Watermelon Salad with Aleppo Pepper

This watermelon salad with Aleppo pepper is an elegant, easy dish that melds sweet and heat, combining pepper, watermelon, black olives, and mint. Comes together in just 15 minutes.

A black oval dish filled with watermelon salad with Aleppo pepper and black olives.

I just love this dish. It reminds me of walking out into the garden back home and picking a fresh watermelon for lunch—the vibrant green- and yellow-striped skin, smooth and almost waxy on top with dirt still clinging to the paler underside. With a perfect melon in hand, I’d head to our back porch and peel, chop, and toss it with some fresh herbs. Then I’d hit it with some Aleppo pepper and briny Greek olives for a vibrant, Mediterranean twist. Yum. Originally published July 31, 2012.Angelo Sosa

Watermelon Salad with Aleppo Pepper

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 15 M
  • 15 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 4 reviews
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Remove the rind from the watermelon and discard.

Cut the watermelon into large chunks, remove and discard all the seeds, and place the watermelon chunks in a serving bowl.

Add the salt, thyme, Aleppo pepper to taste, and olives and gently toss to combine. Drizzle with the olive oil and garnish with the mint. Serve immediately.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

Salty and sweet with a little heat. This watermelon salad recruits summer garden flavors and tosses them together without fuss. I served this salad with an herb-rubbed whole chicken butterflied and roasted on the grill. I would salt the watermelon first, letting it sit in a strainer for a few minutes to remove some of the water the melon will release. Adding the rest of the ingredients after that step will give the dressing an opportunity to cling to and season the melon.

It may seem silly to add anything, anything at all, to watermelon since it’s delicious on its own. However, I occasionally find that adding a little spicy heat brings out the sweetness even more. This recipe adds a nice touch with the olives, adding just a little brininess to the spice. Instead of the Aleppo pepper, I used the suggested combination of sweet paprika and cayenne (4:1 ratio). I probably used only a teaspoon’s worth, combined, since I prefer a milder spice and still wanted the fruit to shine through. This salad is great for the summer, and anytime, really.


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  1. As summer turns to fall and there are still watermelons at the farmers market, the heat from the Aleppo pepper adds a perfect touch to this change of season salad, though that may just be my current mindset, and it’s probably equally good at the peak of summer.

    Because I like the wet-drippy-deliciousness of in-season watermelon, I would not strain or drain it at all. This makes for a sloppier eating experience, but isn’t that what watermelon is all about?

    Also, while I’m sure this salad would be fine without the thyme – I used it, and, if you have it readily available, absolutely, it’s a yes.

    I think the quarter pound per person serving size is skimpy, even for a side salad, and I think this could easily be a light entrée with the addition of a side of feta and/or feta plus bread. I added on feta, bread, and a couple of falafel to make it a fairly substantial and well-rounded meal. And, because there can never really be too many olives, my bread of choice was a crusty olive sourdough from my favorite Middle Eastern baker.

    1. Elsa, my mouth is watering after reading your description of the meal. That sounds absolutely incredible. Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know.

  2. We love watermelon salads and just bought aleppo pepper for the first time, so this recipe was serendipitous. We took Jo Ann’s suggestion above to salt the watermelon beforehand (we often do this with fruits and vegetables to pull out water). I’d recommend that as it seasons the melon throughout, concentrates the flavor, and firms up the texture. We didn’t have fresh thyme but added a pinch of dried. I’d like to try it with fresh next time. We added feta to part of the salad, and although it was fine with, the salad was better without it.

  3. I made this watermelon salad & took it to the roasting of a whole pig, and the salad was almost as big a hit as that pig. The hostess let me take home an entire leg/ham and assorted bits in exchange for the last few bites of the salad! This recipe is definitely a keeper.

    Blue and white plate with chunks of watermelon, Aleppo pepper, olives, and chopped mint

    1. Wow! Loooooooooooove hearing this, Carol. Brilliant idea to pair the watermelon with pork. (My fave restro in Manhattan, Fatty Pig, has on the menu as one of its signature dishes a salad of chunks of watermelon juxtaposed with chunks of fried pork belly and everything was doused with a ginger vinaigrette and scattered with scallions. Sigh. I miss it.) Many kind thanks for taking the time to share your experience.

  4. We can never get enough of this. (I think some of our friends are getting sick of it, to be quite frank, because we serve it that often!) The blend of sweet, heat, and salt is marvelous. Of course, being olive freaks, I have to always add more.

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