Chile-Lime Watermelon Salad with Queso Fresco

Menu PartSalad
Cuisine TypeMexican

Chef Amy Smith

Miller’s Ale House

Orlando, Fla.

This refreshing salad can serve as a starter or a cool counterpoint to a platter of Tex-Mex specialties. Watermelon is available year round, so the recipe makes a good menu addition beyond Cinco de Mayo. If melon is very sweet, omit the sugar; if it’s less sweet, add the sugar to the dressing.  Serve immediately, as the dressing draws the juice out of the watermelon quickly and it will lose its crunch.


1¼ cups lime juice

1 bunch scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced

4 to 8 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and minced

¼ to ½ cup sugar, optional

1 tbsp. salt

½ tsp. ancho chili powder

6 qt. diced seedless watermelon (1½-inch pieces)

12 oz. queso fresco, crumbled and divided

1 bunch cilantro, chopped and divided

1½ cups pepitas, toasted and salted, divided


  1. In a large bowl, combine the lime juice, scallion whites and jalapeños and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in sugar, if using, ancho chili powder and salt.
  2. Add watermelon, scallion greens, half the queso fresco, half the cilantro and half the pepitas; stir to combine.
  3. Portion into 12-ounce glasses and garnish each with some of the remaining queso fresco, cilantro and pepitas.

Photo courtesy of National Watermelon Promotion Board

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