Watermelon Rind Pickles (Gluten Free, Vegan)

watermelon rind pickles in a glass bowl

When melons are in season, the rinds usually end up in the compost pile, which is a shame because the rind is the healthiest part of the melon. So before you toss it out, try this old-fashioned Southern treat: Watermelon rind pickles.

Watermelon rind is a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, magnesium, and potassium. You can get even more vitamins and minerals in your watermelon by simply selecting the yellow flesh variety. The more yellow, the more nutritious it is.

Watermelon has higher concentrations of lycopene—an antioxidant that protects against cancer and cardiovascular disease—than any other fresh fruit or vegetable, and it also boosts the immune system.

For pregnant women, the benefits of watermelon rind go beyond just vitamins and minerals. The rind has also been proven to reduce heart burn or acid reflux, reduce swelling, and its natural sugars can even alleviate morning sickness and dehydration. 

In the third trimester, consuming watermelon rind can also reduce muscle cramps, as the amino acids citrulline and arginine contained in the fruit will help relax your blood vessels. So if you are pregnant, make sure you eat some watermelon rind from time to time.

Watermelon rind pickles have a sweet, sour, spicy, chutney flavor. All that soaking and cooking softens the rind to the consistency of a ripe pear.

The sugary syrup is, of course, pretty sweet, but the vinegar gives it a great tang, like a sweet Gherkin pickle. The cinnamon, pepper, allspice, and cloves add a lovely, autumn harvest flavor.

Normally, I like to lacto-ferment pickles, but traditional watermelon rind pickles need to be softened first by cooking, which unfortunately kills any bacteria that might do the pickling for you.

Traditional watermelon pickles are also sweet, and you really can’t get the sweet and sour, chutney-type flavor any other way than by using vinegar and sugar.

Other Pickle Recipes You’ll Love:

watermelon rind pickles in a glass bowl
4.58 from 7 votes

Watermelon Rind Pickles

Watermelon rind is very nutritious, but usually gets thrown away! Use it up by making this delicious, old Southern treat: Watermelon rind pickles.
CourseSide Dish, Snack
CuisineAmerican, Fermented, Vegan, Vegetarian
Makes16 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Chilling Time 12 hours
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 13 hours 45 minutes
This recipe may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.



  • Trim the pink flesh and the green outer skin from the watermelon rind.
  • Cut rind into small pieces, about 1" x 2" and measure out about 8 cups.
  • Put the rind into a large, nonreactive container and cover with brine made by combining 3 quarts of the filtered water and the sea salt. Refrigerate overnight.
  • In a saucepan, cover the watermelon rinds with the brine water and simmer until just fork-tender, about another 10 minutes. (Pay attention – Overcooking will cause the rinds to become rubbery.) Drain thoroughly.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, 1 cup water and spices. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, then add the cooked watermelon rinds to the pan.
  • Simmer watermelon rinds in the syrup until they become translucent, about 30 minutes.
  • Pack the hot watermelon pickles and syrup into clean, hot pint or half-pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
  • Wipe rims of jars with a dampened towel and apply two-piece metal canning lids. Without sealing, these pickles will last 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • To can and seal, submerge the full jars in boiling water (enough water so the jars are 1-2" below the surface); boil for 5 minutes (or slightly longer at higher altitudes).


Serving: 1ozCalories: 201kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 5324mgPotassium: 202mgFiber: 2gSugar: 45gVitamin A: 685IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 51mgIron: 0.8mg

Photo credit: Cantaloupe Alone

Updated June 15, 2021.




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