Main Meals

Watermelon Poke Bowl – Plant Based Recipe

Plant-based take on a poke bowl using watermelon cubes marinated in flavorful dressing. It’s a light and refreshing meal packed with flavors, colors, and different textures. No cook recipe that can be customized for your lifestyle and taste buds!

I developed this recipe for Watermelon Poke Bowl last year for a potential project but it fell through last minute and it got forgotten until now. Watermelon is in season right now in Texas and I got enjoy beautiful, juicy yellow meated watermelon from Comanche, Texas. Watermelon is a refreshing fruit by itself but I love finding creative ways to use more fruits and vegetables into my life and this watermelon poke is a perfect example of that. Poke literally means “to slice, or cut crosswise into pieces” in Hawaiian. Traditionally, poke is made with small chunks of raw, marinated fish and tossed over rice with various garnishes and sauces for flavors and textures. My watermelon version is a plant-based version that kinda mimics “tuna” by it’s looks and flavors but the textures are completely different. If you’ve had tuna, you know tuna and I want to make it very clear because it irks me when people say tofu tastes like meat or plant-based burgers & regular burgers are same – no it’s not and let’s enjoy them for what they are.


Red and yellow are most common varieties of watermelon although yellow ones are hard to come by and much sweeter. You can most definitely use red watermelon for this recipe. While picking watermelon, look for a pale or buttery yellow spot on the bottom of the watermelon, indicating ripeness. Additionally, tap the underbelly of the watermelon and a ripe one will have a deep hollow sound and feels heavy which means it’s juicy and ripe. Under-ripe or over-ripe melons will sound dull.


Assembling watermelon poke bowl is a total DIY experience and it’s important to have vibrant colors, freshness, and some contrasting textures. You can go all out or keep things simple where only a few elements shine. I enjoyed watermelon poke as a meal worthy bowl or, but you can enjoy watermelon poke by itself or, with crackers as an appetizer.


I hope you will give Watermelon Poke a try this Summer. Use the recipe as an inspiration and adjust seasoning to taste and depending on how sweet your watermelon is.


Watermelon Poke Bowl

For 6 servings

For the marinade:

  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari for gluten-free

  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

  • 1 lime juiced

  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes

  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave-nectar

  • 2 scallions, sliced

  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced

  • 2 tablespoons toasted white or black sesame seed

  •  4 cups seedless watermelon, diced into 1-inch (2 cm) cubes

For the bowl: 

  • 3 cups short-grain or sushi-grade white rice, cooked (may use brown rice if desired)

  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used vegan mayo)

  • 2 tablespoons sriracha

  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced thinly**

  • 1 cup shelled edamame

  • Black sesame seeds, for garnish

  • Other topping ideas: avocado slices, nori sheets, furikake, pickled ginger, microgreens, seaweed salad

**I marinated cucumber slices in rice wine vinegar, salt, and chili flakes but its completely optional.


  1. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, lime juice, red chile flakes, honey, scallions, minced ginger, toasted sesame seed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Keep aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, add diced seedless watermelon. Pour over the marinade and stir everything. Cover the bowl and let it in the fridge for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Enjoy the watermelon poke by itself or assemble it into salad or bowl.

  3. To assemble poke bowl, first combine the mayo and Sriracha and keep aside.

  4. Add cooked rice as a base then top it with marinated watermelon poke, followed by sliced cucumber, edamame.

  5. Drizzle with Sriracha mayo sauce. Garnish with scallions, black sesame seeds and other toppings then, serve immediately.

Note: I recommended marinating watermelon in the dressing few hours or day before depending on how ripe/soft the watermelon is. I like the texture of watermelon to be slightly on the soft side but still firm.

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Dixya Bhattarai

Dixya Bhattarai

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