjoy in an instant, but there is some arduous prep that goes along with it.

You must first infuse the Mizu No Mai Shochu for a week. Then, mix all the ingredients together and filter. This cocktail is a labor of love, but the work is worth it. The watermelon, cucumber, tomato, and lime flavors blend together to give you a cocktail that can only be described as summertime in a glass.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Dehydrated Red Tomato Infused Mizu No Mai Shochu
  • 1.5 oz Watermelon
  • 1/3 oz Cucumber
  • 1 tsp Green Tomato Jam (bought at specialty stores)
  • 1/3 oz Lime
  • Clarified (Milk Wash)

Method:

Dehydrated Red Tomato Infused Mizu No Mai Shochu

  1. Slice the red tomatoes to be very thin.
  2. Then proceed by letting the tomatoes dry on a dehydrating machine for approximately 12 hours.
  3. Add about 20 pieces of the dried tomato chips to 1 liter of shochu.
  4. Infuse for one week.

Drink

  1. Mix all ingredients together, then mix with milk at a ratio of 6:1.
  2. Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then enjoy it completely filtered and cleared.
  3. Garnish with red Asian salt.

Grilled Watermelon Pizza with Honey and Lime

Slices of grilled watermelon pizza with honey and lime on a cutboard.
Photo Credit: Hey Grill Hey

(By Susie Bulloch, founder and grillmaster, Hey Grill Hey)

Isn’t it every guy’s dream to make pizza out of every food? Grillmaster and founder of the popular food blog Hey Grill Hey Susie Bulloch is making that dream come true one ingredient at a time, starting with this delicious grilled watermelon pizza recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 20-25 pound seedless watermelon
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves
  • 6 ounces queso fresco
  • ¼ cup honey
  • fresh lime wedges (as garnish)
  • 1 medium red onion (thinly sliced)
  • .5 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt

Method:

  1. Make the sweet pickled red onions. One hour before you’re ready to grill the watermelon, combine the sliced red onion, white vinegar, lime juice, honey, and salt in a small glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour. These can also be made days in advance, simply transfer to a lidded glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Preheat the grill. When you’re ready to cook the watermelon, preheat your grill to high heat (about 450-500 degrees F).
    Prep the watermelon. Slice your watermelon into 1.5-inch rounds using a large, sharp knife. Brush each side of the watermelon slice with the liquid from the sweet pickled onions.
  3. Grill the watermelon. Place the watermelon rounds on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until there are some light char marks on each side of the watermelon. You might need to work in a few batches at a time to get all of the watermelon grilled if your watermelon rounds are large and your grill grate is small.
  4. Add toppings and serve. Place each grilled watermelon round on a large cutting board, drizzle each round with some of the honey, a few slices of the pickled red onion, some of the queso fresco, and a sprinkle of cilantro. Serve with a fresh lime wedge to squeeze over the top. Serve while still warm.

Watermelon Sugar High

A plate of watermelon and tomato slices with Feta and balsamic sauce.

(By Brian Malarkey, Chef’s Life)

This recipe comes from acclaimed celebrity chef Brian Malarkey. It’s a great healthy summertime dish that is easy and tasty. This recipe calls for Malarkey’s cooking and seasoning oil from his new line of cooking oils called Chef’s Life. The only problem is, this recipe is so exclusive that the oils haven’t even launched yet. In the meantime, you can use traditional vegetable or olive oil as a substitution.

Ingredients:

  • .5 small seedless watermelon – medium diced
  • 1/3 cup Sunflower seeds – toasted
  • 1 avocado – medium diced
  • 3 tomatoes – medium diced
  • 3 red endives – cut in half lengthwise and hard sautéed
  • .25 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/3 cup feta – hard crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons Chefs Life – cooking oil
  • .5 cup Chefs Life – blending oil
  • 1/3 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/3 cup herbs (tarragon, dill, and parsley) – chopped

Method:

  1. In a large sauté pan over high heat, sauté the endive in Chefs Life Cooking Oil – flat side down – for about 1 minute. Allow the endive to get some black char then remove it from the heat and let it cool. Once it has cooled, slice the endive vertically.
  2. To create the vinaigrette dressing: In a mason jar combine Chefs Life Blending Oil with the champagne vinegar and herbs – give it a great “Tom Cruise” shake until blended.
  3. To create the layered salad: On a large plate, place 1/2 the diced watermelon, then the tomatoes, followed by the endive and avocado. Generously pour the vinaigrette dressing over the top.
  4. Lastly, finish with all the toppings – hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, sea salt, pink peppercorns, feta, and finally, a drizzle of the Chefs Life Finishing Oil.

The Watermelon Cooler

An ice-cold glass of watermelon cooler.
Photo Credit: Evan Sung

(from Kimika)

Greg Kong, beverage director at Kimika in New York, says the watermelon cooler is a watermelon Daiquiri at heart. Its 10-to-1 overproof white rum (a blend of Jamaican and Dominican rums) serves as the base for this fun cocktail. Trois Rivieres Cuvee L’Ocean, a briney Rhum Agricole from Martinique, adds salinity and grassiness to balance the sweetness of the watermelon. Aperol and Lambrusco add additional summery citrus and berry notes, as well as some sparkle from the Lambrusco. A hint of Thai chili balances out all the flavors.

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 oz Ten To One Overproof Rum
  • .5 oz Aperol
  • 3 Dash Peychauds
  • 3 dash Thai chili tincture
  • .75 oz 2alted watermelon syrup
  • .75 oz Lemon juice
  • .5 oz Trois Rivieres Cuvee L’Ocean
  • Lambrusco Rosso

Method:

  1. Build in a shaking tin. Add all the ingredients except Lambrusco into a shaking tin.
  2. Whip shake with 3-5 pebbled ice.
  3. Strain into a snifter glass, add pebbled ice, and top with Lambrusco.

Summer Watermelon Ceviche

Photo Credit: Garrett Hospitality Group/South Beach Top Chefs.com

(By Austin Blake, Executive Chef, Garrett Hospitality Group)

Ceviche, in general, is a great summer dish full of bright, fresh flavors. Austin Blake, the Executive Chef of the Garrett Hospitality Group, adds his summertime spin on the dish by adding chunks of watermelon to sweeten up this sometimes overly bitter, citrus-heavy dish.

Ingredients:

Ceviche

  • 1 cup white fish, diced
  • 2 tbsp red onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp cucumber, diced
  • 1 tbsp. jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp watermelon, diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • .5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Marinade

  • .5 cup watermelon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp Key Lime juice
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 tbsp diced white fish
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

Marinade

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until garlic, ginger, and the fish have been fully puréed.
  2. Let sit refrigerated for about five minutes, to infuse. Pass through a fine-mesh strainer, pushing the liquid through the pulp.

Ceviche

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all remaining ingredients (minus the olive oil) and your marinade.
  2. Gently massage the fish, depending on how ‘cooked’ you like it, let it sit for anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour.
  3. Plate, drizzle with olive oil, and serve. Enjoy!

Amigo Caliente

Photo Credit: Juvia

(from Juvia)

This downable drink will be your best friend. Not only because it’s made with Casamigos tequila, but it’s also low-carb to keep your summer bod in check. This drink has the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, with the combination of watermelon syrup and the Aperol infused with aji-limo peppers.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Casamigos Blanco
  • .5 oz Aperol infused with Aji-Limo peppers
  • .25 oz watermelon syrup
  • 1.5 oz fresh watermelon juice
  • .75 lime juice

Method:

  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker glass and shake to combine.
  2. Pour over ice.
  3. Garnish with a watermelon slice.

Smoked Watermelon Gazpacho

A bowl of smoked watermelon gazpacho.

(By Cleetus Freidman, Director of Hospitality, Camp Aramoni)

Camp Aramoni is a one-of-a-kind luxury campground for adults in Tonica, Illinois, right on the Vermillion River. You can glamp in fancy tents and cabins and eat chef-crafted meals, like this smoked watermelon gazpacho from Cleetus Freidman, Director of Hospitality. When it comes to gazpacho, you either love it or hate it, whether it’s made from tomatoes or watermelon. We are in the “love it” camp. The smoky sweetness of this refreshing soup is a welcomed appetizer or main course after a hot day.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups coarsely chopped seeded watermelon, smoked for a half-hour with hickory
  • 6 cups coarsely chopped seeded watermelon
  • 10 tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 2 rounded tablespoon paprika
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 6 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cucumber, seeded and finely diced

Method:

  1. Blend 2 cups of watermelon in a blender until liquid.
  2. Add the rest of the watermelon, the tomatoes, paprika, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and blend until smooth.
  3. Season with salt as needed.
  4. Chill for at least 1 hour.
  5. Garnish with the onion and cucumber dice.

Kingsland Gimlet

Photo Credit: Death & Co

(By Matthew Belanger, head bartender, Death & Co)

Gimlets are one of the most refreshing summertime cocktails. What better way to level up its refreshing nature than to add watermelon? Death & Co’s (Los Angeles) head bartender Matthew Belanger has done just that.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Ford’s Gin
  • 0.5 oz Ramazzotti Rosato
  • 0.25 oz Wray & Nephew Jamaican Rum
  • 1.25 oz of watermelon syrup (3 parts watermelon to 1 part sugar)
  • 0.75 oz lime juice
  • 1 dash Bitter End Curry Bitters

Method:

  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker glass, shake to mix.
  2. Serve in a double old-fashioned glass with block ice, garnish with a lime wheel.

Heirloom Tomato Salad w/ Roasted Watermelon, Red Wine Vinaigrette and Tarragon

(By Chef Noah Poses, The Fulton)

If you want a fresh and fancy dish to impress your dinner guests, this one from Chef Noah Poses at The Fulton in NYC will be hard to top. It’s simple, beautiful, and has a perfectly balanced sweet, savory, and acidic flavor profile.

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 2.5 cups of watermelon cut into 1 tsp pieces (half of the circle)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • .5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 cup mixed tomatoes (cherry and large)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinaigrette
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp maldon salt
  • 1 tsp tarragon leaves
  • 4 ea chervil
  • 10 ea chive tips

Red Wine Vinaigrette

  • 3.5 cups of red wine vinegar
  • 1 cups EVOO
  • 1/3 cup of salt
  • 2 tsp shallot brunoise
  • .25 cup black pepper, coarse grind

Method:

  1. Cut the watermelon and punch with a ring mold
  2. Toss watermelon with olive oil, salt, thyme and bake at 250 degrees for 2 hrs.
  3. Cool down and reserve.
  4. Combine salad ingredients in a chilled bowl and toss with your desired amount of dressing.
  5. Serve

Raw Watermelon Cake

Slices of watermelon cake with berries.

(from Betr Health)

Rounding out our list is a healthy yet delicious dessert from the chefs and nutritionists at Betr Health. This is one of those recipes that has you thinking to yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” Don’t beat yourself up; just pick out your favorite jam and enjoy. You can play around with yogurt as icing, too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small watermelon, cut horizontally Cut in thick (about 1½-inch) round slices.
  • Jam of choice
  • Seasonal mixed berries

Method:

  1. Cut the rind off of the watermelon slices
  2. Top with your favorite jam
  3. Serve with your favorite fresh berries! Perfect for a hot summer treat!

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