Crisp Pickled Watermelon Rind Recipe

A plate of crisp pickled watermelon rind with red and white napkin and fork.

Make this crisp picked watermelon rind recipe if you've ever wondered what to do with leftover watermelon rinds.

I first tried watermelon rind pickles when we first moved to Georgia.

We spent the day in Atlanta and ended up at a touristy restaurant that served classic Southern fair like greens, grits, and fried green tomatoes.

One thing that stood out were the watermelon pickles. They were so tasty! As soon as I could, I learned how to make them at home.

Making watermelon rind pickles is easy

Making pickled watermelon rind is a easy way to preserve summer. It's also a thrifty way to use up leftover watermelon rinds. 

No need to panic about learning how to can. You’re just boiling the watermelon rinds to “pickle” them. Then they cool on the countertop and go straight to your refrigerator.

What equipment do I need?

There’s probably no need to buy anything special like big stockpots or canning equipment. If you like to cook or craft, you probably have most of available already for this easy recipe:

a few 32-ounce Mason jars or some pint jars 

a Y-shaped vegetable peeler to peel the watermelon

a sharp knife

a large saucepan

a medium saucepan

a colander

Two Mason jars and a white plate of crisp watermelon rind pickles with fork and red and white napkin.

How to make this simple pickled watermelon rind recipe

1. Prepare the watermelon by peeling the green skin off the watermelon rind. Leave little of the red flesh. Then cut into 1x1 inch pieces.

2. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring cold water and pickling salt to a boil. Add watermelon rind and boil for 5 minutes until tender.

3. Strain watermelon rinds in a colander. Keep watermelon rind pieces in the colander so any remaining saltwater drains off. No need to rinse rinds.

4. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, rice vinegar, black peppercorns, cloves, pickling spice, sliced ginger, and star anise. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir with a slotted spoon until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 15 minutes, until slightly reduced. 

5. Place watermelon rinds in a large mason jar (or two smaller mason jars if that’s all you have). Pour liquid over rinds and let cool on countertop until liquid is at room temperature.

If you stick the hot jars in the refrigerator, the sugar in the liquid may crystalize.

6. After the liquid has cooled, screw on the lids and refrigerate. Pickles can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

A warning when making watermelon rind pickles

I’ve found that many watermelon pickles recipes, including those that feature spicy ingredients like peppers and ginger, include pink peppercorns. Or they use rainbow medley peppercorns which may have pink peppercorns in the mix.

If you are allergic to nuts or have a nut allergic child, you should avoid pink peppercorns.

Pink peppercorns are related to cashews and pistachios and can cause an anaphylactic reaction in those who are allergic to these nuts.

You can read about this in a synopsis of the paper, A Rare Case of Food-induced Anaphylaxis to Pink Peppercorns.

Since my daughter has a nut allergy, I only used black peppercorns.

Overhead view of Mason jars and a plate of crisp watermelon pickles with red napkin and silver fork.

How to peel watermelon

When peeling the outer green skin off the watermelon, I found that it’s easiest to do it before cutting up the entire watermelon.

In addition, you may find that your vegetable peeler won’t work depending on how it’s shaped, the length of the blade, and how big your watermelon is.

I find that a Y-shaped vegetable peeler works best to peel the green outer rind of any watermelon.

More tips when pickling watermelon rinds

Peppers: When handling habanero peppers, be careful not to touch the seeds. Also, make sure wash the cutting board, knife and your hands thoroughly after handling the peppers.

Vinegar: Since these are refrigerator pickles, you can use rice vinegar, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. The amount of acid in the vinegar doesn’t matter since you aren’t canning the pickles.

Can I use a spice bag? Sure. Placing the spices in a cheesecloth bag when cooking up pickling liquid saves you the bother of straining it. I find that whole spices like cloves and black peppercorns are pretty, so you might want to add a few back to the jar for decorative purposes.

Can I add other spices and flavorings?

Of course! Here are some suggestions for the next time you make these pickles:

  • whole sticks cinnamon
  • red pepper flakes
  • whole allspice
  • garlic cloves
  • bay leaf
  • mustard seed
  • dash soy sauce
  • dash hot sauce
  • a teaspoon of lemon or lime juice

How to serve watermelon pickles

Chop up the spicy watermelon pickles to make a relish. It’s a versatile condiment for burgers, hot dogs, and even in egg salad sandwiches.

I like using it instead of sweet relish in my Seafood Pasta and Easy Chicken Salad recipes.

Or turn the best watermelon pickles you’ve ever tried into a chutney for grilled chicken and Easy Crockpot Spiral Ham Recipe.

Had fun making watermelon pickles? Make this Refrigerator Pickled Okra recipe.

More terrific watermelon recipes

If you love watermelon, then check out these recipes:

This Watermelon Pizza Recipe is a crowd pleaser! It’s super pretty and fun to make.

Asian Watermelon Fruit Salad is a variation on the traditional basil and feta watermelon salad.

This Fruit Stand Watermelon Cocktail and Sparkling Savannah Vodka Watermelon Cocktail recipes are fun ways to drink your watermelon.

Yes, you can make ice pops with watermelon. Try this Avocado & Watermelon Ice Pops Recipe!

Yield: 16 SERVINGS

Crisp Pickled Watermelon Rind Recipe

Best Watermelon Rind Pickles Recipe

Make this crisp pickled watermelon rind recipe with leftover watermelon rinds. This pickled watermelon rind recipe is easy to make.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt or Kosher salt
  • 5 cups peeled watermelon rind (leave a thin layer of pink), cut into 1 x 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced thinly
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1/4 to 1/2 habanero pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring water and pickling salt to a boil. Add watermelon rind and boil for 5 minutes until tender.
  2. Strain in a colander. Keep watermelon rind pieces in the colander so any remaining saltwater will drain off.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, rice vinegar, black peppercorns, cloves, pickling spice, sliced ginger, and star anise. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir with a slotted spoon until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 15 minutes, until slightly reduced.
  4. Place watermelon rinds in a large mason jar (or two smaller mason jars if that’s all you have). Pour liquid over rinds and let cool on countertop until liquid is at room temperature. (If you stick the hot jars in the refrigerator, the sugar in the liquid may crystalize.)
  5. After the liquid has cooled, screw on the lids and refrigerate. Pickles can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 67Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 79mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 0gSugar: 16gProtein: 0g

Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.

Originally posted on September 15, 2014. Updated with new pictures and information.

9 thoughts on “Crisp Pickled Watermelon Rind Recipe

  1. Alexia

    The instructions don’t say when to add the star anise. I put them in the mason jar at the end. Was I suppose to simmer the anise with the other pickling ingredients?

    Reply
  2. Erlene

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I wish I saw this earlier. We went through tons of watermelons and I would have loved to have done something with all the rinds we tossed out. I’ve included this in a watermelon round-up..hope that’s ok. Pinned.

    Reply

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Recipe rating: 5 4 3 2 1