The Watermelon Prep Step To Get The Best Grill Marks

From its hydrating juice to its signature sweet, pinkish flesh, there's much to love about the large, thick-skinned fruit that is the watermelon. With more than 300 varieties, including the oblong Orange Tendersweet and the yellow meat watermelon, there's certainly a color and flavor to suit nearly everyone's taste. But, one of the best qualities of this fruit is that it's incredibly versatile.

The sugary fruit can be blended, diced, or chopped to perfection in countless recipes — and grilling is no exception. Have you ever tried grilled watermelon? If not, you're missing out. Grilling a watermelon caramelizes its natural sugars, creating a deep golden brown hue and imparting a slightly smoky flavor — all in just a matter of minutes. You can combine scrumptiously seared pieces of watermelon with ice cream for an enticing sundae, whip up a delicious grilled watermelon salad, or serve grilled watermelon as a low-calorie steak alternative for a nutritious meal without all the fat or cholesterol.

Ready to give it a try? For the ultimate grill marks, comparable to those found on a charbroiled slab of steak, there's one important step that prevents the melon from falling apart: Remember to cut the fruit into thick wedges, keeping its smooth, green rind attached.

Cut watermelon into wedges for a better grill

First thing first: You can't achieve flawless sear marks if the soft, juicy meat of your watermelon falls apart on the grill. So, in order to prevent this from happening, be sure to cut your melon into thick, triangle-shaped pieces — rind and all. Keeping the rind attached provides stability and helps keep the delicate pulp intact. Plus, according to Healthline, the rinds are completely edible and offer potential health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and boosting fiber levels.

For grill-worthy pieces, here's how to slice your watermelon into pie-shaped wedges. In a nutshell, use a sharp knife to trim about a half-inch piece off each end of the watermelon. Set one cut end flat on your cutting board, then halve the watermelon. Place each half rind-side down and cut them again, so you're left with four long quarters. Next, place them skin-side down again and slice each quarter into half-inch thick wedges.

In terms of portion sizes, a mini watermelon can generally feed up to six people. So, if you're planning on feeding a larger crowd, opt for a bigger watermelon. But before you throw your juicy wedges on the grill, there's just one more step to help ensure you get those quintessential char marks: slather on an aromatic rub.

Sweet and spicy rubs enhance grill marks, too

Believe it or not, a sugary dry rub can help bring out those highly sought-after grill lines, the result of a chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars when food is exposed to heat. To achieve this caramelized brown effect, make a sweet and spicy rub by mixing sugar, citrus, spice, and salt.

For a sweet dry rub, combine sugar with different seasonings and spices, such as grated lime zest or red pepper flakes. Lightly coat both sides of the watermelon wedges with the rub. Alternatively, you might use grated lemon zest, chili powder, or cumin; you could even brush your watermelon slices with a liquid sweetener like honey or agave syrup for perfectly golden caramelization. Just be sure to throw in a dash of salt to help balance the sweetness.

Granted, one generally accepted grilling tip is to actually forgo using sugar rubs when grilling chunks of meat, as the sweet-tasting, simple carbohydrate can quickly burn at high temperatures. However, since you'll only be grilling each side of your watermelon for about two to three minutes, using a sugar rub will actually work in your favor. The result? A tantalizing barbecue dish that you'll reminisce about long after it's been eaten.