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Unlock the Smoky Sweetness of Grilled Watermelon This Summer

As the aroma of sizzling hot dogs, burgers, and veggies wafts through the air, it’s clear we’re in the heart of grilling season. While the classics hold their charm, there's a world of possibilities beyond the usual fare. Imagine tossing something unexpected onto the grill, like fruit. Traditional choices like grilled pineapple, smoky avocados for guacamole, and caramelized peaches are delightful, but there's another fruit that can steal the show: watermelon.

grilled watermelon

Watermelon is often celebrated as a refreshing, ice-cold treat to conclude a summer barbecue. But have you ever considered that this juicy delight can transform with a touch of fire? Grilling watermelon can elevate its natural sweetness, adding a smoky complexity that makes each bite a revelation. It's an easy process that requires minimal effort for maximum flavor impact.

The Magic of Grilled Watermelon

Grilling watermelon might sound unconventional, but the heat caramelizes its natural sugars, creating a depth of flavor that’s both sweet and smoky. This simple technique involves seasoning the watermelon, giving it a sugar boost for better caramelization, and grilling it for a few minutes. Here’s how you can achieve this culinary marvel:

Preparation is Key

Begin by preheating your grill to high, as you'll be cooking over direct heat. Choose a ripe, seedless watermelon weighing three to four pounds. Trim the ends to create a stable base, then halve it lengthwise. Cut each half into quarters lengthwise, resulting in wedge-shaped segments that are easy to handle. Slice these wedges into one-inch-thick pieces.

Although watermelon contains natural sugars, they need a little help to caramelize effectively. Sprinkle granulated sugar on both sides of each wedge — about three tablespoons for a three-pound watermelon or a quarter cup for a four-pound one. Add a light sprinkle of salt to enhance the flavor.

grilled watermelon

Grilling Perfection

Place the watermelon wedges on the grill, allowing them to sear until grill marks appear, which should take about three to four minutes per side. Unlike meat, there’s no need to check for doneness; the goal is to achieve a nice char on the outside while maintaining the fruit's refreshing juiciness inside. Wedges are ideal for grilling as their shape prevents them from falling apart or slipping through the grates.

Serving Up Grilled Watermelon

Grilled watermelon is delightful on its own, but seasoning it can elevate the experience. A dash of Tajín seasoning provides a perfect balance of salty and sweet flavors. For a more sophisticated touch, sprinkle crumbled feta cheese, fresh mint, and a drizzle of olive oil over the grilled wedges.

Once the watermelon cools, you can cut it off the rind and cube it for various dishes. Toss these smoky-sweet cubes with greens and vinaigrette for a refreshing salad, or mix them with other grilled fruits like peaches or plums. Top with a spoonful of full-fat Greek yogurt for a creamy contrast.

Elevate Your Cookout

Incorporating grilled watermelon into your cookout menu is sure to impress your guests and add a unique twist to your summer gatherings. Its unexpected flavor profile and easy preparation make it a standout side dish that complements the season's bounty. So, the next time you fire up the grill, don’t hesitate to add some watermelon wedges to the mix. Your taste buds will thank you for the sweet and smoky surprise.


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