Though fresh, juicy watermelon is one of my greatest summertime pleasures, until recently, I didn’t eat it as often as I’d like because it’s such a pain to cut. The mess and hassle just weren’t worth it.
All that changed when I discovered an easy, low-mess method of slicing watermelon into batons or sticks.
Not only is it easy to cut, but I can eat the watermelon without getting sticky juice all over my face. (Getting watermelon juice on my face is only fun when there’s a pool to jump into afterward.)
Here are step-by-step instructions for the easiest way to cut watermelon this summer:
What You Will Need To Cut Watermelon Safely
In addition to a watermelon you’ll need the following:
- Produce brush (optional): If your watermelon is very dirty, you might want to give it a scrub with a produce brush while you are washing it.
- Clean kitchen towel: For drying the watermelon after you wash it. A wet watermelon will slide around the cutting board.
- Cutting board: I recommend the largest cutting board you own, preferably with a ridge around the edge to catch any juices that run out of the melon.
- Paper towel (optional): Placing a damp paper towel underneath the cutting board will help keep the board from slipping around.
- Large, sharp knife: Pick your largest knife for this task, and be sure it’s sharp. A sharp knife is much safer than a dull one because it’s less likely to slip. A properly sharpened knife should be able to easily cut paper. You can use a chef’s knife or a serrated knife, such as a bread knife. I use an eight-inch chef’s knife.
How To Cut a Watermelon Into Batons (AKA Sticks)
Even though you will only be eating the inside, it’s important to wash the watermelon because your knife can pick up bacteria and dirt from the outside and transfer it to the part you’ll be eating. Plain tap water is fine for washing, but if there’s a lot of dirt clinging to the melon, give it a scrub with a produce brush.
Once the watermelon is clean, dry it with a clean kitchen towel so it doesn’t slide around when you are cutting it.
1. Cut the Watermelon in Half Crosswise
Cut the watermelon in half crosswise. Then turn the two halves flesh-side-down on the cutting board so they lay flat.
2. Slice the Watermelon into Planks
Work with one-half of a watermelon at a time. Begin on one end and cut the melon into planks that are about an inch wide. Don’t worry about being super precise here—no ruler is necessary. Use one hand to cut and the other hand to hold the watermelon securely as you slice all the way down to the cutting board. Tuck your fingers under like a claw to minimize the chance of cutting yourself.
3. Rotate the Watermelon and Cut It Into Sticks
Rotate the watermelon 90 degrees and cut it again about 1 inch apart—you don’t have to be super-precise about it—creating a checkerboard pattern and watermelon sticks. Use one hand to slice all the way through to the cutting board and the other hand to hold the watermelon.
The trickiest part of this process for me was slicing the very last edge of the melon. I found it helpful to turn the last piece on its side so it was laying flat before cutting them into sticks.
Not all pieces will be uniform, given the shape of a watermelon.
Want Cubed Watermelon? That’s Easy Too
You can serve the watermelon as-is or cut each stick into cubes to toss into a refreshing salad or save it in the fridge to enjoy later. Stored in a well-sealed container or covered tightly with plastic wrap or reusable wrap, sliced watermelon should keep in the fridge for three to five days. You can also freeze watermelon for up to a year.