Does Watermelon Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on September 30th, 2023

Ah, watermelons—a quintessential part of summer picnics and barbecues. But the freshness of a watermelon is fleeting. So, how can you make the most out of this delicious fruit? Whether you’re curious about watermelon’s shelf life, storing methods, or signs of spoilage, you’ve come to the right place. This article provides a comprehensive guide to understanding how to make your watermelons last longer without compromising their taste and nutritional benefits.

Does Watermelon Go Bad? The Longevity Factor

Yes, like any other fruit, watermelons do spoil. If you’ve ever found yourself buying more watermelons than you can eat, you’ve likely pondered how long you can keep them before they go bad. Uncut, a watermelon can last up to three weeks in the refrigerator. However, once you slice into its juicy flesh, the clock starts ticking. Pre-cut watermelon has a much shorter lifespan—typically ranging between 3 to 5 days.

sliced watermelon on green surface

How Long Does Watermelon Last? A Look at Different Scenarios

  • Whole Watermelons: These can stay fresh at room temperature for about 7 to 10 days. If stored in the fridge, they can last up to three weeks. For even longer storage, freezing is an option—with a lifespan extending up to one year.
  • Cut Watermelons: The shelf life dwindles down to just one day at room temperature and 4 to 5 days in the fridge. Freezing extends this to 10 to 12 months, but more on that later.

When Does Watermelon Go Bad After It’s Been Cut?

After cutting, immediate refrigeration is essential. To prevent drying and the absorption of other odors, wrap the cut pieces tightly with plastic wrap or use an airtight container. Failing to do this can lead to a change in texture and taste, making it unpalatable.

How to Tell if Your Watermelon is Bad: The Telltale Signs

Recognizing a bad watermelon is crucial to avoid foodborne illnesses. Keep an eye on:

  • Expiration Dates: Especially when you’ve purchased pre-cut watermelon.
  • Nitrates Presence: If water turns crimson when mixing with crushed watermelon pulp, it indicates high nitrate content—best to avoid.
  • External Appearance: Look for uniform color, and steer clear of mold and dark patches.
  • Internal Signs: A change in color, texture, or a bad smell are sure signs that your watermelon is no longer good to eat.

The Risks of Consuming Spoiled Watermelons

Eating a spoiled watermelon can result in symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea within hours. In extreme cases, food poisoning can also lead to fever, joint pains, and cramps. Additionally, Listeria can thrive on the rind and contaminate the flesh. For those with diabetes, be cautious of the natural sugar content.

How to Choose the Perfect Watermelon

Select a watermelon that is heavy for its size, free from bruises or rot, and has a creamy-colored bottom. A lighter watermelon is often an indication of less water content and, likely, less flavor.

Watermelon Seasonality: When to Buy

Though watermelon is generally a summer fruit, peaking from June through September, you can find it year-round in many grocery stores. Off-season watermelons, however, may not offer the same juicy flavor and could be imported from distant regions.

Storing Watermelons: The Best Practices

Uncut watermelons can last up to two weeks in the fridge, and cut pieces in an airtight container can last up to 5 days. For long-term storage, consider freezing it in small, seedless chunks.

Freezing Watermelon: A Handy Guide

Freezing is straightforward—cut the watermelon into chunks, optionally add sugar or syrup, flash freeze on a baking tray, and then transfer to an airtight container. Remember, thawed watermelon won’t have the same crisp texture.

Creative Uses for Frozen Watermelon

Don’t limit yourself to just eating frozen watermelon chunks. They make great fruity ice cubes for your drinks, fantastic additions to smoothies, or even the base for a delightful sorbet.


Watermelons are a cherished summertime treat, but their freshness can be fleeting. Proper storage is key—once cut, the fruit becomes much more vulnerable to spoilage. By following the guidelines and tips in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy your watermelon at its peak flavor for as long as possible.


Editorial Staff

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