Watermelon Salad with Basil and White Balsamic

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This Watermelon Salad Recipe is full of fresh and lively flavors! This ain’t your mama’s watermelon salad recipe, nor is it your neighbors. This one is packed with some unexpected and delicious secrets. Your guests will go CRAZY for it, and they’ll never guess the secret ingredient.

Watermelon Salad with Basil and White Balsamic Vinegar in a white bowl
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Hint: Basil

This has always been a super popular recipe at our Ember and Vine summer catering events!

It’s a great one for a small family or huge summer gathering.

Folks are always surprised when they take their first bite, because at first glance they think it’s one of those typical watermelon salads with mint and citrus. But no…..

We’ve got some secrets tucked in there, and they do not involve mint or citrus.

For this watermelon salad we’re leaning towards savory flavors to make it easier to pair with wine. Mint can be tricky with wine, and the citrus is really best left for acidic white wines.

Watermelon Salad Ingredients

  • Basil – Adds a touch of spice and a subtle influence that is fragrant.
  • White Balsamic Vinegar – A great contrast to the sweet from fresh watermelons and a light acidic touch.
  • Kosher Salt — to bring out all the flavors.
Cubed Watermelon for Watermelon Salad with Balsamic and White Balsamic Vinegar

What what?

Yes! The combination is so delicious, and it may throw people off a bit at first, but after their first bite, eyes open wide and they look at you and give you that smile of approval that quietly says, “Oh yeah. This is goooood!”

“It’s so different,” they’ll say. “But I love it!” they’ll continue.

The flavors, combined with a hint of kosher salt, create this great balance of savory and sweet, and work great when you pair them with wine, even a red like Pinot Noir. No lie! We’ve even served this watermelon salad at a wedding (!!!), and it was served with Pinot.

We also shared this salad with the awesome folks at Portland’s News Program, AM Northwest, live on TV!

Cooking Demo on AM Northwest
Having a nice chat with Helen on AM Northwest!

On the show I got to discuss my favorite ways to fully utilize a whole watermelon without resorting to the typical wedge slices. I used half for this salad, and the other half for this amazing Sparkling Watermelon Cocktail.

Both are creative and delicious uses for all that watermelon out there right now. And the best part is that they are both totally budget-friendly dishes!

How to make Watermelon Salad

Watermelon Salad with Basil and White Balsamic
Seasonal watermelon is sweet and an awesome salad idea.
  1. Slice Watermelon: cut watermelon into 1” cubes.
  2. Make Dressing: combine white balsamic, chopped basil, and kosher salt.
  3. Toss: mix together and serve.

When we usually make it for large events or summer gatherings we use the entire watermelon. A medium-large size watermelon will usually serve around 20-25 people. But for a smaller portion you can start with just a quarter of a watermelon. This should yield roughly 8 cups. The proportions are so easy that you can adjust the flavors based on your size crowd.

I’ve adjusted this recipe to quarter of a watermelon, which should happily feed around 6-8 people. The notes contain a whole watermelon portion, good for larger crowds.

More Fun Salads

Explore our roundup of salad recipe ideas or from some of our favorites.

This post was originally published in August of 2016, and updated in May of 2020 with updated information.

About Vindulge

Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.

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Now on 2nd edition

Fire + Wine Cookbook


“This book is a one-stop guide for anyone truly interested in elevating their BBQ experience into a culinary work of art.”
5 out of 5 Stars
San Francisco Book Review

Watermelon Salad
5 from 1 vote

Watermelon Salad with Basil and White Balsamic Vinegar

A simple, delicious, and savory watermelon salad tossed with basil and white balsamic vinegar.
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 6 -8 people
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Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds A quarter of 1 medium-sized seedless watermelon, rind removed, and chopped into 1-inch cubes (roughly 8 cups)
  • 2-4 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar, taste to adjust
  • 1 tablespoon basil, chopped
  • teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions 

  • Combine: Combine watermelon cubes, white balsamic, basil, and salt in a large bowl. Gently use your hands to mix everything together. Adjust flavors to your preference (add more white balsamic if you desire).
  • Serve: Serve and enjoy this delicious and refreshing salad.

Notes

*Salad will keep up to 24 hours, after that it starts to get a bit soggy and not as crunchy and delicious like it should be. So enjoy it fresh!
*To adjust for a WHOLE WATERMELON: Take 1 watermelon (cut into 1” cubes). Add ½ cup of white balsamic, ¼ cup basil (chopped), and then about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix together and serve. 

Nutrition

Calories: 47kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 50mg | Potassium: 172mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 878IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: bbq, party food, salad, summer
Servings: 6 -8 people
Calories: 47
Keyword: watermelon salad
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!



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Vindulge

About Mary


I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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3 Comments

  1. Yum! I use regular balsamic vinegar in our watermelon salad from time to time but have never tried white balsamic vinegar – it sounds wonderful! Can’t beat a cool watermelon salad on a hot day.

  2. Haha, don’t worry your nails look like you actually use your hands! And I love the idea of basil and balsamic in a watermelon salad. Can’t wait to try it!