12 Creative Ways To Use Up Leftover Watermelon

Watermelon is synonymous with summer, but these large melons are made for a crowd and you might find yourself sitting on an ample amount even after you ate your fill of this refreshing fruit. If you picked the largest watermelon on the vine but aren't going to finish it in one sitting, don't worry about having to throw out a single bite of juicy goodness. Make the most of the refreshing summer treat with these helpful hacks to turn leftover watermelon into something new and delicious.


While watermelon is fantastic served fresh with a sprinkling of salt, leftover watermelon is just as tasty when you know how to make the most of it. Some tricks are great for watermelon that's already been prepped, cut, cubed, or even prepared for serving. Others work with watermelon that's been sitting in the fridge for a day or two and needs to be used before it goes bad. Whether you want to enjoy your leftover watermelon the same day, or plan to store it for a future dish, there's a creative way to use it up that takes advantage of the refreshing, summer treat.

Freeze individual portions

If you find yourself with a lot of leftover watermelon but are short on ideas or time, you can easily store it in the freezer for the future. Not only is this a good way to save leftover watermelon, but it can also create shortcuts that let you use frozen pieces in smoothies, slushies, or other icy treats. Cut watermelon into chunks and put them in the freezer. Flash-freeze them on a sheet and transfer them to a bag or freezer-safe container. This ensures that the individual pieces do not stick together, allowing you to pull out a few at a time for smoothies, chilled soup, or other delicious dishes.


However, make sure to cut the watermelon into wedges, chunks, or slices before storing it in the freezer. If you put a whole watermelon in the freezer, it takes up a lot of room and might even explode. This happens because water expands when it freezes into ice. Watermelon has a high water content and as it expands, it might just be too much for the confines of the rind. You'll be left with a sticky mess, and no watermelon to enjoy. So cut it into wedges, slices, chunks, or cubes before popping it in the freezer.

Throw together a summer salad

Watermelon salad is the perfect solution to use up the fruit within a day or two of cutting it. You can put it overtop greens, such as spicy arugula, or let the watermelon serve as the base of the salad. Leftover fresh watermelon will keep in the fridge for up to five days so you can cut extra watermelon if you're planning to use it within that timeframe. It makes a refreshing addition to salads thanks to its high water content. Just keep the texture in mind and consider easing up on your dressing to avoid soggy salad greens. You can also mash or puree watermelon to use in a salad dressing if you want the flavor without the texture.


For a burst of summer flavor, add cubed watermelon chunks that mix in well with your other salad ingredients, keeping size in mind. Watermelon adds a sweet note to salads and pairs well with salty feta cheese and crispy cucumber. This delicious side works because the sweetness of the watermelon is enhanced by pairing it with other flavors, including the zing from red onion, citrus elements of lime juice, and salty cheese like feta. A dressing of lime, honey, and ginger makes a delicious addition to any fruit salad but works especially well with the sweet flavor of watermelon.

Grill for maximum sweetness

Try Ree Drummond's grilled watermelon recipe to get tasty caramelization on the outside of the fruit. Grilled watermelon can be used in a similar way to fresh fruit but it has a slightly deeper flavor and firmer texture. Depending on your grill method, the watermelon will also become a bit smokey and develop a nice char on the outside that adds a bit of extra crispy exterior texture as well. To make things easy, keep your watermelon in wedges or large slices so that the fruit doesn't fall through the grating. Use a paper towel to absorb excess watermelon juice from the outside and put the pieces on a high-heat grill surface for a few minutes on each side. You don't need much time to get the outside caramelized, which is all you want to do for this tasty treat.


If you want to boost the flavor, you can add seasonings and spices to the watermelon before it goes on the grill. Salt, paprika, and chili powder all add their own spin on things. Salt will actually bring out the sweetness of the fruit, while paprika and chili powder have a smoky-spicy element. A light spritz of citrus juice from fresh lime or orange can keep the flavor bright and light. Once the watermelon is done grilling, you can eat it as-is or cut it up to use in other recipes that call for cubed watermelon, such as salads.

Make watermelon soup

Watermelon is a wonderful addition to a cold gazpacho soup. This type of soup is popular during the hot months of summer when watermelon is in season, so try to find the freshest melon that you can for the best flavor and texture. Tyler Florence's recipe calls for 2 cups of cubed watermelon as well as red onion, cucumber, serrano chili, and of course a large tomato. This cold soup originated in the 8th century, but it wasn't until centuries later that tomato-based gazpacho became a staple in Andalusian cooking in Spain. Today, it is one of the region's best-known culinary traditions and a popular summer soup that is both refreshing and budget-friendly.


To make gazpacho, you need to puree your watermelon, along with other ingredients, until it is silky smooth and serve it chilled. There is no cooking involved, making this an especially great option for hot summer days when you don't want to turn on the oven. Make sure to leave a few watermelon chunks out for a nice garnish on top. Feta, diced cucumber, and dill are also nice additions that work well with the soup's flavors.

Juice overripe watermelon

If you've been enjoying your watermelon for a few days and it's starting to get a little soft, blend it with other fruits for a nice watermelon juice. Don't use watermelon that has gone bad, but you can get away with fruit that's on the softer side. The texture isn't as important in this case, and the fruit's high water content works well in juices. You can use a juicer or blender, depending on your preferred texture and the other fruits you are using. A juicer extracts the liquid from the fruit and creates a smooth drink. A blender keeps the flesh of the fruit and pulverizes it into a liquid, which results in a thicker beverage that has more fiber. Because watermelon has such a high water content naturally, the difference between the two is less stark than it is for other fiber-rich fruits. If you want to remove some of the pulp from the juice, you can also put it through a strainer.


You can spice your watermelon juice up with extra flavor, such as lime juice, but it works well on its own as well. Add sparkling water, champagne, or clear liquor for a mocktail or cocktail that tastes like summer in a glass.

Enjoy agua fresca

With watermelon as the star ingredient, you'll be whipping up these delicious beverages from Mexico all summer. Agua frescas, which translates to "fresh water," use fruit and water for a refreshing beverage served over ice. They date back to the influence of muddled fruit drinks using fresh fruit in the Aztec culture. These tend to be a bit thinner than straight watermelon juice thanks to the addition of water. They also include sugar, which you can add straight to the watermelon-water mix or dissolve in water to create simple syrup for a smoother texture.


Lime and mint add flavor to the drink. Agua fresca calls for muddled mint, but you can also add fresh leaves as a garnish on top. Add the lime juice to the cool watermelon-water mix before stirring in your sugar or muddle a slice of lime with your mint. A lime wedge on the edge of your glass is a fun way to dress up your drink and give hints at the flavors incorporated.

Start with a breakfast bowl

Kick off your adventures by hydrating with a watermelon breakfast bowl that includes berries, chia seeds, and your choice of toppings. It's the perfect way to begin your day with plenty of nutrition from the watermelon and add-ins. Watermelon has plenty of Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C. Thanks to its high water content, you don't need to add much liquid, although juice is a good option that adds flavor and extra vitamins, although it will also up the sugar included in the bowl. Add brewed hibiscus tea, agave, and tequila to turn it into an adult version, which Jim Meehan calls an agua fuerte.


You can use cubed or balled watermelon since it goes into the blender. This is another great way to use up extra watermelon chunks of various sizes. If you cut it into smaller pieces, it will blend up faster and have a smooth texture. You can strain out seeds if needed. Add in other berries for a more complex flavor, a handful of chia seeds to thicken the mixture, or coconut for some extra texture. You can mix these in during the blending step or sprinkle them on top. Crunchy elements, such as granola and nuts, are also a welcome addition.

Try icy sorbet

Watermelon makes an excellent frozen sorbet. Sorbet has a consistency similar to ice cream but is made without dairy and has a slightly icy texture. Puree it and mix it with a simple syrup to make a base. It's important to completely dissolve the sugar for the smoothest texture. Using an ice cream maker makes this a really easy and tasty treat. Simply freeze the mixture and put it in the ice cream maker on the sorbet setting. The ice cream maker will churn it until it is mixed and frozen, typically around 20 minutes for a full amount. If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can blend frozen watermelon chunks with a few tablespoons of citrus fruit juice, such as lime, in a high-powered blender and put it right in a freezer-safe container. 


You can add extra flavorings to the base, including herbs like mint or basil. Just make sure that they are muddled completely and strain out any extra bits to keep the base smooth. You can also sprinkle other fruit and toppings over your final sorbet.

Puree for watermelon jam

If you want to use up all of your leftover watermelon, especially as it approaches overripe, turning it into watermelon jam is a fantastic option. Thanks to the canning process, which preserves the fruit, you can enjoy watermelon flavors even in the autumn and winter months. You'll need a few special tools, including canning jars, but otherwise the process is fairly straightforward.


The trick to making great watermelon jam that's thick enough to spread over toast or biscuits is to remove excess water. The high water content in watermelon that makes it such a great candidate for juices and smoothies doesn't work as well when you're trying to thicken it up for jam. When making watermelon jam, don't add any extra liquid like you might with other fruit jams, since watermelon has plenty all on its own. You'll also need more pectin than you might for other jam recipes. It doesn't take a lot of ingredients, but pectin is the key one that helps it gel. Mix pureed watermelon, sugar, lemon juice, and pectin in a pot and boil it down, then let it cool to set.

Whip up watermelon syrup

If you want an option with a thinner consistency, this trick takes advantage of the water content of watermelon and concentrates the flavors with added sugar to create a delicious watermelon syrup that can be served over pancakes or ice cream. Unlike watermelon jam, which includes pectin to help it gel, watermelon syrup is made by reducing watermelon puree to thicken it. It's super simple to make and just requires some added sugar to regular watermelon puree. You can strain the puree before adding sugar to remove seeds and larger chunks of flesh but it works just as well without this added step. You'll end up with a syrup with more pulp if you don't strain it, so consider what your end goal is before deciding to omit this step. Dissolve the sugar in the puree on the stove and let it simmer until it reaches a thicker syrupy consistency. Start checking it around an hour into the process and take it off the heat once it reaches your preferred thickness, keeping in mind that it will thicken even more as it cools.


You can mix it with soda water or clear liquors to make your own watermelon-flavored drinks. It adds summery fresh flavor to cakes like angel food and sponge cake as well.

Pickled watermelon

After you enjoy your watermelon, you can use up the leftover pieces to make fantastic pickled watermelon rinds. This trick turns the least-used part of the watermelon into a delicious snack that you can enjoy for weeks after the fresh watermelon is all eaten. These pickles keep in the fridge for up to a month but they do need to be refrigerated. To make pickled watermelon rind, cut away the white interior part of the rind that is typically found between the green exterior skin and the pink interior flesh of the melon. Cut it into cubes or spears that will fit into the jar that you plan to use for pickling. While you boil the vinegar and spices, transfer the rind pieces into the jar. Pour the brine into the jar until it is full and the rind pieces are covered.


You can add pickling spices to vinegar and sugar to create the brine. Mix things up to try different flavor combinations but Alton Brown's recipe calls for ginger, salt, red pepper flakes, allspice, and star anise. You can also add slices of jalapeno to the jar alongside the watermelon rind to add a bit of heat and end up with pickled jalapenos as a tasty addition you can use in salads.

Make refreshing slushies (for everyone or just the adults)

You can use leftover watermelon at almost any time of the year to make slushies (with or without alcohol) by freezing your leftover watermelon pieces and blending them up. Before freezing the watermelon, try to remove as many seeds as possible since there won't be an opportunity to strain the liquid after the chunks are frozen. Put the pieces on a baking sheet to freeze individually before putting them in a freezer-safe container. This will keep them from sticking together and let you pull out just as many as you need. You'll need to add a liquid of your choice, around 4 parts watermelon to 1 part liquid. Try fruit juice for something extra sweet and flavorful or swap out for tequila, vodka, or rum for a boozy option.


To make slushies, a high-powered blender is a good option. You can also use an ice cream maker with a slushie or frozen drink setting.