Watermelon Jelly Recipe

watermelon jelly

When I think of fruits that are good for preserving, watermelon is not one that immediately springs to mind. Truly, it’s not something I would have even considered putting in my jam pot, had it not been for a request from my fellow former Slashfoodie, Stef from Cupcake Project.

She was trying to find a way to make a watermelon cupcake that tasted fully of the melon, without resorting to an additives not found in nature. One of her readers suggested using a watermelon jelly, and so she made a request of me. Would I be up for trying to create one that she could use in a cake?

watermelon jelly

I’m always up for a challenge and so took a stab. During the cooking, I was racked with anxieties, as the watermelon juice took on a slightly strange scent once hot. I used pectin and took the syrup all the way up to 220 degrees, in the hopes of getting a good, jellied set.

watermelon jelly

Only when I checked the jars the morning after canning, they hadn’t set solidly. The contents were thick, but still loose. I sighed and tucked the jars away, figuring I’d need to try again. However, before I managed to make another batch, I returned to the first set of jars and discovered that while they’d been sitting, the pectin had activated and they’d jelled perfectly. Upon tasting, I was happy to find that jelly was spreadable, sweet, tart and deeply watermelon-y. Another version of summer in a jar. I’m sold!

Watermelon Jelly

Yield: Makes 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 pints


  • 5 cups white sugar
  • 5 tablespoons powdered pectin
  • 6 cups pureed watermelon (remove any seeds prior to pureeing)
  • 1/2 cup bottled lemon juice


  1. Whisk together sugar and powdered pectin until they are fully integrated. Combine watermelon puree, sugar/pectin and lemon juice in a large, non-reactive pot.
  2. Bring to a boil and let cook until the temperature of the nascent jelly reaches 220 degrees. This can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on the width of your pot, the heat of your stove and even the weather you’re having. Check set using saucer test before removing it from the heat, to ensure that it will set.
  3. Remove from the heat and pour into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and screw on bands. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
  4. When time is up, remove from canner and let jars cool. When they’re cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. You can eat immediately or store unopened jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year.


*This jelly can take up to one week to set. Please give it time.


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81 Responses to Watermelon Jelly Recipe

  1. 1
    Kate says:

    I used Pomona’s for mine and got a very soft set. I’ve still got several quarts of watermelon juice in the freezer, so maybe I’ll give the powdered pectin a try to see if I get something much firmer.

  2. 2
    Dree says:

    That looks delicious. Did you pickle the rinds? (I’ve always wanted to do that, but have no clue how they taste.)

  3. 3
    Justin says:

    Great idea! I think I might give this a try. I’ve actually wondered how I could get watermelon into a jar but every time I work with it, it’s so darned watery and it softens so easily. For example, I tried to make watermelon sorbet using a recipe for other fruits and the excess water just made it freeze solid. Great for Popsicles, not so much for sorbet.

    I’ve been following your blog and I’m intrigued by the experimentation you do with commercial pectin. I’d love to tinker around with it but there isn’t much literature on the subject–the science behind how it works. I know how to do a cooked-down recipe with the fruit’s natural pectin (don’t mess with the sugar too much, cook to so many degrees, etc.) but the recipes that come with packages of commercial pectin are designed to scare you into doing their bidding–“Don’t use an OUNCE less sugar else it may not set! Boil EXACTLY one minute!” It doesn’t make sense that you can be fairly loosie-goosie with natural pectin but commercial pectin is so temperamental. I suspect it’s just the company wanting to be able to guarantee that their product works.

    I’d love to see you do a post or two about developing your own recipes with commercial pectin. What are the tricks you need to know?

    Justin, that’s a great post idea. I’ll ponder it a bit and see what I can come up with. -Marisa

  4. 4
    Astrid says:

    How funny! What a timely post….I’ve been planning on making some today.

  5. 5
    Regina says:

    YUM! now off to obtain more powdered pectin….

  6. 6
    Alison says:

    Fantastic! I’ve discovered your blog a week or so back and I just wanted to say congratulations on your forth-coming book, which I’m sure will be awesome. I also owe you a big thanks because yesterday I had a HUGE break-through in my jamming. I used Pomona’s pectin which people had been raving about in some of the comments. It is miraculous! I don’t think I’d ever actually experienced properly set jam until now, and with a lot less sugar. Thank you so much for all the inspiration.

  7. 7
    Pete says:

    What a fabulous idea! Thanks so much for this method – it’s just a matter of time and we, too, will have watermelon jelly!! Yummy sounding, for sure.

    Dree, pickled watermelon rind is something we often had around when I was a kid. If you’d like to try it, I did a piece on it here: http://chickensintheroad.com/farm-bell-recipes/in-a-pickle-a-watermelon-rind-pickle/ There are a few other recipes around, but I really like the added lemon in this particular recipe. Not what I remember, but very good.

  8. 8
    Leigh says:

    How much watermelon did you use to get 6 cups of puree? This looks worth trying! I absolutely love watermelon …

  9. 9
    Deborah says:

    This does look fabulous, and well worth trying. I LOVE jellies and jams and they’re MUCH easier to make than the Smuckers family would have you believe! …but it would be a true shame to use all that watermelon in such a great way and not pickle at least some of the rind! YAY!

  10. 10
    Marisa says:

    Sadly, I didn’t pickle the rind from the piece of watermelon I used for this jelly. It didn’t have a very thick rind, and so there just wasn’t enough to pickle.

    If memory serves, I used a wedge that was approximately 2 1/2 pounds to get the necessary six cups.

  11. 11
    Heather says:

    Marisa have you been reading my mind?? I’ve been making watermelon jelly (or jam if you like) all summer long. It’s been my best seller at my local farmers markets … in fact I’m just about to go into my kitchen to start breaking down 3 watermelons for jelly & rind pickles – waste not, want not. Just because I’m a little obsessive/curious about waste I actually weighted out everything last time I made jelly … from 1 watermelon, about 14#, I got 20c of juice, 4.5# of rind & only 9oz of wasted peel! Anyway I can never seem to leave well enough alone so I always end up adding different spices to my baked goods to “improve” them so I add cinnamon sticks, cardamom, allspice & black pepper to my watermelon jelly – so good! Also I’ve only been using Ball brand, no sugar needed pectin in all my jams so I can add a minimal amount of sugar, which in my case is about 1c of sugar to 8c of fruit. Since the watermelon turned out so good I was inspired to try other melons as well … so I also came up with a cantaloupe champagne & honeydew-lime-ginger jams – both big sellers as well. Ok well, back to the kitchen, unfortunatly those watermelons aren’t going to breakdown themselves!

  12. 12

    Wow. I am planning a lot of canning for the long weekend, and this definitely goes on the list.

    How did you determine how much lemon juice to add? I always want to try developing my own recipes but don’t have a PH meter, so usually I just do substitutions where I swap out less-acidic ingredients for more-acidic ones (like taking a salsa recipe and swapping out half the tomatoes for peaches). Since I’m working with well-tested recipes, this lets me experiment without worrying that I’ll poison myself…

  13. 13
    Julia says:

    Marisa, I’m new to canning, and don’t have a digital read or candy thermometer. I really want to try this jelly recipe, so is there any other way that I can tell when the liquid/sugar mixture has been cooked enough to add the pectin? Also, if I’m using the Ball no-sugar pectin, would it be ok to cut down on the amount of added white sugar? Thanks so much, your blog is really inspiring!

  14. 14
    Marisa says:

    Julia, having not made it with no-sugar pectin, I can’t answer your question with any level of certainty. I’d suggest looking at the recipes on the pectin insert and subbing in the watermelon juice into one of their jelly recipes and seeing how it turns out.

  15. 15
    Livia says:

    Marisa, you tend to go for less sweet jams, and this recipe looks like a much higher ratio of sugar than average. If you had been making it for yourself and not as worried about whether it would set, would you think that the taste would have been improved by being somewhat less sweet?Y’know, I haven’t had watermelon even once this summer. I think it might be time to fix that now that I have something to do with the random half a watermelon I never get around to finishing until it has gone off. Thanks

  16. 16
    Tricia says:

    Do you think that I can leave out the lemon juice? We stay away from citrus because it gives my daughter migraines. I used to avoid pectin because it has citric acid, but this year she is doing OK with it.

    • 16.1
      Marisa says:

      You absolutely cannot leave out the lemon juice. This jelly will not have enough acidity to be canned safely if you remove the acid. You could potentially add white vinegar to it as a substitute, but I don’t have any idea how that would taste.

  17. 17
    meemsnyc says:

    oooh, I love watermelon! I’ll have to try this!!

  18. 18
    Martha in KS says:

    Pete, thanks so much to the link for watermelon pickles. My grandmother used to make them & they’re delicious. I bought a watermelon to try them last year, but seedless watermelons have such a thin rind, I didn’t bother. Now I’ve got to buy a regular melon & try this.

  19. 19
    lynn says:

    What a fantastic idea for using up extra watermelon. I would love to give this a try. You are one adventurous canner 🙂

  20. 20
    Mama Urchin says:

    I’m rather skeptical of watermelon jelly I must admit. Now I know though where to find a recipe if I do decide to try it sometime.

  21. 21
    Daisy Mae says:

    I’m wondering if this is enough acid. The watermelon jelly recipe in the Ball Complete Guide calls for 1/2 c. vinegar, in addition to the 4T. of lemon juice. It looks like you followed the Ball recipe, except left out the vinegar.

  22. 22
    Mary says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now and I really enjoy your posts! I have never canned a thing in my life, but I love all your material.

    I’m thinking of starting a garden at my parents’ house (I have no land, since I live in an apt) next summer so that I can start canning. I know I could have started this summer and just bought veggies etc from the store, but I wasn’t ready for the start-up costs (plus I haven’t yet warned my DH of my new hobby-to-be).

    Anyway, all of that was to say, you have made me want to can! Most home canned goods I’ve seen look dull and lifeless–but yours!–yours is practically art! Love it.

  23. 23
    Anna says:

    I read your post at work and picked up a watermelon on my way home. I made your recipe just as listed and I got nine eight ounce jars that all sealed beautifully (and a little bit that I put into a cup and in the fridge to taste tomorrow). I really hope mine set just as yours did, right now they look very runny and I’m worried, but either way, I’m excited about how it will taste. Thank you for sharing!

  24. 24
    Jaime says:

    This sounds divine! I will definitely have to stock up on some watermelon.

  25. 25
    Erin says:

    When I do my cooking/ baking, I’m one of those people who just “eyeball” measurments; I rarely use my measuring devices. I’m curious about this approach when it comes to canning. I have made a few of your recipes (great, btw!)but I seldom have the exact amount on hand of the main fruit/ vegetable. When it comes to adding the additional acid, beit vinegar or citrus, are exact measurements essential? I have guessed in the past, but I am concerned about safety, especially for long term food storage. (the few pints that have been canned recently have been eaten soon after, defeating the purpose of canning in the first place!)

  26. 26
    KSDerby says:

    I’ve been making watermelon pickles for eons and this year has been no different. While my family loves to eat the watermelon, having that taste in the winter would be lovely. I’m going to give this one a try. Thank you.

  27. 27
    Pete says:

    Just can’t get this recipe out of my mind! Am dreaming about it over ice cream!! (Loosy-goosy jellies and jams were ALWAYS sauces or syrups back in the day.)

  28. 28
    Kathleen says:

    I keep thinking about my favorite combination: watermelon with mint and lime. An easy swap of lime juice for the lemon, and maybe a bit of mint infusion or even flecks at the last minute. Can’t wait to try this!

  29. 29
    Evil Tinkerbell says:

    I think that white balsamic might be a tasty substitute for lemon juice

  30. 30
    Anna says:

    It’s been two days now and my jam still hasn’t set 🙁
    Do you see any harm in trying to cook it again and maybe adding another packet of pectin?

  31. 31
    Marisa says:

    Anna, it took mine more than a week to set. However, if you want to speed it up, you could uncan, recook with more pectin and recan.

  32. 32
    anduin says:

    I recently moved to Oklahoma, where watermelon is the state vegetable. There are watermelons everywhere, including a 57-pound watermelon at the farmers market yesterday! There is a serious need for lots of melon preservation recipes down here. I’m going to try watermelon jelly with a yellow watermelon I just bought.

    Preserving melons can be done, but the water content makes it tricky. Last year I made a delicious chunky sauce from leftover watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe and lots of ginger and lime juice. It was out of this world. I didn’t use pectin, but it was pretty thick from cooking and ended up thickening even more over time. I would think pectin would ensure a set, but then again do you really need it to set? Watermelon jelly does seem like it would be better over ice cream or poured into a cake rather than just on toast.

    What would you think about a canned recipe for fire and ice salsa?

  33. 33
    Jessica S says:

    This will be my first go at something using pectin. I have a packet of “no cook freezer jam fruit pectin” made by Ball. (45 grams) Will this work for the above recipe? Thanks so much!

  34. 34
    Belinda says:

    How long was it before you got a good set? Mine just came out of the canner a few hours ago, and it’s alarmingly thin. I’m wondering how long to give it to get its act together. ;-P

  35. 35
    Marisa says:

    Belinda, it took mine nearly a week to finally achieve a good set.

  36. 36
    Christine says:

    I was just going to ask the same question as Belinda, as I canned 9 half-pints yesterday, and they are really watery. Can’t wait to taste this jelly – the color is so wonderful!

  37. 37
    Belinda says:

    Ahh, good–I’ll put it away and forget about it for a bit, then. Christine, I did put a smidge in my refrigerator, so have tasted it, and it’s brilliant.

  38. 38
    Suzanne says:

    Mine is simmering on the stovetop. I am hovering over it in anticipation. I am using lime juice, only because that is what I found in the fridge, Fingers crossed.

  39. 39
    Suzanne says:

    I made a couple of mods on your recipe. I added 1 packet plus 1 tablespoon of powered pectin and used 4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of fresh lime juice (with pulp) and it turned out wonderful. I made it at 9am and when I came home a 7pm it had already set up perfectly. Thanks for the recipe!

  40. 40
    kaela says:

    I also worry about the amount of acid; watermelon is not acidic, with a pH of 5.2 – 5.6 (according to this paper:http://www.foodscience.caes.uga.edu/extension/documents/FDAapproximatepHoffoodslacf-phs.pdf). If tomatoes, right on the cusp of the pH 4.6 safe limit, need 1 tbsp of lemon juice/pint, surely watermelon would need more than about 1 and 1/2 tbsp? Or perhaps the high amount of sugar is protective? I have heard this rationale for why fig preserves (another low-acid fruit) are safe for BWB.

    FWIW, I just made a mod of the Ball book recipe, using 6 cups of strained watermelon juice that I reduced to 3 cups then added 3/4 c of white balsamic vinegar and 6 tbsp lemon juice. Vinegar definitely comes through, but I was surprised by how much I liked the flavor. (I totally agree though; hot watermelon does NOT smell appealing).

  41. 41
    Dawn says:

    I made your recipe just last night. I tastes wonderful! The first thing that came to mind was watermelon jolly ranchers.

    Anyway, you mentioned it took awhile for the mixture to set after processing. How long did it actually take? I made mine around midnight last night (so, about 20 hrs ago) and it’s still pretty liquidy.

  42. 42
    Dawn says:

    If I had just read some of the other posts, I would have learned that it’s taking around a week to set. That’s nice to hear because I really want this batch to be a hit. The small amount I had left was put in a container because I didn’t want to waste even the small amount – IT IS UNBELIEVABLY DELICIOUS! Never tasted anything like it! Thank you!

  43. 43
    Waffle says:

    If you have problems with the lemon itself or the lemon flavor, you can purchase pure citric acid. It’s impossible to be allergic to this, since citric acid is present in trace amounts in all of your body’s cells. It’s an intermediate formed as your body breaks down sugars to generate energy.

    The easiest source that I know of is suppliers for people who make wine. I believe it is used for cleaning the wooden barrels, but it still has to be food grade. It’s quite sour without any other flavors.

  44. 44

    Looks delicious! I hate canning things that can be bought in the store so I’m always making and/or creating unique canning recipes. I have tomato-pineapple jam pop-popping on my counter right now 🙂

  45. 45

    […] wiggly; the 1/4-pint jars seem to be set nicely.  Marisa over at Food in Jars recently made a watermelon jelly that took a week to set, so I’m hoping that all of my jars will set up eventually. There is […]

  46. 46
    ecentipede says:

    i’ve been thinking about trying to make a watermelon-guava jelly. do you know the acid level of guava juice? would i still need as much lemon juice? also, am i crazy or does this flavor combination also sound good to anyone else?

  47. 47
    Caitlin says:

    It’s been 5 days and very minimal evidence of a set (in a jar made from a halved recipe with the whole amount of pectin and encouraged by the cold fridge)…panic is setting in!

  48. 48
    Marisa says:

    Caitlin, if it doesn’t set, you can always uncan it, recook it (boil up to 220 degrees) and recan it. I know that’s not ideal, but it should get you a better set.

  49. 49
    anduin says:

    I’m sorry to say that this was not a success for me. Uncharacteristically, I tried a 1 cup test batch, and I’m so glad I did. I used Pomona’s Pectin and had no problems getting a set, but the flavor was not good. I used a yellow watermelon, which was delicious and sweet when raw, but cooked it tasted like vegetable. I added lots of lemon juice, but that didn’t help either. After toying with flavors (cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, etc.) I finally got a flavor that was ok with a lot of sugar, a bit of salt, lime juice, tequila, and triple sec, but I still didn’t see myself eating it. After all that work deseeding the watermelon and getting set up to can, I shelved the project. I froze the watermelon puree and will try it in margaritas instead. Bummer!

  50. 50
    Rebecca says:

    We made this two weeks ago and still hasn’t set. We’re going to add more pectin/sugar and reprocess tonight. Hopefully it will set this time!


  1. Watermelon Jelly with Balsamic & Mint « local kitchen - September 12, 2010

    […] wiggly; the 1/4-pint jars seem to be set nicely.  Marisa over at Food in Jars recently made a watermelon jelly that took a week to set, so I’m hoping that all of my jars will set up eventually. There is […]