Watermelon Granita

Watermelon granita is an easy and refreshing summer dessert that makes for an excellent mid-afternoon treat.

Two glasses with watermelon granita topped with lemon slice.
Alison Bickel

Watermelon is a beloved summer fruit and freezing it into a simple dessert is a perfect way to enjoy it.

This watermelon granita is an icy, refreshing treat that is at once light and satiating. It’s sweet without being cloyingly so, and has a fresh, bright, lightly acidic taste.

A watermelon granita is the perfect ending to a barbecue or cookout meal, makes for an excellent mid-afternoon chilled treat, and even works as a frozen cocktail base. It’s kid friendly, but also sophisticated enough to serve for a dinner party.

What is a Granita?

Think of a granita as in the family of sorbet and popsicles, but a little more icy. It’s a frozen dessert made with puréed or juiced fruit, with a fluffy texture created by scraping the mixture with a fork as it freezes. The hourly scraping creates both volume and texture.

Side view of two glasses with watermelon granita and garnished with lemon slice.
Alison Bickel

What’s in a Watermelon Granita

This granita is made with freshly puréed watermelon, lemon juice, and honey. The honey is used instead of sugar because honey doesn’t freeze. That means this granita will freeze less rock-hard than a standard granita. The honey sweetens it to dessert status, while the lemon juice balances it all out with a touch of tartness.  

Tips and Tricks for Making Watermelon Granita

This watermelon granita is fairly forgiving, but for best results you’ll want to follow the below guidelines.

  • It’s ok to scrape the granita more than once an hour.
  • You don’t need to strain the purée; little bits of watermelon will provide texture.
  • Choose a light, golden honey so that the honey flavor doesn’t overwhelm the watermelon.

Watermelon Granita Swaps and Subs

Want to try something different? This granita recipe works equally well with honeydew, cantaloupe or another melon.

Simply follow the same instructions for puréeing and freezing. If you’d prefer to use stone fruit or berries, you’ll need to use equal parts of fruit and fruit juice, since they have a lower water content than melons do.

If you prefer sugar to honey, use that instead; the leftovers will just firm up more, and you might need to let it thaw before eating.

Lime juice works equally as well as lemon. If you’re using a less sweet fruit, such as peaches, you can choose a less tart citrus like orange or grapefruit.

If you don’t have an 11x7 pan, you can use an 8x8 square; add up to one hour to freezing time to account for less surface area for the granita to freeze on.

Side view of a watermelon granita with a stack of watermelon behind it.
Alison Bickel

Watermelon Granita Serving Suggestions 

This granita works well when served:

  • In a festive glass, such as a martini or wine glass
  • In a bowl, topped with fresh fruit pieces
  • Layered with fruit and whipped cream in a large bowl
  • As a cocktail base: just pour one serving of your spirit of choice over it in a glass and stir

Watermelon Granita Storage

While most granitas need to be eaten as soon as they’re ready or they’ll over freeze, this granita offers you the luxury of leftovers because I used honey, which doesn’t freeze the same way granulated sugar does.

Store any unused portion in your freezer in a tightly sealed container. When ready to eat it again, use a fork to fluff it back up. It will keep in the freezer for about a month before developing more ice crystals than desirable.

Side view of a watermelon granita with watermelon behind it.
Alison Bickel

More Refreshing Chilled Treats

Watermelon Granita

Prep Time 10 mins
Freeze Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 10 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings

If your watermelon isn’t overly sweet you might want to reduce the lemon juice to 1 tablespoon.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (2 1/2 pounds) seedless watermelon, seedless watermelon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup honey

Method

  1. Combine ingredients and blend:

    In a blender, combine the watermelon, lemon juice, and honey. Blend on low until the watermelon is broken down fully. This will take about five seconds in a high-powered blender, or 15 seconds in a standard blender.

  2. Pour into baking dish and freeze:

    Pour the mixture into a 9x9 baking dish and place in the freezer uncovered.

    Watermelon granita in a glass baking dish.
    Alison Bickel
  3. Scrape granita with a fork after one hour:

    Use the tines of a fork to scrape through the mixture. At this point, only the edges will be frozen. Place granita back in the freezer.

    Watermelon liquid in a baking dish to make a watermelon granita recipe.
    Alison Bickel
  4. Scrape granita again after another hour:

    Remove the granita from the freezer and scrape through again using the tines of a fork. More of the mixture should have frozen by now. Those outside parts will have many different-sized crystals, with the overall texture of a thick slushie. Place granita back in the freezer.

    How to make a watermelon granita recipe showing partially frozen watermelon mixture in a glass baking pan.
    Alison Bickel
  5. Scrape granita again after an additional hour:

    After a third hour, scrape through the granita. By now, the mixture should be mostly frozen, and your work will mostly be in making it fluffier with the fork.

    How to make a watermelon granita recipe showing frozen watermelon mixture that's been scraped in a glass baking pan.
    Alison Bickel
  6. Scrape for a final time and serve:

    After four hours in the freezer, the granita should be ready to eat. It will be thicker than a slushie, more solid than liquid, and will have a fluffy appearance. It will still have crystals of varying sizes, but the overall appearance will be consistent throughout. Give it a final fluffing/scraping with a fork and serve.

    asy watermelon granita scooped with a spoon.
    Alison Bickel