Watermelon Agua Fresca

We spent last weekend in the fantastic city of San Francisco. We had an adventure-filled 48 hours that included the Double Dipsea (an amazing trail race beginning in Stinson Beach), a hike on Angel Island and delicious brunch at a small Mexican restaurant in Sausalito. I always prefer coffee to juice at breakfast, but when I saw the Watermelon Agua Fresca on the menu, I had to give it a try.... it was cold and refreshing and sweet from the watermelon but didn't seem to have any added sugar.

Last night we had friends over for a (slightly obstructed) view of the fireworks in Denver from our roof deck. It is still excruciatingly hot here and I wanted to offer a refreshing, summer beverage in addition to beer and wine and water. This agua fresca takes 5 minutes to make and was a hit. You can make it with either tap water or sparkling water (it was a bit more bubbly and refreshing with sparkling water) and I, of course, think it is best consumed through a straw.

Happy 4th of July!

Watermelon AguaFresca
Yield = 1 pitcher

8 cups watermelon, cubed and puréed (approximately 6 cups after blending)
4 cups sparkling water or tap water
1 lime

1. Blend the watermelon to a purée. Pour puréed watermelon into a pitcher to chill.

2. When ready to serve, fill half a glass with the watermelon puree. Add sparkling water or tap water to fill the glass. Squeeze the juice from a slice of lime into the agua fresca and garnish with a lime slice. Serve chilled (and over ice if you'd prefer).

Tips & Variations
You can prepare the watermelon puree up to two days ahead of time. You can also add tap water to the watermelon puree and strain it before chilling it if you prefer no watermelon flesh in your drink. To do this, add 1/2 cup of water to the puree and strain it to leave only the watermelon juice. Also, if the watermelon alone is not sweet enough for you, try adding 1/3 cup of sugar (this recipe from Eating Well might be helpful if you want to add sugar).

Watermelon Granita


I have two favorite ice cream spots in Denver... one has superior flavors and better-tasting ice cream and a fun hipster vibe (that only occasionally makes me feel out-of-place and somewhat inadequate) and the other that has slightly-less-robust-but-still-awesome ice cream and a creative and fun location. On the occasion of my in-laws visiting, we had an opportunity to visit both and while the look of Little Man won out (see photos below), it was the taste of the watermelon sorbet at Sweet Action that really stole my heart.

In fact, I took home a pint of it because it was so tasty. Bad.

When I saw watermelons at Whole Foods yesterday (I can hear Rob tsk tsking as he reads this... not Whole Foods!), I bought a few and set about to making my own version of the tasty watermelon dessert. I wasn't smitten with any of the sorbet recipes but was inspired by the Watermelon Granita recipe in this month's Bon Appétit.

Granita is a semi-frozen dessert typically made from sugar, water and flavorings. Wikipedia tells me that granita originated in Sicily and that the texture of a granita will vary depending on where you have it in Italy. This version is frozen, stirred/scraped once and then frozen until solid, at which point it is scraped or shaved before serving. You could make it smoother by using an ice cream or gelato machine but I think part of the beauty of this recipe is its simplicity.

Putting the iPad to good use in the kitchenReady for the freezer - complemented by my new tea towel from Foxy & Winston

If you've read any of my other dessert posts, you'll know that I prefer less sugar in my desserts than most people and this recipe is no exception. I find watermelon to be deliciously refreshing and sweet in its natural form so I cut the recommended sugar in half. Plus, I didn't have fresh limes so I was stuck with the pre-squeezed and bottled stuff that I keep on hand... I don't think it affected the final product at all. This recipe is also easy to double or triple (obviously you'll have to blend it in separate batches to accommodate the size of your blender) and would be perfect to make ahead and serve at a summer gathering.


Watermelon Granita
Adapted from the June 2011 Bon Appétit 


  • 4 cups (1 3/4 pounds) cubed seedless watermelon (from a 4-lb. melon)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


Purée all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a 9x9x2" metal baking pan. Freeze mixture for 1 hour. Stir, mashing any frozen parts with the back of a fork. Cover and freeze mixture until firm, about 2 hours. Using a fork, scrape granita vigorously to form icy flakes. 

Could this be more simple?

DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover tightly and keep frozen. Give it a quick scrape before serving.