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One of the things I love about visiting Mexico, and other tropical countries, is how much they enjoy fruit served fresh. And it’s hard to pass by one of the stands serving fruits juices and drinks when there are piles of glowing, juicy melons, berries, and citrus, ready to be juiced and served over ice.

In France, we get marvelously sweet Cavaillon melons, which I sometimes was able to find in California as well. Although in France, it’s pretty much the default melon and when they’re abundant, sellers will offer these orange-fleshed melons for a better price if you buy two. So that’s me you’ll find, invariably lugging home two melons from the market in the summer. In the states, there are muskmelons and cantaloupes at grocery stores that are often quite good. But if you visit a greenmarket, generally you’ll find really great (and sometimes, rather unusual) varieties of melons sold by people who grow them themselves.

melon for agua fresca

The best way to pick out a good melon is to sniff it – if it smells like a sweet, juicy melon, it should be ripe and ready when you slice it open. Even though in Paris it’s usually interdit to touch the fruit, I either try to lean in close enough to smell it (which admittedly, sometimes draws a few stares), or better yet, I shop from people that know that I appreciate a great, ripe melon, and are happy to let me choose my own.

melon in bowl, for melon-nectarine agua fresca

It’s been crazy-hot in Paris this weekend, with our first canicule (heat wave) of the summer, so I got up this morning at 4am to beat the heat, cut up a melon, and made a pitcher of agua fresca to chill out with today. Then I’m off to the market, to get another melon—or two.

lime for melon-nectarine agua frescanectarines for melon-nectarine agua fresca
nectarines for melon-nectarine agua frescamelon-nectarine agua fresca

Melon Nectarine Agua Fresca

You can use any kind of melon that’s available to you during the season. Agua fresca is generally quite thin – the name means “fresh water.” I like it a little spicy, so top it with a dusting of red pepper powder. Of course, you could turn this into a cocktail with a shot (or two) of tequila. However you serve it, make sure it’s well-chilled and served over plenty of ice.
  • 1 small melon (2-pounds, 900g), peeled and seeded
  • 2 yellow or white nectarines, pitted and sliced
  • 2 cups (0.5L) water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, preferably an unrefined sugar (see Note)
  • juice of half a lime
  • Puree all the ingredients together in a blender until very smooth.
  • Pass the mixture through a mesh strainer, pressing it through with a flexible spatula. Chill the agua fresca mixture thoroughly.
  • Serve well-chilled over ice. Dust with red pepper powder, if desired.


Note: I used cassonade blonde, which is a light-colored natural cane sugar. Similar sugars include demerara and turbinado.

Related Recipes and Links

The Melon Washer

Frozen Melon Margaritas


Strawberry Watermelon Agua Fresca (Simply Recipes)


Mexican Hot Chocolate

Sparkling Mango Agua Fresca (Everyday Southwest)

Pineapple-Ginger Agua Fresca (A Thought for Food)

Mexican Restaurants in Paris



    • This morning from Helsinki

    So happy you are back. Your blog is my favourite – not only for food, but for the witty, honest and utterly delightful writing. You, David, have become a great writer!

    • Gary

    Come to Australia to try some of our tropical fruits. The Kensington mango is the best in the world (IMHO).

    • Tess

    Mmm this looks delicious. Sorry to tell you though, “agua fresca” means fresh water, not fruit water! Agua fresca may BE fruit water, but it means fresh water.

    Oops! Thats what happens when I wake up at 4am and write a blog post. It’s been amended. Gracias! -dl

    • thefrancofly

    Excellent idea, David. I’ll drink these while soaking my feet in a bucket of ice water. Old World air conditioning.

    • ClaireD

    Agua Fresca is one of my favorite go-to drinks here in the heat of summer in Central Texas. Unfortunately, there’s a samonella outbreak this season related to cantaloupes which has forced me to turn to watermelons as my go-to fruit for this drink. As always, your photos are so realistic I can almost taste the juice.


    • Jessica

    See, you can lug two melons away from the marché without them yelling “il y a du monde au balcon” thinking that l’Américaine wouldn’t understand! On the other hand, I’d risk it again for those Cavaillon melons – they’re truly the best.

    • Eileen @ Passions to Pastry

    Making this tonight!

    • Victoria

    Have you ever tried making melon seed horchata? Essentially, you grind the seeds and some flesh clinging to them with some water.Strain, add sugar and lime to taste and chill. Very refreshing and uses up something that is ordinarily thrown away!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve not made that, but saw a recipe in Fany Gerson’s Paletas book for melon seed horchata. It’s a good idea & rather curious to try because I can’t really imagine what it tastes like.

      I know Mexicans sometimes add things like whole chia seeds to drinks and was thinking this might be nice with basil seeds (I buy them in Asian stores), although perhaps untraditional.

        • Victoria

        Melon seeds have a delicate almond flavor, and like you, I like the idea of adding basil or chia seeds. Bill Yosses once made a dessert for a dinner I attended that included basil seeds and pomegranate juice. Another great combination.

        If you have Indian stores near you, they carry a mix of hulled melon seeds called charmagaz. In India those are ground with milk for a drink (and pistachios, cardamom, etc) or they can be used to thicken sauces. A great flavor to play with.

    • Scott at Real Epicurean

    This does look delicious. I’m eating loads of nectarines lately.

    • Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers

    Sounds and looks amazing! I have 3 melons sitting on my counter. I must make this!

    • chika

    Hello David, I’ve been having a lot of flavored water (sort of aguas frescas, I think) this summer and on the lookout for more ideas. This sounds perfect as I’ve got a lot of white nectarines in hand (some of which was turned into sorbet for a lovely dessert from Ready for Dessert :)) and happened to receive some melons too. Love the chili pepper topping idea too! Thanks for sharing and hope you’re coping with the heat..

    • Fay

    I just made this in the sticky heat of the Baie de Somme and it is heavenly! Though as the skins of the white nectarines had just slipped off I confess I didn’t bother to sieve it. Also, the fruit was so ripe I didn’t add sugar. Dusted it with Piment d’Esplette which worked well and looked pretty. Thanks for this delicious, cooling treat!

    • Sharyn Dimmick

    I don’t like orange melons.When I can’t give them away I sometimes make them into agua fresca for other people. But I might be able to tolerate it with the addition of nectarine. Thanks.

    • baker in disguise

    Talking about summer fruit juices.. in parts of India.. we have wood apple juice.. its just the pulp, sugar, lime juice..excellent to counter the heat… the fruit is also available in parts of south-east asia.. cambodia, laos, thailand… you should try it sometime!!

    • Susan @ Wish Upon A Dish

    I took the nectar from a casaba melon yesterday and made a Melon Margarita and the pulp will be used to cook a pork butt in. Fresh melon juice is very refreshing indeed.

    • Gina

    Funny you should have that recipe this week, since I’ve been enjoying “horchata de melón” which I learned to make when I lived in Mexico.

    I see another reader has mentioned it, but in case you missed it, here is the recipe:

    You eat the cantaloup, but you save the seeds and the fiber around them. This is what you use to make your horchata.

    Into the blender you put the seeds, a few cups of water, and some sugar — I use 2 tablespoons. Blend until as smooth as possible. It will get milky.

    Strain over a fine sieve, add ice and enjoy!

    • Maureen in Inverness

    A favorite when I was living in Bogota years ago is SalpiCON (acento sobre el “o”).

    Salpicon is super-easy to make: cut different melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc–whatever) into 1 inch chunks. Mix with ice (not crushed but smaller than cubes–put 5 cubes in a kitchen towel and hammer with something). Put it in a glass and add a spoon. Savor slowly in the blazing heat.

    • Rus

    Did you take Romain with you to get a discount?

    • KG

    This looks absolutely fantastic in my 105-degree southern New Mexico heat. An older lady I know loves to make all sorts of auga-fresca-type drinks. I think she tends to use a liquid sweetner like honey, though. Why is an unrefined sugar preferred?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I like the slightly rustic flavor that unrefined sugar gives to things, and used it here, although as mentioned, it’s not required. Some people might want to play around with liquid sweeteners, like agave or stevia. One could leave it out altogether, but I find a touch of sweetness helps augement the natural sweetness of the fruit.

    • Wordbird

    Scrummy! Melon is so good when it’s hot.
    Raving read this recipe AND your recipe for Horchata, I realised I should send you a link to a lovely blog that’s mostly about perfume, and a little about food as well. Victoria recently put up a recipe for horchata made with melon seed. What synchronicity. You can now use up all those seeds as well. :-)

    • Maya

    i love the soft warm lighting in your new kitchen!

    • Bebe

    Agua dulce is what we hear in Southern California and Baja California for “fresh water”.

    We even have a town named for it. North of Los Angeles.

    Although agua fresca also means “fresh water”, agua dulce (“sweet water”) is the more common usage. If you asked for an agua fresca in a restaurant, you might get something similar to what you made – which sounds delicious.

    More on aguas frescas:

    • Leslie

    Looks absolutely delicious. Going to make it this week for my sister who is coming from Minnesota. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jasanna

    I just had to let you know, David, that my husband and I saw this post on the way home from church. We had a *ton* of canteloupe in the fridge and made this to go with our lunch. We didn’t have nectarines, so we just had the canteloupe. And instead of sugar, used honey. It was super refreshing! Thanks for sharing!

    • parisbreakfast

    Your pictures are full of aroma and flavor…utter yum
    I was happy to discover melons from the Charante..I’m sure they would work too.

    • Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    How refreshing and what a beautiful color!

    • Audrey

    Props to you for waking up at 4am. This heat makes me groggy. I’m writing from the Netherlands, where we have definitely been experiencing the heat wave as well! Yesterday we went to IKEA partially for a valid reason but also partially because they have AC. So we have been on the look out for all things cold to eat and drink in this weather. The grocery list has been updated – looking forward to trying this out!

    • JimmyJay

    Thanks for this post & recipes. I’ve long wondered about agua fresca recipes but just never got to it. I’m curious about the role of the nectarines here. Do you need 2 fruits? Can I just go with a melon? If using 2 fruits is necessary, are there combinations that work well and combinations that don’t?

    • Claudia

    David, here in Mexico we use everything from the melon including the seeds, next melon try to make ague fresco with just the seeds, blend them with some water and the amount of sugar you consider necessary and then pass it thorough the sieve to get rid of the hard stuff and voila you have agua fresca de melon and you enjoy your melon with jambon!!

    • LorI @ In My Kitchen, In My Life

    I take nearly overripe cantaloupe from my parents’ garden and puree the flesh with buttermilk and a hit of lime for a refreshing while-I-stand-over-the-stove pre-dinner cooler. Oh, and mint doesn’t hurt this at all either. Your idea sounds wonderful, too.

    • Gavrielle

    I have one of those ice pop maker things that I need to dust off and try this summer, and this sounds like a great thing to freeze. Refreshing squared.

    • sandra

    Just made this and now I shall be addicted to it in the 40c heat of southern Spain! Perhaps it will aid my keep fit regime too, all those melons to lug around.

    I made it with cantaloupe, needed no sugar at all because our nectarines are so sweet now, used a whole lime and a dash of lemon juice. Heaven is sipping this while wallowing in the pool!

    • vicki archer

    this summer I can’t get enough of Cavaillon melons…so delicious…and always such a hit with everyone! xv

    • Dave

    Fortunately here (Brazil) is really easy to get these melons! I prefer this version, but I will have friends next with at home. Can you recommend an alcohol that would be good to mix with this drink? Thanks David L.

    • Cid


    This sounds very delicious. Another favourite of mine is melon and ginger jam which seems fairly rare in the UK but worth a go if the melon is really fragrant…. added lemon juice and pectin is required to get a ‘set’.

    Your site continues to deliver excellent posts, always worth a read.


    • Amy

    Made this the other day and was thrilled when my daughter said she didn’t like it. Thinking of what other juices I can make now!

    • Oli

    oh! so reminded me to my childhood! My grandmother or Abue (in spanish of course) used to make this one among other aguas, but I have to tell you that I wasn’t a particular fan of the melon agua fresca…instead, I am a huuuuge fan of the white rice Horchata. I make it here and you can imagine here what do they think about it ;-) outstanding! This one is not a fruit agua fresca per se, but in Mexico, is an all time favorite.

    So, I’ll share the recipe. It’s still super warm for making it.

    2 cups of white rice (the closest I have here from mexican rice is the Basmati. For heavens sake, NEVER use precooked rice i.e Uncle’s Ben or something like that.
    1 lt. whole milk (not skim milk)
    1/2 lt water
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp cinnammon
    Brown sugar to the taste, usually I add 1 cup of it (I use brown sugar cause it gives a very different taste from white, at least on this one, but you can add white one too).

    Wash the rice under the running water. Bring almost to boil the liter of milk, you have to keep an eye on it so it won’t come up and spill all over your stove, so when the steam is coming out from the milk turn the heat off. In a large bowl add the washed rice and the cinnammon, then the warm milk. Leave it overnight.
    Next day, strain the rice and save the milk and put it aside. Add one cup of the rice with one cup of the milk in the blender and mix it on high speed until the rice is almost pulverized as much as you can. Repeat the operation until there’s no rice and milk left. Add the sugar, water and the vanilla, mix it one last time in the blender until everything comes together. Strain the mix so there are no rice leftovers. Put it in the fridge to cool it down. To serve, fill half the glass with ice, pour the horchata mix and then a pinch of cinnammon. It’s super refreshing!!

    You can make it only with milk or only with water, but for me it has to have both. It’s a matter of tastes, for sure!


    • Z

    I tried it today with two Baker Creek Seed Vault melons. It was delicious, but way too thick (more like a smoothie than like an agua). My husband added water to his glass, but I thought it diluted the flavor. So, for me, it is a better option for breakfast (it is more filling as well!) than for a middle of the day beverage.

    David, I have to say “A Perfect Scoop” is perhaps my favorite book in my cookbook collection. In less than a week we have made your strawberry frozen yogurt, your melon granita, and your peach (/nectarine) ice cream. All have been fantastic; thank you!

    • Olya

    Ha! I choose my melons, berries, etc. by sniffing also – proven way. For every fruit or vegetable I have my way to pick the ripe one, by look and by smell.. and can’t stand any type of poking, pinching or squeezing which leave precious fruits bruised :( BTW your melon drink has awesome color combination – soft apricot plus limy green. Thanks!

    • sunidhi

    Very nice drink. it is healthy as well as tasty. somebody doesn’t like melons but if we can prepare something good dish definitely they will like.thanks for this post.

    • tanya1234

    have to try thankx

    • mjk_seattle

    Delicious! I particularly liked the agua fresca with a splash of club soda. I couldn’t bear to throw out the two cups of beautiful pulp I was left with after straining. I ended up adding some simple syrup, lemon juice, buttermilk and throwing it into my ice cream freezer to make a sherbet. Thanks, David, for the recipe and inspiration for the improptu sherbet.

    • Archana

    This is delicious. I am from India, Goa and we get a delicious melon in monsoons which we call “chibud” is served in something similar – only we do not blend it.

    I’m a reader at your site and this post prompted me to write.


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