This Watermelon Salad is a refreshing and satisfying dish that perfectly balances sweet and savory flavors. The juicy watermelon chunks are paired with tangy crumbles of feta cheese, avocado, cucumbers, and basil. The salad is then drizzled with a balsamic lime dressing that adds a zesty kick and a touch of acidity, bringing all the flavors together.
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Looking for the perfect summer side dish? Each bite is a burst of refreshing sweetness and tanginess that will leave your taste buds craving for more. It’s an ideal dish for summer gatherings, picnics, or just a light and healthy snack. It works great for Juneteenth celebrations, too!
How to Select the Watermelon
You can grab a whole one or pre-cut. Pre-cut has already been sliced or cut into smaller pieces, typically sold in plastic containers in grocery stores. The pre-cut is often seedless, making it a lot more convenient. I almost always grab this. I love that it’s seedless.
Pre-cut is usually more expensive than buying a whole watermelon. Keep in mind that pre-cut fruit can lose its texture and flavor more quickly due to exposure to air. If you grab this be sure to use it quickly after purchasing.
If you’re going to grab a whole watermelon, choose one that is ripe. A ripe watermelon will be heavy for its size and have a deep, hollow sound when you thump it. Look for one that is uniform in shape. Irregular bumps or indentations may indicate that the watermelon didn’t grow evenly and may not be as sweet.
Avoid watermelons with bruises, cuts, or dents. These are signs that the watermelon is not fresh. Check the field spot. The field spot is the area of the watermelon where it was resting on the ground. It should be a creamy yellow color, indicating that the watermelon is ripe. If the field spot is white or green, the watermelon may be underripe.
How to Prep the Fruit
If you’re using a whole one, you will need to prep it first. You will need:
- A ripe watermelon
- A sharp knife
- A cutting board
- Wash the watermelon thoroughly.
- Use a sharp knife to cut it in half.
- Scoop out the flesh of the watermelon, being careful to remove all of the seeds. Use a large spoon or melon baller to remove the flesh, being careful not to puncture the rind.
- Cut the watermelon into bite-sized pieces (small cubes or balls).
Key Ingredients for the Salad
- Feta Cheese
- Fresh Basil
- Red Onions
- Lime Juice
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Olive Oil
How to Make Watermelon Salad with Feta and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Combine watermelon, feta cheese, strawberries, fresh basil, cucumbers, and red onions in a bowl.
- Combine lime juice, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.
- Drizzle it over the salad.
Other Topping Ideas and Substitutions
- Fresh Mint
- Grilled Shrimp
- Halloumi Cheese
- Pine Nuts
- Corn/Grilled Corn
More Salad Dressing Options
- Honey Lime Dressing: Made with honey, lime juice, olive oil, and salt. It is a light and refreshing dressing that pairs well.
- Raspberry Vinaigrette: This dressing is made with raspberries, vinegar, olive oil, and sugar. It is a sweet and tangy dressing that pairs well with the sweetness of the salad.
- Greek Yogurt Dressing: Light and refreshing flavor that pairs well; it also adds a boost of protein.
- Poppy seed dressing: Sweet and tangy; works well with fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and mandarins.
- Mint dressing: Made with fresh mint leaves and super refreshing.
I recommend chilling the salad before serving because it will help to enhance the flavor and texture of the ingredients and make it more refreshing to eat, especially during warm weather. You can chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
How to Prevent Browning
When salads turn brown it’s due to oxidation, which occurs when the cut surface of the watermelon is exposed to air. Here are some tips to prevent it:
- Use fresh watermelon. Watermelon that is overripe will brown more quickly.
- Cut the watermelon into small cubes. The smaller the pieces, the less surface area there is for the watermelon to brown.
- Use lemon or lime juice. I use lime juice in the salad dressing because the juice contains ascorbic acid, also known as Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that helps to slow down the enzymatic browning process that occurs when fruits and vegetables are exposed to oxygen.
- Use olive oil. This is used in the dressing and will help to seal in the moisture.
- Use vinegar. The balsamic vinegar works similarly to the lime/lemon.
- Store the salad in an airtight container. This will help to prevent the watermelon from coming into contact with air.
- Eat the salad as soon as possible. Watermelon will brown more quickly the longer it sits out.
How to Store/How Long it Will Last
Store leftovers in the fridge tightly covered and sealed for up to 3 days. After 3 days, the watermelon salad may start to lose its freshness and texture. It is best to eat it within 24 hours of making it.
If you store the salad in an airtight container with paper towels, it will last longer. Avoid leaving the salad at room temperature for more than two hours, as bacteria can grow rapidly at warm temperatures.
Keep in mind some fruits, such as bananas and apples, tend to brown quickly when cut and exposed to air. Because the fruit is served with dressing, the longer you take to eat it, the more risk you have the fruit will get soggy.
I like to drain excess dressing for this reason. Once you coat the fruit in dressing and refrigerate for 30 minutes, it will soak up the balsamic flavor.
You can use frozen fruit if you thaw it first. Be sure to drain any excess water. Keep in mind frozen fruit is often softer than fresh and may go bad quicker.
More Fruit Salad and Salad Recipes
Pair With These Recipes
More Watermelon Recipes
Watermelon Salad with Feta and Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 2-3 cups diced watermelon Cut into 1 to 2 inch chunks.
- 1 cup strawberries Sliced
- 1 cup diced cucumbers
- 1/4 cup diced avocado
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup sliced onions I used red onions.
- 2-3 fresh basil leaves Chiffonade (shredded/finely cut)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice This was the juice of 1 lime for me.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2-1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar Start with 1/2 tablespoon and add more if you need it.
- Add all of the fruit/vegetables to a large bowl.
- Combine the dressing in a separate bowl. Taste the dressing repeatedly and make adjustments as necessary. Drizzle the dressing over the fruit.
- Serve immediately or chilled for 30 minutes.