Watermelon Salad

Watermelon Salad

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
161 Calories
11g Fat
15g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 161
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 7mg 2%
Sodium 177mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 17mg 87%
Calcium 69mg 5%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 275mg 6%
*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.)

There’s very little that beats an icy-cold watermelon on a hot day, and it’s certainly a refreshing treat straight from the fridge. But if you want to really do something fun with watermelon, turn it into a salad. Yes, watermelon salad. 

What Ingredients Are in Watermelon Salad?

I first fell in love with a version of this in Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, “Forever Summer.” This recipe proves that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. There aren’t a lot of ingredients, but they all play off each other well. Watermelon chunks are tossed with some fresh mint left whole and large, kind of like salad greens, along with tangy feta, cool and crisp cucumber, and a bit of an acidic bite from red onion steeped in lime juice. 

The Key to Complex Flavor: (Quick) Pickle Your Onions

The onion marinates in the lime juice for just 10 to 15 minutes which helps soften its bite. You can certainly leave the onion in the juice longer if you like; it’ll just taste more pickled if that’s what you’re going for. The juices are then incorporated into the salad dressing because you’ve already made some good flavors there, so why not put that slightly pickled juice to good use? 

Make It Your Own

I’ve been making variations of this salad for years, with other greens (parsley or basil work), or other kinds of cheese, such as goat cheese. Olives will turn this in a more Greek direction and provide even more salty contrast. Using arugula instead of mint gives this salad a peppery bite that’s great against the sweet watermelon.

What To Serve With Watermelon Salad

You can serve this watermelon salad as a side with a whole bunch of grilled foods (chicken is especially good here, or salmon), and it’ll be hard to resist. Or, try this as a light lunch alongside gazpacho. And we’ve all had those days when it’s too hot to cook or even grill. Sometimes the heat steals our appetite, but this cool and crunchy watermelon salad is the perfect antidote.

Tips for Making Watermelon Salad

  • To seed or not to seed—Using seedless watermelon and seedless cucumber makes this easier to eat, but it’s not essential. Don’t sweat it if you can’t find either. It’ll be delicious with fresh seasonal produce, regardless. 
  • Chilled is best—You can eat this salad right away if your watermelon has been in the fridge and is already cold, or chill it for a half hour or so before serving. 
  • Mint makes it better—Leaving the mint whole makes this more salad-like and bumps up the minty taste. It also makes good use of any mint you might have growing rampant in your garden. 
  • Size matters—Cut the watermelon into 1-inch chunks or cubes, slightly larger than the cucumbers, which can be pieces that are about 1/2-inch in size. The watermelon is the star here, so the pieces should be bigger.

Make Ahead

Since chopping the watermelon is the most time consuming part, you can do that ahead of time–even the night before is fine. Just store it in a lidded container in the fridge. You can also assemble everything except the dressing a couple of hours ahead of time. Toss it with the dressing right before serving.

“A wonderful summer mix combining a variety of flavors to result in a delicious salad with an extremely appealing look. Perfect for picnics or other outdoor lunches.” —Noah Velush-Rogers

Close-up of watermelon salad with cubed watermelon, whole mint leaves, sliced red onion, and chopped cucumber
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 large limes)

  • 5 to 6 cups seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1/2 small 5-pound watermelon), preferably chilled

  • 2 cups chopped cucumbers, preferably English or Persian

  • 1 cup packed mint leaves

  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make watermelon salad

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Combine the sliced red onions and lime juice in a small bowl. Let it sit until slightly softened, 10 to 15 minutes.

    A small bowl of sliced red onions and lime juice

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. In a very large bowl, combine the watermelon, cucumber, mint, and feta and toss gently. Add the red onion, reserving the lime juice.

    A bowl of watermelon, mint, cucumber, feta, and sliced red onion

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. To make the dressing, add the olive oil to the small bowl with the lime juice from the onions. Whisk together and add salt and pepper to taste.

    A bowl of olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper with a whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Add the dressing to the salad and toss gently to incorporate. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately, or chill for up to 2 hours before serving.

    A bowl of watermelon salad with feta, mint, and cucumber

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

How to Store Watermelon Salad

This salad is best as soon as it’s made, but you can store it, refrigerated, for a day or two, max, before the watermelon starts to break down. 

Recipe Variations

  • Change up the herbs—Use basil, arugula, or parsley instead of mint
  • Olives—Add 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata or black olives (not canned)
  • Cheese substitutes—Substitute crumbled goat cheese or queso fresco for the feta cheese
  • Make it spicy—Toss in a thinly sliced jalapeño pepper for a little heat
  • Add some green—Add a whole avocado, cubed
  • More lime flavor—Zest one of the limes and add that to the dressing for extra lime flavor