Recipes

frozen watermelon mojitos

There is no time like a heat wave to unlearn everything you thought you knew about watermelon. I don’t need to tell you that a slice of fresh watermelon cold from the fridge is one of life’s perfect things. But most of my attempts to bake with it or turn it into drinks, with this exception, have had limited success, because there is a mildness, a gentleness to watermelon that gets smothered under other things. “So, just eat it fresh and be done with it,” would be a reasonable, rational takeaway. The watermelon has spoken; it has told you its limits. But I don’t want to be reasonable nor rational, and I’ve been pining for a frozen watermelon mojito for a couple summers now and been stuck at the impasse of knowing once I added the requisite ice, simple syrup, or club soda, the watermelon-y impact would be all but diminished. I’m not sure why it took me as long as it did to have my a-ha moment but the solution was, well, right next to the ice cubes in the freezer.


ready to freeze watermelon

Freezing your watermelon in cubes and foregoing the ice cubes is summer drink brilliance. It actually tastes like watermelon because you haven’t diluted it in any way. The texture is fantastic enough that you might skip the club soda too (but adding a splash basically makes it a grown-up Slurpee; you’re welcome). Simple syrup, and the water involved in making it, is never necessary if you can just dissolve sugar in your lime juice. I’ve made it as straight frosty watermelon lemonade and limeade (no rum; keep the mint if you wish) but as a heatwave balm of a summer drink that takes approximately 65 seconds* to make, it’s downright revolutionary.

here we gofresh juice, pleaselime juiceblend it up

* because you had the forethought to go ahead and freeze watermelon right now. Go! Make a giant bag of cubes and have this at the ready all summer. I promise you’ll thank you later.

frozen watermelon mojito

Previously

One year ago: Corn Fritters and Bourbon Peach Smash
Two years ago: Hummus Heaped with Tomatoes and Cucumbers
Three years ago: Corn, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta
Four years ago: Tomato and Fried Provolone Sandwich
Five years ago: Easiest Fridge Dill Pickles and Grilled Peach Splits
Six years ago: One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes and Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
Seven years ago: Bacon Corn Hash
Eight years ago: Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones
Nine years ago: Mango Slaw with Cashews and Mint, Thai-Style Chicken Legs, Peach Blueberry Cobbler, and Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons
Ten years ago: Light Brioche Burger Buns, Blueberry Boy Bait, and Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza
Eleven years ago: Chocolate Sorbet
Twelve years ago: Double Chocolate Layer Cake

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Chocolate Puddle Cakes
1.5 Years Ago: Korean Braised Short Ribs
2.5 Years Ago: Small-Batch Tiramisu
3.5 Years Ago: Hot and Sour Soup and Belgian Brownie Cakelets
4.5 Years Ago: Oven-Braised Beef with Tomatoes and Garlic and Pecan Sticky Buns

Frozen Watermelon Mojito

  • Servings: 2
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

This makes an absolutely fantastic frozen watermelon limeade or lemonade too, simply skip the rum, leave the mint if you wish. It makes two drinks in an 11 to 12-ounce glass (I’m using these).

Let’s talk about sweetness: A thing I noticed making a few rounds of these is that the level of sweetness that tastes exactly right out of the freezer/blender (2 tablespoons) tastes a bit sweet for my tastes as it defrosts. That’s why there’s a range here; you’ll find your sweet spot (sorry) when you make it. For lemonade for the kids, I usually go up to 3 tablespoons of sugar per pitcher. Sweetness will of course vary by the ripeness of the melon.

Let’s talk about booze: 1 shot (3 tablespoons or 1.5 ounces) per glass makes a gentle cocktail but we found an extra splash (1 tablespoon or so) to be the right level for the size drinks we made.

  • 1 pound (a scant 4 cups) watermelon in 1-inch cubes (from about 2 pounds with rind on)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes), plus wedges for serving
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 to 4 ounces (6 to 8 tablespoons) white rum
  • Leaves from 1 to 2 sprigs of fresh mint, plus extra for garnish
  • Two splashes of seltzer (optional)


Spread watermelon cubes on a tray lined with plastic wrap or parchment (for easiest removal) and chill in freezer until frozen. Add sugar to lime juice and stir to combine; sugar should dissolve in a minute or two. Place frozen watermelon, sweetened lime juice, and rum in blender and blend until thick but smooth. Add mint and pulse a few more times, so that is chopped but not pureed. Pour into two glasses. Top with a splash of seltzer if you wish, finish with lime wedges and extra mint. Repeat all summer.

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81 comments on frozen watermelon mojitos

  1. Nancy

    I’ve been thinking about doing this in the summer as well! Thank you for the recipe and another reason why I need to try it.

  2. Joanie Berry

    What are y’all feeding those adorable children?! They are growing so tall!😳 The one watermelon we got so far this summer was pretty blah🙁. I am the world’s worst watermelon picker outer. Thank you for the frozen cube idea!

    1. deb

      I get it at Westside. They sell large ones in wedges so you can always see the inside and never get a dud. However! It all falls apart when you imagine that 4x what you paid ($5 to $7 for a giant piece) is what they’d charge for a full-size watermelon, so don’t think too hard about it.

      1. Ha, I always walk past Westside and see those humongous melons lining the sidewal. I didn’t know they sell them in wedges. I don’t mind paying more for a guaranteed good melon, especially if I keep throwing away these horrible spongy $4 melons!

  3. kathryn

    A restaurant near me does Watermelon Jalapeno Mojitos, if I want to take these to another level, how do you think I should add the jalapeno?
    Their mojito doesn’t seem to have actual jalapeno in it, but maybe in a syrup?

    I was already planning on going to the store after work, so all these ingredients are going on the list!

    1. Erin

      I made watermelon jalapeno margaritas recently, and the recipe called for briefly steeping the sliced jalapeno in the tequila. I imagine this would work here too?

      1. Kathryn

        That sounds like a great idea! I think I’ll try that and see how it turns out. I’ll have to wait for the watermelon to the freeze, so that way they’ll have plenty of time to steep.

    2. Lizzie B

      Thanks, Deb! These were a hit at a little backyard evening party my roommate and I hosted tonight. We made one big batch in the blender (2 lb. of watermelon, everything else doubled too) and just served up mini mojitos as a mid-party treat. (Next time I’ll have to get a bigger melon!) We had to add some liquid before the purée was thin enough to pour; we just added a cup or two of seltzer to the blender, re-blended briefly, and served ’em up. Yum!

      I don’t comment on recipes (or other web articles), but I wanted to take a moment to let you know I enjoyed it, because I have both your cookbooks, use them regularly, and love your blog. So in my head we are already friends :-)

    3. Billie

      Kathryn, I ream out a large jalapeno…slice off both ends, get rid of the seeds and membranes with a jalapeno reamer, then slice off about 1 1/2 inches of it. Add to the blender with everything else. OMG! The taste of jalapeno takes this margarita over the top, and it’s not hot at all! I also sweeten with a couple of Tablespoons of high quality maple syrup, and use tequila instead of rum. Delicious!

  4. Jason Harner

    When my wife and I were in Thailand I think we had a watermelon smoothie twice daily, $1 ea in 100% humidity was irresistible. This looks like a great version, I’m going to have to give it a shot in this Texas heat. You think they’d keep the frozen texture better if you kept the rum in the freezer? Or even pre-mixed watermelon rum and sugar and froze?

    1. deb

      I definitely think you could keep your rum in the freezer (it’s where we keep our vodka) but the drink I left blended in the freezer solidified so I might leave the watermelon in cubes and just blend as needed. One thing nice is that when it melts, which takes longer because everything is cold, there’s still some thickness to it because it’s just blended fruit, not blended water.

      1. Anne D

        I’m thinking of skipping the mint and substituting mezcal for the rum (maybe a bit more lime juice too?). There’s magic that happens when the floral notes of watermelon combine with the smokiness of mezcal.

    2. Brenda

      We were just in Thailand and Myanmar in Jan. The fruit smoothies there were awesome! I’ve been making watermelon smoothies at home by just putting cold (refrigerated) watermelon cubes in the blender. (I’ve also made mango smoothies with frozen honey (champagne or atalufo) mango chunks, a few ice cubes, a spoonful of sugar and a little water to thin them out)

  5. TerryB

    How do you think a heaping tablespoon of frozen limeade and a good sprint of free lime would be? This is how I make frozen strawberry daiquiris.

  6. Megan

    Making this for the weekend because it has been so hot in Chicago! A side note though, I just got your Every Day cookbook and as someone who has a special diet I REALLY appreciate that you take the time in the back to list which recipes are dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, etc. It just makes things really easy, not that some recipes can’t be adapted but if I am feeling lazy and can just flip to something it really makes a difference. If you make a third book please do this again!

  7. Pam

    Num!! You are so brilliant!

    Come to think of it (thanks for the reminder!), I make a granita that is honeydew cooked in sugar and lime then frozen and scraped; it would be natural, if not obvious, to add mint during cooking, then add rum to the granita and serve. I can’t wait for honeydew to come into season (prices are a little high…so perhaps in a couple weeks or so?).

  8. Emily

    Please do tell about the auto citrus juicer! I have one, but it doesn’t have a press down handle, which seems like the game-changer!

  9. Joanna

    Oh. My. Goodness! I am a watermelon junkie. Why have I never thought to freeze it!? I just made these and seriously… there are not words!!! So amazing!

  10. Melissa

    This was amazing. It also reminded me to report that I sometimes use frozen watermelon in place of ice cubes in your coconut frozen limeade, which is a nice variation. This is a purer version, and I love them all.

  11. JanetP

    This is exactly how I make strawberry margaritas — well, with strawberries and tequila, that is. They are a summertime staple.

  12. Rose Upshur

    It looks really refreshing) summer is really hot and everytime I want something so delicious as watermelon) this coctail is very tasty, I think!

  13. Karen Chickering

    the seven members of Maple Jam plus one spouse had this over the weekend at our annual retreat. 95 degrees out, and THIS WAS THE BEST THING!!!!! soooo refreshing, gorgeous with the fresh mint buzzed in and the black flecks from the watermelon. we used frozen concentrate limeade, so no added sugar was needed. PERFECT! thank you, Deb! (yet again :)

  14. Pamela

    So, I tried to make these without the booze for my kids, but my Vitamix had a hard time blending the solid watermelon cubes. I added some water, but I didn’t want to dilute the flavor too much. Did anyone else have this problem?

    1. Emjay

      My Vitamix was also unimpressed (although I wondered if it’s ’cause I halved the recipe for a single serving) but between banging the cubes down and adding a roughly equivalent amount of water as lemon juice (I was out of lime) it worked fine and definitely didn’t water things down noticeably.

    2. Melissa

      Yes, my vitamix wasn’t happy, either. I added the lime and rum and club soda/seltzer right away to help with the blending, which fixed the problem. It seems to need some liquid in the bottom in order to process frozen stuff. Also, leave it on low (1-2) longer so it has time to grab the chunks and break them down.

  15. jwgmom

    I am woefully short on freezer space. (Side note- side by side refrigerators are a bad ides!) Do you suppose I could make this with not frozen watermelon and then cool it and run it through my small ice cream maker until it is the consistency of slush?

  16. Brittany

    This is spectacular! I did have to add an ounce of watermelon juice to get it to blend, but my blender is on the wimpy side. Definitely going to be on repeat this summer!

  17. Erin

    These are life changing. I left out the sugar because the watermelon I had was SO GOOD and sweet and topped it with Topo Chico. Phoenix is now holding on to 105+ temps so these will be on repeat for a long time! Thank you!

  18. Trisha

    Looks delicious! Sometimes I blend frozen strawberries with lime, a tiny bit of sugar, and watermelon for popsicles, which I picked up from Our Best Bites.

  19. Rob

    This sounds delish! Have you tried popping it back in the freezer after blending to have as a sorbet? Curious if the consistency would work.

  20. Rose Miller

    Can anyone share roughly how long it takes to freeze the watermelon? (and specify fridge freezer or deep freeze?)

    1. deb

      I have a pretty lousy freezer but it was still only a couple hours, especially if the cubes are small and in a single layer. Maybe even one hour in a good freezer.

  21. Dory

    Made this with some watermelon that had been sitting in my freezer from last August (horrible – I know). Found the recipe a little too thick and had to add extra rum and lime juice to the blender but the taste was AMAZING. Even my rum-hating husband thought it was delicious!

  22. Melissa

    Fabulous! We had it last weekend and I converted a non-rum drinker. This will be on repeat all summer! I added the zest from the limes for an extra limey kick.

  23. Stefanie Edwards

    Hi Deb,

    I read your feature in the Times. You are such a joy. I don’t cook much or read/watch anything about cooking, but I was so drawn to your funny, witty personality and your ability to share your life in a real and entertaining way. I went on to your website after reading the article, and for the first time in a long, long time I cooked something new. My husband and I loved both recipes. Thank you so much. We are in heaven.
    IMG_1732.JPG

    Stefanie

  24. Kita

    Thank you so much for this idea and recipe! We made both watermelon mojitos and watermelon margaritas and what a genius idea to freeze watermelons – definitely going to do this again. Thank you!

  25. I LOVE watermelon and mint, it’s just the best combination! Such a great idea to freeze the watermelon and blend. There is a watermelon farm near us and we get given all the ones that don’t look good enough for the stores! I usually juice them all and freeze (it takes forever!) but now I’ll just freeze them in chunks and save myself the juicing step :)

  26. Meghan

    OK so I make a version of this that uses Gin and St. Germain instead of rum. (and no simple syrup b/c the st germain is so sweet). It is the drink I love the most – in the summer it is perfect and in every other season it reminds me that summer exists! (FYI I’ve also heard sub the rum for vodka and the mint for basil…).
    Also I’ve used (a little) cranberry juice to help watermelon blend in a pinch, and it adds a ‘tang’ and doesn’t dilute or take away from the watermelon taste.

  27. Terry

    I made these this weekend and they were a big hit! Everybody loved them. My sister even came back the next day and oh-so-casually asked if I happened to have any more watermelon left. I was so glad i had hidden the last package for myself 😉

  28. Hila

    OK OK – this is great! so refreshing, so good. I had to add a little bit of sugar but my watermelon was quite meh to begin with. I think I’m gonna try a mocktail version of this. In any case – it’s a keeper!

  29. MOR

    Yum! Just made this and it is so nice on a hot summer night. I love making/eating/drinking watermelon EVERYTHING in the summer.

  30. Debi

    I make a summer watermelon cocktail that’s similar. I puree the watermelon in the blender, add vodka and a little St. Germaine (elderberry liquor), and pour over ice. I’ll try this too – I’m sure I’ll love it!

  31. Margali

    This was soooo goood!!! I need to run out and buy more watermelon. I used gin instead of rum (didn’t have any) and cut the sugar by about 1/2. I do need to cut the watermelon chunks smaller — it took a fair amount of time for my wimpy blender to crush everything. I also just dumped the sugar in instead of dissolving it in the lime juice.

  32. Jen Drohosky

    I have no idea how I’ve lived without these, but glad they are in my life now! Made these last night for a happy hour on our patio, and they were such a hit! They begged for the recipe, and I happily shared, as well as the tip to freeze watermelon chunks. Why didn’t we think of this sooner! Thanks!

  33. Mindy

    This is delightful, and so perfect for Labor Day weekend. Definitely go with the lower amount of sugar if you’re not fond of super sweet drinks. We used 1 tablespoon and it was perfect.

  34. I am addicted to watermelon. It’s hard to get good ones this time of year, but I’m definitely making this once the weather gets warm. And thanks for the tip about freezing the watermelon, probably explains why mine never gets cold enough…

  35. marciemcheung

    OMG this sounds incredible! We had some amazing watermelon drinks in Thailand and this sounds like an easy way to replicate at home!