Watermelon Salad with Feta

This watermelon salad with feta recipe has lots of Castelvetrano olives, fresh basil, cracked black pepper and delicious quick pickled onions.

The Sun’s out, Summer is here and watermelon season, at least in our household, is in full effect. I generally don’t need any excuse to eat watermelon, it’s one of my favorites, and if left to my own devices I can easily consume an entire one by myself in a day. But, making a salad like this makes it feel like a real meal, slightly more adult, and not to mention it’s totally delicious. Cold, sweet watermelon, salty feta and briny olives. Totally my thing.

I typically make massive platters of this all season long. I highly recommend trying this out if you haven’t already, I promise you’ll like it.

This isn’t the first watermelon salad to grace this site. I did a watermelon salad with feta, mint and Kalamata olives and another watermelon salad with chipotle powder, radish, cilantro and queso fresco. Both very good I would like to say. But here I’m giving you my current fave (third time’s the charm). It’s one I tend to make pretty frequently since there is always a watermelon in the house once the warm weather hits. That’s what happens when you marry a guy who sells watermelon…

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watermelon salad watermelon salad
Cold, sweet watermelon, salty feta and briny olives. Totally my thing.

Where did watermelon Salad Originate?

While I don’t know of any particular origin for watermelon salad with feta, there are plenty of variations worldwide. From this version which has mediterranean flavors, to watermelon salad with southeast asian flavors like fish sauce, chilis and lime. Or even an American style version with corn, tomatoes and arugula. If you have a particular watermelon salad recipe you like let me know!

What is watermelon salad?

This watermelon salad has feta, olives, pickled onions and basil. It’s a twist on a classic mediterranean watermelon salad that would use fresh mint and Kalamata olives.

The thing that is so delicious about a watermelon salad is the combination of sweet, cold watermelon with a salty cheese and fresh herb. With that as your framework, you can really riff on it from there. Use what you want, what you like, and experiment.

Watermelon Salad Recipe Ingredients


Get any watermelon you like. I happened to have a large seedless one, so I used that. You want it to be ripe and sweet. Also, make sure it’s well chilled. One of the best parts of this watermelon salad is how cold and refreshing it is.

Feta Cheese

Feta is one of the main ingredients for this salad recipe, so try and get the best you can find.

Castelvetrano Olives

The combination of the briny olives and sweet watermelon is very, very delicious. I would recommend getting unpitted olives, and pitting them yourself. But pitted works just fine too if that’s what you have.

Red Onions

You’ll be pickling these red onions so make sure to slice them super thin. You can use a white or yellow onion, it just won’t give you that great pink color. A shallot would also work in a pinch.

Fresh Basil

The fresh basil brightens the whole salad up. Use any fresh basil you like, classic Genovese basil is great, I love a mini Greek basil (what I used here) or even a Thai basil is perfect.


I used apple cider vinegar for this version, it was what I had, but you could certainly substitute with red wine vinegar or white vinegar.

Olive Oil

A nice peppery extra virgin olive oil along with the salty feta and sweet watermelon is so delicious. Use that good olive oil for this one!

How to Make Watermelon Salad

  1. Make The Quick Pickled Onions – You’ll cover your thinly sliced onions in vinegar and let them sit about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Prep The Watermelon and Olives – You want to slice your watermelon into serving size pieces, they can be bite sized or a little larger. Totally up to you. And get those olives pitted!
  3. Plate The Watermelon and Feta Salad – Arrange the watermelon on a large platter. Preferably chilled, but not required. Scatter over the crumbled feta, torn olives, basil and quick pickled onions. Make sure to drain off any excess vinegar from the onions.
  4. Finish the Salad – Add a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some fresh ground pepper.


What to serve with watermelon salad?

Anything grilled is a good bet. I love this with some simple grilled chicken thighs, easy grilled lamb chops or even as a side for some easy oven baked pork ribs. You certainly can’t go wrong serving this alongside some grilled burgers, any grilled fish or steaks.

If you wanted to go vegetarian you could make this to go alongside grilled zucchini with fresh ricotta, orzo pasta salad, or with some simple grilled corn with cilantro and queso fresco.

Can watermelon salad be made ahead of time?

Yes. If you want to prep this ahead of time I would assemble everything, but leave out the feta and olive oil. Add those on right before you serve.

If you have any leftovers I would store them in the fridge and they’ll be good for another day. I wouldn’t recommend storing leftovers for any longer than a day since the salt in the feta cheese and olives will pull out a lot of the moisture from the watermelon and you’ill end up with a soupy mess.

More Summer Salad Ideas

Panzanella Salad

Orzo Pasta Salad

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Celery Apple Fennel Salad

Stone Fruit Caprese Salad

Skirt Steak Salad

Curly Endive & Grilled Stone Fruit Salad

Cucumber and Peach Salad

Pink Crab Caesar Salad

Chipotle Watermelon Salad

Mediterranean Watermelon Salad

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Salmon Niçoise

Or browse all the salad recipes

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5 from 1 vote

Watermelon Salad

Watermelon Salad with Feta, Castelvetrano Olives and Pickled Onions
Prep Time10 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Mediterranean
Keyword: salad, summer recipes, watermelon
Servings: 4
Author: Rachel Lerro


  • 1/2 - 1/4 seedless watermelon really as much as you want to eat
  • 8 oz feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives pitted and torn
  • 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 handful basil Greek, Thai or Genovese are all good choices
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • fresh ground black pepper


  • Cover your sliced onions in vinegar and let them sit about 10-15 minutes to quick pickle in that vinegar.
    1/2 red onion, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Cut up the watermelon and pit those olives.
    1/2 - 1/4 seedless watermelon, 1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives
  • To plate, I like to arrange the watermelon in a fairy even layer on a large platter. Scatter with crumbled feta, torn olives, basil and your onions (drain off any excess vinegar).
    8 oz feta cheese, 1 handful basil, olive oil, fresh ground black pepper
  • Finish the salad with a drizzle of good olive oil and some fresh ground pepper.

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