The Spicy-Sweet Summer Dessert For All Your Cookouts

A healthy dose of tequila makes this the perfect treat for grownups. 

We’re exploring the many ways to prepare one of summer’s most underestimated fruits: Watermelon. We’ve partnered with Samantha Weiss Hills from Food 52 for fresh recipes ideas and cooking tips.

Watermelon is king where I come from. In Southern Indiana, the long, sticky summers revolve around this melon; there's never a meal without those vibrant green, pink, and black-flecked wedges. And it's true the rest of the year, too: Every August in my hometown, there's a watermelon festival, where Miss Watermelon is crowned, but there's also a "Watermelon Drop" to stand in for the Times Square ball on New Year's Eve.

Six percent of the country's watermelons are grown in the state of Indiana — quite an output for a small state. But despite a childhood flush with this fruit, I was a hard sell on it. It was pink (I was a tomboy), it was weird to chew (I had a thing with texture), and there was just so much of it (enough already!).

This skepticism endured through my teens and 20s, as I worked hard to avoid the fruit that everyone I know loved. I smiled and said "No, thank you" at cookouts, even when people who learned where I grew up were incredulous about the rejection ("How can you not like watermelon!?" they'd say). I became so steadfast in my feelings that I would refuse it on principle, even though a small part of me started to wonder, "Might I actually enjoy it?"

Things changed dramatically (and instantly) when I was presented a slice as complimentary dessert at Lucali, our local pizza joint, one sweltering evening last summer. I immediately grabbed it and started nibbling at the edge, the sweet juices a welcome cool-off. My husband stared at me peculiarly: But by the time I heard his "You don't like watermelon, remember?" there was little left but rind.

So much for sticking to your morals. I was now in an exploratory phase with watermelon. "Finally!" I'd like to think my childhood friends would react if I told them today.

And when I tried this grilled variation, it solidified the deal. I was a full-blown, true-blue watermelon-lover.

A quick dip in tequila-lemon marinade, a sprinkle of salt and chili powder, and a short visit to the grill pan (or over hot coals) produces a spicy-sweet dessert that holds up on the plate without resting too heavy in your stomach.

Add a dollop of lime-cilantro crème fraîche — or don't, because the watermelon turns out that good — and serve it up at the next cookout you're at. Or just grill a couple pieces for yourself on a weeknight, sit it atop some greens, and call it dinner.


Smoky & Sweet

Experience Professional Temperature control on our Induction Cooktop for perfectly grilled watermelon. 

Learn More

Grilled Watermelon with Tequila

“While this recipe calls for grilling the watermelon only on one side, which adds more than enough smoky flavor, I think you could do both for extra pizzazz.” – Samantha

Servings: 4



4 pieces of watermelon

2 shots premium tequila

1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

3 teaspoons chili powder (Ancho works great)

8 ounces crème fraîche

Zest of 1 lime

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped


Mix the crème fraîche, lime zest, and cilantro in bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and reserve in refrigerator.

Mix the tequila, lemon juice, and lemon zest in bowl. Drizzle equal amounts of mixture over each watermelon slice. Top with chili powder and salt, patting gently into the slices.

In a grill pan over high heat, grill the watermelon slices, chili powder side down, just until the powder's oils are released and grill marks are made, about 1 to 3 minutes.

Remove the slices and assemble grilled side up. Top with cilantro lime crème fraîche and serve immediately.

More Recipes