How to Cut a Cantaloupe

Nothing beats taking that first juicy bite of a chilled and perfectly ripe cantaloupe when they come into season. But what’s the proper way to cut one?

Top-down shot of a glass bowl of cantaloupe that has been chopped into bite-sized chunks, next to a smaller bowl of the rinds and a wooden cutting board with a chef's knife resting on it, on a gray wood surface.

Writing how-to posts is a goal I’ve had for a long time. Some of the easiest kitchen tasks can seem really daunting to new cooks – or even seasoned ones – if they don’t know the proper technique. So, I thought I’d commence with a favorite fruit of mine – the cantaloupe.

A halved cantaloupe with orange flesh rests on a wooden cutting board, next to a chef's knife, on a white distressed wood background.

Cantaloupe is generally in season from June through August, and summer is the peak time for honeydew melons as well.

With such a short season, it’s best to take advantage of enjoying them while you can. You may see them at other times of year, but the best tasting local melons will arrive in stores in the US in the summertime.

Closeup of a woman's hands, peeling a cantaloupe on a wooden cutting board with a chef's knife, with a glass bowl to hold the discarded rinds, on a white painted wood background.

Knowing how to cut a cantaloupe certainly helps. Despite the thick skin and the plethora of seeds, the prep involved is actually very easy.

Half of a cantaloupe rests on a wooden cutting board next to a woman's left hand that is holding a slice of the orange flesh and cutting it with a chef's knife held in her other hand, next to several slices lined up in a row, and a glass bowl of chunks of the fruit, on a white rustic wooden table.

Some how-to posts recommend slicing a ripe melon with the rind on, then chopping it into bite-sized pieces, and removing the rind last. I say, not so fast!

While they claim this avoids the necessity of pulling out a cutting board, I have never:

  1. seen a ripe cantaloupe that didn’t drip everywhere, no matter how you cut it, or
  2. ascribed to the belief that using a cutting board and sharp knife is less efficient than trying to do without.

So, without further ado…

Pro Tips for Cutting a Melon

1. Check for Ripeness

First, make sure your cantaloupe is nice and ripe before you take a knife to it. It won’t continue to ripen once you’ve made a break in the skin.

If I buy one from the supermarket, I’ll keep it on the counter at room temperature. To make sure it’s fully ripe, I usually wait a few days, up to a week at most, before getting out my favorite chef’s knife and chowing down.

A whole cantaloupe rests on a wooden cutting board beside a chef's knife with a black handle, on a white wood table.

At the farmers market, you may be able to find melons that are already fully ripe and ready to eat – just ask, if this is what you’re looking for! If a cantaloupe or honeydew is ripe but you’re not ready to use it, you can keep the whole melon in the refrigerator.

You’ll know it’s ripe if it is fragrant when you sniff the bottom end opposite where the stem was attached, and when it starts to get the little divots you can see in the image above.

2. Prep

It’s usually best to wait to wash fresh fruit until you’re ready to use it.

A woman wearing a wedding ring holds a whole cantaloupe still on a wooden cutting board while she cuts into it with a black-handled chef's knife held in her right hand, on a whitewashed wood table.

Wash the melon well under cool running water, then hold it steady and slice it in half through what would be the equator, if the stem and the blossom end at the base were the poles of the fruit (i.e. don’t chop through the stem end).

3. Discard Seeds

Closeup of a woman's hands, wearing a wedding ring and supporting half of a melon with the left while the right is used to scoop the seeds out of the center with a spoon, on a wooden cutting board with a divot around the perimeter, next to the other half of melon and a chef's knife, with a glass bowl to hold the discarded seeds towards the top of the frame, on a wood surface.

As if you were scraping out a pumpkin or a butternut squash, use a large spoon to scrape out the seeds from both halves. Discard or compost them.

4. Start Peeling

Place one half cut-side down on a sturdy cutting board, then begin to slice the rind off using a sharp knife, in about 1.5-inch sections. Try to move your knife with the contours of the melon, removing as little of the actual flesh as possible.

Closeup of a woman's hands peeling half of a cantaloupe, with the other half sitting beside it on a wooden cutting board, with a glass bowl towards the top of the frame that contains the seeds of the melon.

Placing a damp rag or wet paper towels beneath the cutting board when you set it down on your counter can help to hold it in place, preventing it from sliding away from you. And a cutting board with a divot around the edge can help to catch that precious cantaloupe juice, rather than letting it go to waste.

5. Remove End

Cut the end of the rind off a little deeper than you cut the sides, to be sure to remove the stem or blossom end completely.

Vertical closeup of a woman's hands, peeling an orange-fleshed cantaloupe on a wooden cutting board, with a glass dish towards the top of the frame to hold the discarded rinds, on a white distressed wood table.

Please note, it is always best to cut away from yourself, not toward you as is shown in the picture – that was for the photo only!

6. Slice

Next, slice the melon into 1-inch slices all the way across.

Closeup of a hand holding half of a cantaloupe down on a cutting board while the other hand slices into it with a chef's knife, beside a small glass bowl that is being used to collect the rinds, on a wood table.

If you’re creating a prosciutto-wrapped melon appetizer or another tasty dish that calls for full slices, you can skip the next step.

7. Chop

Finally, take each slice and chop it into bite-sized chunks as shown.

Closeup of a woman's hands cutting orange cantaloupe slices into chunks on a wooden cutting board, next to a glass bowl that is holding a few pieces of the fruit, on a white distressed wood surface.

This is perfect for enjoying a fresh melon fruit cup, or adding to a fruit salad or fresh fruit skewers.

8. Repeat

Repeat with the other half, then enjoy your cantaloupe!

A large glass bowl of cantaloupe pieces sits in the foreground, with a smaller bowl of discarded rinds, a wood cutting board, and a chef's knife, on a white wooden table with boards oriented vertically in the background.

Melon can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, but it’s best to eat it right away if possible.

Wasn’t That Easy?

And that’s it! Getting a cantaloupe (or honeydew!) ready to enjoy really is so easy.

Next time you’re at the store be sure to grab one, because the season will be over before you know it!

Give these simple steps a shot at home, and let us know how our method holds up. Think you’ve got it beat? Let us know, and share your suggestions in the comments below!

Closely cropped top-down image of a large glass bowl of orange cantaloupe chunks beside a wooden cutting board and a chef's knife, and a smaller bowl to hold the discarded rinds, on a whitewashed distressed wood surface.

And for more quick tips and how-to instructions for resolving common kitchen mishaps, check out our guides to learn:

Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on June 11th, 2015. Last updated: July 11, 2018 at 16:21 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

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About Raquel Smith

Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now being merged into Foodal).

We love to celebrate summer with fresh fruit. But what if you're not sure how to prepare it? Want to learn the best method for cutting a luscious cantaloupe or honeydew into slices or bite-size chunks? We share our pro tips in an easy illustrated how-to guide, just in time for melon season. Read more now on Foodal.

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