2 Ways You Can (And Should) Eat Fried Watermelon

Common culinary wisdom would suggest that, like revenge, watermelon is a dish best served cold. After all, if you try to envisage the most obvious ways to prepare and serve watermelon in your head, chances are you're thinking of plates of sliced watermelon, perhaps a juice, smoothie, or slushie-type drink — or maybe a summery watermelon salad, mixed in with feta, cucumber, and mint.

But just because you may not have encountered many cooked watermelon dishes, it doesn't mean that they don't exist (or that they're a bad idea). So if you're looking to get adventurous in the kitchen, consider frying — yes, frying — up some melon as a tasty, savory treat.

There are two ways to approach this. The simpler option is that you can pan fry melon on your stovetop — this is sometimes described as a "watermelon steak," which seems off the mark, but it can still be eminently tasty with the right seasonings, marinade, or sauces. Then for those feeling bold, there's deep-fried watermelon: This will require more prep (including battering), and you'll have to wrangle all that oil, but it could be a rewarding experiment, and a fun party trick if you can pull it off.

How to pan fry watermelon

Recipes for pan-fried watermelon tend to recommend using a less-ripened fruit, if possible: Underripe melons are less sweet, so they'll work better for this savory dish. If you try the dish, heed this quick tip: Try to pat the watermelon steaks dry as much as reasonably possible. If you have enough time — put them in the fridge for a few hours. As the name suggests, watermelons tend to have a high quantity of water, so plopping them into a pan of hot oil can result in a whole lot of splattering — patting them dry will help to minimize this.

If you're a flavor hound, consider brushing the melon slices with a marinade before cooking — something like garlic-soy could be a good combo, but feel free to experiment. Watermelon is neutral enough that it's hard to go wildly wrong (seasoning rubs are another good option, especially if you want that spicy-sweet mix). 

For serving, consider taking a leaf out of the watermelon salad book, and top them with a balsamic glaze and feta. Try serving them with something light, like a basic risotto, or alongside a citrus dessert. The steaks will be a little chewier than uncooked watermelon, so you may want to add some crunch to your plate for a nice contrast.

How to deep fry watermelon

It might seem like a state-fair kind of food, but there's nothing stopping you from deep frying watermelon at home — if you're game for safely handling the large quantity of oil that it requires.

Before you dive in, you'll need to decide on which type of batter you want. You can experiment with different batters for deep-frying, but start with some classics. Beer and watermelon are a solid pair, so using a citrus-forward beer batter is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser. If you don't have a deep-fryer, a Dutch oven or wok will work fine — no matter what you're using, don't put too many pieces in to cook simultaneously so that it cooks properly. Overcrowding is a surefire way to end up with greasy melon that lacks the golden glow you're looking for.

Deep-fried watermelon tends to be presented as a sweet treat (a common serving suggestion is to dust it with powdered sugar), but there's no reason you can't play around with it as a savory dish. For example, you could serve it with a spicy chili dip, or temper the heat with a yogurt tzatziki.