Watermelon poke bowl

Have you ever had watermelon poke? I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical the first time I saw watermelon added to poke bowls. I thought – sure the appearance of fresh pink watermelon cubes is similar to that of fresh ahi tuna chunks, but the flavor is so different!

I am here to tell you that while the flavor of watermelon poke is different, it is also absolutely amazing! Especially when it is served alongside heaping piles of fresh vegetables, pickled ginger, sesame seeds, green onions, and spicy mayo as it is in this recipe for watermelon poke bowls! These delicious watermelon poke bowls are gluten free, vegan, dairy free, egg free, nut free, and vegetarian friendly.

Watermelon poke bowls accompanied by a bowl of edamame and a bowl of marinated watermelon.

What is in this watermelon poke bowl?

What is in this watermelon poke bowl? Here are the ingredients for this watermelon poke bowl.

  • Rice. Rice is used as the base of this poke bowl. We recommend using jasmine rice or sushi rice, but you can use any type of rice you perfect. We use this rice cooker to make sure our rice turns out light and fluffy every time. The warm setting is prefect for keeping the rice warm while you finish preparing the rest of the ingredients for the poke bowl.
  • Marinated watermelon. The marinated watermelon is the star of the show in this watermelon poke bowl! The watermelon is chopped into cubes then soaked in a marinade made with tamari, toasted sesame oil, lemon, and ginger.
  • Carrots, cucumber, & red onion. Carrots, cucumber, and red onions are the veggies that are used in the largest quantity in this watermelon poke bowl. The carrots, cucumber, and red onion are diced into small cubes before they are added to the bowl.
  • Edamame. Edamame is added to this poke bowl to give it a little more protein. The edamame should be shelled prior to being added to the poke bowl.
  • Mashed avocado. A few avocados are mashed and added to this poke bowl. The avocados contribute a nice, creamy flavor and texture.
  • Green onion. Green onions are used to top the watermelon poke bowl for even more flavor. Feel free to double or triple the amount of green onions in this recipe if you are a green onion fan. Is there even such a thing as too many green onions?
  • Pickled ginger. The sweet, fresh taste of pickled ginger adds even more dimension to this watermelon poke bowl. The pickled ginger ties together perfectly with the minced ginger that is used in the watermelon marinade.
  • Spicy vegan mayo. Spicy mayo is the main sauce that is used in this poke bowl. If you want to make your poke bowls even more flavorful then you can drizzle the leftover watermelon marinade over the poke bowl as well. The acidity of the marinade compliments the creaminess of the spicy vegan mayo.
  • Sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are used as a topping for this poke bowl. We recommend using black sesame seeds, but if you do not have black sesame seeds you can use white sesame seeds or brown sesame seeds instead. You can even use a combination of multiple types!

Watermelon poke bowls with marinated watermelon, cucumbers, carrots, sesame seeds, pickled ginger, edamame, onions, and spicy mayo.

What is in the watermelon marinade?

What is used in the watermelon marinade for this watermelon poke bowl? Here are the ingredients in the watermelon marinade. 

  • Gluten free soy sauce or tamari. Gluten free soy sauce or tamari is used as the base of the watermelon marinade. The tamari adds some needed salt to enhance the sweetness of the watermelon. 
  • Toasted sesame oil. Toasted sesame oil is such an important ingredient in this watermelon marinade! A little bit of toasted sesame oil adds a whole lot of flavor to a dish.
  • Brown sugar. A little bit of brown sugar is added to the watermelon marinade to enhance the natural sweetness of the watermelon. A little bit of sugar goes a long way when you are dealing with fruit dishes. 
  • Lemon juice. A little bit of lemon juice is added to the watermelon marinade to give it a tart, fruity hint. If you do not have lemon juice you can use lime juice instead. 
  • Ginger. Fresh ginger is minced and added to the watermelon marinade. The fresh, zesty taste of the ginger perfectly complements the sweet, fruity flavor of the watermelon. It is a match made in heaven! 
  • Rice vinegar. The rice vinegar is added to dilute the marinade and give it a little more volume without detracting from the flavor.  

Watermelon marinating in a sauce for watermelon poke bowls.

Other toppings for watermelon poke bowls

Are you looking for other ideas for toppings you can add to your watermelon poke bowl? 

  • Crispy shallots. Mince some shallots, toss them in salt, and fry them until they are nice and crispy. The salty, fatty flavor of fried shallots serves as the perfect contrast to the light, fresh flavor of the watermelon and ginger. 
  • Seaweed. Are you a seaweed fan? Try adding some toasted seaweed to this watermelon poke bowl! The added crunch of the seaweed brings some variety in texture to the poke bowl. 
  • Wasabi. Wasabi is a welcome addition to any poke bowl I make! This watermelon poke bowl is full of bold flavors so why not add one more with a little dollop of wasabi?
  • Mango. Want to add another serving of fruit to your watermelon poke bowl? Try adding some cubed mango alongside the watermelon. 

How to store watermelon poke bowls

How do you store watermelon poke bowl leftovers? All of the components for this watermelon poke bowl should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight bag or food storage container. For the most part, the components can be stored in the same container. However, we recommend storing the watermelon and rice separately from the rest of the ingredients.

The watermelon should be stored in the watermelon marinade so that it soaks up even more of the flavor. The rice should be stored separately because the rice is the only component of the poke bowl that needs to be reheated. None of the other components should be reheated. 

How to reheat watermelon poke bowls

How do you reheat these watermelon poke bowls? The only component in this watermelon poke bowl that needs to be reheated is the rice. The rice can be reheated in the microwave for 30 – 60 seconds on full power. We recommend putting a wet paper towel in the microwave alongside the rice to help rehydrate the rice. 

Watermelon poke bowl

This delicious watermelon poke is gluten free, vegan, dairy free, egg free, and vegetarian.
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: dairy free, egg free, gluten free, nut free, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 4 people


  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 2 small avocados
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 cup edamame
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 4 stalks green onion
  • 2 tbsp pickled ginger
  • 2 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup spicy vegan mayo

Marinated watermelon

  • 3 cups cubed watermelon
  • 6 tbsp gluten free tamari
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice


Marinated watermelon

  • Chop the watermelon into chunks that are around 2 inches in length. Mince the ginger for the marinated watermelon into small pieces.
  • Pour all the ingredients for the marinade into a medium sized bowl and add the watermelon cubes to the bowl. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

Watermelon poke bowl

  • Cook the rice according to the instructions on the package. The exact amount of water and cook time will vary depending on the brand of rice.
  • Chop the carrots, cucumbers, and red onions into small cubes. Slice the jalapeño and green onions into thin slices.
  • Mash the avocado and shell the edamame if the edamame did not come pre-shelled.
  • Combine all of the vegetables over a bed or rice. Top with pickled ginger, sesame seeds, spicy mayo, and leftover watermelon marinade.


Homemade spicy mayo. Having a hard time finding spicy vegan mayo? You can make your own! Start with a base of equal parts vegan mayo and hot sauce then add a little minced ginger and garlic. If you are looking for even more flavor, you can add a splash of agave or rice vinegar. 

Ingredients we use to make poke bowls

Here are some of the ingredients we use when we make these poke bowls. We particularly love the picked ginger from The Ginger People!

We also included a link for the rice cooker we use to make rice for poke bowls. We did a lot of research before we bought our rice cooker and found that this one strikes the best balance between affordability, durability, and versatility. It even has a setting for steaming vegetables and comes with a little steamer basket!

Substitutions for watermelon poke bowls

  • Gluten free tamari. If you do not have a gluten intolerance you could also use regular soy sauce in the watermelon marinade. 
  • Sesame seeds. We recommend using black sesame seeds but if you do not have black sesame seeds you could also use any other type of sesame seed. You can even use a combination of black sesame seeds and brown sesame seeds. 
  • Red onion. If you do not have red onion you can use any other type of onion. 
  • Brown sugar. If you do not have brown sugar you can use any other type of sweetener you prefer. You can use honey, white sugar, average, or any other sweetener. 
  • Lemon juice. If you do not have lemon juice then you can also use lime juice in the marinade. 

Other recipes you will love

Vegan tofu buddha bowl with crispy fried tofu, hummus, grilled vegetables, and avocado.

Are you looking for another vegan grain bowl that is flavored with toasted sesame oil? Check out this recipe for vegan buddha bowls with crispy lemon sesame tofu, mashed avocado, grilled veggies, and hummus!

Chipotle tofu burrito bowls with rice, avocado, sour cream, and pinto beans. There is a bowl of guacamole and a bowl of crema in the background.

Are you looking for something a little more spicy? Check out this recipe for mexican burrito bowls with crispy chipotle tofu. These vegetarian burrito bowls are topped with pinto beans, homemade guacamole, and lime sour cream. 

Vegetarian crispy tofu poke bowl

This watermelon poke bowl is not the only option we have to offer when it comes to vegan poke bowls. This vegan poke bowl with crispy tofu features many of the same ingredients as this watermelon poke bowl!

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