Watermelon Sweet Tea

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There’s no better way to wash down barbecue than with this make-ahead bev.
watermelon sweet tea recipe: pitcher of watermelon sweet tea with a spoon, next to a glass of watermelon sweet tea and two stacked watermelon wedges
John “Edge” Koladish/Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque

Feeding a hoard of thirsty guests? Before you spend your entire weekend hand-squeezing citrus for a massive pitcher of lemonade, consider this five-ingredient, make-ahead-friendly watermelon sweet tea from Ed Mitchell and Ryan Mitchell’s new cookbook, Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque.

“Sweet tea is a staple beverage in the South, and a part of our barbeque tradition,” writes Ryan, Ed’s son. “In Raleigh, we started to add watermelon puree to our sweet tea as a natural [sweetener]…Buying cases of soda can get expensive. But with a few tea bags and some sugar, everyone gets a cup.”

Fresh summer fruit and a bargain? We call that a win-win. Choose a watermelon that’s deep green on the outside with a cream- or yellow-toned ground spot. Give the ground spot a hard tap—if the sound is deep and hollow, the melon is ripe.

Excerpted from Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque © 2023 by Ed Mitchell and Ryan Mitchell. Photography by John “Edge” Koladish. Reproduced by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.


1 cup sugar

6 tea bags (such as Luzianne)

12 cups seeded, diced watermelon

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Fresh mint leaves (optional)


1. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and 2 quarts filtered water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil until the sugar has completely dissolved and the liquid is clear, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the tea bags to the sugar water, cover and steep for 15 minutes.

2. Working in batches, puree the watermelon and lime juice in a blender or food processor. Strain and transfer to a gallon-sized pitcher. Remove the tea bags and add the tea to the pitcher. Do not add ice. Stir and pour into ice-filled glasses. Garnish each glass with two fresh mint leaves, if desired, and serve.

Nutrition Facts
  • 112 calories

  • 0g fat

  • 29g carbs

  • 1g protein

  • 26g sugars

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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