Summer to me entails trips to the beach, baseball games, and evenings enjoying the warm weather as the sun slowly sets. And in Los Angeles where I live, all of these activities are incomplete without a trip to the local frutero—either outside Dodger Stadium, off of the Santa Monica Pier, or even by my local Target.
A frutero, or street fruit vendor, is an LA-staple, typically marked by a rainbow umbrella and a chilled glass case full of fruit. The fruit, ranging from mango and watermelon to slices of oranges and matchsticks of jicama, are drowned in a blend of lime juice, chamoy (a pickled Mexican fruit sauce), and Tajín (lime and chili powder that’s also commonly found on elotes).
Although I love supporting my local fruteros, I often make my own version of these fruit cups at home, as my pantry is always stocked with chamoy and Tajín for when the mouth-watering craving for tart, spicy, and sweet fruit kicks in.
In the summer, watermelon is the ideal canvas: It’s in season, juicy, and the sweetness perfectly balances out the acid from the toppings.
How To Make My 4-Ingredient Frutero-Inspired Fruit Salad
- 4 cups cubed watermelon (This was about a quarter of a small watermelon.)
- 3 tablespoons chamoy, or more or less to taste
- 1/2 lime, juiced, or use the whole lime if you like it extra tart
- 1 tablespoon Tajín, or more or less to taste
Cut your watermelon into cubes and place them into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the chamoy evenly over the watermelon, more if you like that puckery, pickled sensation, and less if you want it to be more watermelon-forward.
Juice half a lime over the watermelon, then gently toss with a large spoon to make sure the watermelon is evenly coated. Not tart enough? Use the other half of the lime if you want a brighter, more citrusy flavor.
Sprinkle the Tajín over the watermelon, giving one final toss to ensure the salt and lime seasoning makes it onto every surface of the fruit.
I prefer my watermelon in cubes, but you can also cut them into sticks, like a popsicle, or freeze and turn your watermelon into a granita and use the chamoy and Tajín on top for a sundae vibe. And the extra juice at the bottom of your bowl, once all the watermelon is gone? It makes for a fruity and tangy addition to a margarita or Michelada.
Smart Tips and Product Recommendations
The base of this dish is watermelon, so it’s essential to find a ripe one. Look for a melon with a glowy, yellow sunspot for extra sweetness. Also, make sure to use fresh limes for that true pop of tartness.
For chamoy, which is often made from plums and apricots, I love the brand El Chilerito, which I find more savory and spicy than other brands. Tajín’s chamoy, which has a thicker viscosity and mild heat, is also delicious. There are variations of chamoy—some with mango flavor and others with a gentle kick. Be sure to find the one that sounds most appealing to you.
Lastly, a few shakes of Tajín, which is dried chilis, salt, dehydrated lime, and citric acid, complete the fruit salad.