This watermelon with fleur de sel might seem unorthodox, sure. Watermelon is fantastic on its own, why mess with perfection? Trust us. A simple sprinkle of salt makes watermelon even more superb than you’d think possible.

The simplest and best dessert I know.

Extremely versatile, salt can balance flavor, tone down acidity, and highlight sweetness, especially that of the porous ruby fruit of watermelons. I use coarse sea salt, which contains essential minerals and has a gentle flavor, unlike refined table salt, which is bitter and almost completely lacking in minerals.–Peter Berley

Three slices of watermelon with fleur de sel sprinkled over top.

Watermelon with Fleur de Sel

5 / 3 votes
This watermelon with fleur de sel is the easiest summer dessert I've ever made. Simply sprinkle watermelon slices with coarse salt and devour.
CourseDessert
CuisineAmerican
Servings4 servings
Calories86 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 chilled watermelon* seedless or not, any color
  • Pinch coarse fleur de sel

Instructions 

  • Slice a portion of the watermelon, rind and all, into 4 slices or wedges. Set the rest of it aside. (You’ll probably be back for more in a second.)
  • Sprinkle each wedge with a scant pinch of the fleur de sel.
  • Serve immediately. Go back for seconds.

Notes

*What happens when you put salt on watermelon?

It makes it taste great, of course. But why? What else is going on there? The addition of salt changes the texture of the fruit by drawing some of that water to the surface, making it seem even juicier. It also makes the fruit taste sweeter by shifting the flavor profile a little. Adding salt makes you realize just how sweet the watermelon is by comparison. Watermelon, on its own, has a very low sodium content and we all know that salt is one of the best flavor enhancers out there. Just a little sprinkle, especially of the good stuff, will amp up even the most lacklustre fruit.
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Nutrition

Serving: 1 portionCalories: 86 kcalCarbohydrates: 22 gProtein: 2 gFat: 1 gSaturated Fat: 1 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gSodium: 13 mgPotassium: 320 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 18 gVitamin A: 1627 IUVitamin C: 23 mgCalcium: 20 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2004 Peter Berley. Photo © 2004 Quentin Bacon. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

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I’m perhaps not the most impartial person to ask as my favorite accompaniment to watermelon has long been napkins—lots and lots of napkins. But the sweet saltiness of fleur de sel sprinkled on top sorta astonished me.

The approach couldn’t be easier, yet has its own sort of elegance about it. And it’s really something to see the expression on other peoples’ faces when you set out a platter of this simple yet stunning summeriness. It’s a casual yet sophisticated take on a summer classic. Well, as sophisticated as drippy, juicy watermelon can aspire to be.

It’s September already and time to savor the remaining goodness of summer. I spotted a small watermelon at the farmers market and it was yellow and not seedless. I set the watermelon chunk on a plate, sprinkled with the coarse salt, and dove right in. The little tingle of salt was thrilling, most especially for a serious under-salter like me.  That little salty tingle kept me right on going through the baby watermelon till it was gone–be forewarned!

The going back for seconds part of the instructions leads easily to going back for thirds and more, notwithstanding that I was devouring and simultaneously spitting seeds, lot of seeds, and then immediately back for more! I’m hoping summer gives us a few more weeks of watermelons so this can be enjoyed with any variety of watermelon that comes along, red or yellow, large or small!




About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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13 Comments

    1. Laughs. We non-Southerners can be a little slow sometimes to the beauty in life, Sedahlinger. Appreciate you reminding us to turn to the ways of the wise ones!

  1. 5 stars
    my favourite way to watermelon! it is how my father taught me. in pakistan it is himalayan pink salt that we use but here in london i use maldon. watermelon with salt is such a wonderful childhood memory i wrote a food story on my blog about it.

  2. I grew up on salted melon..any kind of melon. My father insisted that all melons needed salt to be truly pushed to their peak of flavor. I never questioned that wisdom. I was quite surprised when I’d get looks of puzzlement from almost everyone who took notice of my preference. I had no idea it wasn’t standard practice! I’ve since eaten it without salt when I have had no choice, but it’s not nearly as mouth watering. I’m sure fleur de sel is fine, too! It might be an easier sell, being it’s considered a gourmet item, to those who otherwise might think salting melon…odd.

    1. Hi Susan, I remember the first time I saw someone putting salt on their cantaloupe. I thought, what are you doing, are you crazy? Then I tasted it. Salty, sweet, sublime. Bring on the shaker!

      1. 5 stars
        OK, have to chime in on this one. First, definitely want to give the salted watermelon a try. Anything that will knock Renee’s flip-flops off has to be some kind of wonderful.

        Next, while we’re sharing family stories about melon and salt-and-peppering various fruits, my paternal grandfather, who was from Georgia and lived much of his life in Alabama, put pepper on cantaloupe. My father just reminded me of that the other day. I never tried it, and yet it makes sense to me if I think about how I love cantaloupe with prosciutto–pepper on that seems normal.

        Salt on grapefruit sounds not bad either. There, though, I only think of my grandmother, who would drown the grapefruits from her own garden with multiple spoonfuls of sugar—ack! I’ve eaten it plain forever, but love everything acidic and tart.

        Anyway, watermelon with fleur de sel. I see it in my weekend, beckoning.

        1. Enjoy the watermelon this weekend Allison. I have been sitting back and wondering if anyone out there put pepper on their cantaloupe, that was my dad’s favorite way to eat it and of course if dad ate it that way so would I.

          1. Nice, Patty K! My grandpa put sugar on his tomatoes. Sorta different, sorta the same.

    2. I agree with you about the fleur de sel being an easier sell, Susan! I am one of those who still throws a sidelong glance at any salted fruit–even tomatoes–but I’ve been thinking about the watermelon, and I suspect that I might find the little crunchy salty bits scattered here and there to be much nicer than regular old table salt. I’ll have to give it a try.

      1. Funny you should mention tomatoes with no salt. I completely agree! I do not care for salt on tomatoes at all. Pepper…lots of fresh, course ground pepper. …but sweet Texas Ruby Red grapefruit? Salt.

        1. Ooh, now *that* I could happily eat without question! Must be something about the slight bitterness of citrus that sounds good to me…I do love salt and lime. Isn’t it funny how our tastes develop? Now, of course, I’m longing for tomato season, too!