Watermelon Rind Relish Recipe

This sweet and tangy watermelon rind relish makes good use of food waste that would otherwise end up in the compost. 

Check out even more great summertime canning recipes to stock your pantry here!

jars of watermelon rind relish.

If you love the red hamburger relish that graces the food table at every summertime barbecue, you need to make this watermelon rind recipe! You’ll be blown away at how delicious it is. 

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Watermelon Rind Relish Recipe

This super frugal recipe uses the rind of the watermelon that’s leftover after making recipes like this watermelon green tea. If you want to make this recipe and plan to serve fresh watermelon, cut the rinds away from the fruit first. Don’t make this with chewed-on rinds. 

ingredients for making watermelon rind recipe for relish.


Watermelon rind The part of the watermelon that you’ll use for this recipe is the pale green or whitish rind. You’ll need to remove the outer green part of the watermelon. Compost that. Then cut away the red flesh and serve that up as slices or in a fruit salad. It won’t matter if there’s a little bit of red flesh still clinging to the rind, as you can see, but trim most of it away.

Red bell pepper — The sweetness of the red bell pepper is perfectly suited to this recipe. Don’t try it with a green pepper. 

Jalapeño pepper — There’s just enough hot pepper in this recipe to add a bit of flavor. It won’t be too spicy.

Onion — I used yellow onions for this recipe, but you can use any kind of bulb onion you have on hand.

Sugar — Use your favorite brand of granulated cane sugar. I prefer organic to avoid GMO ingredients.

Vinegar — Use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, either one is fine. Be mindful of this little tidbit when buying apple cider vinegar.

Seasonings – This classic hamburger relish recipe leans on turmeric, mustard seeds, and black pepper for its flavoring. 

adding ingredients to the watermelon relish.

Making the Relish

While you don’t have to have a food processor to make this recipe, it will definitely reduce the amount of chopping you need to do. If you don’t have a food processor, use a knife and aim for a quarter-inch dice on the watermelon rind, red pepper, and onions, and an even finer dice for the hot pepper. 

spoon full of relish.

This is an overnight recipe; you’ll start by combining the watermelon rind, onion, peppers, and salt in a large bowl and refrigerating overnight. This helps to pull some of the moisture from the produce. 

The next morning, rinse and drain the produce and add to a stock pot along with the remaining ingredients. Bring just to a boil and simmer for ten minutes and the relish is ready!

cooked watermelon relish in a pot.

At this point you can process the relish in jars for a shelf stable product. Or you can simply put it in jars and store in the refrigerator for up to three months.

🍅 Safety First!

Canning is an excellent way to preserve food for the pantry, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. The recipes on this site have been made following safe canning procedures by a certified Master Food Preserver.

Canning this Watermelon Rind Recipe

Canning this relish in a water bath canner makes it a shelf stable product that can last a year or so in the pantry. 

Prepare the canning pot

Fill a large canner with water. Just how much takes a little bit of guesswork. You’ll want the water level to sit about two inches above the full jars during processing.

Adding the full jars to the water will cause the water level to rise; how much depends on how many jars you’re processing at once. Most canners will hold seven jars at a time, but you can process fewer than that if you don’t have a full load.

Hot tip: Boil some extra water in a saucepan or electric kettle as you’re working. If you need to top off the water in the canner, you won’t cool down the water too much.
filling jars of relish for canning.

A canning funnel and headspace measuring tool are helpful.

Water Bath Canning this Relish

Once the ingredients are chopped and cooked, you’ll ladle the relish into pint jars. Fill seven jars; that’s how many will fit in a standard canning pot. I have a canning funnel for this purpose, that makes it easier to transfer the salsa into the jars without a lot of mess. If you have more relish, keep it warm until you’re ready to process a second batch of salsa.

setting lids and rings on jars of relish.

Place lids on clean rims then screw on a band.

Use a damp cloth to wipe the rim of each jar; a little bit of food on the jar rim can prevent the lids from sealing properly. Set new lids in place and screw the bands on firmly tight (but not too tight). Use a jar lifter to transfer jars into the gently boiling water. As stated above, the water in the pot should cover the jars by about an inch. If necessary add more water to the canner.

Process jars for the recommended time. (See below.) When time is up, use the jar lifter to transfer jars to a flat surface that’s padded with a kitchen towel. Allow jars to cool completely. As they cool, you’ll begin to hear a canner’s favorite sound: That lovely little tink! that indicates a successful seal.

Once jars are thoroughly cooled, check the seal on all of the jars. The lid should be concave and solid. If it flexes at all, it’s not sealed. (Place any jars that didn’t seal in the refrigerator and use them first. They are not shelf stable.)

Making gifts? Grab a FREE download of these cute printable canning labels — complete with a gentle reminder to return the jar — for just 99 cents!

canning label for relish.

Remove bands from cooled jars and rinse the jars. Label and store jars without the bands.

Process jars for the recommended time. (See below.) When time is up, use the jar lifter to transfer jars to a flat surface that’s padded with a kitchen towel. Allow jars to cool completely. As they cool, you’ll begin to hear a canner’s favorite sound: That lovely little tink! that indicates a successful seal.

jars full of watermelon rind relish ready to can.

Once the jars of watermelon relish are thoroughly cooled, check the seal on all of the jars. The lid should be concave and feel solid. If it flexes at all, it’s not sealed. (Place any jars that didn’t seal in the refrigerator and use them first. They are not shelf stable.)

Remove bands from cooled jars and rinse the jars. Store jars without the bands.

★ Did you make this watermelon rind relish recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! 

jars of watermelon rind relish.

Watermelon Rind Relish Recipe

This recipe is uber-frugal! Turn the rinds of watermelon into a delicious relish for burgers and hot dogs, or for adding to potato salad.
4.41 from 40 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 96 servings
Author: Kris Bordessa


  • 4 cups chopped watermelon rind dark green outer skin removed
  • 2 cups onion finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg


Make the relish:

  • A shortcut to start you off: If you have a food processor you can just toss roughly chopped watermelon rind, onions, and peppers into the bowl of the processor and pulse until they're a good size. I like mine in about 1/8 - 1/4" pieces. If you don't have a food processor, just chop them finely by hand.
    4 cups chopped watermelon rind, 2 cups onion
  • Combine watermelon rind, onion, peppers, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well. Chill overnight.
    1 red bell pepper, 1 jalapeno pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Place in a colander to drain; rinse thoroughly and drain again.
  • Transfer to a large stock pot and add remaining ingredients; bring just to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. At this point, the relish is done. You can just put it in jars and then in the refrigerator to use right away or give as gifts.
    1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cups vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, 2 teaspoons mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, Pinch nutmeg
  • If you'd like your relish to be shelf stable, you'll need to process it.

Prepare for Canning

  • Wash the jars you'll use, making sure each is clean and free of nicks in the rim, which could impede sealing.
  • Wash the lids and rings in hot soapy water. (If you're using non-Ball brand lids, prepare as suggested by manufacturer.)
  • Place empty jars in a canning pot or large stock pot with enough water to cover by an inch or two, cover pot, and set on high heat to boil. It can take awhile for the water to heat, so get it started before you begin making the recipe.

Canning the relish:

  • Ladle hot relish into pint or half-pint jars, leaving 1/2" head space. A canning funnel makes this easy.
  • Wipe jar rims to remove any relish that may have spilled. A clean rim is essential to a good seal.
  • Set jar lids in place. Screw bands on finger tight.
  • Use a jar lifter to gently submerge jars into boiling water in canning pot. Water should cover the top of the jars by an inch. The water will cool somewhat in reaction to the addition of the jars. Return the water to a simmer and set the timer.
  • Process for 15 minutes 0-6,000 feet altitude; 20 minutes over 6,000 feet.
  • Allow jars to cool overnight.
  • Check for seal: the lids should feel solid and slightly indented. If they flex, that are not shelf stable and should be refrigerated and used first.
  • Wash jars, remove rings, and store in a cool, dry place for a year.


  • I used yellow onions for this recipe, but you can use any kind of bulb onion you have on hand.
  • This recipe, as made, tests at 3.5 pH, making it safe for water bath canning. Altering ingredients will impact the pH of the final product making it potentially unsafe for water bath canning.
  • Boiling lids or heating above 180°F as once recommended can damage the sealing compound.


Serving: 1tablespoon | Calories: 17kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 37mg | Potassium: 16mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 77IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @attainablesustainable or tag #attainablesustainable!
Do you have questions about home canning? First time canner? Check out this list of 101 frequently asked canning questions!

Originally published in August 2011; this post has been updated.

Watermelon Rind Relish Recipe in a glass canning jar

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About the author: Kris Bordessa is an award-winning National Geographic author and a certified Master Food Preserver. Read more about Kris and how she got started with this site here. If you want to send Kris a quick message, you can get in touch here.

55 comments… add one
  • Glendora Racy Jun 24, 2023 @ 8:01

    Can you double the recipe?

    • AttainableSustainable Jun 29, 2023 @ 12:53

      Sure! Just be prepared for the yield if you plan to process for canning.

  • Imogen Zanetti Oct 5, 2022 @ 4:25

    Hello from Ontario, Canada,
    Presently I am dealing with a friend’s bountiful watermelon harvest. Your relish recipe sounds just perfect for me.
    I prefer relish to be finely ground though and not cubed. Would this negatively impact the acidity of the relish as during the salting stage more water would be extracted from ground than from cubed watermelon.
    Thank you for your very interesting webpages.

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 7, 2022 @ 17:33

      You can chop the rind more finely if you like!

    • Glendora Racy Jun 24, 2023 @ 8:00

      I use an electric grater and grate mine. It turns out just as good as the cubed.

  • Jodie Attebery Aug 1, 2022 @ 9:54

    I loved loved this ! I made beer brats the next night. Soo delicious on top !

    • AttainableSustainable Aug 2, 2022 @ 4:22

      So glad to hear you enjoyed it, sounds delicious!

  • Sharon Thompson Jul 29, 2022 @ 10:09

    Would it be okay to omit the nutmeg?

    • AttainableSustainable Jul 29, 2022 @ 13:06

      This recipe has only been tested as written; altering canning recipes is not recommended and can result in an unsafe food product.

  • GG Jun 30, 2022 @ 6:14

    I made a watermelon rind sweet relish but can’t find a recipe for dill relish made with watermelon rind. Would this recipe work for that?

    • AttainableSustainable Jun 30, 2022 @ 8:55

      This recipe has only been tested as written; altering canning recipes is not recommended and can result in an unsafe food product.

  • Greg Jun 29, 2022 @ 23:43

    I make watermelon relish almost the same way. The only difference is. I use half sweet onion and red onion with green bell pepper. And adding juice of small lemon and zest instead of the nutmeg. The lemon gives relish a fresh taste. Is also perfect as a relish on peas and pork chops. Have also used on pork, baked chicken and beef roast just before serving. Would like to see a good recipe for watermelon rind preserves.

    • AttainableSustainable Jun 30, 2022 @ 8:56

      Sounds delicious!

  • Mac Jun 20, 2021 @ 12:11

    Sounds good! Can you freeze it?

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 6, 2021 @ 16:37

      Hm. I haven’t tried. Let us know if you do!

  • Sydney Jun 20, 2021 @ 9:59

    How much does this recipe make or how many jars? Thanks!

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 10, 2021 @ 8:32

      Thanks for pointing out the omission! It makes 3-4 pints.

  • Tab Gardner Aug 8, 2020 @ 15:02

    Found this recipe and was very intrigued so decided to try it. Holly-Smokes! This is a very simple and Very tasty way to use the rind . Thank you for sharing this recipe..

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 11, 2020 @ 7:28

      I’m glad you liked it!

  • Karon Parker Jul 29, 2020 @ 12:05

    This recipe isn’t new. My aunt did this for 50 years and she passed away several years ago. Didn’t know the specifics and will see by taste how close it comes!

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 6, 2020 @ 15:33

      I’m sure people have been making this for years!

  • Billy Jul 23, 2020 @ 10:41

    Please share a recipe for a pickled lime bath so the watermelon rind will be crisp.

  • ashley Jul 14, 2020 @ 14:11

    This sounds so delicious! I don’t have a processor but I was looking into investing, do you use yours often? I don’t come across too many recipes that require one but coming across this recipe and the other dill pickle relishes suggest a food processor for the quickest and easiest ways.

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 15, 2020 @ 14:38

      I do use mine a fair bit.

  • Theresa Averink Jul 12, 2020 @ 2:49

    Why do you need to remove the green rind from the watermelon? We never removed the zucchini or cucumber rinds. Is watermelon more woody than zucchini?

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 15, 2020 @ 14:39

      Watermelon rind is quite a lot tougher than cuke or zuke skins.

  • Ellen Jul 10, 2020 @ 12:01

    Hello from Calgary, Alberta, Canada!
    Today I finally tackled the big watermelon on my counter and it was a big sucker, too! My chef training has me slicing off the entire skin down to the red. As I started seeing that pile of slabs of peel on my counter, that same idea came into my mind as yours! Watermelon pickles! Just like you, I have never even tasted Watermelon Pickles so google to the rescue!
    OH MY! It was like you were sitting across from me at the table chatting with an old friend. I should be outside in my garden and finish my task for the day, so I am going to start this tonight. Guess what?! My daughters can peel the green skin off the slabs and help me.
    Looking forward to tasting this and it was so nice meeting you! Stay safe!

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 11, 2020 @ 8:56

      Glad you made your way here! 🙂

      • Ellen Jul 28, 2020 @ 11:51

        This relish was awesome, and today I started my second batch. This time I cut off the green outer skin first and it worked so much better and easier!
        I need to pick up a jalapeño!
        Thanks again for this treat.

      • Donna De Gaspe Beaubien Apr 21, 2023 @ 5:18

        Me too.

  • Langa Nov 13, 2018 @ 20:12

    Lovely recipe…oh my gosh tangy sweet relish. How long can it stay out of the fridge for after sterilizing jars? I want to put the open jar in the fridge but keep the rest in my cupboard.

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 14, 2018 @ 9:51

      Once it’s processed in a water bath and jars are sealed, the relish is shelf stable! It can stay in the pantry for at least a year.

  • connie j ratner Jul 30, 2018 @ 6:06

    this recipe is a keeper. i spiced it up a bit with three jalapenos. This relish is good eating as a side or added to sandwiches, ( we added it to tuna sandwiches). Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe.

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 5, 2018 @ 16:38

      Glad you liked it!

  • June Shenoy Mar 25, 2018 @ 2:34

    I tried this and it turned lovely, Thank you for this great recipe!

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 29, 2018 @ 6:42

      Glad you liked it!

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018 @ 22:08

    This was so easy to make.

  • Kay Heath May 14, 2016 @ 10:23

    This is the absolute best relish going.. I can’t believe how fast it flew off my shelves.. I made 12 half pints and now I am making 10 pints. Thank you for the great recipe.

    • Kris Bordessa May 16, 2016 @ 11:09

      Thanks for sharing your success! I can’t wait to make more this year.

  • Jeanne McIntyre May 11, 2016 @ 9:03

    I used your recipe for watermelon rind relish and it was one of the easiest recipes to follow. I had a couple carrots in the fridge, so I added them to the mix. The relish tastes better than the relish I had purchased. Thank you so much for your ideas.

  • Suzanne Davis Aug 21, 2015 @ 8:09

    Made your watermelon rind relish yesterday and it is fantastic! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 21, 2015 @ 8:38

      So glad it turned out to your liking!

  • Shelle @ PreparednessMama Aug 20, 2015 @ 6:02

    We put relish in our tuna salad and other recipe and have also had trouble finding it in the grocery store. Even Costco doesn’t carry those big gallon jugs any more. This recipe looks fantastic, I’m out to buy a watermelon (or 2)!

  • Lisa P Dec 13, 2013 @ 8:14

    Looks good, I LOVE relish. I had some of the zucchini relish from a friend which we like on hotdogs. I too have more watermelon rind than squash so i must try this. I also make a “hot BBQ slaw” that has cabbage and mustard – also good on burgers and dogs. Never thought to use in my “tater” salad – something else to try – thanks!

  • Michelle Dec 9, 2013 @ 17:50

    Watermelon rind pickles are super yummy, but there are several recipes out there; our favorite has the longest inactive time, as it involves soaking the cut up, peeled rind pieces in pickling lime water so that they stay crisp. Otherwise they are soft; it’s all about which way you prefer them. They are sweet and spicy and amazing, and best of all, all they cost you is time and sugar and a few spices; I add a small bag of red hots for color and zing 🙂

  • Nicole Sep 12, 2013 @ 6:39

    I just wanted to say thank you for this recipe! This is my and my husband’s first year farming and we’ve had a beautiful bounty of heirloom watermelons. Not wanting to waste ANYTHING we wanted to find a good recipe for the rind instead of using it for compost. We have successfully made this recipe 4 times and have been selling it at our weekly farmers’ market. Thank you, thank you!!

    P.S. It seems to sell well when marketed as a “chutney” because relish and chutneys are quite similar.

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 15, 2013 @ 6:25

      Oh, that’s so awesome! Thanks for letting me know. Glad to hear your customers like it and that you’ve managed to divert the rinds from the compost! (Have you tried the tomato chutney recipe I shared??)

      • Nicole Sep 15, 2013 @ 6:53

        I just read the recipe and your intro had my mouth watering. So glad Claudette shared the recipe for our enjoyment! Our tomatoes are done here in central Louisiana but I bookmarked it and will try it as soon as I get my hands on some yummy tomatoes. Thank you again, Kris!!!

  • Doug Aug 19, 2011 @ 0:21

    Sorry, no recipe but my grandmother (southern lady from very modest circumstances) used to make candy from the rinds of many fruits; watermelon and grapefruit come to mind. As I recall (and it’s been a looong time) the rinds were cut into bite sized chunks and then somehow sugared so the sugar was infused into the rind and left a crunchy coating on the outside. As a kid, I don’t recall being enamored with the flavor but I’d sure like to give it a try now that I have a more, ahem, mature palette.

  • Melanie Haiken Aug 4, 2011 @ 12:37

    This is such a great example of leaving no waste; reminds me of the native American Indians and their practices of using all parts of the animal. I am canning-challenged (terribly intimidated) but may try this, since if I ruined it, I wouldn’t be wasting veggies I could eat in other forms….

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 4, 2011 @ 14:53

      Even if you’re “canning challenged” as long as you can chop some veggies and simmer them, you can keep this right in the fridge! No canning necessary.

  • Elizabeth Aug 4, 2011 @ 10:20

    I bet this recipe could be lacto-fermented as well, instead of being prepared with vinegar. You would leave out the vinegar, increase the salt to about 1 T per quart, and add 2 T per quart of whey from an active culture of kefir or yogurt, then let it ferment on your counter until it is pleasantly sour.

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 4, 2011 @ 10:28

      Thanks for this, Elizabeth! I’m still trying to wrap my head around the whole idea of lacto-fermentation, so I appreciate hearing how to alter the recipe accordingly.

    • Carol L Sep 4, 2021 @ 18:06

      If you do ferment it, canning will eliminate the benefits: you’d have to just refrigerate it instead

  • Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart Aug 3, 2011 @ 8:30

    This looks awesome. I’ll have to try it!

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