Watermelon agua fresca (Agua de sandia)

Here’s why you won’t want to go to a 4th of July party without watermelon agua frescas:

  1. Watermelon agua frescas let you eat loads of watermelon without leaving your hands sticky and probably without dripping pink juice on your shirt
  2. The kids and teetotalers more responsible people will love that there’s a special drink for them (that is…until you spike it, which we will do tomorrow)
  3. A big ole batch takes 10 minutes of prep (but still feels special!)

What’s an agua fresca?  It’s a mixture of of blended and chopped fruit that’s macerated in water and sugar.  Before we moved to California a couple years ago I had never heard of them, but thankfully I quickly learned that agua frescas can be found at just about every taqueria and burrito joint in the area.  Now, whenever it’s hot, I try to keep one constantly at hand (that is, when I’m not eating sorbet).  I think the last time I was in LA I drank about 40 gallons of the stuff.

There’s a lot of recipes out there, but many of them are a bit too sweet for me.  Agua frescas need sugar (for the fruit maceration part), but I think it’s best if it’s kept to a minimum.  If that’s not your taste, though, you may want to bump up the sugar.  You can sample as you go along and see what seems right to you.  Bear in mind, though, that the drink will taste sweeter after the fruit has some time to macerate than it does immediately after you make it (during the maceration process the watermelon leaks out its yummy goodness).

So, a little more about that maceration.  For the best flavor, make this the night before or early the morning of your BBQ.  It’ll last up to 2 days, but you should keep it refrigerated.  (I left mine in a cooler with ice because of lack of space in the fridge — worked just great.)

Agua de sandia
Makes a big batch, good for at least 10 people to have their fill

  • 1 small to medium watermelon — nicely cube 1/4 of the watermelon, roughly chop the remaining watermelon
  • 6 quarts (24 c) water
  • Simple syrup (Heat 1 c cane sugar + 1 c water in the microwave or over the stove until the sugar is dissolved.  Add more water if you need it.)

Pull out a big ole pot, pitcher or punch bowl.  (If you’re as fancy as I wish I were, you might have one of these or — sigh — one of these.)  Throw your nicely cubed watermelon in the pot.  They will look pretty floating around (and make the drink taste more flavorful, but they may taste a little too limp to eat after they’ve macerated for a while).

Take the rest of the water and, in several batches (it took me 4) blend the watermelon and water.  Blend until smooth.  Put that all in the pot, too.  Finally, add the simple syrup.

Let macerate for at least a couple hours, preferably longer.  Overnight is ideal.


7 thoughts on “Watermelon agua fresca (Agua de sandia)

  1. Macerated melon! I can’t stop saying macerate. Maceration. This seems so delicious I need to go get started on it right now. It doesn’t seem like it is an overly sweet drink as it is, but I probably should reduce the sugar a little to make it more diabetic-friendly? Since I don’t really think it’s legal to cook with artifical sweetners (Splenda simple syrup?! Sweet n’ Simple!), I’ll probably just reduce the real simple syrup a little… Or maybe use more watermelon? Actually I could probably just make it as is and then dilute mine more. Take one for the team. =) I miss you guys!! In the UC Davis farm produce box delivered to the porch this morning we got a bunch of heirloom tomatoes which are roasting currently and making the house quite hot. We also got a bunch of awesome weird little squash and then some chard, which made me think of you. But we also got beets. Which Alec hates. I love them…but what should I do with them?!! Beet agua-fresca would probably be a great color…

    And oh yeah, I am so down with the Bubbled Beverage Dispenser, jesus. That thing is GORGE!


    • You and me both. Game: shot of tequila for every time the word “maceration” is used in that blog post.

      Anyway…I’d say give it a try without the sugar. Let me know how it is! If it needs sweetener, maybe try agave? I know, I know…I’ve bashed on it before, but I still think it’s better than some of those artificial sweeteners? Your thoughts?

      Your produce box sounds awesome! Fresh tomatoes…sigh. What to do with the beets? I working on a beet recipe now (that will bring Alec around — not too beety). If all goes according to plan, I should have it up next week (though, recently I seem to be flopping recipes left and right).

      Miss you guys! Let’s hang ASAP!

  2. This is also really excellent mixed with iced tea! Thanks for the recipe, you always have such great, fun stuff!

    • Thank you so much! I wouldn’t have thought about the watermelon/tea mix. I have some white tea and a bit of mint that I think I’ll give that a go with. Thanks for the idea!

  3. I Made the Watermelon Agua Fresca and brought it to a 4th of July Party. It was a delicious hit! My friend Phoebe thought it was quite a coincidence that I had made it right after your post. That’s when we discovered I found you through her facebook post and that you two are friends! I am now a devoted reader and get such joy from your posts.

    • Omigosh! That is the nicest comment ever! Too funny about the Phoebe connection. Love it. And thanks so much for reporting back on the agua fresca…I never really know if anyone is out there reading and/or making things.

      Anyway, I’ve recently discovered that my local grocery store puts melons on sale that are sort of overripe. So, I’ve been buying up other melons and fresca-izing them. If you’re looking to branch out from the watermelon I totally recommend cantaloupe. Same process as for the watermelon. I think it might be good spiked with some rum, too…but I haven’t actually tried that yet… 🙂

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