These Margarita Watermelon Appetizers are an impressive and delicious appetizer for your next party. They’re soaked in a margarita marinade, then topped with cotija cheese and a candied jalapeno.
This recipe is so much fun to make and even more fun to serve at a party. The guest’s eyes light up when they see the platter of beautiful red bites and it gets even more fun when they realize these bites are drenched in tequila.
I got the idea for these skewers from this great site. She’s so much more detail oriented than me and the watermelon bites looked so appetizing that I just had to try it myself. So glad I did.
Ingredients in Margarita Watermelon Appetizers
During the summer and fall, when watermelon is everywhere, you have to grab one and make these little guys. They’re like tasty little tequila shots, but in food form.
The ingredients in this appetizer are:
- Watermelon – the seedless kind is best. I wasn’t able to get my hands on one, but I used a variety with tiny edible seeds.
- Tequila & Cointreau – just like in a margarita
- Limes, sugar, water – to make a simple syrup. It’s super easy to make.
- Cotija cheese – or feta cheese if you can’t find it.
How to Make Margarita Watermelon Appetizers
There are a couple of different processes involved in making these appetizers. Once you’ve completed each component, you can assemble them.
Step One: Peel & cut the watermelon
I prefer to peel the entire rind off the watermelon, then slice it into squares. You can make these any shape you want. If you have a cookie cutter you like, that can be a fun way to make shapes.
If you want them all to be very uniform, definitely use a cookie cutter. I don’t mind if they’re a little differently shaped, so I just cut them into squares.
Step Two: Make the simple syrup
In a small sauce pan, heat the sugar and water together and simmer for 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Remove 3/4 of the simple syrup and set it aside to cool.
Step Three: Cook the candied jalapenos
Add the jalapeno slices to the remaining simple syrup in the pan. There should be just enough liquid to cover the slices.
Bring it to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour the jalapenos and syrup into a sealable container and put it in the refrigerator to chill.
Step Four: Mix the marinade
Mix the lime juice with the remaining simple syrup you set aside to cool earlier. Chill this mixture in the refrigerator. When it’s cooled down, mix it with the tequila and orange liqueur. This is the marinade for your watermelon.
Step Five: Marinate the watermelon
Pour the margarita marinade over the watermelon pieces. The liquid should come just up to the top of the watermelon. This is easiest to achieve if you use a dish that holds the watermelon pieces without a lot of space around it.
Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. I have found that the most flavor is imparted after 4 hours. There are diminishing returns after that.
Step Six: Put together the appetizers
To put together these appetizers, remove the watermelon pieces from the marinade and arrange them evenly on a platter.
Top each watermelon square with crumbled cotija cheese and a jalapeno slice. Insert a cocktail stick into each one for easy pick up.
» If you have leftover watermelon you should try these Spicy Watermelon Margaritas.
Tips For Making These Appetizers
- It’s super easy to peel a whole watermelon, especially the small ones. Cut off the ends, then stand it up and carve down the sides with a sharp chef’s knife. This way you won’t waste any of the watermelon.
- If you have a a square or round cookie cutter, it’s easier to get uniform shapes that way.
- You can make these without the tequila if you want a non-alcoholic version.
- If you can let the watermelon soak for 4 hours, that’s when the real flavor develops. Any longer than 6 hours and they’ll turn soggy and start to fall apart.
- You can fit up to 30 pieces of watermelon in one batch of marinade.
- Save the marinade to make watermelon margaritas after you’ve removed the soaking watermelon.
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These Margarita Watermelon Appetizers are an impressive and delicious appetizer for your next party. They're soaked in a margarita marinade, then topped with cotija cheese and a candied jalapeno.
- 1 small seedless watermelon
- 4 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled (or feta)
For the simple syrup & jalapenos
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 jalapeños, thinly sliced into 15 slices
- 1/4 cup lime juice (juice from 2 limes)
- 6 ounces tequila
- 1 ounces orange flavored liquor, such as triple sec or Cointreau
- Peel the watermelon and cut it into 15-20 squares. Place the squares in a flat container where all the pieces can fit in one layer.
- In a small sauce pan, heat the sugar and water together and simmer for 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Remove ¾ of the simple syrup and set it aside to cool.
- To the remaining simple syrup, add the jalapeno slices and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour the jalapenos and syrup into a sealable container and put it in the refrigerator to chill.
- Mix the lime juice with the remaining simple syrup you set aside to cool earlier. Chill it in the refrigerator.
- In a medium bowl stir together the tequila, orange liquor and the chilled lime simple syrup.
- Pour the margarita marinade over the watermelon pieces. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
- To serve, remove the watermelon pieces from the marinade and arrange on a platter.
- Top each piece with crumbled cotija cheese and a jalapeno slice. Insert a cocktail stick into each one for easy pick up.
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Laura is the founder and editor of the travel blogs Savored Sips and Savored Journeys. She is dedicated to sharing the best information about drinks found around the world.