A watermelon salad—melon, feta, and mint—is a summer staple with many adoring fans. It’s refreshing, juicy, balanced, easy to throw together. I have no qualms with it, but as I stared at the mostly-consumed melon that had been living in my fridge for a few days, I wondered how it would fare in the air fryer, and if I should wrap it in bacon before tossing it in there.
The answer to those questions is “pretty well” and “yes,” even if the whole thing feels slightly disrespectful. Watermelon is prized as a sweet treat that cools you down during a sweltering picnic; air frying changes its entire personality. Thanks to its high water content, it stays remarkably juicy, but the flavor profile shifts from a fruity sugariness to a kind of grassy, tomato-y sweetness. When paired with the usual watermelon salad ingredients, you get a more nuanced and intriguing dish than you would expect from the bright pink melon.
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Then there is the matter of bacon. I doubt I have to convince you that salty pork tastes good wrapped around fruit; there are many such examples to point to, including the iconic prosciutto con melone. Salt and sweet are good together, and the crispy strips provide textural contrast for the juicy fruit, as well as a few smoky charred bits.
How to make bacon-wrapped air-fried watermelon
For best results, use cheap, thin bacon. You want a crisp and chewy layer of meat wrapped around a juicy morsel of melon, and thick bacon will take forever to crisp. (Even thin bacon takes longer than usual when wrapped around a water bomb like melon.) Cube the melon into 1 1/2-inch pieces, then wrap each one with half a strip of bacon.
Heat your air fryer to 400℉ and place the bacon-wrapped melon, seam side down, on the tray in your air fryer. Cook for 15-25 minutes (depending on the thickness of your bacon and size of your air fryer), flipping halfway through, until your bacon is crisped and browned on all sides. Let cool to room temperature, and serve with crumbled feta and fresh mint.