watermelon bars

Watermelon and lemon combine in these refreshing, summery bars.
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These creamy bars are just the thing to serve after a meal cooked on the grill. Made with watermelon, lemon juice and milk, they're served chilled and are a refreshing summertime treat!

Note: Based on the member comments prior to 6/6/13, our chef re-developed this recipe to be much lighter and just as tasty! The recipe below is the new version, and we’re loving it!

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  • Total Time : 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Prep Time : 20 minutes
  • Cook Time : 20 minutes
  • Servings : 12


  • 12 oz. round vanilla wafer
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 5 cups watermelon juice (see chef’s note)
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 oz. unflavored gelatin (see chef’s note)
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar or 1 cup whipped cream, for garnish (not included in nutritional analysis)


step 1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the long sides of the pan. Spray the foil with cooking spray.

step 2 Mix the melted butter into the finely ground vanilla wafers and add 2 Tablespoons of water. Mix well and press the crumbs onto the bottom of the prepared pan, forming a crust. Bake the crust for 20 minutes and allow to cool.

step 3 Set aside 2 cups of the watermelon juice in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 3 cups of watermelon juice with the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and milk.

step 4 Sprinkle the gelatin over the reserved 2 cups of watermelon juice. Allow to sit for 2 minutes so that gelatin can dissolve and begin to absorb liquid, or "bloom." After the gelatin blooms, heat it in the microwave for 2 minutes on high, or heat gently in a small pot over low heat on the stove top, until the gelatin has completely melted into the juice and the liquid is smooth.

step 5 Add the watermelon juice with the melted gelatin to the larger bowl of juice from Step 3. Stir to combine. Gently pour the mixture over the prepared crust from Step 2 and place in the freezer for 2 hours or until the mixture is firm. (Alternately, place the pan in the refrigerator and allow to set for 3 to 4 hours.)

step 6 Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Before serving, cut the watermelon bars into squares. If desired, sprinkle each serving with confectioners' sugar or a dollop of whipped cream.

chef's notes

To make watermelon juice, simply place the watermelon cubes in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture with a strainer into a bowl. Or, to save time, use a juicer if you have one, or buy watermelon juice at your grocery.

Unflavored gelatin is commonly packaged in small envelopes (one or more envelopes to a box). Look for it in the pudding and gelatin section of your grocery store.
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recent comments
7/29/2013 , 
casey  c.
i think this is a really neat and interesting recipe i honestly think im gonna try this out and im gonnna see what my kids think!!!!
7/17/2013 , 
Chrissy  C.
The comments about these bars are hilarious so I had to make them to write my own. I poured the mixture into pre-made graham cracker mini-pie shells. Sorry calorie counters...that's gonna throw off your daily allowance calculations so you better just click right over to the Cooking Light website. Then, I topped them with...wait for it...vanilla bean ice cream. I served them straight out of the freezer and my 4 year old and I enjoyed them with wonderful conversation. And really, all that matters is that she liked them. They're a fair amount of work, but here's a tip: Use about 3/4 of a packet of the gelatin (4 1.8 gram packets came in the box I bought). That info right there just saved you 2 hours of math. AND, start off with a very ripe watermelon. I grow my own so they're always sweet but I can see where one with less flavor would cause commenters to say they were bland. BTW, any extra filling goes great with vodka.
7/9/2013 , 
Catherine  F.
Looks good to me just carefully read the directions!!!
6/23/2013 , 
Meredith  B.
I made these according to the original directions which called for heavy cream instead of 2% milk. Problems: 1. They were bland. 2. The texture wasn't appetizing 3. Presentation wasn't acceptable. 4. A lot of time and effort Corrections for this recipe: 1. Omit milk or cream 1. Increase gelatin to 1.5 oz for a better texture. 2. Fold 2 cups whipped cream into mixture in step five before pouring over crust. OPTIONAL: After dessert has set for at least 4 hours (watermelon mixture needs to be firm). Prepare a box of lemon jello according to package directions and pour over the FIRM watermelon mixture. Leave in the refrigerator until firm.
6/23/2013 , 
Mary  P.
Lou M from 6/8 I thought about making this for the 4th of July but was concerned with you comment. I looked back at ingredients and directions, I do not see heavy cream at all. Not sure what you saw?
Showing 1 - 5 of 93 comments:
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Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 bar (133g)
Serving Amount 12
Calories 260
Calories From Fat 100
Total Fat 12g
Saturated Fat 4.5g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 15mg
Sodium 125mg
Total Carbohydrates 37g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 24g
Protein 4g
Nutritional information provided by
Compu-Food Analysis, Inc.