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How to Pick (and Cut) Watermelon

Yes, there is a method to the madness when it comes to choosing the best watermelons. Read on for tried-and-true tips and tricks for ensuring you go home with a juicy, sweet, and crispy watermelon. Bonus: learn the secret for easily cutting watermelon into cubes.

bin full of watermelons
There ARE true tricks to picking the juiciest, sweetest watermelon in the bunch.

How to pick a watermelon

Have you ever watched grown men and women stand over a watermelon bin, poking and prodding each melon in confusion, and then apprehensively placing one into their shopping cart? Maybe you’ve even been one of them.

After this day, you shall no longer fear the watermelon bin. Here are tried-and-true methods for choosing the best melon in the batch.

The 5 steps:

  1. Heavy: a juicy watermelon should feel quite heavy for its size. In other words, you should be a bit surprised at how heavy the melon is. This indicates high juice content within.
  2. Yellow: Look for a darker yellow spot on the underside of the melon, called the “field spot,” which indicates ripeness. The darker-yellow, the riper.
  3. Green: The watermelon’s surface color should be dark green and dull, not shiny. This also indicates that the melon is ripe.
  4. Sound: You’ve seen people knock on a watermelon like it’s a door, right? If the melon sounds hollow (vs. dull) when you knock on it, it’s a good sign. It means the watermelon is ripe. Say goodbye to any dull-sounding melons.
  5. Feel: This is totally my own anecdotal advice, but I promise I always do this and it works: press into the watermelon as hard as you can with your thumbs. If there’s any give when you press into it, it’s not as crisp as it should be. There should be zero give in a crisp melon.

So you might be mistaken for a watermelon snob if you stand over the watermelon bin and do these steps. But for reals, you won’t even care when you cut open your perfectly sweet, crispy, and juicy watermelon the minute you get home. You’ll pat yourself on the back for your melon-picking skills.

How to cut a watermelon (cubes)

Most of you know how to cut melons into wedges pretty easily, so we’re focusing in on watermelon cubes here. There’s no need to struggle with cubing watermelon little by little.

Here are the super easy steps:

  1. First and foremost, please use the sharpest knife you can. Every chef and experienced cook knows: a good knife is worth your investment, always. We use our beloved Wüsthoff knife, but a budget friendlier option is this Victorinox that works pretty well for the price.
  2. Start with a cold watermelon. A cold melon will retain shape easier during cutting.
  3. Slice watermelon in half, taking care not to let the melon split haphazardly.
  4. Slice off the ends of both watermelon halves.
  5. Working with one half at a time, stand watermelon flat on one end and slice off the rinds all around so that you’re left with 2 halves of pure watermelon flesh.
  6. Slice watermelon into 1-inch thick rounds.
  7. Stack watermelon rounds and cut into even cubes.
watermelon cubes in a bowl
Cover, chill, and enjoy your freshly cut watermelon cubes!

how to keep cut watermelon fresh

Now that you’re a watermelon picking/cutting pro, you’ll want to keep your melon fresh. The best way to store cut watermelon is tightly sealed and refrigerated, no more than about 3 days. Always reseal tightly after opening the container. A large container with fitted lid works best.

We love this Watermelon Salad Recipe for a refreshing way to enjoy cut watermelon.

You can also freeze leftover watermelon and use it for refreshing Watermelon Margaritas.

watermelon
common questions

What’s the best way to store whole watermelon after bringing it home?

Always try to make room for it in the fridge so that it can chill right away. Since you’re bringing home a ripe melon, you don’t want it sitting at room temperature any longer. You want your melon to be chilled prior to cutting, as it retains shape better when chilled.

How long can cut watermelon last in my fridge?

Once watermelon is cut, it’s best to enjoy fresh, within 24 hours. However, you can cover cut watermelon tightly and keep chilled for up to 3 days.

How can I use up leftover cut watermelon quickly?

We love making watermelon salad or watermelon margaritas. You can also add them to your smoothies, or use a blender or juicer to make watermelon juice.

watermelon cubes in a bowl

How to Pick (and Cut) Watermelon

5 from 5 ratings
Learn how to easily cut watermelon into cubes, with minimal effort! 
Prep Time: 10 mins
Servings: 15

Ingredients  

Instructions

  • Clean: Clean exterior of watermelon well and dry it thoroughly.
  • Halve: Use sharp knife to slice watermelon evenly down the middle, crosswise, so that the stem-end is still intact. 
    whole watermelon being sliced in half
  • Remove Rind: Take one half of the watermelon and slice off the round end, so that it now has two flat sides. Turn it large cut-side-down on cutting board. Slice the rind off, all around.
    watermelon being cut
  • Slice: Turn rind-free watermelon half on its side, and slice it into 1-inch large rounds.
    watermelon being sliced into rounds
  • Cube: Stack the slice rounds and cut into cubes. Repeat with other half of the watermelon. 
    Stacked watermelon rounds cut into cubes

Notes

Watermelon tends to slice easier when it's cold to begin with. 
Place watermelon cubes into large airtight fridge containers. Keep chilled, for up to 3 days in refrigerator. 
If you enjoyed this article, please come back and give it a rating 🙂 

Nutrition

Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 22.7g | Protein: 1.8g | Fat: 0.5g | Sodium: 3mg | Fiber: 1.2g | Sugar: 18.7g
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: N/A
Diet: Vegan
Method: Slicing

Did you make this?

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How do you like to enjoy your watermelon? We’d love to hear your favorite ways to use this fabulous fruit!

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Recipe Rating




25 comments

    • Megan
    • 5 stars

    Oh, thanks for all the tips. I love my watermelon and this will help immensely.

    • Oscar
    • 5 stars

    I was always intimated to buy watermelon because I bought one a long time ago and it was really bad. This post has some great tips and I plan to buy a watermelon this weekend. Thank you.

      • Amy Dong

      You’re so welcome!

    • Mary
    • 5 stars

    Very thorough watermelon primer. I have relegated my watermelon purchases to ones the store has already cut because I can’t seem to pick a good one. I will try again and use your tips. Thanks!

      • Amy Dong

      You’ll definitely pick a good one this time! 🙂

    • Jerika
    • 5 stars

    Wow! Never knew there’s a technique how to pick (and cut) watermelon.:) Thank you for the helpful tips!:) Now I can choose a ripe and perfect watermelon.:)

      • Amy Dong

      I literally just met 2 women at the store today, asking me how to choose a watermelon!

    • Betty Diggs

    This is a great help. I knew about the tapping or patting the watermelon but the yellow color I was confused. Thanks alot.

    • Lore

    Thanks for these helpful tips. I didn’t know about the yellow-darker. I used to avoid thinking it was rotted.

      • Amy Dong

      Yes, the darker yellow, the better! Pale yellow means it’s under-ripe. 🙂

    • Clarice

    These are helpful tips. I had no idea about the sound and would love to try this. I literally have no idea how to pick/ check a good watermelon or when it’s ready for eating.

    Appreciate the tips on cutting it too. 🙂

    • Rachel

    I knew about the tapping but I didn’t know all the other signs of ripeness. Thank you!

    • Patricia Chamberlain

    This is such a helpful guide! I usually end up buying pre-cut watermelon because I’m never sure how to cut it.

    • Rose Ann Sales

    This is very helpful nd informative now I know how to pick the best watermelon! Thanks to this!

    • Melanie E

    I do get confused when trying to buy a watermelon as I don’t know what to look for. This is helpful advice. I’ll have to see if I can pick a good one now next time I got to buy a watermelon.

    • Ntensibe Edgar

    Haha…you are really good at this, Amy! I must try out that method of feeling it.

    • Carmen

    I’m finishing up a few bites of watermelon right now!

    • briannemanzb

    I’ve been meaning to pick some watermelons but I don’t really know-how. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Beth

    These are great tips! I love watermelon, but I routinely have trouble finding a perfectly ripe one. Cutting is a little easier, but it can still be a pain.

    • Anitra

    This is so helpful since my hubby loves watermelon but is unsure on how to pick good ones

    • Stephanie

    We love watermelon and have used the same method for picking a good one out. It definitely makes a difference in the flavor!

    • Luna S

    I’ve always wondered how to pick out the best watermelon when I go to the store, I prefer them to be sweet and juicy so this is helpful. 🙂

    • Luna S

    I’ve always wondered how to pick out the best watermelon when I go to the store, I prefer them to be sweet and juicy so this is helpful.

    • Bryan

    Who would have thought there was a science to choosing a watermelon? I usually just go for one with the best shade of green. Now, I know what to look for.

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