Chile-Coconut Watermelon Crudo


This sweet, spicy, and punchy upgrade to classic slabs of salted watermelon is the palate-pleasing appetizer your cookout guests deserve. Fresh coconut water is much sweeter, and has a greater depth of flavor than bottled versions, so crack open a coconut if you can. If using store-bought, select a brand with no additives for the best tasting crudo. Reserve the strained spicy marinade to use as a fruity base for a tequila cocktail.

Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 20 mins


  • 1 small (6-pound) seedless watermelon

  • 2 cups fresh coconut water (from 2 coconuts) or bottled coconut water

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest plus 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, divided

  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger

  • 3 medium fresh green Thai chiles, stemmed and thinly sliced, divided

  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, divided

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup toasted flaked coconut

  • 2 tablespoons crispy fried shallots (such as Maesri)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro stems

  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt


  1. Cut watermelon into 12 (3- x 2 1/2- x 1/2-inch) wedges with rind attached; set aside. Reserve remaining watermelon for another use. Stir together coconut water, lime juice, ginger, 2 sliced chiles, and 1/2 tablespoon sugar in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Place watermelon wedges in dish in a single layer; cover and chill at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

  2. Just before serving, remove watermelon from marinade; discard marinade (or strain and reserve for cocktails). Arrange watermelon on a chilled serving platter; drizzle with olive oil. Top watermelon evenly with coconut, fried shallots, and remaining chile slices.

  3. Stir together cilantro, flaky salt, lime zest, and remaining 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Sprinkle over watermelon. Serve immediately.

    Chile Coconut Watermelon Crudo Recipe
    Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Make Ahead

Watermelon can be marinated up to 8 hours or overnight.


For a refreshingly cold bite, chill the serving platter in the freezer for 15 minutes before plating the crudo.

Suggested Pairing

Lemon-appley Prosecco.

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