Think Outside the Peel

Watermelon is 100% usable so instead of throwing away or composting, consider using the rind in a variety of menu applications. Sprouted watermelon seeds are also growing in popularity and can be added to salads for crunch as well as other applications.

Watermelon carvings are a great way to use the whole product and engage customers especially during events or on buffets.

Watermelon Flavor Pairings

The flavor, texture and color of watermelon pairs well with so many flavors. Use these pairing recommendations, as well as cooking techniques, for recipe ideation inspiration.

Herbs

  • Basil, fresh
  • Cilantro
  • Dill, fresh
  • Ginger, fresh
  • Lemongrass
  • Mint
  • Oregano, dry
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Tamarind
  • Thyme

Spices

  • Allspice
  • Black Pepper
  • Cajun Spices
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Celery Seed
  • Chile
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Dried Mild Chilis
  • Flaky Salt
  • Garlic
  • Jerk Spice
  • Madras Curry
  • Mustard Seeds
  • Paprika, sweet, smoked
  • Roasted garlic
  • Sage
  • Sweet Thai Chili
  • Tamarind
  • Thai Red Curry
  • Turmeric
  • Vanilla

Dressings & Sauces

  • BBQ Sauce
  • Chimichurri
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Harissa
  • Vinegar, apple cider, balsamic, red wine
  • Zaatar
  • Carmel
  • Mayonnaise
  • Olive Oil
  • Tea, black, green

Fruits

  • Avocado
  • Berries
  • Coconut
  • Grapefruit
  • Kaffir Lime
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Mango
  • Orange
  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranate
  • Tomato

Vegetables

  • Arugula
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chilis
  • Corn, roasted
  • Cucumbers
  • Fennel
  • Jalapenos
  • Jicama
  • Kale
  • Olive, black
  • Onion, caramelized, crispy, green, red, sweet
  • Potatoes, white, sweet
  • Romaine
  • Spinach
  • Spring mix
  • Squash
  • Sweet Pepper, roasted
  • Watercress
  • Zucchini

Grains, Nuts, Beans & Legumes

  • Almonds
  • Black Beans
  • Cashews
  • Edamame
  • Kamut
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Rye
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Wheat Graham Crackers

Dairy

  • Blue Cheese
  • Cream
  • Crème Fraiche
  • Feta
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Goat Cheese
  • Gouda
  • Parmesan
  • Pepper Jack
  • Sour Cream
  • Yogurt

Protein

  • Bacon
  • Beef, grilled
  • Chicken, grilled, fried
  • Fish, grilled
  • Lamb
  • Lobster
  • Oysters
  • Pork, roasted
  • Salmon
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp

Miscellaneous

  • Agave
  • Chocolate, dark, milk, white
  • Honey
  • Tequila

Flavor Affinities*

  • Watermelon + cilantro + cream + tequila
  • Watermelon + fennel + lemon juice + parsley + salt
  • Watermelon + feta cheese + red onion
  • Watermelon + kaffir + vanilla

*Source: The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

Cooking Techniques

  • Juice
  • Puree
  • Glaze
  • Grill, sear
  • Compress
  • Pickle
  • Infuse
  • Carbonate
  • Jell, gelée
  • Foam
  • Consommé

What Watermelon Research Says

The top savory ingredients paired with watermelon on appetizer, entrée and salad menus from our MenuTrends Research are:

  1. Feta
  2. Vinaigrette
  3. Mint
  4. Cucumber
  5. Arugula
  6. Onion
  7. Tomato
  8. Balsamic
  9. Lime
  10. Basil
  11. Red Onion
  12. Pork
  13. Avocado
  14. Tuna
  15. Heirloom Tomato
  16. Goat cheese
  17. Crab
  18. Radish
  19. Olive oil
  20. Pistachio

For more information or to request the full report, please email [email protected].

Flavor and Usage Help Watermelon Beverages Grow on Menus

According to 2019 Datassentials MenuTrend Research, watermelon is featured on 3.4% of non-alcoholic beverage menus and has experienced triple digit growth over the last ten years (2008 to 2018). Watermelon, with 5.4% penetration, is among the fastest growing fruits offered in smoothies. One in ten restaurants serving alcoholic beverages feature a drink with watermelon, more than doubling in the last ten years (2008 to 2018). Watermelon is among the fastest growing fruits in alcoholic beverages, up 54% over the last four years (2014 to 2018).

As watermelon beverages continue to grow on menus, the NWPB conducted beverage research and ideation exploring all beverage opportunities with innovations in non-alcoholic and alcoholic cocktails. A strong focus was placed on freshness, creativity, health and wellness, and new and current trends. The project included product analysis creating a variety of watermelon applications using the whole fruit including juices, tinctures, syrups, infusions, mixers, garnishes, bitters, and more. Finally, recipes were developed for no-abv, low-abv and classic cocktails. To learn more see the report: Beverage Innovation for the National Watermelon Promotion Board 2020.