Home Articles How to Tell If a Watermelon is Ripe (6 Ways)

How to Tell If a Watermelon is Ripe (6 Ways)

Don’t know how to tell if a watermelon is ripe? With this walkthrough, you’ll never feel the disappointment of biting into a bland watermelon ever again.

Summer is here, which means it’s watermelon season! That said, it’s very important to determine whether it’s ripe or not. I happen to know the best hacks, so you’re in the right place.

How to Tell If a Watermelon is Ripe (6 Ways): Bunch of Watermelon Displayed For Sale in a Store

Watermelon is synonymous with the Fourth of July, summer picnics, and backyard barbecues. Watermelon is incredibly refreshing, so it’s perfect for those intensely hot days.

It’s delicious and nutritious, to boot! It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals and keeps you hydrated from the inside out. Plus, it’s low in calories AND helps to reduce stress. 

Basically, watermelon is a superfruit. And you should definitely eat more of it! 

Be sure it’s ripe, though, so you get to enjoy its sweet and juicy goodness. For that, this article for how to tell if a watermelon is ripe has you covered.

How to Tell If a Watermelon is Ripe (6 Ways): Ripe Watermelon Sliced in Half

How to Tell if a Watermelon is Ripe

Choosing a ripe watermelon can certainly be intimidating at times. Especially if you’re picking one for an event and you want to get it just right.  

There is nothing worse than biting into an unripe watermelon. Either they’re hard, crunchy, and sour OR they’re mealy and taste like nothing. No one likes that. 

But ripe watermelon? It’s sweet, juicy, and utterly delicious. 

I’m here to teach you the best methods to choose the ripest watermelons. So, every slice is the perfect slice. 

Yellow Belly

When you pick up your watermelon, you want to look for a yellow belly. This is called a ground spot or a field spot. It’s the part of the watermelon that sat on the ground. 

You’re looking for a buttery yellow to light golden yellow color. No spot or a white spot indicates that the watermelon was picked too soon. 

It’s also important that the spot is fairly large. This means that the watermelon is heavy, and heavier is definitely better with watermelon. 

I’ve found that this is one of the most reliable methods for determining a perfect watermelon. 

Weight and Feel

Speaking of heavy… you want your watermelon to be CHUNKY. At least, you want it to be heavy for its size. The heavier the watermelon, the juicier it is. 

And that is definitely a good thing! 

The best way to determine this is by picking up two similarly sized watermelons. Keep the heavier one and try again until you’re satisfied. 

If you have to grunt while you pick it up, you’re on the right track!

How to Tell If a Watermelon is Ripe (6 Ways): A Person Picking Watermelon Displayed at a Store

Hollow Sound

Knock, knock! Who’s there? A delicious watermelon! 

Knocking on your watermelon is actually a very helpful way to check its ripeness. Hold it up to your ear and gently rap it with your knuckles. 

If it makes a hollow plunking sound, it’s good. 

The Sniff Method

Does your watermelon smell sweet and melony? Good! That’s a great indicator that your watermelon is ready for you to eat. 

However, if it smells really strongly saccharine… you should leave that one behind. It’s probably too ripe and beginning to rot.

Tendrils and Stem

It may seem counterintuitive, but a brown, dry stem and tendril are your friends. Because unless there was a really bad growing season, that means your melon is mature.  

And a mature melon means a tasty melon! 

This method is the most useful when you’re growing your own watermelons. But it can work for the store and market too. 


You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. However, you should judge a watermelon by its rind and other elements of its appearance. Here’s what to look for and what to avoid.

Look for a yellow belly (as discussed), dull rind, and a uniform shape. This means that the watermelons received consistent care and sun and matured fully. That means deliciousness! 

Does your watermelon have brown, rough patches that look like dirt? Great! Those are sugar spots and they mean your watermelon will taste like CANDY. 

Avoid shiny, lumpy watermelons with uneven shapes. You also want to avoid large bruises, gashes, cuts, and soft spots. 

How to Tell If a Watermelon is Ripe (6 Ways): Slices of Watermelon in a Wooden Cutting Board

How to Store Watermelon

Whole Watermelon

Whole watermelon is really easy to store. Simply find a nice place on your counter and leave it there. It will last up to 14 days at room temperature.  

Do not put a whole watermelon in the fridge!

Cut Watermelon

However, you CAN put the cut watermelon in the fridge in an airtight container. The only thing is that the fridge messes with the texture of the fruit. It gets mealy, fast. 

So, when you’re ready to eat your watermelon… be ready to eat ALL of it. Well, eat it within 3-4 days anyway. 

How to Tell If a Watermelon is Ripe (6 Ways)

Got yourself a whole watermelon from the grocery? Don’t make the mistake of cutting into it when it’s not ready! Learn how to tell if it’s ripe, only here.


  • 1 Watermelon


  • Lift up the watermelon and check its belly for a sizable yellow spot.
  • With the watermelon in hand, check its weight. It should be heavy for its size.
  • While holding the watermelon, knock on the rind. You should hear a slightly hollow sound.
  • Give the watermelon a sniff. If it has a light sweet smell, it’s good to go. If it has a strong sweet smell, it’s more likely overripe.
  • If the watermelon is homegrown, check the stem and curly tendril connected to the vine. If they’re brown and dry, it’s ready to harvest.
  • Give the watermelon a once-over with your hands and eyes. It should be smooth with a dull rind and uniformly sized, with minimal cuts or bruising.
How to Tell If a Watermelon is Ripe

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author avatar
Haley van der Ploeg
Haley van der Ploeg is a food writer and content creator for Insanely Good Recipes, where she authors blog posts, creates recipes, and crafts tantalizing photos.

Haley is passionate about food and its ability to gather people across cultures, languages, and generations. She believes everyone can learn to cook.

Most days, you can find Haley reading, baking elaborate cakes, and hosting get-togethers for friends and family. If Haley isn't home, she’s probably on a plane jetting off to exciting adventures and new cuisines.

She lives with her husband in the Netherlands and has taught him that vegetables *can* taste good.

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