Old-Fashioned Watermelon Rind Pickles

Watermelon rind pickles recipe

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 55 mins
Soak Time: 8 hrs
Total: 9 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Yield: 5 1/2-pint jars
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
212 Calories
0g Fat
55g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 212
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1520mg 66%
Total Carbohydrate 55g 20%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 48g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 47mg 233%
Calcium 35mg 3%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 220mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

If you thought the watermelon rind was just for the compost bin, think again. This old-fashioned recipe from down South takes what is usually discarded when eating this summer fruit and makes it into a sweet treat. The next time you are cubing watermelon for a salad or making it into melon balls, save the rind to make these pickles. (Just make sure you are not using leftover rind from watermelon pieces people have eaten.)

Watermelon rind pickles can be served as part of an appetizer or picnic spread with other pickles and snacks or simply enjoyed as a sweet snack anytime the mood strikes. You can also add chopped watermelon pickles to salads or wraps. If processed properly, the pickles will keep for several months in the pantry. If you're skipping the hot water bath, store them in the fridge for a month unopened or two to three weeks opened.

"Anytime there's a recipe that results in zero waste, I'm all for it. Anytime there's a recipe that involves pickles, I'm all for it. There's no question how much I love these pickles. A perfect balance of tang with just the right amount of sweetness and spice." —Renae E. Wilson

Watermelon Rind Pickles Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 pounds watermelon rind

  • 1/4 cup pickling salt

  • 4 cups water, divided, plus more for boiling

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 cup white vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon stick, broken up

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves

  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

  • 5 maraschino cherries, halved, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for watermelon rind pickles
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Trim the dark green and pink parts from the watermelon rind and discard.

    Dark green peel trimmed from watermelon rind on a cutting board
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Cut rind into 1-inch cubes and measure out 7 cups.

    Trimmed and cut watermelon rind in a bowl
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Put the watermelon rind in a large container with the pickling salt and 3 cups of the water. Add more water to cover the rinds, if necessary. Soak overnight.

    Watermelon rind in salt and water in a container
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Drain and rinse watermelon rind.

    Watermelon rind in a colander
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Cover the rind with cold water in a large saucepan. Simmer just until tender—about 10 minutes.

    Watermelon rind covered in water in a pot
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  7. Meanwhile, in a nonreactive 6- to 8-quart kettle or Dutch oven, combine the sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, whole cloves, and remaining 1 cup water. Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes.

    Spices, vinegar, and sugar in Dutch oven
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  8. Add the drained watermelon rind, lemon slices, and maraschino cherries, if using to the spiced syrup. Simmer the mixture until the watermelon rind is translucent, about 30 minutes.

    Watermelon rind pickle ingredients in a pot
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  9. Fill half-pint jars with the hot watermelon rind and syrup mixture, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Add the lids.

    Watermelon rind pickles in jars
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  10. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes and remove jars.​

    Jar of pickles in a water bath
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  11. Let the jars cool on a rack.

    Pickle jars cooling on a rack
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  12. Serve and enjoy.

    Watermelon rind pickles in a jar
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck


  • Although optional, the cherries in this recipe add a little extra color and flavor to these old-fashioned watermelon rind pickles.
  • You do need to plan ahead with this recipe because the rinds have to soak overnight in the brine.

How to Store

  • Properly canned, watermelon pickles will keep in a cool, dark, dry place for at least a year.
  • If your jars didn't seal properly or you don't want to process them in boiling water, they will still keep for about a month in the refrigerator.
  • Opened jars will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.

What Part Is the Watermelon Rind?

Watermelon rind is the section of crunchy, white flesh in between the thin, green peel and the juicy, red flesh that's typically eaten. Much of the time, the rind and the peel are discarded; however, the rind is edible. It can be chopped and added to dishes for a crunch or made into delicious, crisp pickles.

What Do Watermelon Rind Pickles Taste Like?

The flavor of watermelon rind pickles will depend on the recipe, but most are tangy, sweet, and salty. They tend to be sweeter than most other pickles, but still have a tang from the vinegar and a salty bite.