The word watermelon conjures images of backyard parties, summer sun and sticky, happy hands. That being the case, we can't resist showcasing summer's sweetest memory-maker in as many recipes as we can muster. So in homage, we've gathered 14 of our favorites—cool and crisp salads, refreshing sips, and one very special grill-season recipe you'll want to fire up again and again.
Frozen pops with watermelon pulp, simple syrup and fresh herb flecks are the ultimate summertime treat for kids and grown-ups alike. For an extra "grown-up" trick, try resting one in a glass of your favorite simple summertime cocktail. Your pop will be at the ready for the occasional nibble, and as it melts, it'll sweeten your beverage. Waste not, want not.
Get the Recipe: Watermelon and Parsley Popsicles
Practically summer in a serving, this stunning mix of watermelon, tomato, cucumber, fresh herbs and salty Feta cheese has everything you could want in a side dish—cool, sweet, savory, and crunchy. And the colors? Boy, are there colors. You'll want to use clear serving dishes for this one, disposable or otherwise.
Get the Recipe: Watermelon, Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Watermelon. Agua Fresca. Spritzer. Thirsty? Us too. For optimum sipping, make an extra batch of the fruit puree and freeze in ice cube trays. You can use those cubes in place of regular ice to avoid a watered down drink. Serving to an after 5pm crew? Add an added splash of vodka or rum.
Get the Recipe: Watermelon Agua Fresca Spritzer
This easy chilled blend of fruits is both refreshing and nutritious. The addition of a banana makes the drink nice and filling and it holds up nicely as an early morning breakfast or a much-needed afternoon snack. But our favorite way to serve? Add some ice to the blender. Then finish with a dollop of whipped cream topping, and call it dessert.
Get the Recipe: Watermelon, Strawberry and Banana Smoothie
As far as cookout fare goes, it doesn't get much more fun than this. Earthy curry flavors round out light fish (we like mahi mahi or tuna here) before joining chunks of fresh watermelon on a skewer. The flavors marry beautifully on the grill and serve up just as beautifully on a platter. Serve with lime wedges for an extra zip of fresh flavor.
Get the Recipe: Curried Fish and Melon Kebabs
Evidently sweet, ripe watermelon paired with crumbly, salty feta is one of our favorite melon pairings. Of all time. This salad has plenty of both, plus olives, onions and fresh greens, making it well suited for a filling main dish salad on a weeknight, or a satisfying side at the weekend barbecue.
Get the Recipe: Feta Watermelon Salad
Both sweet and tart, kiwi fruit adds an unexpected—but much welcome—zip to this summer smoothie, not to mention one show-stopping garnish if you're serving for a crowd. Peel the kiwi, cut in half lengthwise, and slice thinly. You'll have kiwi that resembles a lime slice. And that vibrant green against pink? Don't even get us started…
Get the Recipe: Watermelon-Kiwi Smoothie
An endlessly refreshing salad served at any point in the meal, this salad mix-up employs fresh mint for an added blast of coolness. A perfectly simple last minute addition to any summer menu—all you need is a little salt and pepper, with a splash of lime juice for dressing.
Get the Recipe: Watermelon and Cucumber Salad with Mint
An updated take on the traditionally tomato-based chilled soup, this Watermelon Gazpacho makes a pretty, garnish-friendly addition to any buffet table. Serve in your favorite party glasses, large or small. Pre-fill so your guests can simply grab and go, or opt for self-serve with a large pitcher. Just be sure you make plenty.
Get the Recipe: Watermelon Gazpacho with Herb Oil
These easy-to-make frozen morsels are a must-have for summer. They're versatile as an addition to beverages—serve in lemonade, cocktails, water—or as a quick afternoon snack for the kids. They'll love that they're bite sized, and you can feel good about an all-natural alternative to store-bought popsicles.
Get the Recipe: Watermelon Ice Cubes
This light and lovely summer salad combines the sweet flavors of watermelon with crunchy cucumber, celery and the unexpected twist of fresh radish. It's hard to say which is more exciting—the flavor contrast of the watermelon and radishes, or their perfectly pretty pinks dotted against a bed of varied green hues.
Get the Recipe: Watermelon Salad with Radishes
At only three ingredients, this Watermelon Slush can hardly get any simpler. It produces a syrup-y sweet, vibrant pink drink that's sure to "wow" any party guest but easy enough to mix up for yourself on a whim.
Get the Recipe: Watermelon Slush
Watermelon teams up with its orange-hued melon counterpart, cantaloupe, to add extra fruit flavor to this tangy spinach salad. Make a double batch of this one. The dressing—featuring orange, lime and a dash of hot sauce—is to die for.
Get the Recipe: Spinach and Melon Salad with Honey Citrus Vinaigrette
This punch is the only strictly 21+ drink on our list. Juice, agave nectar, and sizable pieces of fruit create a sweetness that just begs for the contrast of Angostura bitters, lime juice and your favorite rum. Serve this tropical punch chilled, with a couple of maraschino cherries on top.
Get the Recipe: Melon Rum Punch
Put that cream cheese away—or at least dress it up a little. These toppings will revolutionize the way you think about bagels.
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Nothing says summer like tequila. Add a shot or two to your favorite recipes for more fun and flavor!