This sweet and savory Watermelon Cucumber Salad with Basil is juicy, refreshing, and perfect for the summer. The sweetness of the watermelon complements the creamy feta cheese (vegan) while the basil gives it a subtle kick that makes each bite interesting. Finally, the addition of the cucumbers adds a crunch.
If you are struggling to imagine the juicy watermelon outside of a fruit salad, then I urge you to try this summer salad recipe with cucumber, basil, and vegan feta. It will change the way you see watermelon forever.
Why do watermelon and feta pair so well together?
The pairing of feta and watermelon is a match made in heaven. It’s like dipping your watermelon to creamy salt but a hundred times better. But if you don’t like vegan feta for some reason, or if you can’t find it, vegan blue cheese also pairs well with this juicy fruit. Like vegan feta, vegan blue cheese is made with cashew, oils, and salt. I crumble a block of feta cheese by Follow Your Heart and toss with with watermelon cucumber salad. You can also find vegan feta cheese by Violife or Trader Joe's.
What's the best dressing for watermelon salad?
Fruits are typically dressed in cream but for this savory side dish, I am using glazed balsamic AKA balsamic reduction. Reduced balsamic vinegar as a salad dressing is closer to a vinaigrette, but it is much more complex and pairs better with a wider range of flavors. The best part is, you can easily make this at home with just two (or one!) ingredients! Learn how to make glazed balsamic dressing in this post. Also, you prefer a more simple recipe method for a balsamic vinaigrette, then try this super easy to make, Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette; which also pairs well with this Watermelon Cucumber Salad.
How to tell if watermelon is sweet?
Here's how to pick a sweet and perfectly ripped melon. Go for either an oval or round shaped watermelon. Feel with you hands to make sure there are no irregular bumps. The heavier ones are more sweeter and juicier. The ones with the yellow spot are full of flavor, since they been on the vine longer. The shiny watermelons are underripe; while the dark matte or dull ones are the ripe ones.
Main Ingredient Notes
- Watermelon - A sweet and juicy watermelon that is well ripe.
- Cucumber - Most use the English cucumber for this salad, but I love using the Persian cucumbers. Either way works.
- Basil - Fresh herbs always brings the most freshness to any salad. Mint is also popular in Watermelon Cucumber Salads.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - As long as it is organic, cold-pressed and extra virgin.
- Feta Cheese (vegan) - I've used crumble feta by Follow Your Heart.
- Balsamic Vinaigrette - Dressing is the key to any salad. I recommend trying this Homemade Balsamic Glaze that completes this salad very well.
How to make Watermelon Cucumber Salad with Basil
A salad can never be made wrong, if you have the right ingredients because they are so versatile. Here's how I put mine together.
First step - Using a sharp knife, slice watermelon and cucumbers. I cut my watermelon into cubes, but you can slice whichever way you prefer (triangular or ball shape using a melon scoop). A small watermelon comes out to about 4 cups when cut.
Second step - Place sliced watermelon and cucumbers into a mixing bowl. Then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and gently toss together.
Third step - Transfer salad on to a serving dish. Sprinkle with crushed black pepper. Add fresh basil (and/or mint).
Final step - Garnish with crumbled feta cheese and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Note: this step should be done right before serving.
Expert Tips & Tricks
- If you are going to use the same vegan feta that I used, remember to sprinkle it on your salad right before serving. Otherwise, the feta will run into the salad quickly. So if you are bringing this salad to a potluck or picnic, keep the crumbled feta in a separate container and just add it later before serving.
- Also, remember that watermelon and cucumbers retain lots of water no matter how much you drain them (both fruits are more than 90% water!) so the salad can turn be watery if not served fresh. It’s best to dress the salad together just before serving.
- Basil - Mint is another popular herb served instead of basil, but you can always use both. Other fresh herbs like oregano pair well too.
- Balsamic vinaigrette or glaze - You can squeeze the juice of half of fresh lime and drizzle olive oil over your salad. Another option is to combine red wine vinegar and maple syrup to create a delicious vinaigrette.
Here's more ways to give your Watermelon Cucumber Salad more oomph!
- Red Onions - Sliced raw red onions for tasty crunch.
- Avocados - Diced avocados for a creamier flavor.
- Jalapeños - Thinly sliced jalapeños to spice things up.
- Castelvetrano Olives (green) - Whole or sliced olives to give it more tang.
- Baby Arugula - To add more freshness and peppery flavor.
- Mint - Another refreshing option.
- Knife - A sharp knife to slice and dice.
- Mixing bowl - Used to toss all ingredients together.
- Platter - To serve.
More summery vegan salads
Watermelon Cucumber Salad with Basil and Feta
- 4 cups seedless watermelon cubed
- 2 cups cucumbers sliced
- ¼ cup basil whole leaves or thinly sliced
- 12 whole fresh mint leaves small whole leaves or thinly sliced
- ¼ cup feta cheese I used Follow Your Heart's crumble feta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- crushed pepper garnish
- 2 tablespoon balsamic glaze (add more or less as desired)
- In a medium or large sized mixing bowl, gently place the watermelon cubes, cucumbers.
- Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil and salt on on top and gently toss it all together to coat the watermelon and cucumber slices.
- Place the watermelon salad in a serving dish. Dress it with fresh basil and/or mint leaves. Sprinkle with crumbled vegan feta, crushed pepper. Lastly drizzle with balsamic glaze.