Food & Drink

What Is Yellow Watermelon and How Do You Use It?

Last Updated on November 1, 2023 | 0 Comments
Cut pieces of yellow watermelon on a plate on a wooden table

Yellow watermelon is an often overlooked summer fruit, but it has a lot to offer. Whether you are making smoothies, salads or desserts, you can use yellow watermelon instead of red for a slightly sweeter taste and a totally different appearance to the dish.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about yellow watermelon, from where it was originally developed to how to make the most of it in your kitchen. We’ll answer your most commonly asked questions about yellow watermelons and share tips for using them in online cooking and mixology classes. Want to learn more about yellow watermelon? Keep reading for our in-depth guide.


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What Is Yellow Watermelon?

Yellow watermelon is a slightly sweeter version of the classic red watermelon you often see in supermarkets or at roadside stands in the summer. And while we might think of red watermelon as “classic,” the truth is that yellow watermelons were actually the first variety of this fruit to be developed.

Red watermelon gets its color from lycopene, an antioxidant also found in other red or pink fruits like tomatoes and grapefruits. The yellow watermelon varieties do not have lycopene; instead, they have a high amount of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is another type of antioxidant that can also be found in fruits like pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupes.

Regardless of their color on the inside, all watermelons share the same green-striped rind and fleshy, crisp texture when ripe. And though there are slight flavor differences, most of the time, you can easily use a yellow watermelon in place of a red and vice versa. 

A yellow watermelon cut in half on a wooden chopping board
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Is Yellow Watermelon Natural?

You might still be wondering, “Are yellow watermelons natural?” The answer, put briefly, is yes! Yellow watermelons are every bit as naturally occurring as the sweet red watermelons you might be more familiar with. 

Where Does Yellow Watermelon Come From?

Where is yellow watermelon from? Well, the yellow watermelons you’ll find in stores today were likely grown in the United States or South America. However, yellow watermelons were originally cultivated in Africa around 5,000 years ago. They are still widely cultivated and enjoyed there today. 

Although the yellow flesh of a yellow watermelon looks different to our eyes, this version was the one that was first cultivated. The more familiar-looking red watermelon came later as farmers selectively bred plants for different qualities like size, rind color, flavor and flesh color.

Slices of cut yellow watermelon on plates
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Yellow Watermelon Varieties

There are five main varieties of yellow watermelon that you might see at your local farmers market when they are in season. All of them have the classic green striped rind of a typical watermelon, but they have slight variations in flavor and texture that are good to be aware of.

  • Yellow Crimson: This version is the typical yellow meat watermelon variety, which looks just like its red counterpart except for the yellow flesh of the fruit. It has the same sweet flavor and crisp texture as the Sweet Crimson red watermelon.

  • Buttercup Yellow Melon: A yellow watermelon variety that is very sweet — it has one of the highest sugar contents of all yellow watermelon types. This variety was also bred to be seedless, which makes it easy to slice up and enjoy on its own or in fruit salads and other summer desserts.

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  • Desert King: This variety has higher levels of beta-carotene than any other watermelon. The Desert King version looks like it belongs more to the cantaloupe family than the watermelon family, but it still tastes like yellow watermelon. These watermelons were originally found in desert countries, as the juicy fruit helped keep travelers from becoming too dehydrated on long journeys.

  • Yellow Flesh Black Diamond: These yellow watermelons were selectively bred in the United States and feature a slightly less sweet taste than the others. If you are looking for the texture and crispness of a red watermelon without all of the sweet taste, this version might be the perfect choice for you.

  • Yellow Doll: This watermelon is smaller in size than all other yellow watermelon varieties thanks to its quick maturation process. These tiny versions only weigh between six and eight pounds when fully ripe. 

Red vs. Yellow Watermelon: What’s the Difference?

After learning about the origins and varieties of yellow watermelon, the real question is this: What is the difference between red and yellow watermelon? Aside from the color of the fruit’s flesh, the real difference comes down to flavor.

While some versions of yellow watermelon will taste exactly like red watermelon, many are slightly sweeter. Yellow watermelon varieties have more flavors of honey, apricot or grapefruit thanks to the beta-carotene inside. That kind of taste is something that red watermelons lack.

Two things are the same across the board regardless of color — the green striped rind and the crisp, juicy texture of the watermelon. Both will typically appear identical when looking at the watermelon from the outside.

Yellow watermelon pieces on a plate next to pieces of red watermelon
via Canva

Is Yellow Watermelon Safe to Eat?

Many might wonder if yellow watermelon is safe to eat due to its unfamiliar appearance. Because it has yellow fruit inside, you may even wonder if it is simply an unripe red watermelon.

The answer is that yellow meat watermelons are completely safe to eat and can be enjoyed in many of the same ways as red watermelons. Like all fruits, they are best eaten when they are at the right level of ripeness, but their yellow color does not indicate anything wrong with the fruit. 

Triangle slices of yellow watermelon on a wooden chopping board
via Canva

What Does Yellow Watermelon Taste Like?

Yellow watermelon has the same texture as red watermelon, but different varieties can have their own unique flavors. For example, the Buttercup Yellow, with its high sugar content, is incredibly sweet — even compared with other yellow watermelon varieties. 

The yellow watermelon varieties often have a honey or apricot taste that lends a slightly different flavor profile to recipes using the fruit. Instead of simply tasting like watermelon, it features unique fruity notes thanks to the different antioxidants in the fruit.

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The good news is that because their flavors are so similar, yellow watermelons can easily be used in any recipe that calls for a red or pink watermelon. If you are enrolled in cooking classes near you, online cooking classes or even cooking classes in a major city like cooking classes in Miami, try substituting a yellow watermelon for red next time the recipe calls for it.

Another popular use of watermelons is in cocktails. The cocktail and mocktail recipes taught in online mixology classes will frequently include red watermelon. However, it is easy to substitute in the yellow version. The different colors of the fruit can help switch up the look of the cocktails or mocktails you are making without sacrificing anything in terms of watermelon taste.

Two glasses with yellow drinks next to pieces of yellow watermelon
via Canva

Is Yellow Watermelon Good for You?

Another thing you may be wondering is: "Is yellow watermelon healthy?" The short answer is yes. Like all foods, yellow watermelon has certain nutritional benefits and drawbacks, and it can be safely enjoyed by most people in moderation. It is worth noting that yellow watermelon does have certain qualities that make it appealing for anyone wondering how to start eating healthy

The beta-carotene that gives yellow watermelon its signature color converts into vitamin A once it is in your system. Vitamin A is needed to help develop a healthy immune system and promote good eye health. It can also lead to healthier-looking skin. Additionally, yellow watermelon is a relatively low-calorie snack for anyone watching what they eat. 

Is Yellow Watermelon Healthier Than Red Watermelon?

There doesn’t seem to be any substantial difference in health benefits when comparing red watermelon to yellow. Aside from the absence of lycopene, both fruits are high in antioxidants and vitamins A and C. Both can also help you stay hydrated thanks to their high water content. 

Triangles of cut yellow watermelon on a blue plate next to half a yellow watermelon
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Where to Buy Yellow Watermelon

Now that you’ve heard about the flavors and health benefits of yellow watermelon, the last question to answer is: “Where can I get yellow watermelon?” The answer to this question varies, but it is safe to say that most yellow watermelon varieties won’t be found on the shelves at your local grocery store. Instead, try a farmers market or specialty fruit stand. You can also look online to find suppliers in your area who can help you locate this unique fruit.

Whole green rind watermelons with a slice of yellow watermelon on top
via Canva

We hope this guide to yellow watermelon has helped you learn more about this ancient and delicious summer fruit. Try substituting it in your summer recipes or even enjoying a slice on its own next time you are in the mood for some crisp, refreshing watermelon. For even more ways to explore your favorite foods, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.