watermelon sticks in a cup

I have a secret hack for entertaining, especially when kids are present: hold something back. 

What I mean by that is, after y’all have caught up, eaten some food, and there’s a lull in the conversation, or the kids need a distraction, pull something out that will delight.

Spoiler alert: it’s usually more food!

For example, present the kids with tray of sugar cookies plus icing and fruit to assemble and eat, or a fresh appetizer to pair with a post-dinner round of cocktails for the adults.

Or a giant platter of watermelon sticks. I cannot overstate what a hit these mess-free, easy-to-eat watermelon spears are with a crowd, and they are a cinch to slice!

Watch How to Do It!

Perfect for Entertaining

Anytime I serve watermelon sticks to a crowd or guest I inevitably get a “WOW!” which, let’s be real, is a nice feeling. Watermelon cubes and wedges are familiar, so being presented with a big bowl or platter of sticks is a fun surprise.

The method for how to cut watermelon sticks is not only easy to do, but makes watermelon a little easier to eat. When’s the last time you saw someone devour a watermelon wedge with a shred of dignity left at the end? ;)

Kids also LOVE eating watermelon sticks and, as a Mom, I appreciate that they’re a little less messy then watermelon wedges which inevitably end in sticky, ear-to-ear watermelon smiles.

How to Tell if a Watermelon is Ripe?

The most important thing to do before slicing your watermelon into sticks is to make sure you pick a good watermelon. Unlike other melons like cantaloupe, watermelon do not continue to ripen after being harvested, so picking a good one from the get-go will set you up for success.

Here’s how to pick a ripe watermelon:

  1. Field spot: look for a watermelon with a large, yellow-orange field spot which indicates it’s been ripening in the sun for a good length of time. A light yellow, white, or green field spot means it was picked early and is likely underripe.
  2. Weight: choose a watermelon that feels heavy for its size, indicating its very juicy.
  3. Webbing: normally, imperfections in fruit and berries is a negative, but watermelon with webbing are usually sweeter than ones without.
  4. Dullness: similarly, a dark and dull watermelon indicates it was under the sun ripening longer than a smooth and shiny watermelon.
  5. No dings: while webbing and a matte finish are preferable, watermelon with dents, lumps, and bruises should be avoided.

a watermelon sliced in half on a cutting board

Expert Cutting Tips

I understand that cutting a whole watermelon in general can be a little intimidating, so here are my best tips for handling one:

  1. Wash the melon. It’s important to wash and dry your watermelon before slicing it. Not only can it come in with dirt from the field, but think about all the other hands that may have been inspecting it at the store using the criteria listed above!
  2. Stabilize the cutting board. Wet a paper towel then wring it out and place under your cutting board which will prevent it from slipping and moving around. I also like to keep a kitchen towel nearby to soak up any watermelon juice.
  3. Choose a large cutting board. Choose the largest cutting board you’ve got so there’s room to work!
  4. Choose the right knife. I recommend a long chef’s knife vs a smaller paring knife or even a serrated knife. A sharp knife is crucial to prevent accidents or injuries.
  5. Where to cut. For watermelon sticks you’ll want to slice the watermelon in half width-wise vs length-wise/stem-to-stem.

Alrighty, let’s get to it!

a hand reaching for a watermelon stick

How to Cut Watermelon Sticks: Step by Step

If you’re a visual learner, I highly recommend you watch the video above!

Step 1: Wash and dry the watermelon. 

To remove any loose dirt from the outside.

Step 2: Slice it in half. 

Slice the watermelon in half width-wise to create two circular halves, vs stem-to-stem / length-wise. Place one watermelon half cut side down on a large cutting board, then set the other half aside.

Step 3. Create a square. 

Use a sharp knife to slice off four sides of the watermelon rind, leaving the rind on top intact.

a watermelon cut into slices

Step 4: Slice the watermelon. 

Slice the watermelon square into 1-inch slices.

Step 5: Slice in the other direction.

Either turn all the watermelon slices or rotate the cutting board 180 degrees then make 1″ slices in the other direction to create a grid pattern.

a knife cutting watermelon into sticks

Voila – watermelon sticks! I’m telling you, this is the easiest way to slice watermelon for snacking or serving to a crowd!

How to Store and Freeze

Transfer then arrange the watermelon sticks into a large serving bowl or platter then cover with gladware or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator up to 24 hours ahead of time. You can chill your watermelon prior to slicing so it’s not room temperature.

  • What to do with leftovers: Cube up leftover watermelon sticks then store in an airtight container in the fridge. Add to lettuce salads, fruit salads, juice, smoothies, or cocktails.
  • How to freeze: Cube up leftover watermelon sticks then place in a single layer, un-touching, on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and freeze (do not skip the parchment paper or the watermelon will freeze to the sheet pan.) Transfer the frozen cubes to a Ziplock freezer bag and freeze flat.

If you freeze watermelon cubes I NEED you to come back to this post and tell me what you think. Frozen watermelon cubes are SO bizarre looking!

watermelon sticks on a cutting board

Whether you slice up and serve watermelon sticks to your family or your next party or get-together, I hope this tutorial for how to cut watermelon sticks has been helpful!

More Watermelon Recipes

How to Cut Watermelon Sticks (With Video!)


Learn how to cut watermelon sticks — the best, mess-free way to serve watermelon, and a hit with kids! I'll show you how with a video and step-by-step photos.


1 watermelon

  • 1 watermelon


  1. Look for a watermelon that feels heavy for its size and has a large, yellow-orange field spot on one side indicating that it's been ripening in the sun for a long time. Watermelon with webbing and a dull appearance (vs shiny) also usually indicate a sweeter melon.
  2. Wash and dry the watermelon then slice in half widthwise with a large, sharp knife. Set one half aside then place the other half cut side down on a large cutting board.
  3. Slice the rind off four sides of the watermelon to create a square, leaving the rind intact on top. Slice the watermelon into 1" slices then turn either the cutting board or the watermelon slices as a whole, 180 degrees, and slice into equal-sized slices to create watermelon sticks.
  4. Transfer the sticks to a large serving bowl or platter then serve.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.


photo collage of watermelon sticks

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin