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Ed Mitchell's Barbeque Cookbook

Watermelon Sweet Tea Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Watermelon was our favorite fruit around the neighborhood. Back then, watermelons had seeds in them. We didn’t need a sticker to tell us it was organic. It was a given. I used to be scared of the seeds because they looked like flies to me. My grandmother would take all the seeds out and cut the watermelon into slices for us. Growing up, watermelon was a treat for us kids. Watermelon slices kept us on the front porch and out of the house. Watermelon quenched our thirst and helped us to stay full until dinner.  In Raleigh, we started to add watermelon puree to our sweet tea as a natural sugar. Sweet tea is a staple beverage in the South, and a part of our barbeque tradition. It is our most refreshing drink. Also, it is affordable and easy to make. Buying cases of soda can get expensive. But with a few tea bags and some sugar, everyone gets a cup. – Ryan Mitchell, Ed Mitchell’s son


1 cup sugar
2 quarts filtered water
6 tea bags (Luzianne preferred)
12 cups seeded watermelon chunks
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Fresh mint leaves (optional)


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

WORKING in batches, puree the watermelon chunks 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 2 fresh mint leaves, if desired, and serve.

Excerpted from Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque © 2023 by Ed Mitchell and Ryan Mitchell. Food & Author photos by Baxter Miller. Reproduced by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. Author photography with black background by John “Edge” Koladish.

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