There's no comparison to the flavor that a fresh, late-summer watermelon provides. If you've ever wanted to enjoy that flavor all year long, this watermelon jerky recipe is for you! When you dehydrate it, the flavor and sweetness get so concentrated, you'll think you're eating watermelon candy but it's really a healthy snack. Give it a try today!
Why You'll Love This Recipe:
Easy to Make: This recipe only calls for one ingredient: watermelon. While it does take a while to make, most of the time is hands-off. It's like making fruit leather but with fewer steps!
Naturally Sweet: Watermelon jerky has no need for added sugars. It has a naturally sweet flavor and is like eating healthy candy.
Freezer Friendly: Dehydrated watermelon jerky is a great snack to keep on hand in the freezer. If stored in a freezer-safe bag, it can last for up to a year!
- Watermelon: This recipe works with all types of watermelon - picnic (the typical store-bought variety), small seedless watermelon (personal/mini), yellow watermelon, etc. You can also use this recipe to make dried cantaloupe!
- Food Dehydrator: A large food dehydrator is a necessity for this recipe. While you can dehydrate food in your oven, I don't recommend it for this recipe because of the extra long dehydrating time.
- Parchment Paper: Parchment paper is optional for dehydrating watermelon. But, adding a layer of parchment paper to your dehydrator trays helps so much for clean-up. I highly recommend it!
Step by Step Instructions:
How To Select a Watermelon:
We've all seen someone at the grocery store knocking on melons to see if they make a hollow sound to determine ripeness. I've never been successful with that method. I choose my watermelon by turning it over to see if it has a flat, yellow spot on the bottom. If it has a yellow spot, this means it was ripened in the field and is ready to eat. If it doesn't, I keep looking!
Pro Tip: Watermelon does not continue to ripen after it's been picked. So, knowing how to select a ripe watermelon is essential! Leaving a watermelon on your counter and hoping it will ripen will only result in a grainy, mushy mess.
How To Cut a Watermelon for Dehydrating:
Cutting a large watermelon can be a daunting task. But if you have the right tools and a little knowledge, you'll be done in no time! I like to use a large cutting board that fits the whole watermelon. Having a sharp knife makes a world of difference when it comes to cutting a watermelon. This knife sharpener does a great job.
Pro Tip: For a chewy texture, slice the watermelon on the thicker side (¼"). For a less chewy texture, slice the watermelon on the thinner side (⅛" or less).
How to Dehydrate Watermelon:
Since watermelon contains so much water, it takes longer than most fruits to dehydrate. Depending on your dehydrator and the thickness of your slices, the drying time can take 24-30 hours. Because it loses so much water, the dehydrator can become a sticky mess.
Adding parchment paper to your dehydrator trays is a great way to cut down on the clean-up time. It takes a little more work to cut the pieces to the size of your dehydrator trays, but it's so worth it. If you've ever found bits of jerky stuck to your dehydrator trays multiple uses later, you know what I'm saying.
Pro Tip: After the watermelon jerky has sat in a bag for a day or so, check on the texture. Any moisture in the thicker pieces may have been distributed to the thinner pieces and you may need to dehydrate them more to get to your desired texture.
Flavor Variations for Watermelon Jerky:
Watermelon jerky is deliciously sweet on its own, but you can add other ingredients to spice it up!
- Lime: Toss the sliced watermelon with lime juice and lime zest before dehydrating it to add some tanginess. You can also do a combination of lime and the other seasonings listed below.
- Tajin: Sprinkle tajin (chile lime seasoning) or your favorite spicy seasoning on the watermelon slices before dehydrating them for a sweet and spicy treat.
- Salt: Adding a small amount of salt to the watermelon before dehydrating it helps counteract the sweetness and brings out the delicious watermelon flavor.
- Soy Sauce + Black Pepper: Toss the sliced watermelon with soy sauce and sprinkle with black pepper for an umami-packed treat.
Other Snack Recipes You'll Love:
Watermelon jerky is watermelon that has been dehydrated. The removal of the water gives it a jerky-like texture and concentrates the sugars for a super sweet treat.
Watermelon jerky is super sweet and delicious! Imagine the best watermelon you've ever had but the flavor is super concentrated.
If dehydrated properly, it can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. You can add a desiccant packet to help keep it fresh. But to ensure freshness, store it in an airtight container in the freezer. It only takes a couple of minutes to thaw before you eat it.
Other Recipes To Try:
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Easy Dehydrated Watermelon (Watermelon Jerky)
- 1 watermelon
- Wash outside of watermelon thoroughly.
- Cut ends off of watermelon to make flat surfaces.
- Set watermelon on one cut end. Cut rind into strips by starting at the top. Keep going until all rind has been removed.
- Cut the watermelon in half lengthwise. Cut watermelon into thin slices ⅛"-¼" thick. Then cut slices into rectangles about 1 ½" wide and 4" long. The shape and size are less important than the thickness. The thicker the pieces are, the longer it will take to dehydrate.
- Cut pieces of parchment paper to fit dehydrator racks.
- Lay watermelon in a single layer on the parchment paper-lined racks with some space in between slices.
- Set the dehydrator to the "fruit" setting, usually 135-145°F. Dehydrate for 24-30 hours. Flip slices halfway through and rotate the dehydrator trays. Some slices will be done before others. Remove finished slices while the others continue to dehydrate.
- Store in zippered bags in the freezer for maximum freshness.
- Select a ripe watermelon by turning it over to see if it has a flat, yellow spot on the bottom. If it has a yellow spot, this means it was ripened in the field and is ready to eat.
- For a chewy texture, slice the watermelon on the thicker side (¼"). For a less chewy texture, slice the watermelon on the thinner side (⅛" or less).
- After the watermelon jerky has sat in a bag for a day or so, check on the texture. Any moisture in the thicker pieces may have been distributed to the thinner pieces and you may need to dehydrate them more to get to your desired texture.
- Parchment paper is optional for dehydrating watermelon. But, adding a layer of parchment paper to your dehydrator trays helps so much for clean-up. I highly recommend it!