Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickles

Sweet watermelon rind pickles warmly spiced with cinnamon and star anise. They taste like Christmas.

Pickling watermelon rind is a 2 to 3 day process that is mostly wait time not hands on time for which you will be richly rewarded. To start the rind soaks in a salt brine for a few hours or overnight then is slowly cooked for 10 minutes until fork tender. The cooked rind goes into a honey and spice syrup for another overnight soaking. The last step is to simmer the rind and syrup together at which point the bitter rind you began with is hardly recognizable.

The rind turns soft but not mushy with the texture of an apple or pear. Plus it has real depth of flavor instead of tasting of sugary sweetness mostly due to using honey instead of white sugar along with cinnamon, star anise and lemon. If you don’t like star anise you can use cloves, a little of both or leave them out altogether and just use honey and cinnamon.

This makes a small batch meant to be eaten within a few weeks. It’s possible to have a taste of summer all year-long if you’re up to canning a large batch.

Once you taste these sweet watermelon pickles you will never again throw away your watermelon rind. That would feel too much like wasting perfectly good food!

Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickles

Rating: 51

Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickles

Sweet watermelon rind pickles warmly spiced with cinnamon and star anise.


1 pound watermelon rind
3 tablespoons salt
6 cups water
1 tray of ice cubes
1 + 1/3 cups honey
1/2 cup white vinegar
3 cups water
2 star anise or 5 whole cloves
2 (5-6 inch) cinnamon sticks, broke in half
1/4 of a lemon, thinly sliced with seeds removed


  1. Trim most of the the pink flesh and all of the outer green skin from the rind. Cut into 1-inch pieces. To make the brine: in a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl combine the salt and water, stirring to dissolve some of the salt. Add watermelon and ice cubes; let stand 3-4 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain the watermelon rind in a large colander and rinse with cold water. Add to a large saucepan with enough water to cover them; bring to a simmer and cook about 10 minutes until fork tender but not mushy. Drain.
  3. Make the syrup by combining the honey, vinegar, water, and spices. Boil 5 minutes and pour over the watermelon; add lemon slices. Let stand overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Heat watermelon in syrup to boiling then lower heat and simmer very slowly 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool then store in a large glass jar in the refrigerator 2-3 weeks.


Adapted from National Center for Home Food Preservation where you will find a large batch recipe with canning instructions.


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  1. April says

    This looks so delicious! I actually brined the rind today and am making the syrup now. I’m wondering however, what is the purpose of boiling the syrup and then boiling the rind in the syrup? I opted to use raw honey and raw ACV vs. regular honey and white vinegar and would love to keep all the good properties of those ingredients (that boiling would “kill off”). Any idea if this can be done without boiling?

    I sneaked a taste of the syrup and it is so delicious. Can’t wait to share these with family this weekend!

    Thanks in advance for your wisdom!

    • says

      Hi April! Boiling it helps the flavors develop and boiling the rind softens it and helps infuse the flavors of the syrup into it. Plus it kills off bacteria. I definitely wouldn’t skip it. I understand about wanting to keep all those properties intact but I wouldn’t worry about it here. Hope your family likes it and thanks for making it! I’d love to hear back on your end result.

  2. says

    Love this. We call it Karpouzi Glyko and make this all the time in Greece only the method is a little different.

  3. says

    I really love the deep, beautiful color of the pickles! So, so pretty, Reeni. This is right up my alley…I hate throwing food out (even if it’s rind, lol!). Thanks for giving us a delicious way to use something that would probably just be comoposted!

  4. says

    These are one of my husbands favorites because his grandmother used to make them every year when he was a kid. I had never had them before, but we made a batch a couple summers ago, and love them! They are so interesting and a great way to use up something that would otherwise get thrown away.

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