Balsamic Watermelon Cucumber Salad — An EASY, healthy, and light salad with watermelon, cucumber, arugula, goat cheese, candied nuts, and drizzled with a homemade balsamic glaze!! A PERFECT summer salad for those days when it’s too hot to cook!!
Balsamic Watermelon Salad Recipe
This watermelon goat cheese salad with cucumber and arugula is a spinoff of a salad I love to eat at one of my favorite Puerto Vallarta beach bars. It’s refreshing, light, and the combination of all the flavors is just perfection.
There’s juicy sweet watermelon, cucumber, strong and peppery arugula, tanginess from goat cheese, crunchy candied nuts, and a homemade balsamic glaze. If you’ve never thought that watermelon can be delicious in a more savory application, think again because this salad will just knock your socks off.
It’s so fresh and perfect for hot summer days.
What’s in the Watermelon Cucumber Salad?
You only need a handful of ingredients to make this watermelon and cucumber salad. You’ll include:
- Balsamic vinegar
- Goat cheese
- Candies walnuts, pecans, or macadamia nuts
How to Make Watermelon Cucumber Salad
This watermelon goat cheese salad is drizzled with a homemade balsamic glaze, which you’ll need to make first (keep reading for detailed instructions on how to make it).
Once the reduction is done, all that’s left to do is toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl and drizzle with the glaze!
How to Make Balsamic Reduction
Making a balsamic glaze, or reduction, is as easy as boiling together balsamic vinegar and granulated sugar for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the volume has reduced by about 80% and the sauce is thick and syrupy.
I used a 500 milliliter (about 17 ounces) bottle of balsamic vinegar and added close to one cup sugar.
You can start with 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar and taste your sauce when it looks like it’s about halfway done, but for me that’s not quite sweet enough and it’s too intensely vinegary, so I went with closer to 1 cup for this batch.
Use a bigger kettle than what you think you need because the sauce will bubble up vigorously and ample room in your kettle is advantageous to avoid it from bubbling over.
Can I Add a Protein Source to the Salad?
Yes! I bet grilled chicken would pair wonderfully with this cucumber, watermelon and arugula salad.
Tips for Making Watermelon and Cucumber Salad
You can also use store-bought balsamic glaze. Trader Joe’s is one I tend to keep on hand for times like this and there are many other brands out there these days if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area.
Note that you will have lots of balsamic reduction leftover, but it will keep for weeks in a sealed container in the fridge. As long as you’re going to the trouble to make it, you may as well have extra for future recipes, because it’s great drizzled over chicken, salmon, etc.
As written, this is an easy, healthy vegetarian and gluten-free watermelon arugula salad recipe, but you can make it vegan by skipping the goat cheese or using a vegan cheese.
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Balsamic Watermelon Cucumber Salad
An EASY, healthy, and light salad with watermelon, cucumber, arugula, goat cheese, candied nuts, and drizzled with a homemade balsamic glaze!! A PERFECT summer salad for those days when it's too hot to cook!!
- 500 millilters balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 3 cups watermelon, seeded and cubed (I recommend seedless, firm watermelon)
- 1 large cucumber or English cucumber, peeled and cubed
- 1 cup argula (1 heaping handful)
- 1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled or as desired
- 1/3 cup candied nuts, or as desired
- To a high-sided medium/large kettle (use one bigger than you think you need), add the vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, and heat over medium to medium-high until mixture boils and can sustain a fast rolling boil.
- Boil for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until reduced by about 80% and has thickened and is syrupy; stir intermittently and keep an eye on it so it doesn't bubble over.
- When the sauce looks like it's about halfway done, taste the sauce, and if it's too vinegary and bitter for you, add part of or all of the remaining sugar. I personally use almost 1 cup. Sauce will thicken up more as it cools.
- To a medium bowl, add all the remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and drizzle as much of the balsamic reduction as desired.
Glaze: Alternatively, you can use store-bought balsamic glaze.
You will have lots of balsamic reduction leftover, but it will keep for weeks in a sealed container in the fridge. As long as you're going to the trouble to make it, you may as well have extra for future recipes, because it's great drizzled over chicken, salmon, etc.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 4245Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 1160mgCarbohydrates: 812gFiber: 4gSugar: 717gProtein: 34g
The nutrition information is taking into account ALL of the balsamic reduction and you won't need anywhere near all of it for this salad, probably just a few tablespoons, but it is skewing the data very extremely artificially high.
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Hands down, one of the most delicious salads I’ve ever eaten. Was a huge hit at my dinner party, and what a beautiful presentation it makes. Buy the Trader Joe’s glaze for an easy, delicious sauce.
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you love this recipe and it’s one of the most delish salads you’ve ever eaten! I agree, the TJ’s glaze is easy-peasy and makes it so easy to whip up this salad.
This is one of the most fantastic salads I have ever had! Incredible mix of flavors but the balsamic reduction is what pulls everything together. I made my own candied pecans in a skillet with some butter and honey (the little store bought bags were kind of pricey)!
Thanks for the 5 star review and I made this earlier on in the QT when spring weather was just starting, but I couldn’t find candied pecans and all I could find were the candied macadamias but I bought them anyway even though they were very pricey (because I was lazier than you were)! Bravo for making your own candied nuts (I have lots of recipes for them, I don’t know why I didn’t….)
But yes this is one of my favorite salads OF ALL TIME!! I am so glad you said what you said. It’s based off a restaurant salad I get in Puerto Vallarta but there is something about the homemade balsamic (and TJ’s balsamic glaze is a close second) that takes it over the top. And not being stingy with the goat cheese, either. And I add more cucumbers and arugula and they use more of like a spinach-spring mix greens.
It did not photograph as well as I wanted to and hasn’t performed well on my site or social media, people just don’t know what they are missing :)
Hi Averie. Today we had this Balsamic Watermelon and Cucumber Salad for dinner with grilled chicken. It knocked our socks off!!! Thank you. Textures, color, flavors — Wow! Hubby could not get enough. Each mouthful had its own surprise: first the pop of pepper from the arugula, second the tang of the cheese, then the sweet crunchiness of the nuts. My only problem was with the balsamic dressing itself. I cooked it as directed and after 15 minutes, it had the texture of candy. As it cooled it hardened, so there was no way I could drizzle it. I ended up just mixing balsamic vinegar and sugar until I liked the taste, and then drizzling that over the salad. No cooking at all. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but it turned out well.
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad that you loved the salad! I agree it’s so many great textures and flavors in every bite!
As for the balsamic reduction, if it was that thick and had the texture of candy, you way overboiled it. You must have been boiling it at a pretty fast boil, or maybe your stove runs hot, or who knows, but you could safely stop and check after 7-8 mins next time if at 15 it was that dense. Now you have a feel for what you’re looking for and remember it thickens up as it cools, too.
I have been wanting to make some kind of watermelon cucumber salad and this sounds deliciously different with goat cheese and nuts!!
Hi Averie, Please revisit the calories posted for this recipe. Seems to be incorrect.
Did you read the big disclaimer I wrote underneath the nutrition data? You must have missed that because I addressed this very point.