This easy pickled watermelon rind recipe is a crisp Southern classic made with sugar, vinegar, and spices. After eating the juicy red watermelon pulp, use the peeled green rind to make this sweet, cinnamon-flavored pickle.
It may seem impossible to make and can your own pickled watermelon rinds. You may consider it to be difficult. And you may also think you have to invest in special equipment. It’s really not difficult or expensive to make!
You could make it with basic equipment you may already have at home. I had recently made this Asian Watermelon Salad and couldn't wait to get creative with the rind!
We are usually canning mangoes and tomatoes at the end of summer. You may also find us making my mother-in-law’s Calabrian canned zucchini and also eggplant. In Italy it's called buccia di cocomero sotto'aceto.
It's not something my mother-in-law typically cans. She's too busy with her other canning projects to worry about the watermelon rinds.
I came across a recipe for pickled watermelon rinds in a canning book and was determined to try it out. Everyone was super curious as to how they would taste, as we had never even eaten them before.
Why you'll love this easy watermelon rind pickles
- It puts your watermelon rind to good use, meaning less waste and more delicious snacks!
- The pickling process brings out the best in this summer fruit—a slightly tart flavor with a sweet finish.
- Not only are these pickles great as a snack or side dish, but they also make a nice addition to salads and sandwiches.
- The recipe is EASY and can be adjusted to your own tastes, so you can make it as mild or tangy as you like.
- Low in calories and fat, making them a healthy choice for summer snacking.
What ingredients do you need for this pickled watermelon rind?
- Small red watermelon
- white vinegar
- cinnamon stick
- pickling spice
Pickled watermelon rinds was on my list to do this summer. Having just finished slicing our first watermelon of the season, I was left with tons of rinds and it seemed to be the right moment to try out a recipe.
I wanted to put my own spin on a Southern favorite (through some research I found out it dates all the way back to the Civil War!). With all the ingredients in place, it was time to finally try pickled watermelon rinds out!
How to make pickled watermelon?
The first thing to do is clean your rind. Peel off the green part and cut the rind into small chunks. You could leave some of the pink part on the rind.
The next step is to soak it overnight in water and salt.
The next day, you drain and rinse the watermelon rinds and get every thing ready to pickle.
Once you have it all ready, you prepare the pickling ingredients in the saucepan.
When they become soft and translucent you can them in the jars with the pickling liquid.
Pickled watermelon rinds are a special treat and a wonderful way to preserve the taste of summer. I have come across Russian Jewish recipes (they pickle whole slices) and even the Japanese way to make them (pieces of the just the rind quick pickled and served with soy sauce). I stuck with the more traditional way that you could find in the south.
So the next time you are slicing your next summer watermelon, don’t toss those rinds! Be sure to try out these pickled watermelon rinds.
How to serve pickled watermelon rinds?
They are so good you’ll eat them alone right out of the jar. But they are also fantastic with grilled chicken, shrimp, and tofu. Perfect on a sandwich or a juicy burger.
These pickles are a great way to add some new flavor to your summer dishes. They make a delicious addition to salads, sandwiches, and tacos. They can also be served as sides for barbeque or fried fish.
Pickled watermelon rinds have a slightly sweet and tart flavor, balanced by the pickling spices. They are crunchy and refreshing, perfect for a summer snack or side dish.
Yes! Watermelon rinds contain several important vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium. The pickling process preserves these nutrients, so you can enjoy the health benefits of this summer fruit all year round. Plus, they are low in calories and fat making them a great healthy snack.
Yes, watermelon rinds are perfectly safe to eat. They are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and make for a tasty summer snack or side dish. Be sure to pickle them properly though! Pickling is the best way to preserve the flavor and nutrition of this summer fruit.
Yes, you can freeze watermelon rinds if you want to pickle them later. Just cut the rind into cubes or slices and place in a single layer on a baking sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the pieces to an airtight container or bag and store in the freezer for up to six months. When ready to use, thaw and follow your pickling recipe.
When stored in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator, watermelon rind pickles can last up to three weeks. Be sure to check for spoilage before eating. If there is any mold or discoloration, discard the pickles and start again.
No, you do not need to cook the watermelon rinds before pickling. Just clean them thoroughly and cut into cubes or slices as desired. The pickles will be cooked during the pickling process.
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Some other pickled recipes to try:
- Easy Pickled Cucumbers
- Easy Pickled Jalapenos
- Easy Pickled Thai Chili Peppers
- Easy Pickled Scotch Bonnet Peppers
Originally published August 2019 and updated for content on February 2023.
Pickled Watermelon Rinds
- ½ small red watermelon about 5 pounds
- 3 Tablespoons salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup white vinegar 5% acidity
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 teaspoons pickling spice
- ½ lemon thinly sliced
- Trim the dark green and pink parts from watermelon rind. You could leave little bit of the pink on the rind.
- Cut rind into 1-inch cubes and measure out 7 cups.
- In a large bowl add 3 cups water and the salt. Stir it together until salt dissolves.
- Place the rinds in the salted water. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- The next day, drain the rinds and rinse well.
- Add 4 cups of water to a stainless steel saucepan (or Dutch oven). Add the sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, pickling spices, and lemon slices. Bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the rind and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the rind is tender and translucent.
- Remove from heat. Cool completely (about 1 hour), stirring occasionally.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer rind to jars; cover with pickling liquid. Apply lids. Gently pack the hot rind into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space below the lip. Pour enough liquid into the jars to cover the rind.
- Wipe rims with a clean, damp towel and screw lids on securely but not too tightly.
- Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
- Carefully remove jars using tongs. Use potholders to tighten the lids. Place jars on a rack and let them cool. When they’ve cooled down, store them in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Chill 24 hours before serving.
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.
Dorothy Reinhold says
I am loving all you ideas for using the rinds. They all sounds so good!
This sounds so interesting! I would love to try this recipe!
Jacquelyn Hastert says
Growing up in the south I heard of this, but never tried it before. However, you make it sound really delicious. Thank you, I am going to try this soon.
Hi Jacquelyn...hope you try and it and enjoy it as much as we do!! Thank you!
Sara Welch says
What a great recipe! I will have to give this a try!
Stephanie Dulgarian says
My kids love anything pickled. Can't wait to make these for them!
Hello! I'm very excited to try this recipe but I'm not sure it's clear what you mean by "pickling spice." Could you clarify this? Is it necessary? Furthermore, could apple cider vinegar be used in the place of white vinegar? Thanks!
Hi Cassie-sure, you could use apple cider vinegar (I've never used it for this, and it may turn the rinds a little darker, but it's fine to use it). The pickling spice is sold in the spice section (not sure if they have where you live)and it gives a complexity to the flavor of the pickling...it consists of: mustard seed, allspice, coriander seeds, cloves, ginger, red pepper flakes, a bay leaf and (it could be a combo of some of these spices if you don't have it all and if you don't have it, it will be fine even with just the cinnamon sticks, black peppercorn if you have on hand... just to give a bit of flavor. You could even make it without any of these spices, and it will still be delightful).
Hi -- I just made this recipe -- thank you! I'm wondering: how long should they be in the unsealed jars before eating? I know with pickling there is often a one week or two month timeline for optimal taste. What's the wait time for the watermelon rinds in this recipe? Many thanks!
They are really good, my mom and grandma has been doing this since before I was born and I still do this today. I uses Ginger, corrinda seeds, bay leaves, mixed peppercorn, pepper flakes, pickling seasons, allspice, cloves, mustard seeds, white vinegar and whole cinnamon sticks. A perfect treat that goes with every meal. Straight Southern.
Hi Maurica-which state is your family from? I love to hear about recipes passed down from generations. Your grandmother's recipe sounds delightful! Thank you for telling me about your family and the recipe! XX
Hi! I can't wait to try this! I do have a question--is this for pints, quarts? And how many of each? I know the processing time is different for pints and quarts. I apologize if I missed this somewhere. Thank you!
Hi It should make about 4 pint jars. Hope that helps!!