Learn how to cut a watermelon like a pro! This step-by-step tutorial walks you through the easiest and best ways to cut a watermelon, plus, I give you a few more handy tips for how to pick a good watermelon, one that is ripe and perfectly sweet!
Few fruits are as refreshing as a perfectly ripe, crisp watermelon filled with sweet juice. And there are many ways to enjoy it: tossed in a salad with creamy feta and mint, grilled for the perfect side, or sliced into wedges and finished with a dash of Aleppo pepper and lime zest (like I do in the video below). Oh, and there is always watermelon sangria (I promise, you’ll want to try it!).
But if you’ve been buying pre-cut watermelon packaged in plastic-wrapped trays, it’s time to stop paying the premium price! While convenient, already sliced watermelon that’s been sitting in the refrigerator at the grocery store is not as crisp nor as sweet as fresh, whole watermelon.
Slicing up a watermelon is not as complicated or messy as many people think. This tutorial walks you through all the steps for how to cut a watermelon like a pro into cubes or slices, depending on how you want to serve them. But it all begins with picking a good watermelon, of course!
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How to pick a good watermelon
Picking a good watermelon can be a guessing game, or a bit like a blind date, right? But my late dad taught me a few simple tricks for how to tell if a watermelon is ripe and sweet. His tips work for me like magic, and I even wrote about them in my cookbook.
The easiest way to choose a good watermelon is to look for one that is symmetrical, firm, and heavy for its size. A heavy watermelon means it is juicy, so the heavier the better!
Next, check for the field spot (the yellowish spot where the watermelon rested on the ground while growing). It should be readily identifiable. Don’t see one? That means the melon did not ripen on the vine, and likely won’t be as sweet or juicy as you’d want.
Lastly, and this was my dad’s favorite method, give it a tap. Typically, a juicy watermelon makes a deep, hollow sound when you give it a tap with the palm of your hand.
Tips for preparing your watermelon and cutting station
- Wash the melon. Be sure to wash and dry your watermelon well before you cut into it. Obviously, you won’t be eating the thick green skin (or rind), but you will be cutting through it with your knife and you will be contaminating the flesh.
- Use a sharp knife. A large chef’s knife that is well-sharpened is ideal for watermelon; you’ll want to be able to slice through the middle of the melon without too much effort and without making too much mess.
- Prepare a large cutting board. You need a sturdy, clean surface to rest the melon on when you’re ready to cut.
- To avoid a big mess, prepare a recycled bag or bowl near your cutting board to collect the peeled rind right away and to keep you from making a big mess. You’ll see I use one in my video below.
How to cut a watermelon into cubes
If you need to cut watermelon for a salad or a fork-friendly snack, cutting it into cubes is your best bet for bite-sized pieces! Here’s how you do it:
- Cut the watermelon in half. After washing and drying the watermelon, cut it in half crosswise (around the equator or across the fattest part of the watermelon).
- Remove the watermelon rind and white flesh. Place one half on its cut side on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife held at an angle, carefully cut from top to bottom to remove the rind and white flesh. Work your way around until all the rind has been removed. If there are any white bits left, carefully shave those off. Trim the top as well.
- Slice the watermelon into ½-inch to 1-inch slices. Start from one side and slice the watermelon to your desired thickness.
- Cut into cubes. Lay each slice down on your cutting board and cut it into cubes.
- Repeat with the other watermelon half and place all the watermelon cubes into a large bowl. Alternatively, you can save the other half uncut if you don’t need it. Cover it tightly and refrigerate till later. (See storage instructions below.)
How to cut a watermelon into triangles or wedges
I love cutting watermelon into triangle-shaped slices when I want to prepare a hand-held snack, such as grilled watermelon. Here’s how you cut watermelon wedges:
- Cut the watermelon in half. Start by washing and drying the watermelon. This is especially important for this method because you will not be removing the rind. Place the watermelon on a sturdy cutting board and cut it in half crosswise (again, this would be the fattest part of the watermelon).
- Cut the halves into quarters, then cut each quarter again in half. Place each half flat side down onto the cutting board, and slice them in half, so you now have 4 large quarters. Go ahead and cut each quarter watermelon in half again. You should end up with 8 large and thick wedges of watermelon.
- Cut into triangle-shaped slices. Turn the watermelon wedges to rest flat on the cutting board (skin or rind facing you, flesh on the cutting board) and cut into ½-inch thick slices. These will be large slices, and you can easily cut them in half down the middle if you’re looking for thin triangles.
Watermelon storage tips
Whole, uncut watermelon can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They take up a lot of fridge space, though, so I just keep watermelons in my pantry or on the counter until I am ready to use them.
Once cut, watermelon should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. If you have large pieces of cut watermelon (such as halves or quarters), wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and then refrigerate.
Can you freeze watermelon?
Yes, you can freeze leftover watermelons! And they make a refreshing treat on a hot summer day!
Cut the watermelon into cubes, place them on a baking sheet in a single layer, and pop them into the freezer until they are firm. (This is essentially flash-freezing the watermelons). Then, once the watermelon cubes are firm, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for 6 months or up to a year!
Important note about frozen watermelon
Note that frozen watermelon will be soft and mushy when it thaws, and should be used in watermelon smoothies, drinks where it is pulverized (like watermelon juice), and sorbet, where you don’t need the crispy texture of fresh watermelon.
And even though frozen watermelon will last in your freezer for up to 12 months, it’s a good idea to use it up within 3 to 6 months as it will lose flavor the longer it sits in the freezer.
Try these watermelon recipes next
How to Cut a Watermelon
- 1 large watermelon
- Wash and thoroughly dry the watermelon.
- Cut the watermelon in half crosswise (across the fattest part of the watermelon).
To cut a watermelon into cubes
- Take one half of the watermelon and place it cut side down on a cutting board. Working your way around the watermelon, cut away the rind and white flesh using a sharp knife held at an angle. Trim the top off.
- Starting from one side, slice the watermelon into ½-inch to 1-inch slices. Then lay each slice flat on the cutting board and cut them into cubes.
- Repeat with the other half of the watermelon.
To cut a watermelon into slices or wedges
- Place one half cut side down on the cutting board and slice it in half again. Repeat with the other half watermelon. You will now have 4 large quarters.
- Cut each watermelon quarter in half again, resulting in 8 thick watermelon wedges.
- Place the thick watermelon wedges on the cutting board so that the rind faces you, and the flesh is on the cutting board. Cut the watermelon into ½-inch thick triangle-shaped slices. Because these triangles will be quite large, you can slice them in half to make smaller triangles.
- How to pick a sweet watermelon: Start by finding one that is heavy for its size, because that means it is filled with juice. The watermelon should also have a field spot (a yellowish spot where the watermelon rested on the ground). If it doesn't have one, the watermelon is probably not very sweet or juicy. Lastly, you can tap on the watermelon. A deep hollow sound tells you that the watermelon is juicy.
- Serving Size: One large watermelon will weigh about 20 pounds on average, and it will give you about 32 cups of watermelon. One large watermelon will serve up to 32 people. The nutrition facts here assume a serving size of 1 cup cubed watermelon per person.
- To prepare your watermelon cutting station: Use a sharp knife and a large cutting board. To make clean-up easier, keep a bowl or grocery bag to throw the rind into. That way, you won't get watermelon juice everywhere.
- Storage tips: Uncut watermelon can be stored at room temperature. Once cut, store in an airtight container in the fridge. Large pieces of watermelon should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then refrigerated.
- How to freeze watermelon: Cut leftover watermelon into cubes and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until the watermelon is firm, and then transfer to a freezer-safe container or bag. Watermelon can be frozen for up to a year, but I recommend eating it within 3 to 6 months for best flavor. And note that it will be mushy when it thaws, so it is better to use in juices or smoothies, where you don't need the crispy texture of fresh watermelon.
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