This delicious and refreshing Watermelon Beet Salad is an absolute show-stopper! It's a wonderful mix of sweet and savory with juicy watermelon, ruby beets, crunchy walnuts, and Manchego cheese. And the homemade Creamy Lemon Dressing is the perfect addition to tie it all together.
🍉 The Best Summer Salad
This cold Watermelon and Beet Salad was inspired by my trip to Chicago where my friends and I dined at Tapas Valencia for lunch. I didn't think I was a fan of beets until I tried their Remolacha salad, which has "gold and red beets with lamb's ear lettuce, honeyed walnuts, Manchego cheese, and a lemon mayonnaise dressing". It turned out to be my favorite dish of the whole meal!
My version has their best-hitters: earthy roasted beets, crunchy toasted walnuts, nutty Manchego cheese, and a creamy lemon dressing. But throwing in fresh watermelon takes it to another level. The sweet and juicy melon adds beautiful color, flavor, and heartiness that's perfect for this salad. The end result is a winning combination that's a hit at all summer BBQs, cook outs, and parties!
Why You'll Love It
- Healthy: This bright salad is loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and potassium. Plus, making the dressing yourself means no funky add-ins or preservatives! This salad is also vegetarian and gluten-free.
- Easy: This quick and easy salad recipe only requires 9 ingredients and 25 minutes to put it all together.
- Refreshing: This beet salad is perfect for a hot summer day. It's best served cold so all the juicy fruit and veggies will keep you cool.
- Walnuts: Adds much-needed crunch. Toast them slightly so they retain their crunch for longer.
- Watermelon: To pick a sweet and ripe watermelon, look for one that is heavy for its size with a yellow-tinted field spot and larger webbing.
- Beets: For convenience, I like to buy pre-cooked beets. I recommend the plain ones rather than the pickled or flavor-marinated ones.
- Manchego cheese: Spain's most popular cheese! It's a firm sheep's milk cheese that's creamy and nutty.
- Microgreens: Fresh greens add vibrant color and a light pepperiness.
For The Creamy Lemon Dressing
- Greek yogurt: A healthy base for our creamy salad dressing.
- Lemon: Both lemon zest and juice adds tang and brightness. It's a great contrast to the sweet watermelon.
- Honey: To balance the tang from the yogurt and lemon.
- Dijon mustard: Adds a little oomph and savoriness.
Substitutions & Variations
- Replace walnuts with any nut or seed. Pecans, almonds, pistachios, or sunflower seeds would be great.
- Use half red and half golden beets for more color and variation.
- If you can't find Manchego cheese, substitute it with Asiago, Monterey Jack, or Pecorino Romano cheese. Feta or goat cheese would also taste great with these salad ingredients.
- Substitute microgreens with any fresh green herb, like mint or basil. You can also add in leafy greens for a heartier salad. Arugula or spinach would work best here.
- To roast beets at home, remove stems and cut beets in half. Drizzle with oil and season with salt. Roast at 375ºF for an hour until tender. Check out this complete recipe from Spend With Pennies.
- You can add your favorite fruits and vegetables into this dish. Figs, radish, cucumber, tomato, or farro would be delicious add-ins.
🔪 How To Make Watermelon Beet Salad
⬇️ Please scroll down to the recipe card to see full ingredient
amounts and instructions.
STEP ONE: First, start by toasting the walnuts. Heat them in a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing every so often, for about 4-5 minutes. Make sure they don't burn or char. Toasting the nuts help them stay crunchy for longer, even when dressed.
STEP TWO: Then prep the remaining ingredients. Cube the watermelon, slice the beets, and crumble the cheese.
STEP THREE: Whisk the dressing. In a bowl, combine Greek yogurt, honey, mustard, lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper.
STEP FOUR: Finally, assemble the salad. Combine all the ingredients and dress the salad right before serving.
💭 Top Tips
- Buy cooked beets in the vacuum-sealed packages. It'll save a lot of time and effort so all you'll have to do is assemble the salad.
- Don't dress the salad until you're ready to serve. The salt in the dressing will draw out water from the watermelon and beets, resulting in a watery salad. For parties and events, I recommend serving the dressing on the side.
- For an extra refreshing fruit salad, serve it chilled. Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl, but don't dress it yet. Keep it in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour and enjoy!
- This healthy beet salad is always on repeat for me in the summer and I love bringing it to parties. Serve it alongside Lemon Dill Hummus, Ube Cheesecake Bars, and Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Drumsticks for the perfect summer spread.
🥡 Storing & Make Ahead
Storing: If you have leftover Watermelon Beet Salad, store it in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
I recommend storing the Creamy Lemon Dressing in a separate jar with a tight-fitting lid. It'll keep for 1 week in the fridge.
Make Ahead: You can prep everything in this salad ahead of time. Toast the walnuts, crumble the cheese, and whisk the dressing up to 4 days in advance. Cut the watermelon and beets up to 2 days in advance. Store everything separately in the fridge and assemble the day-of.
📖 Recipe FAQs
Beets are rich in folate (vitamin B9), nitrates, and antioxidants. They can also help with lowering blood pressure, improving stamina, and helping with digestion. Beets are great raw, steamed, or roasted!
It depends on its age. In general, it has a creamy, full, and slightly salty taste. Younger versions will have a little more tang and fruity notes. As the cheese matures, it will taste more nutty and caramel-like. It's one of my all-time favorite cheese for its full and round flavor - great for charcuterie boards!
Store cut watermelon in an air-tight container in the fridge. They should be eaten within 3-4 days. As time passes, they may dry and lose their flavor.
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Watermelon Beet Salad
- Toast the nuts. Add chopped walnuts to a skillet and toast over low heat for 4-5 minutes, tossing occasionally. Let cool.
- Make the dressing. Whisk together Greek yogurt, lemon zest and juice, honey, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth. Season to taste.
- Assemble. To a large bowl, add watermelon, beets, manchego cheese, and cooled walnuts. Mix to combine and pour into serving bowl or plate. Top with microgreens and more cheese if you'd like.
- Serve dressing on the side or drizzle on right before serving.
- Serving size ranges between 2-4.
- Replace walnuts with any nut or seed. Pecans, almonds, pistachios, or sunflower seeds would taste great.
- Use half red beets and half golden beets for more color and variation.
- If you can't find Manchego cheese, substitute it with Asiago, Monterey Jack, or Pecorino Romano. Feta or goat cheese would also taste great in this salad.
- Substitute microgreens with any fresh herb, like mint or basil. You can also add in leafy greens like arugula or spinach for a heartier salad.