Does Watermelon Go Bad

Watermelon is a great snack to enjoy on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get carried away and buy way more than we can use before it goes bad.

We’re super excited and buy a big one. We get home, cut it into slices, and only then it hits us that it’s way too much. Now we’re nervous and start wondering how long does it last. Or if you can freeze some of the leftovers.

If you’ve bought too much watermelon and wonder what happens next, this article is for you. In it, we go through storing the fruit, its shelf life, and going bad. We also touch upon freezing it in case you need to store it for a prolonged period.

Watermelon before slicing
Watermelon ready to be sliced

How To Store Watermelon

Like all melons (e.g., honeydews), watermelon retains the quality best if you store it whole. Thus, it makes sense to cut it up only right before eating.

When you bring the fruit home, you can store it either in the pantry or in the fridge. Generally, the longer you expect to store it, the cooler the area should be.

If you plan to cut it up the same day you buy it or the next day, it can sit on the counter for that time. If you’re not quite sure when you will eat it, best to put it in the fridge.

Once you cut up the watermelon into slices, you should store the leftovers in the fridge.

If you expect to keep it in the refrigerator for more than a day, wrap it tightly. If it’s a half or a quarter, use plastic or aluminum wrap. For smaller pieces, you can use airtight containers or resealable bags instead.


Wrapping protects the flesh from drying and picking up strong odors from the fridge. Watermelon pieces are always sold in plastic wrap for this exact reason.

Water with frozen watermelon
Water with frozen watermelon as a drink on a hot day

Can You Freeze Watermelon

If you have more watermelon than you can handle, you can freeze the leftovers.

Freezing and thawing alters the texture of the fruit. Because of that, eating it raw after thawing won’t be as pleasurable as eating it fresh. However, it works really well in smoothies and other applications where the texture isn’t that important.

To freeze watermelon, start with cutting it into fairly small pieces, so they will easily fit into freezer bags. Now remove all the seeds and skin so the watermelon will be edible right away. Once that’s done, pre-freeze the pieces.


If you’d like to learn more about the topic, check out my article on freezing watermelon.

Once you take the frozen pieces from the freezer, transfer them in freezer bags, add labels if needed, and chuck them back in. The fruit can easily last in there for a few months.

When it comes to defrosting, it’s best to do it in the fridge overnight. If it’s for a smoothie, you can throw it in frozen if your blender can handle ice.

Frozen watermelon pieces
Frozen watermelon pieces

How Long Does Watermelon Last

Like other fruits, watermelon doesn’t last that long. A whole one should keep good quality for about a week in the pantry, and maybe up to 10 days or so in the fridge.

Once you cut it up, the timer starts ticking. The fruit should retain freshness for about 3 to 5 days. The fresher it is, the longer it will last, obviously.

As usual, it’s best to eat all of it right after cutting it open, but it’s not always an option. Please bear in mind that wrapping is super important if you want to keep the leftovers for more than a day in the fridge.

If you would like to store the watermelon for longer than that, freeze it following the guidelines above.

Watermelon, whole7 days10 – 14 days
Watermelon, cut up 2 – 5 days

Please note the periods above are estimates and for the best quality.

Bunch of halved and quatered watermelons
(credit: Inbal Cohen)

How to Tell If Watermelon is Bad

Let’s start with buying the fruit. Try to pick one that’s bruise-free and feels heavy. If it has some dark spots, that can indicate mold, but that’s only a possibility.

My sister can tell if a wrapped or whole watermelon is good just by sniffing it, but I cannot explain how that works. Unfortunately, I also can’t perform that trick, so I can’t share with you how to do it.

After cutting it open check for any slime or discoloration on the inside. If it’s mushy or doesn’t look very fresh, it is best to discard it. Same thing it has a sour or foul odor.

While these are all telltale signs that it has spoiled, sometimes you can’t always tell by sight, smell, or taste. If the watermelon has gone way past the recommended storage time, throw it out. Even if it still passes all the tests.