Growing up in the state that grows the most watermelon in the country means you eat a LOT of watermelon. And you get creative with how to enjoy that watermelon. This recipe for watermelon simple syrup squeezes the flavor of fresh, summery watermelon into a bottle that you can put in any beverage you can imagine. Think of bottling the flavor of a watermelon jolly rancher, and you’re up to speed. 🤗
While this recipe was inspired by the other simple syrups I’ve made here on the blog, it differs in that the watermelon puree is not heated with the simple syrup. Heating the watermelon juice drastically changes the flavor profile of the fruit, so it’s best to make the simple syrup first, and then combine the syrup with the strained fruit pureé.Jump to Recipe
💕 why you'll love this watermelon simple syrup recipe
🍉 sweet & summery. This syrup infuses the sweet summer flavor of watermelon into anything you want! Think of homemade watermelon soda pops, watermelon limeade, or watermelon cocktails!
🙌 quick & easy. Unlike my other simple syrup recipes, this watermelon syrup doesn’t need to simmer over heat to infuse, making it super quick and easier to make
🤌 no frills. This syrup is straightforward, but impressive. It’ll leave your friends and family wondering how you got that exquisite watermelon flavor packed into a bottle!
- watermelon - You’ll need fresh watermelon for this recipe. I like to use smaller varieties of seedless watermelon because they are easier to cut and process, and they tend to be more flavorful. This recipe uses about half of a small watermelon, meaning you’ll have enough left over to make a batch of watermelon-infused tequila if you like. 😏
- granulated sugar - regular granulated sugar is perfect for simple syrups. It ensures your syrup will be light in color, and have a very pure, sweet taste without hints of nuttiness or caramel. Though you can definitely swap out the sugar for your favorite sweetener of choice. Avoid using artificial sweeteners, though, as they can change the sweetness level and consistency of this recipe.
- filtered water - filtered water works best for simple syrups since the water will not be cooking at a rolling boil.
- lemon juice - while this is an optional ingredient, I do recommend using it as it helps make the watermelon flavor pop!
Step 1: In a 1.5 quart non-reactive saucepan, combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar.
Step 2: Heat on medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Step 3: Once the sugar is dissolved, add in the lemon juice. Then, turn the stove off and remove the saucepan from the heat. Allow the simple syrup to cool while you prepare the watermelon juice.
Step 4: Slice your watermelon in half to make it easier to trim the rind off of your melon.
Step 5: Trim the rind off the watermelon.
Step 6: Cut it into cubes. You’ll need about 1.5 cups of watermelon cubes, or 250 g for 1 cup of watermelon purée.
Step 7: Place watermelon cubes in the jar of a blender, or use an immersion blender to purée the watermelon.
Step 8: Blend well until all the watermelon is puréed, and pour the purée through a mesh strainer.
Step 9: Gently press the pulp down to extract all of the juice.
Step 10: Discard the watermelon pulp.
Step 11: Combine the strained watermelon juice with the cooled simple syrup.
Step 12: Store the watermelon simple syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Hint: You can also use a food processor or immersion blender to purée the watermelon if you don’t have a blender.
💡tips & tricks for getting it right
🍽️ serving tips
Simple syrups are best used in beverages because they are so thin in consistency. Since it is so thin, it doesn't work well for topping desserts like ice cream or on breakfast foods like waffles and pancakes. You can still use it on food, but just be aware that it will be thin and may soak into porous foods quickly.
Use this in place of regular simple syrup in any cocktail recipe to add the flavor of fresh watermelon to your summer cocktails. It works especially well in rum, tequila, and vodka-based cocktails!
- classic watermelon daiquiris
- watermelon mojitos
- watermelon mules
You can also use this watermelon sugar simple syrup to sweeten non-alcoholic beverages and mocktails! I love using it in iced coffee.
- watermelon lemonade - use this watermelon syrup instead of sugar in any lemonade recipe to make watermelon lemonade!
- homemade watermelon soda pop - make your own homemade sodas by adding 1 tablespoon of watermelon syrup to unflavored soda water! You can even substitute watermelon simple syrup for the strawberry simple syrup in this strawberry Italian soda recipe.
- watermelon iced tea - add this syrup to your favorite iced tea for a subtle hint of melon flavor.
Cooking & Baking
- keep baked goods moist - use this simple syrup to brush layer cakes and keep them moist between layers! This watermelon syrup would pair nicely with lemon cake or vanilla cupcakes!
- homemade shave ice topping - this syrup works very well as a homemade shave ice topping!
ℹ️ troubleshooting tips
Make sure your watermelon syrup turns out well by following these simple tips!
- Taste your watermelon before proceeding with the recipe to make sure that it’s fresh and usable. I’ve definitely made the mistake of not tasting fruit before making a recipe, only to discover too late that I can’t use the recipe.
- Choose the freshest watermelon for the best flavor. Check out the tips below for choosing the right melon!
- Slimy, or slippery watermelon is a sign that it has gone bad. Also, if the fruit tastes sour, or leaves you with a “fizzy” sensation on your tongue, it’s time to throw it out.
- Seedless varieties of watermelon are increasing in popularity because their flavor is more concentrated, and they are easier for home cooks to cut and process.
🍉 how to choose the best watermelon
Watermelon does not ripen after it is harvested, so what you see is what you get. That’s why it’s important to pick the best melon you can at the time of purchase. Here are some tips for picking the best melon:
- color and shine - if a watermelon is dark and dull, it is ripe and ready to eat! If it’s shiny and bright, it’s not yet ripe.
- field spot - you may have noticed that watermelons have a “field spot” on them, this is where the watermelon sat on the ground as it was growing in the field. If the spot is yellowish or orangey, it is ripe and ready to eat. If it’s light and white, it won’t be as sweet and ripe.
- weight - the heavier a watermelon is relative to its size, the riper and juicier it will be.
⚖️ Scaling Tips
- This recipe is easily scaled up or down based on your needs! If you make too much syrup, you can freeze it for later, or gift it to family and friends!
🔆 top tip
Use the freshest watermelon you can find for the best flavor. Seedless varieties are more popular nowadays as opposed to seeded varieties, and the mini varieties are much easier to process at home on a cutting board.
♻️ substitutions & variations
Missing an ingredient? No problem. Check out these tried-and-true substitutions, or comment below with your question. I’m here to help you troubleshoot!
- sweetener - if you only have light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, or a natural less-processed sugar you can still make this recipe! Your finished syrup will have a more caramelized flavor.
You can also use agave or honey if you only have that on hand. Just be mindful that the flavor of the syrup will change slightly, and you may need to adjust the sweetness by adding more agave or honey to your liking. As a general rule, use ⅛ cup less honey than sugar, and ¼ cup less agave than sugar.
Feeling like a rebel?! 😈 Feel free to stray from the recipe card using these variations, or leave me a comment with your own!
- lime and watermelon - add the juice of a couple limes instead of 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the watermelon to add some citrusy flavor to this syrup.
- minty - blend in a handful of mint leaves to give this syrup a minty watermelon twist!
🧰 equipment needed & storage tips
🧰 tools needed
- heavy-bottomed non-reactive saucepan - you can use whatever saucepan you have on hand, I love this 1.5-quart saucepan from All-Clad. The heavy bottom ensures even heating throughout the cooking time! A non-reactive pan is a pan that is made from a metal that doesn’t react to acidic substances, like stainless steel or enameled cast iron.
- non-reactive mesh strainer a fine mesh strainer helps you to separate the watermelon pulp from the liquid after simmering the mixture. Make sure to use a mesh strainer that is made of stainless steel, or use a nylon straining bag for this recipe.
- airtight storage you can use any airtight storage container you like. These OXO squeeze bottles are a favorite of mine for storing simple syrups because you can also stash them in the freezer. These glass bottles are great for gifting simple syrups to friends and family. You can also use a mason jar!
- measuring cups - if you don’t have a kitchen scale, you’ll likely need some measuring cups. I love using these anchor hocking glass measuring cup set because they can tolerate the quick temperature changes that happen when I’m making simple syrups.
- kitchen scale - using a kitchen scale has so many benefits, from being more precise to helping you do less dishes! If you use a scale, you can simply put everything right in the pot as you measure it, no need to dirty up a bunch of extra dishes! I have and love this OXO kitchen scale.
Store your watermelon simple syrup in the fridge for 7-10 days, or freeze it for longer storage. In the freezer, simple syrups can last three to five months.
If you want your syrup to last longer, add in one tablespoon of Everclear, or 80-proof vodka.
Since this syrup contains so much fresh juice, it’s best used within a week.
Do not cook this watermelon simple syrup over heat because prolonged heat will change the flavor of the watermelon. If you’ve ever enjoyed grilled watermelon, you’ll know the flavor is more muted, deep, and less sweet. Since we are going for the classic watermelon flavor here, we don’t want to alter the flavor by cooking it.
Since this watermelon syrup is not heated while preparing it, it has a shorter shelf life of 5-7 days when refrigerated as opposed to two weeks or more with other fruit-infused simple syrups. If you want to make your watermelon syrup last longer, add 1 tablespoon of Everclear or 80-proof vodka to your syrup.
The only limit is your imagination! You can use it to create homemade beverages like watermelon limeade, watermelon soda pop, or cocktails like watermelon martinis.
I recommend using this mainly in beverages because it is much thinner than a breakfast syrup or dessert sauce. Although you can also drizzle it on ice cream, and pancakes, or use it to moisten layer cakes and impart a watermelon flavor. It would be delicious drizzled between layers of a vanilla or lemon cake!
If you make this recipe, please leave a review in the comments and a star rating!
I read every single comment! I also love connecting on social media, so snap a pic and hashtag it #myrecipeforfun and tag me on Instagram, TikTok, or pin this recipe on Pinterest!
Watermelon Simple Syrup
- 250 g watermelon, peeled and cubed about 1.5 cups
- 150 g granulated sugar ¾ cup
- 177 g filtered water ¾ cup
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice optional
- In a 1.5 quart non-reactive saucepan, combine 113 g (½ cup) of water with 100 g (½ cup) of sugar.
- Heat on medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, turn the stove off and remove the saucepan from the heat. Allow the simple syrup to cool while you prepare the watermelon juice.
- Slice your watermelon in half to make it easier to trim the rind off of your melon.
- Trim the rind off the watermelon.
- Cut it into cubes. You’ll need about 1 ½ cups of watermelon cubes, or 250 g for 1 cup of watermelon purée.
- Place watermelon cubes in the jar of a blender.
- Blend well until all the watermelon is puréed.
- Strain the watermelon purée through a fine mesh sieve to remove the pulp.
- Discard the watermelon pulp.
- Combine the strained watermelon juice with the cooled simple syrup.
- Store the watermelon simple syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.
🧯food safety & other information
Food safety is an important ingredient in any recipe for success! Here are some tips to keep you safe in the kitchen!
- While you can allow this syrup to sit at room temperature, don’t leave it out for longer than 4 hours at a time. This helps to inhibit bacteria growth that can happen from the sugars in the syrup. Read more about the temperature danger zone here.
- Use sterilized containers whenever possible. You can sterilize your containers by boiling them briefly, running them through your dishwasher with the sterilize feature activated, or pouring boiling water into the containers.
- While you may be able to use your simple syrup longer than 10 days in the fridge, if you see any sort of cloudiness or dark spots in the syrup, throw it out. This is mold growth and is not a recipe for fun.
- Never leave simmering syrup unattended on the stove.
- Take your time cutting your watermelon, and never cut large unwieldy fruits with a dull knife! Learn more about knife safety here.