Watermelon agua fresca with basil & cayenne Ultimate refreshment, from the streets of Mexico to your backyard party

Watermelon agua fresca with basil and cayenne

What is agua fresca?

Agua fresca (translation: “fresh water”) is a non-alcoholic drink made with fresh fruits, sugar and chilled water. It’s a popular drink throughout Mexico and South America, where it’s commonly served by street vendors. And to me, there is perhaps nothing as refreshing on a sweltering summer day.

Easy to make, and a total crowd-pleaser

In this version, juicy, sweet watermelon, infused with loads of fresh basil and a pinch of cayenne, delivers a libation that’s both cooling and incredibly alluring. Plus it can be made ahead of time, so you’ll have a perfectly cooling watermelon drink on hand when everyone gets thirsty!

Serve it for brunch or as an afternoon’s refreshment… or take it along for a picnic. The whole family will relish this drink.


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Watermelon agua fresca with basil and cayenne

makes 8 cups or serves 8
active time: 15 min

  1. 4 lbs (1.8 kg) seedless watermelon – rind removed and cut in 2″ pieces (7 cups)
  2. 2 tablespoons organic sugar
  3. 1/4 cup lime juice
  4. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  5. 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
  6. 8 large basil leaves
  7. 3 1/2 cups cold spring water
  1. basil leaves as garnish

  1. Step 1:camera icon Place half the watermelon, along with the sugar, lime juice, salt, cayenne, and basil, in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until finely chopped, then process until liquidy – about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl. Place the balance of the watermelon pieces in the food processor or blender and process again until liquidy. Add the puréed watermelon and water to the bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to infuse the flavors.
  2. Step 2:camera icon Strain the watermelon mixture through a fine-meshed sieve. When all of the juice has been strained, transfer into glass bottles and discard the pulp. Refrigerate until ready to serve, for up to 3 days. Serve with lots of ice cubes and garnish with the basil leaves.

Watermelon agua fresca with basil and cayenne

drink, agua fresca, watermelon

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  • Reply mjskitchen May 30, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    Cayenne and basil in watermelon juice…now that sounds awesome! Just happen to have some watermelon juice in the freezer from last summer. Can’t wait to try this.

    • Reply Viviane Bauquet Farre June 4, 2018 at 8:46 pm

      Thank you, Mj! Here’s wishing you a great summer season!

  • Reply angiesrecipes May 29, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Very refreshing! Perfect for the hot weather we have over here.

  • Reply Deb August 4, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Melons are at peak season now and the Watermelon Agua Fresca with Basil and Cayenne is a refreshing way to enjoy their bounty. The basil and cayenne add a vibrant punch of summer flavor!

    • Reply Viviane August 5, 2014 at 9:43 am

      Thank you, Deb! We are indeed trying to eat as many melons as we can at the moment… Can’t get enough of the sweet taste of summer!

  • Reply Evelyne@cheapethniceatz July 29, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Looks so refreshing. Every year I want to make a drink with watermelon and next thing I know it is fall.. Must give this one a shot for real. I really like the added basil and cayenne.

    • Reply Viviane July 30, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      Thank you Evelyne… I think you would love this libation! Cheers!

    Question or comment? I'd love to hear from you!