Watermelon Salad (w/ Queso Fresco & Pickled Onion)…That Isn’t Basic

Dinner, Salads

Watermelon Salad with Queso Fresco, Pickled Onion and Cilantro

I’m not sure if you’ve heard but watermelon salad is the new kale salad. It’s everywhere. So, here I am being a super basic b providing another iteration, but one that, in my humble opinion, is superior to the others. Or at least slightly different.

There’s no feta or balsamic vinegar or parsley. Instead there’s shaved queso fresco, pickled red onion, lots of cilantro, slice of jalapeño and a bunch of lime juice. It’s a refreshing punch in the face during the most hot time in our year.

Watermelon Queso Fresco with Cilantro, Queso Fresco and Pickled Red Onion

These are officially the dog days of summer. Days have been slow in my corner. I’m not that busy. Or as busy as I’m used to being. But that’s ok because it’s a nice slow down before a crazy hectic fall and holiday season. While summer is usually not my season of choice, I’m enjoying the slowness right now. I’m eating lots of bbq, hanging out with Amelia and reading. It’s been a lovely break from the madness.

Oh can we talk watermelons for a second! I’ve gone through a ridiculous amount of watermelons over the course of this summer. I don’t know why (I mean I know why) but I can’t go to the grocery store and NOT buy a watermelon. I usually don’t incorporate it into meals, instead I just eat it plain. I’ve also had a ton of bad watermelon.



Here are some (hopefully) helpful tips on selecting a watermelon to bring home with you:

1. Tap the watermelon. I should give off a deep but hollow sound. If it sounds a bit dullish, more like a boring thump, then it’s overripe. Eeeesh!



2. The weight of a watermelon matters. It should be heavy for its size.

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll open up the watermelon and it’ll be yellow! That was a good day.

Watermelon Queso Fresco with Cilantro, Queso Fresco and Pickled Red Onion

Watermelon Salad (w/ Queso Fresco& Pickled Onion)…That Isn’t Basic

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 2 minutes


Quick-Pickled red onion:

  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 small seedless watermelon, about 3 pounds, cubed
  • 2 ounces queso fresco, shaved or crumbled
  • 1/2 jalapeño, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro leaves


  • To a small bowl or mason jar, add the red onion. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Bring the vinegar mixture to a boil then immediately turn off the heat and pour over the onions. Allow to stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Transfer to the refrigerator. Pickled red onions keep in the fridge for 3 to 6 months.
  • In a serving bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, pinch of salt and a few turns of freshly cracked pepper. Add the watermelon, sliced jalapeño, cilantro and toss gently until everything is evenly coated in the dressing. Top with shavings or crumbles of queso fresco, pickled red onion and more cilantro.
Serving: 4g
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Recipe Rating

  • Reply Golden Indian June 9, 2020 at 4:23 am

    5 stars
    Great recipes.

  • Reply Anne April 28, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Can I ask Where you have bought this incredibly beautiful bowl for the salad? Thanks, Anne

  • Reply Abby August 15, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    I just got a yellow watermelon today at the farmer’s market! I didn’t even know such a thing existed but apparently it’s a southern thing.

  • Reply Flor August 10, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    I have been making a lot of your delicious food but haven’t been able to comment.
    I made this salad today because I still had watermelon that my 2 and 4 year old hadn’t gobbled up. Anyway, it isn’t basic. I added arugula because I need more greens in my life and it was perfect!

  • Reply Sahil Lal August 8, 2015 at 12:57 am

    Watermelong is summer special I love it so much but never thought about watermelon’s salad. Good to hear about it’s salad idea.

  • Reply Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) August 7, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    SO GORGEOUS! And your food could never be basic. Also, can I come and steal all of your props? K, thanks.

  • Reply kathryn @ The Scratch Artist August 5, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    I could use a refreshing punch in the face. I could use it a bit too literally! Is that weird? This salad looks great. And I love the twist that you put on it. Cilantro and watermelon is such a 10!

  • Reply Mrs. Z August 5, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Do you think this would work if I substitute mint for the cilantro? Though I am a cilantro enthusiast, my husband is not but he does love a good watermelon salad.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme August 5, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      Oh yeah, mint will be great instead of cilantro. I’d maybe use a bit less than what is pictured since mint is super strong.