Juicy grilled watermelon that’s sliced, seasoned, roasted then caramelized on the grill for a great complimentary side dish.
It’s hot times in the summertime! This means watermelon in my house. Sliced fresh watermelon, roasted watermelon, watermelon salad, and this grilled watermelon. I’m that guy who buys a watermelon with the plan to eat it all in a day even if I’m home alone.
What does grilled watermelon taste like?
This is one of those dishes that is very difficult to describe but imagine a sweet watermelon that through the cooking process becomes sweeter than its original state as those natural sugars become highly concentrated. Visually it looks like a medium rare steak, but texturally has a much smoother mouthfeel and easier chew. In this regard, it’s more like a seared rare ahi tuna steak. The grill marks make grilled watermelon stunning.
Because of that concentrated natural sweetness, grilled watermelon requires few ingredients. You can make it more complex if you like, but for me, I keep things simple. Salt and pepper add a degree of savoriness and bite. I’m not sure about you, but I learned as a kid how salt pairs well with sweet watermelon and when you throw heat into the mix, that flavor is only heightened. I add a good vinegar like balsamic or sherry to add some acidity, then stop there. That’s it, no more, no less!
Is steak an apt comparison for grilled watermelon?
Watermelon steak is a common reference for such a dish. I try to be a bit more careful in my descriptions. I’m not willing to go that far; “steak” is a whole ‘nutha set of expectations that would crush this dish. Grilling does give it “meat” like qualities, but even still it doesn’t qualify for “meatish” status.
Is grilled watermelon a vegan meat substitute?
Nutritionally there are no proteins and B-vitamins which is the other reason to set proper expectations.
What pairs well with grilled watermelon?
Grilled watermelon actually works well as a unique summer side to actual steak or even chicken. Additionally, it’s a perfect sale ingredient. Arugula with its peppery finish and goat or feta cheese are really good with it.
- Definitely, follow the roasting step which evaporates most of the liquid to give the watermelon its texture
- Use a grill pan instead of grilling outside. I do recommend using a grill skillet or disposable foil grilling pan for the watermelon. It can be slippery and difficult to work with on the larger grates of a grill.
- Reserve the au jus from roasting and baste the watermelon with it or mix it with lime juice to make a simple sauce
- Spray oil on the grill pan to both prevent sticking and get those grill marks
How to pick a good watermelon?
Any watermelon dish starts with picking a juicy, ripe watermelon. There are a few considerations in picking the right one:
- Dull vs. shiny melons are riper
- Pick up the melons and go with one that feels heavier than its size
- Roll the melon over to its bottom side (the side that it sits on). Ripe ones will be a creamy yellow color; the darker the yellow the longer it sat on the vine.
- Look for black “sugar spots” – if the ugly black spots exist, this is where sugar is seeping out and indicates a sweet melon.
- Perform the thump test. Deep hollow sounds are what you looking for.
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Making this recipe
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- grill pan
- 1 small watermelon
- 1 tsp course ground black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Carve watermelon (rinds removed, cut into 4 rectangular pieces. Each should be about 1/2 in thickness.
- Line baking sheet with foil and grease with oil spray. Place all 4 watermelon pieces on the baking sheet with ample room between each. Season with salt, pepper and splash of the vinegar.
- Add another sheet of foil on top of the melons and roast for about 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 10-20 minutes.
- Set-up indoor grill pan and heat on high. Spray with non-stick spray and grill watermelon for 90 seconds per side. Remove from heat and let site for 5 minutes before eating.