Melons — they’re juicy, sweet and can do so much more than just your typical fruit salad. In fact, you can bring out the unique flavors of each variety by trying the pairings listed below. Read on for our guide to 10 melons — from cantaloupe to Crenshaw and beyond.
Fragrant and sweet as candy when ripe, cantaloupes have a rough, web-like skin and a dense, orange-coral-colored flesh. Enjoy cantaloupes as part of any salad (perfect when cubed in a summer panzanella) or peel and serve a wedge just by itself. Try topping with savory flavors like prosciutto and black pepper.
A summer staple, this smooth, pale-skinned melon lasts a long time thanks to its hard rind. Honeydews don’t have as strong a fragrance as muskmelons, but they can be equally sweet. Make popsicles in your favorite mold by pureeing with your favorite sweetener, fresh basil and a splash of lime juice. Or dress fresh honeydew slices with bright flavors like grated ginger and a squeeze of lemon.
Mildly sweet with a thick green skin (perfect for pickling!), watermelons are extremely juicy when ripe. Add something extra to a grilled dinner by serving grilled watermelon wedges, mint and feta over a bed of greens, all drizzled with balsamic dressing. You can also make a melon caprese salad with thin slices of fresh watermelon, burrata and basil.
Though smaller than its larger cousin, they more than make up for their size with an intensely sweet, crisp and very juicy texture. Their seedless flesh varies from deep pink to deep red. Try blending them with frozen strawberries, honey and mint and serving in a hollowed-out half for smoothie bowls.
A cross between a honeydew and a cantaloupe, a Galia melon’s rind is netted like a cantaloupe, but the smooth lime-green flesh is like a honeydew. Unlike many other melons, the tenderness of the stem end is not a good indicator of ripeness. Instead, use your nose to smell for its distinct tropical aroma. Its sweet banana flavor pairs well with tart summer fruits, or serve chilled slices with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt like Maldon.
Similar to green honeydew on the outside but with a similar interior color, taste and aroma of cantaloupe. To find a ripe orange honeydew, look for a light creamy rind with a sugary aroma. Blend it into gazpacho with a splash of sherry vinegar, cucumber and red onion.
This elongated muskmelon tastes like a cantaloupe but shines with sweeter, crisper flesh. Balance out that sweetness with a squeeze of lime juice for simple snacking or make a ceviche with avocado, cooked shrimp, cubed melon, jalapeño and lime for instant summer flavor.
The bright yellow, football-shaped fruit resembles a cantaloupe in flavor but has a pleasant and sugary tanginess. Its tropical flavor pairs well with bright summer herbs like mint, cilantro and basil in salads. You can also turn it into a spicy snack with chili powder and a squeeze of lime. Or keep it simple: slice and eat.
Pale yellow when ripe, this large muskmelon variety has deep wrinkles that gather at the stem end. Popular for being deliciously sweet and almost spicy, the casaba’s skin color is the best clue to ripeness when selecting. Casabas are good building blocks for summer gazpachos and smoothies. You can also use it in a salsa with cilantro, white onion, serrano and lime.
One of the sweetest varieties available, the oblong Crenshaw has a buttercup-yellow rind and ripens from midsummer through autumn. The dense, salmon-colored flesh has an intoxicating aroma and works well with prosciutto and other charcuterie. Another recommendation? Rethink your ice cream sundae by topping vanilla ice cream with Crenshaw melon, pistachios and honey.