Learn how to cut a watermelon properly to make sticks, cubes, spheres, and other fun shapes. With a few easy knife cutting techniques, you can enjoy this sweet red ingredient in smoothies, salads, desserts, and more!
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Now that you have the perfect green oblong watermelon, it’s time to break it down! This giant behemoth can be a little intimidating to slice through that thick rind, but not to worry. I have a few simple tips to show you just how easy it is to cut.
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) comes from the Cucurbitacaeae family, also known as pepo. This melon is prized for its sweet ruby flesh hiding inside. Its peak season is in the summer, making it the perfect fruit to bring to a barbecue or picnic during those warm days. Watermelon is delicious on its own or as part of a side dish. Here are a few key tips for cutting one open.
Step 1: Wash
Rinse the outside with cool running water. Dirt and bacteria can linger on the surface, and you don’t want to transfer it to the flesh from the knife when cutting.
Step 2: Trim off both ends
Place the melon on a large cutting board. Make sure there is a towel or sticky pad underneath to prevent slipping. Cut off both ends, enough until you see the red flesh. This step will provide a sturdy base for cutting.
At this point you have two options:
- Remove the rind – makes shapes, sticks, or cubes.
- Keep the rind on – makes handheld wedges and sticks, plus spheres.
Option A: Remove the rind
The watermelon rind is very thick. It starts from the thin green-colored outer skin and then becomes white until it hits the flesh. Although the white part is edible, it doesn’t have much flavor or sweetness. Remove this layer when making cubes, sticks, or other cut-out shapes if using a cookie cutter.
Place the fruit cut-side down and grab a sharp chef’s knife. Start from the top of the melon and run the blade down lengthwise, following the natural curvature. Work all the way around, trimming any of the white portions off.
Cut into rounds
Once you remove the rind, it’s easy to cut into the desired shapes. Turn the watermelon on its side, then cut into 1/2 to 1-inch wide rounds.
Cut into shapes, sticks, or cubes
From here, you can use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes like hearts, stars, or fluted circles, which are great for salads and getting kids to eat more fruit.
To make sticks, stack a few discs, then cut the rounds into the desired widths to make long pieces. To cut the watermelon into cubes, continue to make perpendicular cuts into the sticks to form square-shaped pieces.
Option B: Keep the rind on
Cut into wedges (triangles)
This classic cut keeps the rind on, making it easy to grab and eat. After cutting off the ends, place the melon on its cut side. Cut down lengthwise to create four quarters. Slice each quarter into 3/4 to 1-inch thick wedges.
Cut into cubes
Cut the melon in half lengthwise, then into quarters. Working one piece at a time, cut horizontal and vertical slices into the flesh about 1 to 1 1/2-inch apart. Turn the melon and make perpendicular slices down to create a crosshatch pattern. Run the knife between the flesh and the rind to remove the cubes.
Cut into sticks
This is a fun way to make handheld sticks, especially for kids. Place the watermelon on the cut side. Slice in half lengthwise, then place both halves flesh-side down. Cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch wide sections, then rotate to make perpendicular cuts.
Cut into spheres
To make round spheres, grab a melon baller. This makes for a pretty presentation in fruit salads or to place on skewers. Cut the melon in half lengthwise to give more surface area. Just use a melon baller to rotate and scoop out the pieces.
Markets may offer watermelon year-round due to different growing regions. However, the peak season is from May to September, when top growing locations like California, Georgia, Texas, and Florida have ramped up harvesting and production. To pick a ripe melon, do a visual check to see if it’s symmetrical and free from cuts or bruises.
That’s a good indication that it’s been consistently watered, with even flavor throughout. Look for the creamy yellow splotch on the bottom, which is the side where its been sitting. The deeper the yellow, the more juicy and sweet the melon. Next, pick it up. Being about 92% water, it should feel firm, dense, and heavy. Tap the yellow underbelly area. If it sounds hollow, then you’ve got a keeper.
Watermelons don’t ripen much once picked from the vine. Unless you have plenty of space in the refrigerator, wait to purchase until ready to eat. You can store whole uncut melon in the fridge for about 2 to 3 weeks. If exposed to heat, the flesh will become dry and more fibrous in texture.
Wrap large cut portions tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can also wrap a layer of foil around it to prevent the fruit from absorbing flavors from other ingredients and keep the flesh moist. Store smaller cut pieces in an airtight container for about 4 to 7 days.
Ways to use watermelon
- Dip the sticks in yogurt for a healthy snack
- Make a watermelon feta salad
- Add pieces into a refreshing watermelon smoothie
- Make a fruit-infused margarita
- Cut different sized discs, stack, and make a healthy layered cake
With over a thousand varieties, the most common types include picnic (round to oval, largest in size), seedless (contains smaller, lighter in color, edible seeds), icebox (smaller, fits in the fridge), mini, yellow, or orange-fleshed. Weights vary from 5 to 45 pounds or more. The sweetness intensity differs between varieties.
Depending on the variety and size, whole melon yields between 60 to 70% flesh. A mini can weigh between 5 to 6 1/2 pounds and a large from 11 to 20 pounds—approximately 1 1/2 cups of flesh per pound [Source]. One serving size is about 1 cup of diced pieces or almost a 1-inch wedge.
Yes, but only when eaten frozen. Cut into 1/2 to 1-inch pieces, then place in a single layer in a resealable plastic bag and store for 3 to 6 months. Add into smoothies or beverages for a thicker texture and sweeter taste. Do not thaw. The pieces will lose their structure and become mushy.
The longest to leave a watermelon at room temperature is about 7 to 10 days, ideally store between 50 to 59ºF (10 to 15ºC). In the refrigerator, 2 to 3 weeks. Refrigerate large sections wrapped in plastic for 3 days, small pieces in an airtight container 4 to 7 days.
Cut pieces can sit at room temperature for up to 2 hours. Any longer in the temperature danger zone of 40 to 140ºF (4.4 to 60ºC), food spoilage organisms multiply and cause illness even faster on hotter days in direct sunlight.
Yes, the black seeds are edible. However, they can be a little tough or fibrous. Seedless varieties still have them present. They’re just thin, beige in color, and easier to chew. You can roast them, just like pumpkin seeds. They contain minerals like zinc, iron, and magnesium.
Is it better to cut watermelon cold or warm?
Cold! Not only does a chilly piece taste better, but there’s also an excellent reason to refrigerate it. The cell wall polysaccharides like pectin, cellulose, and hemicellulose compose about 90% of the dry weight. When cold, the melon has a more rigid structure—cutting while chilled keeps more juice locked into the flesh.
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How to Cut a Watermelon
- 1 watermelon
- Rinse the watermelon under cool running water, scrubbing away any dirt. Dry with a clean towel.
- Place the melon on a cutting board and lay on its side. Use a sharp chef's knife to trim the ends off each side. Place cut-side down to create a sturdy base.
- OPTION A (Remove the rind): Starting from the top, run the knife down lengthwise, following the natural curvature of the melon. Work all the way around, trimming any of the white portions off. Once the rind is removed, turn the watermelon on its side, then cut into 1/2 to 1-inch wide rounds. Shapes: A cookie-cutter can be used to make different shapes into each disc, like stars, hearts, or fluted rounds.Sticks: Stack a few of the round discs and cut into the desired widths to make long strips. Cubes: With the stack of sticks still in tact, turn and make perpendicular cuts to form square-shaped pieces.
- OPTION B (Rind on): Starting from the top, cut the melon in half lengthwise.Wedges: Cut into quarters or eighths if using a large melon. Working from one end to the other, slice sections off to make 3/4 to 1-inch thick wedges.Cubes: Cut into quarters and make 1 to 1 1/2-inch horizontal slices across the length of the flesh, then vertically down on the top. Turn the melon and make perpendicular slices down to create a crosshatch. Run the knife between the flesh and the rind to remove the pieces.Sticks: Place both halves flesh-side down. Cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch wide sections, then rotate and make perpendicular cuts.Spheres: Use a melon baller to scoop and rotate. Trim off the scooped areas to make it easier to make more spheres with the flesh below.
- Cutting Board
- Serving Size: Based on about a 6-pound mini watermelon, 1 cup cubes per serving.
- Storing: Uncut at room temperature for up to 7 to 10 days or refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks. Refrigerate large sections wrapped in plastic for 3 days, small pieces in an airtight container for 4 to 7 days.
- Freezing: Store in a single layer in a large resealable bag. Fruit can be frozen for up to 3 to 6 months. Do not defrost before use, or the texture will become mushy.
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