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Instant Pot Watermelon Rinds Are the Snack of the Summer

June 06, 2017

You're throwing away the best part of the watermelon, and I'd like to help you out here. Not just to minimize the waste you're discarding willy-nilly into the world, but also because I would like to be the person who introduces you to your new favorite warm weather snack: spicy Instant Pot watermelon rind pickles. Of course I didn't invent watermelon rind pickles; they're a mostly Southern and Indian condiment that's been around since time immemorial. But most recipes tend to be pretty sugar or oil-laden and call for stovetop simmering and boiling and nah. I want sleeker, faster, and tidier for you than that so you can grab it willy-nilly with your bare hands. I deployed my dearly beloved Instant Pot and came up with a quick, spicy watermelon rind pickle with which you may swiftly become obsessed.

Pick a small-ish watermelon for the task and save the insides for your standard watermelon stuff. A quick cycle through the pressure cooker with some rind-on lemon slices, a little salt and sugar, and the hot sauce of your choice (I dig Tabasco, but live your own truth) results in tender, sweet, sour, hot, quick pickles that you'll be jamming in your melon hole all season long. Stash them in a little plastic tub in your bag, set them out at parties, or just eat them by the fistful from the fridge. 

Bonus: Any leftover juice makes a marvelous cocktail if you shake it with a little booze. 

Spicy Watermelon Rind Pickles


  • 1 small watermelon
  • 4 lemons, sliced thinly, seeds removed
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (more or less to taste)


  1. Peel the watermelon. This may seem daunting, but a Y-shaped peeler does the trick pretty handily. Once it's been denuded, quarter the melon with a sharp knife, then on each side, run the blade along the place where the pink flesh meets the white rind, slicing in as far as you can go. Then, starting at one tip, slide the blade in and separate the flesh from the rind. Use a spoon to scrape off as much pink as you can, and reserve all the watermelon flesh for whatever you'd normally do with that.

  2. Slice the rind into strips of a size that pleases you, removing stem ends. Place the strips in the Instant Pot (or the pressure cooker of your choice) along with lemon slices. Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and hot sauce. Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes, then manually release the pressure. 

  3. Pour into a lidded container and cool. Eat the watermelon and lemon as a snack or condiment, and shake the flavorful brine over ice with your favorite spirit for a bonus cocktail. They'll keep in the refrigerator for about a week.