How to Cut a Watermelon

Triangles, slices, and cubes—any way you slice it, that's the way we want it.

watermelon wedges on a wooden cutting board
Photo: Katie Sikora/Southern Living

Whether it's served in wedges alongside a barbecue spread or cut into cubes and mixed into a fruit salad, watermelon is one of the most popular summertime fruits for Southerners to enjoy.

But because watermelons are big, heavy, round, and covered in a thick rind, they can prove challenging to slice, especially if you've never done it before. That's why we're providing a step-by-step guide to cutting a watermelon into triangles and into cubes, complete with advice from chef de cuisine Karl Gorline of The Woodall in Atlanta, Ga. and chef de cuisine Trenton Tisdale of The Anvil Pub & Grill in Birmingham, Ala.

What to Look for When Buying a Watermelon

If you've ever heard your mother or grandmother tell you to "thump a melon" to test its ripeness, you'll be glad to know that mom and grandma were spot-on with this advice. Cradle the watermelon in one of your arms and use your other hand to rap on the rind with your fingers or knuckles. You want to hear a deep, hollow sound, and you should also feel a vibration at the base of the watermelon. These signs indicate that the watermelon is ripe and ready to cut.

Other clues that the watermelon is ripe include a heavy, solid weight, a green rind with a matte finish, and brownish-black "sugar spots" on the rind.

How to Cut a Watermelon Into Triangles

Triangle-shaped watermelon slices are usually the preferred shape for potlucks and picnics because they're easy to hold for hands small and large. Here's how to make them:

1. Wash the watermelon

As with other hard-skinned fruits, always take the time to wash the watermelon rind before beginning the cutting process. This will remove any dirt or debris from the skin, which will then prevent germs from getting onto the soft interior fruit as you slice and chop.

Run the watermelon under a cold-water faucet and, if you have a produce brush, give it a sweep to clear off residual dust or grime.

a large watermelon in a stainless steel sink
Katie Sikora/Southern Living

2. Slice off the top and bottom of the watermelon.

Gorline recommends starting by "cutting about two inches off the top of the watermelon" and doing the same to the bottom of the fruit.

"This allows you to stabilize the melon on a flat surface so it's not rolling around," he explains. Use either a sharpened chef's knife or a serrated "watermelon knife" for this step and the following two steps.

cutting ends off large watermelon
Katie Sikora/Southern Living

3. Cut the melon in half, then into quarters.

With the melon standing upright, "leave the rind on and cut down the middle, leaving two even halves," Gorline says. Next, lay the two halves down on your counter or cutting board and slice them in half horizontally until you have four even pieces of watermelon.

cutting a watermelon into halves and then quarters
Katie Sikora/Southern Living

4. Cut the watermelon quarters into triangle-shaped slices.

Once you have the watermelon cut into quarters, you can easily slice each quarter into slices of the thickness level you prefer.

a watermelon quarter is being sliced into triangle shaped pieces
Katie Sikora/Southern Living

How to Cut a Watermelon Into Cubes

Watermelon cubes are fun for fruit salads or skewers. Kids may also prefer snacking on them as they can be easier to hold than wedges or slices.

1. Wash the watermelon

Watermelons are handled a lot from field to farmers' market, so washing them is important in order to keep bacteria out of the edible flesh. Give the watermelon a good rinse under cold water, and if you have one, gently scrub the whole rind with a produce brush. This will also help remove any dirt or debris.

watermelon in a sink with water running over it
Katie Sikora/Southern Living

2. Slice away the rind.

For cubed watermelon, you'll need to separate the soft red fruit from the green rind. To do that, follow Tisdale's advice and "work from the top of the watermelon to the bottom to cut off strips of the rind in long pieces" using your chef's knife or watermelon knife. Continue around the watermelon until you've removed the entire rind.

You can of course discard the rind, but Gorline strongly urges you to hold onto it. "Salt it, rinse it, and make it into pickles! These are delicious on their own, as part of a cheese plate or charcuterie board, or in chicken salad!" he says.

cutting away the rind from a large watermelon
Katie Sikora/Southern Living

3. Flip the watermelon.

Turn the watermelon onto its horizontal side so that the long end is flush with the counter or cutting board.

a watermelon without rind on a cutting board
Katie Sikora/Southern Living

4. Cut the watermelon into rounds.

Slice the watermelon into round "planks" by cutting straight downward at two-inch increments.

founds of watermelon on a marble surfac
Katie Sikora/Southern Living

5. Slice the rounds into strips, then cubes.

Once you have the planks, cut them "into 2'' strips, then finally into 2'' cubes," says Tisdale.

cutting watermelon rounds into thirds and then into cubes
Katie Sikora/Southern Living

How to Store a Watermelon Once It's Been Cut

After the watermelon has been cut into triangles or cubes, you can put it into an airtight container and "store in the fridge for up to three days," says Tisdale.

It's possible to freeze watermelon, although the fruit's high water content can cause the frozen watermelon to become mushy when it's thawed. It's better to use frozen watermelon in its frozen state, as "ice cubes" for cocktails or as additions to a blended fruit smoothie. Cubed and wedged watermelon can be stored in a freezer-safe bag for up to eight months.

watermelon cubes in a plastic food storage container
Katie Sikora/Southern Living

Ways to Use Watermelon

Watermelon's gentle sweetness and incredibly-refreshing taste and texture make it an ideal fit for any summertime meal or snack, and some of our favorite ways to use this hydrating fruit are as follows:

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