By this time in August, we've all had our fill of cold, refreshing watermelon in every form imaginable, from s'mores to cocktails, but there's one watermelon dish you haven't eaten yet. Grilled watermelon sounded strange to me at first too, but the grill caramelizes the melon's sweetness and gives it a subtle, smoky flavor. Paired with a sweet and spicy seasoning, grilled watermelon can be an intriguing side dish or a surprising dessert.
Wedges, Not Steaks
Watermelon for grilling should be cut into triangles with the rind attached, as steaks of watermelon tend to fall apart when flipped and turned with tongs on the grill. A mini watermelon (something under five pounds) provides the perfect amount of watermelon for four to six people.
More on Watermelon Picking: The Best Way to Pick a Watermelon
Sweet and Spicy Seasoning
A slightly sweet rub helps give the watermelon beautiful grill marks. Flavor the sugar with salt, some lime zest, and red pepper flakes, and sprinkle this on the watermelon before and after grilling. You can mix up the seasoning however you see fit — brown sugar, lime, and cumin is another one of my favorite combinations.
Serving Grilled Watermelon
Grilled watermelon alone is a stand-out side dish. Chop it up and toss it with crumbled feta and mint, serve it with thick Greek yogurt for dipping as a side dish, or go completely sweet for dessert with a scoop of ice cream.
How To Grill Watermelon
What You Need
1 personal-sized watermelon (about 3 pounds)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest (from 1 medium lime)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Lime wedges from zested lime, for serving
Measuring cups and spoons
Gas or charcoal grill
- Prepare a grill: Heat an outdoor gas grill to high or prepare a charcoal grill for direct heat grilling.
- Cut the watermelon: Trim the ends off the watermelon. Stand the watermelon on one cut end, cut in half, then cut each half in half again. Cut the quarters into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
- Season the watermelon: Combine the sugar, lime zest, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Sprinkle the watermelon slices on both sides with the sugar mixture, then rub the sugar mixture in to create an even coating.
- Grill the watermelon: Grill the watermelon until grill marks appear and the watermelon is warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
- Serve: Serve the grilled watermelon on its own with lime wedges, topped with feta cheese or Greek yogurt, or as dessert with a scoop of ice cream.
- Storage: Grilled watermelon is best eaten immediately.