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Balsamic Watermelon Salad

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5 from 4 votes

Nothing kicks off summer better than this watermelon salad loaded with sweet watermelon, chunks of cheddar cheese, crunchy radishes, and candied pecans tossed in an easy balsamic vinaigrette.

Watermelon is synonymous with summer. Whether it is watermelon alone or infusing it into meals, I just can’t get enough of it once the summer heat rolls in!

This watermelon salad is so refreshing. It combines the sweetness of watermelon and candied pecans, with the sharp saltiness of cheddar cheese and peppery crunch of radishes, tossed in a simple balsamic vinaigrette. This watermelon salad is the perfect summer appetizer, side dish, and even lunch topped with a protein. I love bringing this salad to picnics, because it always disappears first! My mayo-free German Potato Salad is another not-to-miss summertime side that “goes” so quickly! 

I also love adding more summer veggies to the mix, by tossing in some Grilled Corn for a touch of smokiness.

Watermelon Salad Ingredients

  • Greens of choice – use your favorite greens. I like spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, or a blend. 
  • Seedless watermelon – look for seedless watermelon at your local grocery store to save you time preparing. 
  • Sharp cheddar cheese – sharp cheddar cheese is bold and delicious. You can use crumbled feta if you prefer!
  • Candied pecans – candied pecans are buttery and serve as the best crunchy topping. Make your own Candied Pecans for the best option! Sub with candied walnuts if preferred. 
  • Radishes – radishes have a peppery bite that are a wonderful contrast to the sweetness of the watermelon. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil – extra virgin olive oil is the base of our vinaigrette. 
  • Balsamic vinegar – balsamic vinegar is sweet and tangy, the perfect match for a watermelon salad. 
  • Garlic – garlic…because garlic!
  • Basil (optional) – fresh basil leaves add an herbaceous touch. 
  • Avocado (optional) – sliced avocado can be a creamy, refreshing addition to the top of your salad!

How To Make Watermelon Salad

Learn how to make watermelon salad. Full instructions in the recipe card; this is just an outline!

  1. Add.

    Add greens, cheddar chunks, candied pecans, radishes and watermelon chunks to a salad bowl.

  2. Whisk.

    Whisk together garlic, balsamic, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a separate bowl.

  3. Assemble.

    Pour dressing over salad and toss. Serve with optional basil and avocado slices.

Watermelon Salad Variations

  • Mint: try topping with fresh mint leaves instead of basil. 
  • Red Onions: thinly sliced red onions bring a subtle sweetness and a pop of color to the overall dish. Plus, the flavor complements the peppery bite of the radishes!
  • Fruit: swap out the watermelon for other types of fruit like strawberries, pineapple, tomatoes, or even cantaloupe. Not sure How to Cut A Cantaloupe? Let me help!
  • Cheese swap: use feta instead of cheddar if preferred.
  • Nuts swap: use candied walnuts instead of pecans if desired.
  • Candy your own pecans: this Candied Pecans recipe is so easy! 
  • More protein: add in more protein like fish, chicken, pork, or chickpeas, or cannellini beans for a complete meal.

Watermelon Salad Serving Suggestions

Whether you’re serving watermelon salad as an appetizer, side dish, or main meal, here are some of my favorite ways to serve this summery salad!

Summer BBQ or Cookouts: serve watermelon salad as a complementary side to dishes like grilled meats, Salmon Burgers, or kebabs. To top it off, have a pitcher of your favorite juice or lemonade on hand. My favorite is this Strawberry Lemonade!

Picnic: bring this watermelon salad to your next picnic along with a charcuterie board, a fresh sandwich like a Caprese Sandwich, or fresh veggies and hummus. 

Brunch: watermelon salad pairs really well with brunch foods like pastries, egg dishes and these Cheesy Bacon Mini Quiches!

Potluck party: watermelon salad is perfect for a potluck as it is visually appealing, easy to prepare, and an absolute crowd-pleaser.

Tips For The Best Watermelon Salad

  • When picking a watermelon, look for webbing, which is a brown cluster of lines on the outside of the watermelon. The more webbing it has, the sweeter the watermelon is. Secondly, you will look at the field spot which is the part of the watermelon that was resting on the ground.  Look for one with a light orange or yellow field spot.
  • When cutting a watermelon into cubes, make sure to orient the melon lengthwise, with the stem on the left or right. You will then cut the melon in half and proceed to shave away the green skin and white rind off one-half at a time. From here, you can now slice the pink flesh into slices and then into cubes. For steps with pictures, check out How To Cut A Watermelon.
  • Make ahead: all of the components can be prepared up to 3 days ahead. Assemble last minute to avoid the greens becoming soggy.

Other Salad Recipes You’ll Love!

Balsamic Watermelon Salad

Nothing kicks off summer better than this watermelon salad loaded with sweet watermelon, chunks of cheddar cheese, crunchy radishes, and candied pecans tossed in an easy balsamic vinaigrette.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: summer
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 457kcal
Author: Tastefully Grace

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces greens of choice spinach, arugula, or a lettuce blend
  • 2 cups seedless watermelon cut into medium cubes
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cut into small cubes
  • cup candied pecans
  • cup radishes thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Handful of basil optional
  • 1 sliced avocado optional

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, add greens, watermelon chunks, cheddar chunks, candied pecans, and radishes.
  • In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together balsamic, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Pour dressing over salad, and gently toss. Serve with a few sprigs of basil and avocado slices (optional).

Video

Notes

  • Buy pre-cut watermelon to save time!
  • You can use crumbled feta instead of cheddar if desired.
  • Candied walnuts also work!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 457kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 300mg | Potassium: 605mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 4113IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 268mg | Iron: 2mg
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