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Spiked Watermelon Salad

Spiked Watermelon Salad

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  • 1 8-pound watermelon, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 16 cups)
  • 6 tablespoons créme de cassis
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Recipe Preparation

  • Place watermelon in large bowl. Whisk fresh lemon juice and sugar in medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Whisk in vodka and crème de cassis. Season mixture to taste with salt. Pour mixture over watermelon. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. Sprinkle with chopped fresh mint and serve.

Reviews Section

Juneteenth Means Celebrating the Fruits of Our Labor

Juneteenth celebrations runneth over with finger and fabric battling: tomato-based barbecue sauce versus newly dry-cleaned white linen tops. It&aposs the day when excessively charred hot dogs get loaded with chowchow and fatty briskets get slowly smoked, hand slapped, and sliced. June 19, or Juneteenth, is a fast-growing U.S. holiday where Black people pause to commemorate enslaved Texans receiving the words "you are free" in 1865, two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

For Black Americans-the technology entrepreneurs, fashion educators, poultry plant workers-freedom celebrations mean pushing oppression into the broom closet. Smiles and laughter are the meditative drugs, and conversations about deep racial inequities are a buzzkill merrymakers are around the table for more than one type of nourishment. For a few hours, pure liberation meets a plate of food. Families gather around summer fare: spicy sausages, juicy burgers, ripe watermelon. Iced-down coolers packed with American light beers, colas, canned pink wines, and bottled waters move from the kitchen to the garage and get rolled outdoors. The hustle of meetings is in the rearview mirror. Juneteenth is my time to leave fussiness waiting in the wings, to freestyle dance from the butcher block to the buffet table decked out with provisions.

I&aposve made an alfresco Juneteenth feast every year for over 10 years, and each get-together centers on timeless desserts, chilled boozy beverages, and, most of all, glorious summer fruits. I&aposve topped glazed yeast doughnuts with Long Island-grown strawberries and unsweetened whipped cream. I&aposve smoked juicy peaches that swam in a vanilla-Moscato bath. I&aposve made a spritzer using Aperitivo Cappelletti, Prosecco, and dehydrated Southern-grown baboon lemons as a garnish.

The dishes I make with fruit for Juneteenth that you&aposll find on these pages carry the patina of endurance. Ancestors, memories of Juneteenths past, and the larder dictate each recipe&aposs flavors. The colors are symbolic, their sweetness is the promised land, and, by itself, any fruit can stand tall. Their ripeness gives more time to kick back, to do less. One can bow, take a seat, and partake in the meals-devouring the fruits of our labor.

Brooklyn, New York, 2014

Deep in Red Hook, Brooklyn, we would convene at my husband&aposs old art studio, where Black visual artists and writers would congregate with us for a rooftop cookout. My husband was at the charcoal grill, and I manned the long table. It was a magical moment to be loose. Most times, the send-off dessert started with my biweekly community-supported agriculture box. This CSA membership was scrappy, with no detailed newsletter, pre-distribution note about the contents, or poetic words about the farmer picking herbs before the sun came up. I&aposd always menu-plan on the semi-fly. When there was stone fruit, we&aposd grill it, which gave our guests an unspoken jolt of delight. I&aposd unload the large plastic storage bags with nectarines and lightly season them with a hint of sugar and a thyme sprig or basil leaf-any herb that promised not to take over the natural sweetness of the fruit. Nowadays, when I serve plums and nectarines, like in my Stone Fruit Salad with Collard-Peanut Pesto, I&aposm transported to parties where we dapped, hugged, boogied, and kissed under the moonlight.

Austin, Texas, 2015

My east Austin Airbnb was just a stone&aposs throw from Huston-Tillotson University. I was sharing the house with a group of colleagues we were in the city for Soul Summit, a symposium founded by award-winning cookbook author Toni Tipton-Martin that celebrated African Americans&apos rich culinary history. It was Juneteenth weekend in the Texas capital, and my goal was to capture all of the festivities with audio recordings. During my downtime, I explored H-E-B supermarket and Salt & Time butcher shop. Groceries bring me joy, and I lingered down the store aisles to beat the blazing sun. A fat, whole watermelon captivated me, and I bought it, hauling it back to the bungalow by Uber. I cut the watermelon in thick chunks and placed them in a giant white ceramic bowl. I let the melon chill in the refrigerator and then passed it around like Sunday dinner pot roast. Writers, nutritionists, chefs, and restaurateurs were munching on melon and talking at a small kitchen table. The moment was big, and the melon&aposs just-right candied sweetness remains on my tongue memory bank-a flavor that I expanded upon in my recipe for Grilled Watermelon with Chamomile-Cocoa Salt.

Fort-De-France, Martinique, 2016

Before taking a winter vacation to Martinique in 2016 and shopping at Grand Marché, dried hibiscus in a bag sold in grocery stores was my only visual of the edible blossom. I had never touched the slightly hairy exterior of fresh ones. But when I passed the bright scarlet tropical versions in hotel entrances throughout the Caribbean, I remembered that rose of Sharon-a white, wide-eyed, pink-flecked flower that flanked me in 1980s birthday Polaroids and punctuated the square corners of my front yard growing up-is a species of hibiscus. The hibiscus bud&aposs culinary use brings nature inside and can be used in everything from tea to salad dressing to cheesy quesadillas. When hibiscus is steeped in water, it creates a red drink, an essential menu item of Juneteenth. Kool-Aid, strawberry lemonade, and ice pops are traditions of Black celebration that tell a story of triumph. I tell it in my Hibiscus Snow Cones. A cultural bonding through good times and tragedy. The African diaspora, or global Black connection, in a glass or cone.

Athens, Georgia, 2020

During the lull of a global pandemic, I temporarily moved back to my hometown. It was a break away from my confining New York City apartment. Donning a designer mask, I&aposd connect with my mother every Saturday morning at the Athens Farmers Market. Shopping for food without a list and with zero budget constraints was a first for her, and browsing the northeast Georgia harvest was our first rodeo. We were meeting each other in a new place, in a space where inspirational cooking seeds get planted, a cocoon where the distractions are tubers, pepper varieties, and collard greens. Mushrooms, local sausage, and crayon-colored dahlias were my go-tos-plus blueberries. My definition of togetherness expanded over figuring out what was next for the massive bags of berries I brought home. My mother always asked, "What are you cooking?" I responded with a snarky, "Mama, give it a try." I&aposd make sweet potato waffles drizzled with warm maple syrup and fresh blueberries, and my mother would say it was "nice." The banter made up for a Juneteenth that was fuzzy and somewhat lost, a summer day when the racial reckonings eclipsed my usual effervescent cocktail. For me, the uprisings in 2020 birthed a renewed commitment to scheduled moments of happiness-grilling pork chops on the Weber grill and fruit shopping with the ones I love. In my recipe for Grilled Pork Chops with Burst Blueberry Sauce, I combined the two for a sweet and savory take.

A Lucid Dream, 2021

One winter night, I dream that chef Omar Tate, TV writer-producer Gabrielle Fulton Ponder, food writer Osayi Endolyn, and fashion educator Lesley Ware are huddling near the camellia bushes in my backyard, chatting about prosperity and "how we got" over a year of uncertainty. My dream is one part reality, one part hope of tomorrow. The dishes and scraps of food in the dream are vivid. I hear the birds chirping, and the full moon shows up before the sunset. Green grass is beneath us. The firepit is the gathering spot for the dessert hour, where we eat buttery pound cake spiked with sweet wine. Crushed dehydrated wild grapes scent the icing. (My Moscato Pound Cake with Grape Glaze evokes this dream food.) Guests cling to wineglasses half-full with low-intervention pét-nat produced in Emilia-Romagna, and Solange Knowles is performing "Cranes in the Sky." My friends are lounging on the land the physical sickness of the world is behind us.

10 Watermelon Recipes You’ll Love!

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Honeydew & Watermelon Sangria

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Cold Pressed Watermelon Floats

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Watermelon Piña Colada

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Summer Fest: Melon Refreshers

Oftentimes, we go to great caloric lengths to cool down, whether it’s slurping down a fluorescent margarita by the pool or downing a teetering ice cream cone. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

If there’s anything that melon’s good for, it’s cooling you down. And the refreshing capabilities of cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon go far beyond the category's prominent presence in fruit salad. On the contrary, melon does wonders in a salad, adds creaminess to a cool soup or can be transformed into something entirely unexpected. Melon fettuccini, anyone? Unlike other ultra-tangy, sugary fruits, melon serves as a foundation for bigger things. Seriously, the options are endless.

Not only that, cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon are brimming with good-for-you nutrients. Really, this triumvirate of melons can do you some serious good. Now, when the juicy spheres are in season and at their peaks, there’s never been a better time to integrate melon into your diet.

And here's the fun part. Take your pick from these ice-cold melon refreshers. Whether cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon or a mix of all three, these rejuvenating concoctions are perfect for slurping or scooping.

Watermelon Salad With Aleppo Pepper

Ingredients US Metric

  • 1 pound watermelon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves (optional)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped black olives, preferably Greek, pitted if desired
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped mint leaves


Remove the rind from the watermelon and discard.

Cut the watermelon into large chunks, remove and discard all the seeds, and place the watermelon chunks in a serving bowl.

Add the salt, thyme, Aleppo pepper to taste, and olives and gently toss to combine. Drizzle with the olive oil and garnish with the mint. Serve immediately.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Salty and sweet with a little heat. This watermelon salad recruits summer garden flavors and tosses them together without fuss. I served this salad with an herb-rubbed whole chicken butterflied and roasted on the grill. I would salt the watermelon first, letting it sit in a strainer for a few minutes to remove some of the water the melon will release. Adding the rest of the ingredients after that step will give the dressing an opportunity to cling to and season the melon.

It may seem silly to add anything, anything at all, to watermelon since it’s delicious on its own. However, I occasionally find that adding a little spicy heat brings out the sweetness even more. This recipe adds a nice touch with the olives, adding just a little brininess to the spice. Instead of the Aleppo pepper, I used the suggested combination of sweet paprika and cayenne (4:1 ratio). I probably used only a teaspoon’s worth, combined, since I prefer a milder spice and still wanted the fruit to shine through. This salad is great for the summer, and anytime, really.

We loved this. I had never had watermelon salad and really did not expect to like it. I used the thyme and the Aleppo pepper and mixed all the dressing ingredients before adding them to the melon. Next time I think I will omit the salt and add some crumbled feta cheese. Do not dress the melon ahead—the salt pulled the juices out of the melon very quickly.

This recipe is so good and easy to put together that I made it twice in the last week—once for the two of us at home and the other time for some friends who came to dinner. I didn’t have Aleppo pepper, so I used red pepper flakes instead. The combination of sweet, salty, and spicy is amazing! One of our friends thought it was too spicy, but the rest of us loved it as is. I also added some feta cheese to a bit of the salad at the end to see what that tasted like, and it added another tasty dimension. I will definitely be making this one again.

A gorgeous summer salad bursting with flavor! I love how salt draws out the sweetness of the melon and the aleppo chili provides just enough subtle smokiness. The mint, in turn, provides a hint of freshness and just screams sunshine and outdoor picnics! I love the look of chiffonade, so I sliced my mint that way. And for a little something extra, just add arugula, toasted almonds and some feta. A more filling salad that will not disappoint!

This is one of those dishes that you must continue to eat beyond just the initial bite to learn of its intricacies. The more I ate, the more I enjoyed it. Watermelon with savory ingredients appeal to me because it can be bland and therefore a great base for a lot of flavors. The aleppo pepper is what this dish was all about, though. Love the stuff. The recipe would be one note without it. Then, of course, the fresh mint and olive oil brought it all together. The recipe includes fresh thyme as an optional ingredient, but I would say it is not optional. It really added a lovely freshness. I cannot say that this was a WOW dish but it was pleasing and delicious. It would be fun for a barbecue or picnic when you try to encourage guests to guess the ingredients.


#LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


As summer turns to fall and there are still watermelons at the farmers market, the heat from the Aleppo pepper adds a perfect touch to this change of season salad, though that may just be my current mindset, and it’s probably equally good at the peak of summer.

Because I like the wet-drippy-deliciousness of in-season watermelon, I would not strain or drain it at all. This makes for a sloppier eating experience, but isn’t that what watermelon is all about?

Also, while I’m sure this salad would be fine without the thyme – I used it, and, if you have it readily available, absolutely, it’s a yes.

I think the quarter pound per person serving size is skimpy, even for a side salad, and I think this could easily be a light entrée with the addition of a side of feta and/or feta plus bread. I added on feta, bread, and a couple of falafel to make it a fairly substantial and well-rounded meal. And, because there can never really be too many olives, my bread of choice was a crusty olive sourdough from my favorite Middle Eastern baker.

Elsa, my mouth is watering after reading your description of the meal. That sounds absolutely incredible. Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know.

We love watermelon salads and just bought aleppo pepper for the first time, so this recipe was serendipitous. We took Jo Ann’s suggestion above to salt the watermelon beforehand (we often do this with fruits and vegetables to pull out water). I’d recommend that as it seasons the melon throughout, concentrates the flavor, and firms up the texture. We didn’t have fresh thyme but added a pinch of dried. I’d like to try it with fresh next time. We added feta to part of the salad, and although it was fine with, the salad was better without it.

Nice, Janet. Many thanks for the tip!

I made this watermelon salad & took it to the roasting of a whole pig, and the salad was almost as big a hit as that pig. The hostess let me take home an entire leg/ham and assorted bits in exchange for the last few bites of the salad! This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Wow! Loooooooooooove hearing this, Carol. Brilliant idea to pair the watermelon with pork. (My fave restro in Manhattan, Fatty Pig, has on the menu as one of its signature dishes a salad of chunks of watermelon juxtaposed with chunks of fried pork belly and everything was doused with a ginger vinaigrette and scattered with scallions. Sigh. I miss it.) Many kind thanks for taking the time to share your experience.

We can never get enough of this. (I think some of our friends are getting sick of it, to be quite frank, because we serve it that often!) The blend of sweet, heat, and salt is marvelous. Of course, being olive freaks, I have to always add more.

Tuck, I hear you. We serve it a lot, too. The One doesn’t like lots of heat, so I go easy on the Aleppo.

Spiked Watermelon Fireballs

  1. Soak watermelon balls in Fireball at least one hour, or up to 24 hours.
  2. Enjoy soaked watermelon balls or place one watermelon ball in a shot glass and pour extra Fireball whiskey to cover.
  3. Please enjoy responsibly!

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7 Best Watermelon Salads

On a hot summer day, watermelon makes for a particularly refreshing, stand-out salad ingredient. Plus it's easier than ever to cut into cubes thanks to melon master Justin Chapple's killer new trick for no-mess diced watermelon! Here are F&W's best salads where watermelon plays the lead:

On a hot summer day, watermelon makes for a particularly refreshing, stand-out salad ingredient. Plus it&aposs easier than ever to cut into cubes thanks to melon master Justin Chapple&aposs killer new trick for no-mess diced watermelon! Here are F&W&aposs best salads where watermelon plays the lead:

1. Watermelon Salad with Feta
The combination of sweet watermelon, salty olives and creamy feta makes this salad from cookbook author Melissa Clark addictive.

2. Thai Chicken and Watermelon Salad
For this recipe, summer watermelon and chicken come together in a puckery salad dressing made with lime juice and fish sauce.

3. Watermelon Salad with Grilled Shrimp
Chef Grant Achatz says of this salad: "I think shellfish benefits from a little sweetness." He suggests draining the fruit in a colander after you cut it, for a cleaner presentation.

4. Watermelon, Feta and Charred Pepper Salad
Best New Chefs 2014 Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern update the classic combination of watermelon, feta and olives with smoky charred shishito peppers, fresh herbs and spicy Korean red chile powder.

5. Watermelon and Papaya Salad with Tequila Vinaigrette
This refreshing and complex salad—made with jicama, watermelon, papaya and a bold tequila-based vinaigrette—usually includes little pieces of deep-fried tortilla rounds. To keep the ingredient list in check, omit the deep-fried tortillas (or opt for store-bought chips).

6. Thai-Style Radish and Watermelon Salad
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7. Caramelized Watermelon Salad with Pickled Jalapeños and Gorgonzola
Sugar-crusted watermelon resembles a seared tuna steak in this dynamic dish.

Watermelon Basil Lemonade

Welcome to Foxes Love Lemonade! I’m (obviously) obsessed with the bright, tart taste of lemons, and I love freshly squeezed lemonade as well! Classic lemonade is just dandy, but in this summertime monthly post, I’ll be coming up with new spins on my favorite cool-down drink.

To say that I’m picky about fruit salad would be an understatement. I’m extremely picky about fruit salad. I never buy those pre-made ones at the grocery store, because they’re full of what I refer to (with great disdain) as filler fruit. Filler fruit is tasteless cantaloupe, bland honeydew, and out-of-season watermelon.

I mean, let’s be real – when you put a fruit salad on a buffet line, everybody is just picking through it with the spoon, fishing for strawberrries, pineapple, and maybe the grapes. Sometimes, there’s blueberries in there (which are A-list), but it’s impossible to scoop a blueberry with a giant spoon, so those are useless in fruit salad as well. Easily, 90% of most fruit salads is filler fruit, and it’s a sad state of affairs.

I’m fairly certain that I could give a passionate, hour-long lecture as to how a proper fruit salad should be constructed, and why the world should JUST SAY NO to filler fruit. I would also include a detailed recipe for Millionaire’s Fruit Salad, which is my answer to those grocery store abominations everywhere. Millionaire’s Fruit Salad is one part strawberries, one part pineapple, and one hundred parts amazing.

Now that I’ve admitted that I am totally nuts about the topic of fruit salad, let’s talk about when watermelon is actually good – when it’s in season! I consider it an A-list fruit in the summer. I could even make a case for it to be included in Millionaire’s Fruit Salad at this time of year only.

Today, instead of a fruit salad, I’ve pureed watermelon and combined it with a quick basil simple syrup and fresh lemon juice for a unique take on pink lemonade. This watermelon basil lemonade is only four ingredients, but it seems so much more special than that. The basil simple syrup can be made in advance and kept in the fridge until whenever a lemonade craving hits.

Psst – if you love homemade lemonade like I do, don’t miss my mango lemonade recipe!


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Grilled Bloody Mary

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Watermelon Soda Float

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Ancient Grain Salad

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Layered Watermelon Popsicles

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Frozen Watermelon Daiquiri

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Spiked Watermelon Balls

This cocktail or appetizer can bring out the best in any party. A mixture or rum, lime juice, sugar and of course watermelon, this will have your guests talking!

Watermelon Rind Pickles

These watermelon rind pickles leave the slightest bit of red flesh for a beautiful color and taste experience!

Erika Monroe-Williams is "The Hopeless Housewife" and on her eponymous blog she crafts recipes that aim to get busy moms back into the kitchen. Her Grilled Chicken with Watermelon Barbecue Sauce is a perfect example, coming together quickly enough for a busy weeknight and a complete meal in itself.

What to do with the rind? Well, here’s one addictive and satisfying answer. Snack on these while on the road or pass them around at your next backyard get-together — they’re a classic Southern summertime favorite.

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