Time for a little sweet treat with our watermelon fruit salad as we combine watermelon balls with dragon fruit, palms seeds and brown sugar boba pearls. This is a cheeky summer fruit salad that is so easy to make and devour.
- Why You’ll Love This Dessert Fruit Salad
- What Goes Well With Watermelon?
- What Is Boba?
- What Does Boba Taste Like?
- What Are Toddy Palm’s Seeds?
- Recipe Overview
- How To Make Boba Pearls
- How To Make The Fruit Salad
- How to Assemble the Salad
- Variations and Substitutions
- Great Mocktails for This Dessert Fruit Salad
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why You’ll Love This Dessert Fruit Salad
A sweet mix of watermelon and dragon fruit balls tossed together with toddy palm’s seeds and brown sugar boba. You may say that’s an interesting combination.
Ha, yes, it definitely is!
When it came to creating a watermelon fruit salad, I didn’t feel inclined to go to the more classic, more healthy options like adding other melons, blueberries, strawberries or tropical fruit like pineapple and mango. Instead, for some reason, I felt it needed an Asian twist with a cheeky treat.
My kids are slightly obsessed with boba tea. During our pandemic lockdown, it was like our special treat. After buying quite a few rounds, I worked out that it was not that difficult to make our own, plus I can also control the sugar intake. So, with brown sugar boba pearls on my mind, I decided to test the combination out.
The caramel sweetness of brown sugar boba works with watermelon and dragon fruit. Even though they are all sweet components, it is a different kind of sweetness – more clean and fresh.
The chewy texture of boba and crunchy toddy palm’s seeds create a point of difference, and together a new kind of watermelon fruit salad is born.
What Goes Well With Watermelon?
We love tossing watermelon into fruit salads as well as savoury salads. It adds a natural sweetness and fresh juicy textures throughout. Watermelon goes well with fresh fruit as well as a range of savoury ingredients.
Classic savoury pairings with watermelon include:
- cheese like feta and parmesan
- red chilli or green, spicy jalapeno
- cucumber or iceberg lettuce for crunch and coolness
- fresh herbs like basil and mint
- prosciutto or bacon for a savoury hit
Which fruits go well with watermelon? Delicious by itself, but the sweetness of watermelon also lends itself to being a great partner for many fresh fruits, whether in a fruit salad or smoothie.
Fruits that I love to add with watermelon:
- other melons, including rock melon, honeydew melon, canary melon
- blueberries, strawberries and raspberries
- citrus fruits like lemon and lime
- tropical fruit like dragon fruit, lychees, kiwi, mango and coconut
In this watermelon fruit salad recipe, I have mixed watermelon with dragon fruit, toddy palm seeds and boba pearls. The reason being I wanted to try different textures along with varying levels of sweetness.
However, you can, of course, make your own variation and include any of the fruits above to make your own fresh watermelon fruit salad or try our Best Watermelon Salad with Maple Syrup Dressing.
What Is Boba?
Also known as pearls in Australia, boba is essentially small marble-sized black round balls made from tapioca starch.
However, when we say boba now, we generally refer to the milk tea drink. You will see it being advertised as boba milk tea, bubble tea, pearl tea or tapioca milk tea!
Originating from Taiwan, boba milk tea is probably one of their more famous exports.
Super popular with the younger crowd, boba the drink, is typically served in a large tumbler of sweet milk tea with various toppings. You will need a large straw to slurp up the sweet toppings such as grass jelly, pudding, aloe vera, popping pearls and fruit.
In addition to milk tea as a base, there are now very inventive flavours and forms to create your own unique boba drink.
What Does Boba Taste Like?
In this Watermelon Fruit Salad recipe, I haven’t used boba milk tea as an ingredient, just the boba pearls as I love the chewy texture that it adds.
Flavour-wise, boba is quite bland, making it the perfect vehicle to carry other flavours, including the brown sugar syrup used in this recipe. It is predominately added to recipes for its texture.
What Are Toddy Palm’s Seeds?
Another interesting ingredient I have used in this watermelon fruit salad is toddy palm’s seeds. Those not accustomed to Asian desserts may be wondering what toddy palm’s seeds are.
Toddy palm is a tall, robust palm tree native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It bears clusters of round shaped fruit (similar size to a coconut) with a black husk.
Inside the fruit, there are translucent pale-white seeds with a jelly-like texture. Possibly similar to a lychee but with a crunchier texture and milder sweet flavour.
We don’t have fresh palm fruit or palm seeds available to us. Instead, we usually buy canned palm seeds, which are soaked in a sweet sticky syrup. Toddy palm’s seeds are prevalent in Southeast Asian and Indian desserts and sweet drinks.
Flavour/Texture: When you look at the 4 main ingredients, you would think this dessert salad will be very sweet. However, when you mix them in this watermelon fruit salad, it is not.
Brown sugar boba pearls are sweet by themselves. Plus canned palm seeds in syrup. However, when you mix them with watermelon and dragonfruit, the sweetness is dialled down, and it tastes very refreshing.
The varying textures in the watermelon fruit salad are also very interesting, with sweet juicy dragon fruit and watermelon balls plus chewy boba pearls and crunchy palm seeds. Very much a delicious party going on in your mouth!
Ease: Very minimal cooking other than making the boba. This is an easy watermelon fruit salad you can make in advance.
Time: This is a quick dessert salad if you are also using instant boba pearls. It will take less than 20 minutes altogether.
However, some brands will take 20 minutes to simmer the boba slowly. You can make the watermelon and dragon fruit balls at the same time whilst the boba is cooking, but obviously, this will extend the total time for a little bit longer.
These are the ingredients you need for Watermelon Fruit Salad with Brown Sugar Boba:
Boba: They are typically sold in dry packets at local Asian grocery stores. Essentially you need to rehydrate the boba pearls with hot water.
However, each brand will have its own cooking time and method; therefore, please check instructions before starting. I used a brand that can rehydrate them in 2 minutes or so.
Brown Sugar: To add sweet caramel flavour to the boba.
Watermelon: I am still learning how to choose a good watermelon. To begin with, I normally feel the weight of the watermelon. If it is heavy for its size, that’s a good start.
Next, look out for a creamy yellow spot where it has been resting on the ground. And finally, give it a tap for a deep hollow sound which means it is ripe and full of juice.
Dragon fruit: There is red and white flesh dragon fruit available. I usually buy white flesh dragon fruit as red ones are harder to find. The white dragon fruit contrasts nicely with red shades of watermelon.
Toddy palm seeds: Canned palm seeds can be bought from Asian grocery stores. Try to find the ones that are still whole and not sliced. However, if you can’t find the whole ones, sliced is fine too.
Follow these instructions for how to make Watermelon Fruit Salad With Brown Sugar Boba:
How To Make Boba Pearls
I used a boba brand that makes instant boba. I pour the required amount of hot water over the boba and let it sit for 2 minutes until ready to eat.
However, not all boba is like that. Please follow instructions on your package to yield ½ cup of boba.
You will know the boba is done when the texture of the balls are soft but still chewy. Do not overcook boba as it becomes too soft, gooey and not as fun to eat.
Once cooked, remove boba from water and place into a mixing bowl.
Add brown sugar to boba pearls and mix until the brown sugar has dissolved. The end product should be soft, chewy boba balls in brown sugar syrup.
How To Make The Fruit Salad
Use a small melon baller and ball 2 cups of watermelon balls.
Repeat the process with one dragon fruit.
Scoop out ½ can of palm seeds and place into a bowl.
Give toddy palm seeds a rinse with cold water to remove the extra thick syrup.
How to Assemble the Salad
Add watermelon balls, dragon fruit balls and toddy palm seeds in a large mixing bowl.
Gently mix together.
Add brown sugar boba to the bowl and mix.
Scoop into individual glasses to serve.
Variations and Substitutions
Substitution for toddy palm’s seeds: if you can’t find palm seeds, you can use other canned tropical fruits like lychee or longan which are more readily available.
Replacement of boba: If you don’t want to make brown sugar boba pearls, you can use grass jelly which will have a softer pudding-like texture. Alternatively, use fresh blueberries instead. Blueberries don’t have the same texture but go well with watermelon and dragon fruit.
Serve on a large platter: you can serve watermelon fruit salad on a large platter to share versus serving in individual glasses.
Great Mocktails for This Dessert Fruit Salad
How to serve a mocktail with this Watermelon Fruit Salad:
Taro milk tea: This is a great recipe if you have leftover boba! This creamy, rich taro milk tea made with a jasmine tea base, milk and black tapioca boba tastes just like your favorite bubble tea recipe! A great pair up with this watermelon fruit salad recipe, which you can make ahead of time.
Pomegranate mocktail with lime: No better way to accompany this watermelon fruit salad than making up a delicious mocktail. Add a squeeze of lime to this pomegranate mocktail for a refreshing, tart drink that you can have any time during the day. This 3 ingredient mocktail comes together quickly and is packed with flavor.
Blueberry mojito mocktail: An alcohol free twist on a summer cocktail, this blueberry mojito mocktail is the perfect refreshment for your next outdoor gathering! Serve it up with this equally summer fresh watermelon fruit salad for a fun dessert!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are various ways you can cut dragon fruit to eat. In this recipe, we cut it in half and then use a melon ball to create dragon fruit balls.
Alternatively, cut dragon fruit in half and then use a large spoon and scoop out the flesh as a whole. Then slice it or cut it into cubes.
The gelatinous texture of boba sometimes gets people worried that it is made from gelatin therefore not suitable for vegans. As mentioned, boba pearls are made from tapioca starch, a product of the root vegetable cassava. It is naturally gluten-free and vegan friendly.
Do not refrigerate cooked boba pearls if they are not in some form of liquid – like syrup or fructose. They will harden in the fridge. Cooked boba pearls also stick to each other, so best to leave boba in a liquid such as the brown sugar syrup and eat within 4 hours of making them.
As this recipe only uses half a can of toddy palm’s seeds, other uses for the leftover canned palm seeds include:
– adding to a tropical fruit salad with pineapple, lychee, mango and kiwi fruit
– scoop over a bowl of coconut ice-cream
– use in Southeast Asian drinks like Vietnamese Che Thai
Yes, you can make all the individual components ahead of time and then assemble watermelon fruit salad when ready to eat. However, please remember prepared boba is best to be consumed within a few hours to avoid texture change.
Some of the ingredients in this watermelon fruit salad may seem a little foreign but don’t be afraid. They are easily accessible, and once you have them in your pantry, you will be making this fruit salad over and over again.
Easy to make and so delicious to eat, I suspect I will be making this cheeky treat all summer long.
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Watermelon Fruit Salad with Brown Sugar Boba
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Cook boba pearls according to package instructions.
- Once cooked, remove boba from water and place into a mixing bowl.
- Add brown sugar to boba pearls and mix until brown sugar has dissolved.
- Use a small melon baller and ball 2 cups of watermelon.
- Repeat the process with one dragon fruit.
- Scoop out ½ can of palm seeds and place into a bowl.
- Give toddy palm seeds a rinse with cold water to remove the extra thick syrup.
- Add watermelon balls, dragon fruit balls and toddy palm seeds in a large mixing bowl.
- Gently mix together.
- Add brown sugar boba to the bowl and mix.
- Scoop into individual glasses to serve.
- The total time to prepare this salad will vary depending on the brand of boba you use.
- You can purchase dry boba pearls and canned palm seeds from your local Asian grocery store.
- If you can’t find canned palm seeds, substitute with other canned tropical fruits like lychee or longan which are more readily available.
- If you don’t want to make brown sugar boba pearls, you can use grass jelly which will have a softer pudding-like texture. Alternatively, use fresh blueberries instead. Blueberries don’t have the same texture but go well with watermelon and dragon fruit.
- You can serve watermelon fruit salad on a large platter to share versus serving in individual glasses.
- Boba is made from tapioca starch which is derived from the root vegetable cassava. Therefore this recipe is suitable for vegans.
- Do not refrigerate cooked boba pearls as they will harden in the fridge. Cooked boba pearls also stick to each other, so best to leave the boba in the brown sugar syrup and try to eat within 4 hours of making them.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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