On sweltering summer days, this Whole30-friendly Mexican Watermelon Salad is like a welcome splash of cool water. Refreshing and sweet, with a punch of spicy pepper and tangy lime, this dish will have you clamoring for more. Besides, it pairs well with just about anything you throw on the barbecue this grilling season!

Overhead shot of a bowl of paleo Mexican watermelon and tomato salad.

My Mexican Watermelon Salad recipe comes from our new cookbook, Ready or Not!, and it’s one of my favorite hot weather side dishes. You won’t heat up the kitchen by making this tasty crowd pleaser—a win-win in my book.

Not a fan of Mexican flavor?

Just leave out the ancho chili powder and use more cayenne (to make it spicier) or smoked paprika (to make it smokier). The combination of watermelon, zingy lime juice, fresh herbs, and crunchy and smoky pepitas is truly magical.

Make-Ahead Tips

Pro tip: If you’re making this salad ahead of time, don’t add the olive oil, herbs, and pepitas until you’re ready to eat—otherwise, the olive oil can solidify in the fridge and the pepitas can get soft. Also, this recipe calls for toasting more pepitas than necessary for this dish, but you’ll thank me later when you have leftover crunchy smoky salad toppers on hand for the rest of the week!

Time to make Mexican Watermelon Salad!

Serves 6

Ingredients

For the Smoky Lime Pepitas

For the Mexican Watermelon Salad

Equipment

Method:

Let’s make the spiced pepitas first! Preheat the oven to 325°F with the rack placed in the middle position. In a medium bowl, combine the pepitas, olive oil, salt, paprika, cayenne, and lime juice. Mix well.

A bowl of spiced pepitas with a spoon mixing the olive oil, salt, paprika, cayenne, and lime juice.

Spread the seasoned pepitas in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Toast the seeds for 12 to 15 minutes in the oven, stirring at the halfway point, until fragrant and crunchy.

Someone spreading the pepitas in a single layer on a lined baking sheet.

Cool to room temperature. Reserve ¼ cup for this recipe, and keep the rest in a sealed container for up to 1 week to munch on.

Baked pepitas cooling in a bowl.

While the pepitas are in the oven, soak the onions in a bowl of ice water for about 10 minutes to take the bite off ’em.

Someone soaking thinly sliced red onions in a bowl of ice water.

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, cucumber, drained onions…

Someone breaking up the red onions to be put in a large white bowl with watermelons and cucumbers.

…olive oil, chili powder, salt…

Someone pouring olive oil into a white bowl with the ingredients for the paleo Mexican watermelon salad.

…cayenne pepper, lime zest, and lime juice. Toss to mix. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary.

Someone spraying fresh lime juice over the paleo Mexican watermelon salad.

Garnish with fresh mint leaves and toasted pepitas.

Someone garnishing the paleo and Whole30 Mexican watermelon salad with pepitas.

Serve immediately!

A bowl of paleo and Whole30 Mexican watermelon salad.


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2021).


PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

Mexican Watermelon Salad

4.70 from 10 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
On sweltering summer days, this Mexican Watermelon Salad is like a welcome splash of cool water. Refreshing and sweet, with a punch of spicy pepper and tangy lime, this dish will have you clamoring for more. Besides, it pairs well with just about anything you throw on the barbecue this grilling season!

Ingredients  

Instructions 

  • Let’s make the spiced pepitas first! Preheat the oven to 325°F with the rack placed in the middle position. In a medium bowl, combine the pepitas, olive oil, salt, paprika, cayenne, and lime juice. Mix well.
  • Spread the seasoned pepitas in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Toast the seeds for 12 to 15 minutes in the oven, stirring at the halfway point, until fragrant and crunchy.
  • Cool to room temperature. Reserve ¼ cup for this recipe, and keep the rest in a sealed container for up to 1 week to munch on.
  • While the pepitas are in the oven, soak the onions in a bowl of ice water for about 10 minutes to take the bite off ’em.
  • In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, cucumber, drained onions, olive oil, chili powder, salt, cayenne pepper, lime zest, and lime juice. Toss to mix. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary.
  • Garnish with fresh mint leaves and toasted pepitas. Serve immediately!

Video

Notes

  • Not a fan of Mexican flavor? Just leave out the ancho chili powder and use more cayenne (to make it spicier) or smoked paprika (to make it smokier).  
  • Pro tip: If you’re making this salad ahead of time, don’t add the olive oil, herbs, and pepitas until you’re ready to eat—otherwise, the olive oil can solidify in the fridge and the pepitas can get soft. Also, this recipe calls for toasting more pepitas than necessary for this dish, but you’ll thank me later when you have leftover crunchy smoky salad toppers on hand for the rest of the week!

Nutrition

Calories: 283kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 20g | Fiber: 3g

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

Like this? Leave a comment below!

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

Other Recipes You May Like

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Packed full of flavor! I just made this salad, and it was so refreshing, with a nice heat from the spiced pepitas! Should have made sure I bought a SEEDLESS watermelon–oops. But the flavors were terrific!

  2. Found this recipe several summers ago and make it all summer. As soon as the bowl is empty I make more! Don’t forget the.mint, it just makes it so good!

  3. 5 stars
    So stinking good! I added a few things we had in ours in Cabo. 1/4 cup of corn and about 8 cherry tomatoes cut. So yummy!