There’s nothing like the first bite of this fresh and cool minty watermelon salad. I’ve had watermelon salads before, but never one as simplistic and refreshing to eat as this one. The difference is in a simple method for extracting the flavors from the mint without adding the leaves directly to the salad. Along with crisp and juicy watermelon chunks, the blueberries provide a pleasant pop of flavor and a burst of bright color.
July in the Carolinas is hot and when it’s scorching outside, there is nothing more refreshing than watermelon. Of course it’s awesome on its own but it seems a little lame to serve it all by itself for summer potlucks (or a summer bbq if you’re not from the Carolinas).
Throw in some blueberries – they go great with watermelon, and then drizzle a little minty syrup over the top. It pushes plain watermelon to a show stopper salad.
How to Grow Mint
If you’ve ever thought that you might want to grow mint, be very careful about where you plant it. It produces runners that will take over your garden bed. It’s best to grow it in a confined space or pot. I have a small strip between my house and driveway where I put in a plant about 10 years ago. Now it produces a huge amount of mint every year but can’t spread past the concrete!
It’s great to have fresh herbs right outside your door. If you don’t have any fresh, ask a friend or neighbor, it’s such a hearty herb that I can never use all that I grow. Other than mint juleps, I love it in a chicken couscous dish.
When using mint in a recipe, it can be so difficult to balance it correctly with the other flavors. Too little, and you can’t taste it at all; too much, and it overwhelms all of your other fresh ingredients. This simple, stunning watermelon salad recipe perfectly balances the mint flavor with the sweetness of the fruit. Not too much, not too little… it’s just right for a flavor that refreshes.
The secret to getting just the right amount of mint is what I have always done when making mint juleps, you seep the mint leaves in a hot simple syrup. It couldn’t be easier and you get the perfect mint flavor.
How to Choose a Good Watermelon
While my grandfather always patted his stomach and then the watermelon, I don’t have as much luck with that method. My favorite way is to look for the “field spot“, it should be creamy and yellow from sitting in the field. If it’s not present, then it may have been picked before it was ripe.
On hot summer days, serve this watermelon salad on a brunch table for a stunning pop of color. It’s just as delicious with bacon and eggs as it is with French toast or a fancy quiche. Feeling a bit snack-ish? A bowl of this salad is scrumptious in the afternoon with a glass of lemonade or iced tea. Refreshing for a cookout, you can serve it on the side of any grilled dish or for a quick dessert on a hot night.
What goes with watermelon salad?
Wondering what to serve with watermelon salad? This recipe is sweet and pleasantly fresh, so it pairs well with heavier dishes that need something light on the side. Here are a few meal ideas:
- Smash burgers
- Marinated steak
- Grilled chicken
- Pork chops
- Shrimp quesadilla
- Spiral cut hot dogs
This simple recipe pairs well with just about any meat and can be served as a side dish or a dessert.
How do you cut a watermelon?
The easiest way to cut a watermelon is to follow a simple procedure. Follow these easy steps:
- Give your watermelon a rinse under cool water and pat it dry with a paper towel to remove any residual dirt. Then, place the watermelon on a large cutting board with the stem ends facing outward, one on the left and one on the right.
- Use a large sharp knife to cut the watermelon in half, cutting through the center of the watermelon, not the stem ends.
- Set one half of the watermelon aside and set the other half cut-side-down on the cutting board. The exposed flesh of the watermelon should be laying securely on the cutting board surface.
- Cutting away from yourself, carefully slice the top stem and about an inch of the watermelon rind off the top of the watermelon. This should expose more of the watermelon flesh.
- Then, simply cut in curved slices around the watermelon, removing the rind, being careful not to remove too much of the pink flesh.
- When the rind is fully removed, cut through your watermelon, making chunks the appropriate size for your recipe.
For this recipe, you’ll want small, bite-sized chunks about 1-inch by 1-inch.
Why You’ll Love This Fresh Mint Watermelon Fruit Salad
- No muddling – You don’t need to muddle the mint for this recipe to work out.
- Uncomplicated recipe – Unlike other watermelon recipes, this recipe is simple and only uses a handful of ingredients.
- Inexpensive – Watermelon, blueberries, and mint leaves are all you’ll need to buy. The remaining ingredients are probably already in your pantry.
- Perfectly minty – The mint isn’t overwhelming and is perfectly balanced with the other flavors.
- Easy to serve – This fruit salad can be served at just about any time of day with almost any main dish, and doubles as a fresh and flavorful afternoon snack or dessert.
How do you use mint without it being too minty or earthy?
If you’ve ever made a recipe with fresh mint leaves (whether muddled or not) and found it tasted too much like leaves or that the mint flavor came through too strong, you aren’t alone. For that reason, many people shy away from using mint.
But in this easy recipe, I’ll show you how to make a quick simple syrup, then use the warm liquid to gently but effectively remove the yummy mint flavor from the leaves without needing a muddler. The result is a light minty sweet ‘salad dressing’ you made in your own kitchen without an overpowering flavor or an earthy bitterness.
Simple Mint Watermelon Fruit Salad Ingredients
- Watermelon – You’ll need about 8 cups of a sweet watermelon for this recipe, about ½ a medium-sized watermelon. Using a seedless watermelon can make like a little easier. If you’re making this for a party, you can use a melon baller and make balls instead of squares.
- Blueberries – Blueberries are not only delicious but they go great with the mint flavor.
- Sugar – White granulated sugar is best, but you can also use raw sugar or turbinado sugar if you want.
- Mint leaves – Look for mint that’s a bright green color and isn’t wilted or turning brown on the edges.
- Lemon – You’ll need one good-sized lemon for both lemon juice and lemon zest. You could also use lime juice.
- Pantry staples – Salt, water
How To Make The Best Watermelon Fruit Salad
Step 1: Prepare your fruit.
Place your cut and cleaned watermelon and blueberries in a large bowl (or you can even use the bowl you plan to serve the salad in). Gently rinse the mint leaves and pat them dry with a paper towel. Set them aside.
Step 2: Make your salad dressing.
Microwave the water and sugar to make a simple syrup. Add the mint leaves and allow them to steep in the warm liquid. This process will gently infuse the water with a light and fresh mint flavor. Remove the mint, and when the liquid has cooled, add the lemon.
Step 3: Finish the salad.
Pour the liquid over the fruit and stir together. Eat it right away!
Helpful Tips for Making a Perfect Summer Salad
- If you buy your mint ahead of time and need to keep it fresh for a few days, here’s a helpful hack for storing fresh herbs.
- Don’t let this salad sit. It needs to be served fresh; otherwise, the juice from the watermelon will seep out, making this salad very watery.
How to Store Watermelon Fruit Salad
This salad is best served fresh and doesn’t store very well. It will become too watery and the leftovers will be mushy. I recommend eating it right away. If you don’t need a large salad, you can easily halve this recipe.
If you really want to store the leftovers, I recommend draining away the dressing and storing the fruit in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a day. Keep in mind, the watermelon will likely become a bit wet and lose some of its flavor.
Watermelon doesn’t freeze well, so I don’t recommend trying to freeze leftovers. It will thaw very mushy.
All-in-all, I highly recommend eating this salad when it’s fresh!
Can I make this watermelon salad ahead?
Yes! You can make this watermelon salad ahead of time. While the salad doesn’t store well when it’s mixed together, you can opt to cut and clean your fruit, then make your dressing, and store them separately until it’s time to serve. Then, you can quickly stir everything together, and you’re good to go! Store your fruit and simple syrup in covered containers in the fridge until you’re ready to mix them.
Watermelon Salad FAQs
Can I customize the fruits in my watermelon fruit salad?
Absolutely! You can customize the fruits in your watermelon fruit salad based on your preferences and what’s in season. Just consider what fruits you believe will taste good with mint.
Can I add other ingredients to the watermelon fruit salad?
Salty feta or goat cheese are a very common addition to watermelon salad, and adds a salty flavors to the salad. You can also add crisp cucumbers or sliced red onion to make it savory.
Summer Salad Recipes You’ll Enjoy
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Mint Watermelon Fruit Salad with Blueberries
- 8 cups watermelon cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 cups blueberries
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 3 sprigs mint leaves
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Place cut watermelon and blueberries in a large bowl.
- In a microwavable glass bowl or measuring cup, add ½ cup water and ¼ cup sugar. Microwave on high for 2 minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Add mint leaves and seep for 10 minutes. Remove mint and let the sugar water cool to room temperature.
- Add lemon zest and lemon juice from 1 lemon to the sugar water. Pour over watermelon and add salt. Stir to coat the fruit.
- Eat right away, if you let it sit it will get very watery. If making in advance wait to add the syrup until right before serving.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- If you buy your mint ahead of time and need to keep it fresh for a few days, here’s a helpful kitchen hack for storing fresh herbs.
- Don’t let this salad sit. It needs to be served fresh, otherwise, the juice from the watermelon will seep out, making this salad watery.