24 Types of Melons to Load Up on While They’re in Season

Ever heard of Moon and Stars?

Is it even really summer before you’ve eaten a juicy wedge of watermelon? Or a piece of prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe? How about Tajín-dusted honeydew? We think not. While you and these three popular melons go way back, there are a ton more to explore. Melons have been around for more than 4,000 years, and there are nearly 40 types of melons out there to date. Personally, we’re on a mission to taste as many of them as we can. Here are 23 kinds to look out for, plus recipes to try with each one.

50 Watermelon Recipes to Make (and Eat) All Summer

How Many Varieties of Melons Are There?

In short: a lot, including heritage and non-edible varieties that are not often commercially available. There are around 40 varieties of melons that we can and actually do eat.

What Type of Melon Is the Sweetest?

Hami and Crenshaw melons have a reputation for being two of the sweetest varieties out there. The former is said to have a sweeter cantaloupe flavor with more of a crunch. Meanwhile, crenshaw melons have a distinct aroma to them and pair well with ice cream.

What Melon Is the Healthiest?

It depends on what “healthy” means. Cantaloupe is packed with antioxidants and more vitamin C and A than, say, honeydew. In terms of calories, the Galia melon has just 24 per each 100-gram serving. If looking at the glycemic index, watermelon has a score of 72, higher than the score of 55, which is considered low, while other melons, like the canary or crenshaw, hover around 65.

What Is the Cross Between a Cantaloupe and a Honeydew?

The Galia melon is a hybrid of Ha-Ogen melon (honeydew) and the Russian Krymka melon (cantaloupe). It has a sweet flavor profile that is lightly spicy, with a cantaloupe-esque rind and flesh that resembles honeydew. The Galia melon is even sweeter than cantaloupe.  

types of melons watermelon
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1. Watermelon

  • Scientific name: Citrullus lanatus
  • Taste: Sweet, refreshing, juicy

Watermelon is a must at every summer soiree, and if you’ve tasted it before, it should be no mystery why. To pick a ripe one at the grocery store or farmers market, look for a watermelon that’s deep green in color with a cream- or yellow-colored ground spot. Pick it up and give the ground spot a hard tap—if it sounds deep and hollow, it’s ready to devour.

Recipes: Grilled Watermelon-Feta Skewers, Vegetarian Watermelon Poke Bowls, Grilled Watermelon Steaks

types of melons cantaloupe
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2. Cantaloupe

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis
  • Taste: Sweet, tender

Unlike watermelon, cantaloupe has a firmer, less mealy texture. So, we love serving it with different charcuterie meats and proteins because it holds its shape and isn’t as watery. They’re at peak deliciousness come late spring. Look for cantaloupes that are tan with light green lines on the outside and free of soft spots.

Recipes: Cantaloupe-Mint Sorbet, Cantaloupe and Mozzarella Caprese Salad, Frozen Cantaloupe Cocktail

types of melons honeydew
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3. Honeydew

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo L. (Inodorus Group) ‘Honey Dew’
  • Taste: Light, slightly sweet, mild

This melon, which is in season from June through October, is wildly underrated. It can offer light sweetness to salads, frozen yogurt, smoothies and even cocktails. You know a honeydew is ripe when the rind is a creamy yellow color and smooth or waxy to the touch; it should feel a bit springy on the bottom.

Recipes: Melon Salad with Chili Powder, Mint, Lime and Flaky Salt, Fresh Honeydew Margarita, Melon Basil Burrata Salad with Crispy Prosciutto

types of melons winter melon
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4. Winter Melon (or Ash Gourd)

  • Scientific name: Benincasa hispida
  • Taste: Vegetal, refreshing, slightly grassy

Despite being harvested mostly during the summer, winter melon gets its name for its long shelf life, a result of its durable waxy skin. Since its flavor is very mild, it’s often used like a vegetable in soups, stir-fries and stews. It’s also popular to candy or preserve it, hence its other name, Chinese pickling melon.

Recipes: Chinese Winter Melon Soup, Winter Melon Stir-Fry, Fried Winter Melon and Pork

types of melons casaba melon
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5. Casaba Melon (or Golden Beauty)

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo var. Inodorus ‘Golden Casaba’
  • Taste: Spicy, aromatic, slightly sweet

If you’re wondering why this melon looks closer to a squash or pumpkin than a watermelon, it’s because melons are actually part of the gourd family, along with cucumbers. A type of muskmelon that’s closely related to honeydew and cantaloupe, casaba is named after its place of origin, Kasaba, Turkey. Use them in smoothies, soups, curries or sorbet, or just snack on them raw.

Recipes: Casaba Melon and Mint Salsa, Casaba Melon with Creamy, Sweet Curry, Chilled Melon and Cucumber Soup

types of melons persian melon
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6. Persian Melon

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo
  • Taste: Sweet, crunchy

A cultivar of the musk melon family, Persian melons are elongated and smooth with yellow banded skin and orange flesh. They taste similar to cantaloupe, but their large size makes them milder in flavor.

Recipes: Persian Melon Salad, Kharbozeh and Persian Melon Popsicle

types of melons galia melon
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7. Galia Melon

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo var. reticulatus
  • Taste: Sweet, spicy, juicy

Created in Israel in the 1970s, the galia is a cross between cantaloupe and honeydew. It looks similar to honeydew on the inside, thanks to its pale green flesh, but the outside is closer to cantaloupe with its netted rind. They’re even sweeter than ripe cantaloupe in taste, so serve it as a refreshing dessert with summer berries or vanilla ice cream, or turn it into sorbet.

Recipes: Galia Melon, Kiwi, Serrano and Goat Cheese Salad, Pickled Galia Melon Salad, Melon-Yogurt Dessert with Almond Brittle

types of melons snap melon

8. Snap Melon

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo momordica
  • Taste: Sour, bitter, mealy

Snap melons are native to Asia and grow on their own with the help of pollinating insects, meaning they’re self-sufficient and a single climbing vine is all you need to grow them. Due to their flavor, snap melons are tastiest when combined with other sweet melons and fruits or sugar.

Recipes: Healthy Snap Melon Kulfi, Snap Melon Smoothie

types of melons canary melon
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9. Canary Melons

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo L. (Inodorus Group) ‘Canary’
  • Taste: Sweet, tangy, juicy

Named for its sunny yellow rind, canary melon’s flavor is like honeydew, plus a distinct tanginess. Its texture is firmer than mealy watermelon, like a pear. In Asia and South America where it’s cultivated, it’s used in fruit salads and enjoyed raw at breakfast. They also pair beautifully with fresh citrus and herbs.

Recipes: Chilled Canary Melon Soup, Melon Granita, Canary Melon Jam

types of melons bitter melon
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10. Bitter Melon (or Pare)

  • Scientific name: Momordica charantia
  • Taste: Bitter

Though this melon hails from the Indian subcontinent, it’s grown all over Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Due to its bitterness, bitter melon is used like a vegetable more than a fruit. It’s beloved for its high antioxidant content and immunity-boosting qualities.

Recipes: Beef with Bitter Melon, Vietnamese Bitter Melon Stir-Fry with Eggs, Bitter Melon with Black Bean Sauce

types of melons crenshaw melon
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11. Crenshaw Melon

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo var. Inodorus ‘Crenshaw’
  • Taste: Floral, sweet

This hybrid of a Persian and Casaba melons boasts an extra sweet flavor and vegetal aroma. Its texture is tender and juicy, making it great to eat raw in fruit salads or with charcuterie meats. Crenshaw melons also make for delicious sorbet, frozen cocktails and smoothies.

Recipes: Crenshaw Melon, Prosciutto and Burrata, Shrimp Tacos with Melon-Pineapple Salsa, Mango Crenshaw Melon Juice

types of melons santa claus melon
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12. Santa Claus Melon (or Christmas Melon)

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo var. Inodorous ‘Sancho’
  • Taste: Sweet, mild, slightly earthy

In its homeland of Spain, the Santa Claus melon is also called “piel de sapo”, meaning “toad skin,” due to its dark green, stripy rind. Its other Christmas-inspired names are due to its long shelf life that makes it possible to enjoy the melon in late winter. Its flavor is similar to honeydew, but more refreshing and a bit earthier.

Recipes: Piel de Sapo Melon Sorbet, Santa Claus Melon Tart, Strawberry Melon Gazpacho

types of melon ananas melon
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13. Ananas Melon

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis
  • Taste: Very sweet, spicy

This heirloom melon dates back to the 1800s. In line with its name, which means “pineapple” in French, it has juicy flesh that ranges from white to yellow in color. Its netted rind is similar to that of a cantaloupe.

Recipes: Melon Pineapple Fruit Salad with Berries, Pineapple Melon Smoothie

types of melon crane melon
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14. Crane Melon

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo
  • Taste: Very sweet, juicy, floral

If you come across one of these California-bred beauties at the farmers market, scoop one up while you can—their short shelf life makes them a rare find. It’s known for its smooth, green-and-yellow spotted rind and extremely sweet flavor. The Crane melon is the result of cross-farming Japanese, Persian and Ambrosia melons, among others.

Recipes: Fire and Ice Melon, Melon and Goat Cheese Salad with Agrodolce Dressing, Serrano Ham and Basil-Infused Melon

types of melons ambrosia melon
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15. Ambrosia Melons

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo ‘Ambrosia’
  • Taste: Very sweet, floral

Despite its appearance, this melon is much sweeter and more floral than the common cantaloupe. Its extra sweet flavor makes it the perfect pairing for salty cheeses and meats, like salami and capicola. You can also purée it for sauces, soups and drinks. It’s also delicious eaten raw in salads and desserts.

Recipes: Melon Ambrosia, Morro Bay Pacific Gold Oysters with Melons and Cucumber Water

types of melons honey globe
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16. Honey Globe Melon

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo var. Inodorus ‘Honey Globe’
  • Taste: Very sweet, soft, juicy

Much like Crane melon, the honey globe variety is tough to come by due to its short harvesting period. It’s one of the sweetest melons out there and has a thick white or white-and-green striped rind. Honey globes get their name from their round shape.

Recipes: Melon Mozzarella Salad with Basil, Summer Melon Couscous Salad with Avocado, Grapes and Mint, Melon Caprese Skewers

types of melon autumn sweet
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17. Autumn Sweet

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo
  • Taste: Very sweet, watery, tender

Autumn sweet melons get their name because they ripen between mid-summer and fall. This tiny one is famous for its extra sweet taste, golden rind and white flesh. In Taiwan, it’s often candied or pickled to eat as an appetizer or added to soups. Its high liquid content makes it ideal for juices and smoothies.

Recipes: Mint Julep Melon Bites, Melon-Mint Smoothie, Cucumber Melon Salad

types of melons armenian cucumber
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18. Armenian Cucumber

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo var. Flexuosus
  • Taste: Crisp, juicy, mildly sweet

Botanically, it’s a melon. But by the looks (and taste) of it, it’s much closer to a standard cucumber. This long, slender fruit was cultivated in the 1400s and grown throughout Armenia, Egypt and other areas of Western Asia. It tastes refreshingly similar to a cucumber, but a bit sweeter.

Recipes: Moroccan Feggous Salad, Armenian Cucumber and Gherkin Pickles

types of melons gac melon
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19. Gac Melon (or Gac Fruit)

  • Scientific name: Momordica cochinchinensis
  • Taste: Buttery, mild

On the outside, the gac melon is covered in orange-brown, spiky, dimpled skin. Cut it open and you’ll be wowed by its vibrant red hue. Grown mostly in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia, the melon has a unique flavor, like a cross between a cantaloupe and an avocado. Due to its lack of sweetness and mellow taste, gac melons are often used in stews, soups, curries and rice dishes.

Recipes: Grilled Prawn with Gac Sauce, Pan-Fried Red Tilapia with Tomato and Gac Fruit Sauce

types of melons cucamelon
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20. Cucamelon (or Mouse Melon)

  • Scientific name: Melothria scabra
  • Taste: Refreshing, sour, mildly sweet

Aren’t they just the cutest? They look like grape-sized watermelons, but taste closer to cucumbers with a punch of acidity. Also known as Mexican sour gherkins, cucamelons are commonly pickled just like standard cucumbers. Their slight sweetness and tartness also make them a popular cocktail ingredient or garnish.

Recipes: Pickled Cucamelons, Ponzu-Marinated Cucamelons, Cucamelon, Grape and Tomato Summer Salad

types of melons ivory gaya
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21. Sugar Baby Matisse (or Ivory Gaya)

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo inodorus 'ivory gaya'
  • Taste: Sweet, succulent

Snow leopard, sweet snowball, silver star—whatever you call this sweet pick, you're sure to enjoy its white flesh and green-striped exterior. Originally from Japan, this melon's shape is small and round and the pulp is firm, making it easy to cut up for snacking. Its sweet flavor is sort of decadent and honey-like, meaning it'd be a solid foil for savory charcuterie meats and cheeses.

Recipes: Melon and Parma Ham, Baby Spinach and Gaya Melon Salad

types of melons: charentais melon
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22. Charentais

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis
  • Taste: sweet, fragrant

The Charentais melon is named for the region of France in which it grows, Charente. It’s located in southwest France, just north of Bordeaux (yep, the wine-making region). The melon is characterized by its stripes—and its tendency to split along them. The Charentais melon is smaller than a typical American cantaloupe with sweet, firm flesh that’s divine paired with prosciutto.  

Recipes: Prosciutto Melon Salad, Charentais Aperitif Melon Bowls, Charentais Melon with Spiced Quinoa, Yogurt and Pistachio

types of melons moon and stars
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23. Moon and Stars

  • Scientific name: Citrullus lanatus
  • Taste: intensely sweet

This melon earned its name because of the bright yellow dots that adorn its dark green rind, bringing to mind the moon and stars. Inside is a flesh similar to that of a watermelon. Moon and Stars can grow to 40 pounds and is a popular heirloom melon said to be intensely sweet.

Recipes: Moon and Stars Watermelon Martini, Moon and Stars Watermelon Calypso Bean Salad, Watermelon Peach Salad

types of melon: hami
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24. Hami

  • Scientific name: Cucumis melo ‘Hami melon’
  • Taste: sweet and spicy

The Hami melon has a reputation for being one of the sweetest melon varieties. Its rind resembles that of a cantaloupe, but the shape is more oblong and the color can tend towards yellow. It is also known as the Chinese Hami melon or snow melon, with flesh that is crisp and sweet. 

Recipes: Watercress and Hami Salad with Almonds, Hami Melon Avocado Salad, Smashed Cucumber and Melon Salad 

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