Watermelon: Summer’s Cheap Sweet Thrill


Call it sorbet, or granita, or just pure refreshment.

The big blockbuster summer weekend is creeping up on you like a kid with a loaded super soaker. Be ready! When agonizing over what to bring to any summer occasion you just can’t go wrong with watermelon. Whoever had too many of these, especially when they can be eaten at any meal, stored at room temperature and, when really unnecessary for nutrition, greased up and used for water games?

So here’s what you do. Get a watermelon every time you go by the bin at the grocery store and then figure out what to do with them. I suggest saddling up to a big cutting board for some watermelon prep, because one melon can really go a long way and satisfy many cravings. Here are some options:

Instant gratification: Cube it and eat it. If you have a crowd or just a couple of teenage boys it will disappear and everyone will have a dose of fruit and fiber.

Instant gratification, fiesta style: Sprinkle your cubes or wedges with chili powder. It’ll take you right back to that first trip to Tijuana. Or maybe this will spare you that trip to Tijuana.

Gourmet Move 1: Cut it into rounds then quarter rounds and make a shmancy arugula/feta/pepitas (or whatev) salad on top, using the watermelon as a plate. Here’s one from Simply Scratch for inspiration.

Gourmet Move 2: Make this watermelon and goat cheese salad that won the watermelon contest at Food52. If you don’t happen to have a crop of lemon verbena out your window use some lemon zest instead.

Drink Your Dinner: Watermelon Gazpacho involves some chopping, but otherwise this refreshing soup is about as easy as it gets. Plus it travels well and enjoys paper cups. Hello picnic!

Just Drink: Scoop watermelon into your food processor or blender, then strain it for watermelon juice. The juice can be used in things like watermelonade (basically watermelon juice and lemonade) or in the ever wonderful watermelon sangria.

As you can see this is not our first watermelon rodeo. For the 2016 edition though my focus is on the simple straight watermelon, cubed, pureed and frozen into a sorbet. It is known across the internet as “one-ingredient watermelon sorbet.” The thing with one-ingredient miracle recipes is that they are all a little better with, say, two or even three ingredients. This is the case here. Frozen pureed watermelon is pretty dang good, but it’s even better when you stir in some mint simple syrup and a splash of lime juice. A fourth ingredient, should you be inspired, could most certainly involve your liquor cabinet. You be the judge there.

1 ish Ingredient Watermelon Sorbet

Notes: Texturally this is more granita than sorbet. Save yourself the anxiety of expecting it to make pretty scoops, and just serve it in a cup with a spoon.


  • 1/2 large seedless watermelon, peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice (optional)
  • 1/4 cup mint simple syrup* (optional)
  • Hootch of choice (optional)


1. Arrange the watermelon cubes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and freeze until the watermelon is solid, about 2 hours.

2. Working in batches, transfer the watermelon cubes to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. (My processor fits about half the cubes at a time)

3. Divide the puree among two loaf pans (or put it all in one deep baking dish), packing it down as you add more on top.

watermelon sorbets

Straight up watermelon on left; with lime syrup and mint on right

4. Transfer the pans to the freezer. Freeze until the sorbet is scoopable, 1 to 2 hours more. You can also scrape it with a fork. If it freezes too firm let it sit out for a few minutes.

5. To serve, scoop (or scrape) the sorbet into dishes or cups and eat immediately. Or top with hootch and drink immediately.

*Simple syrup 101:  Combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan. For a minted version, add a bunch of chopped or torn fresh mint. Heat to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes or so. Strain into container and chill.


Sneak Preview of late summer watermelon edition:

As a half Yankee by blood (thanks Mom) I am cursed with the urge to use every scrap of any ingredient. This leads me to watermelon rind pickles, a thing in the south, and watermelon rind jam. I’ve made one version of the pickles and do like them, though my tastes admittedly tweak towards science experiments—guests be warned. I am just now making the jam, which I suspect will have wider appeal. Either way, this is making something edible out of something that was going straight into the compost pile. If it all ends up in the compost pile, at least you tried.

The many forms of watermelon, including pickled science experiments.

The many forms of watermelon, including pickled science experiments.