Photo: Elena Rui via 123RF

Watermelon: It’s summer’s favorite fruit. Packed with several vitamins and minerals (including potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, B, and C) and lots of water, this fruit is a seasonal staple for a reason. And while cutting off a chunk and diving in for a juicy bite is everyone’s favorite way to indulge, there are many other ways to enjoy this fruit. From refreshing drinks to party décor, here are several ideas for this delicious food.

Throw It On the Grill

Thick-cut slices or chunks of watermelon are perfect for grilling! If you pay attention, you can get beautiful, dark grill marks in lovely patterns since the sugars in the fruit will blacken quickly. Try tossing the slices in your proprietary grilling spice blend for added flavor. Chile powder and lime make a delicious combination! If you want to impress your barbecue guests, put a thick slice of grilled watermelon on a burger before serving—they’ll be amazed.

Make Homemade Flavored Water

Instead of buying expensive cans of flavored water at the store, make some of your own at home! Put several chunks of watermelon into a pitcher of water and refrigerate. Add mint sprigs for an even richer flavor. If you’d like a strong watermelon flavor, keep the chunks in when you pour!

Freeze for Popsicles

Watermelon slices make excellent popsicles, and you don’t even need to do much prep work! For the simplest version, cut the watermelon into slices, then cut a small slit in the rind. Put a craft stick into the slit, then freeze for 1-2 hours. If you’d like something you can pour into popsicle molds for fun shapes, blend watermelon with any other fruits (or just put it into the blender on its own!), and voila! The high water content of this fruit means that you don’t have to add any other liquid.

Photo: David Cabrera Navarro via 123RF

Make a Carved Basket

Even though the juicy, delicious part of a watermelon is everyone’s favorite, that doesn’t mean you should overlook the other parts! You can carve the watermelon itself into many shapes and baskets, much like you would a pumpkin. Find inspirational images online and carve out a bowl for your fruit salad or use it as a display spot for the grilled slices. Because the rind is green on the outside but white on the layer underneath, you can use these colors as part of your design; make a cute animal face or carve stars for a festive look.

Try Savory Dishes

Because watermelon is so sweet, we often use it in desserts or fruit-based recipes. While there’s nothing wrong with this classic approach, try incorporating watermelon into savory dishes as well! The sweet, juicy flavor can balance stronger flavors easily, so add it to your Caprese salad and drizzle with extra balsamic vinegar. Make a watermelon salsa and serve alongside Mexican-inspired dishes or with chips as an appetizer. Fresh watermelon cubes in a poke bowl or as a garnish for grilled salmon can add a burst of sweetness to these dishes. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and get creative with your savory recipes!

Blend into a Frozen Drink

Watermelon is a quintessential summer fruit, so it’s an excellent time for frozen drinks to cool off! Blend watermelon into your green smoothies for a natural boost of sweetness, or add watermelon purée to your favorite tropical adult beverage for a flavorful twist. Because this fruit is packed with water but not much fiber, it’s easy to blend into a smooth texture.

Make a Simple Syrup

Concentrating watermelon flavor into a simple syrup is a great way to use this fruit when you don’t want everything to get soggy, too. Reducing the watermelon chunks with some sugar on the stove, then straining through a fine sieve, will give you a delicious syrup ready for pancakes, ice cream, cake, and even cocktails!

Don’t Forget the Rind!

Most people throw away the rind, but you can use it for a wide variety of dishes! Pickled watermelon rind is a great snack for those who love a sour treat. Using the white part of the rind in blended dishes can add more flavor. Try incorporating it into some of your savory dishes, like a summer gazpacho (chilled soup).

With so many fun and unique ways to use watermelon, you’ll wish for a bigger summer harvest next year!