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Watermelon Cupcakes – Attempt Two (This Time With Jelly)



The last time that I made watermelon cupcakes, I lamented the fact that the watermelon flavor wasn’t strong enough.  Even though I had used my homemade watermelon syrup and watermelon butter in the cupcakes (both of which had vibrant, fresh fruity flavors), the cupcakes themselves were severely lacking.  I asked one of the best sources of information I know (my readers) for help.  How could I make true watermelon-flavored cupcakes?  Some of you said it couldn’t be done and I would have to resort to artificial flavors (you should have known that I would never believe you), while others filled the post’s comments with ideas.

The idea that resonated the most with me was from the very first commenter, JodieMo of Eatin’ On the Cheap:

Once I got my heart set on using a watermelon jam or jelly, I immediately thought of my friend Marisa of Food In Jars.  If anyone would know how to make a superb watermelon jelly, I knew it would be she.  Marisa responded that she had never made watermelon jelly before, but she was up for the challenge (she’s a woman after my own heart). She not only agreed to make some watermelon jelly and post the watermelon jelly recipe on Food in Jars, but she offered to send me a jar!  She’s the best – really!  Go read her blog!

I have to assume that most of you have never tried watermelon jelly.  I’ve never seen it for sale locally or even online.  You might think (as I thought at first) that perhaps there is a reason that no one sells it – maybe watermelon jelly is no good.  Wrong!

Watermelon jelly is spreadable Summer that you can use long after the first frost to conjure up memories of spitting seeds in the yard and gossiping with the neighbors.  Its flavor is true to the melon with no chemicals needed, and the fact that you have to either make it yourself or know someone who will lovingly make it for you makes it all the more special.

Did Marisa’s Jelly Make For a True Watermelon-Flavored Cupcake?

After watermelon cupcake attempt one, I was a bit gun-shy.  I wondered if the commenters who directed me toward artificial flavors might be right and I was wasting my time looking for a watermelon holy grail.  I worried that if I baked the jelly into the cupcake, its flavor would fade away – and I only had the one jar.  What if my new cupcake recipe were a failure and the precious jelly became a Cupcake Project sacrifice?  I couldn’t let that happen!

I decided on two things:

  1. My watermelon cupcake recipe had to prominently feature the jelly.
  2. I needed a second flavor that would complement the watermelon and add a level of complexity to the cupcake.

To that end, I made a jelly roll of sorts – a yeasty basil cupcake with watermelon jelly rolled inside.

I couldn’t have been happier about my decision to add basil.  Basil and watermelon may seem like an unlikely couple.  But, once you get to know them, you’ll want to take them with you everywhere.  Your turkey sandwich will thank you for adding basil olive oil and watermelon jelly to it – trust me!

And yes, with the watermelon jelly rolled throughout, the cupcakes did taste watermelony.  My only regret is that the cupcakes were way too dry – like bread that needs to be buttered.  I’d strongly advise that you slather some extra basil olive oil and watermelon jelly on top (in fact, I’d even recommend dunking bits of the cupcake in the jelly as you eat).  Also, as with any drier cake or bread, these are best enjoyed in the morning with a hot beverage.

Will There Be a Watermelon Cupcake Attempt 3?

I felt really close on attempt 2, but I’m not quite there yet.  Jonathan says that the dryness could be a plus (like a morning scone), but I want moisture.  Maybe, now that I have Marisa’s jelly recipe, I’ll make some jelly of my own and try again.

Watermelon Cupcake Attempt 2 Recipe

Loosely based on Yeasted Olive Oil Plum Cake from Wild Yeast

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5 from 1 vote

Watermelon Cupcakes – Attempt Two (This Time With Jelly)

How could I make true watermelon-flavored cupcakes? The idea that resonated with me most was using jelly.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword watermelon cupcake recipe, watermelon cupcakes, watermelon jelly
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 cupcakes
Calories 391kcal


  • 1 C olive oil
  • 1 C fresh basil washed and tightly packed
  • 2 3/4 C flour
  • 1/3 C milk
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 C watermelon jelly + extra for topping and dipping


  • Muddle basil leaves in olive oil and let sit for at least two hours.
  • Using a sieve, remove the basil leaves. (You've just made basil-infused olive oil. It's so good and so easy that you will want to make it all of the time.)
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle, combine the flour, milk, yeast, salt, and eggs. Mix at low speed until incorporated. The dough will be stiff at this point.
  • Replace the mixer paddle with a dough hook. At medium speed, gradually add the sugar in 5 or 6 increments, mixing for about two minutes between each addition.
  • Continue mixing at medium speed until the dough starts to come together around the hook.
  • Change back to the mixer paddle. Add 1/2 cup of the basil-infused olive oil and mix at low speed until it is incorporated. This will take a while.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and let sit for 2 hours in a warm location.
  • Roll the dough out to a 1/4" thick oval.
  • Spread the jelly on the dough, leaving about a 1/2" empty on all sides.
  • Starting with the long side of the oval, roll the dough over the jam to form a log.
  • Cut the log into 12 even pieces.
  • Shove the pieces into the cupcake wrappers however you want. Notice from the photo at the top of this post that I did this lots of different ways. They all look different and they all look pretty.
  • Cover the cupcake tin and let rise in a warm place for another two hours.
  • Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes.
  • If desired, drizzle with olive oil and spread watermelon jelly on top.


Nutrition Facts
Watermelon Cupcakes – Attempt Two (This Time With Jelly)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 391 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 29%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 27mg 9%
Sodium 153mg 6%
Potassium 83mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 50g 17%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 22g
Protein 4g 8%
Vitamin A 3.1%
Vitamin C 3.5%
Calcium 2.5%
Iron 9.8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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One Last Thing

Fans of watermelon should note that my favorite cupcake blog (other than my own), Cupcake Bakeshop, recently made watermelon chocolate ice cream cupcakes that look divine!  She didn’t try to bake any watermelon into the cake (perhaps she wisely believed the rhetoric that you can’t make a cake taste like watermelon). Instead, her cupcakes derive their watermelon flavor from a watermelon buttercream and a watermelon sorbet.

An attempt for an easy watermelon cupcake recipe! This recipe is open for improvement to get that watermelon color and taste in a cupcake. Nevertheless, it\'s a delicious yellow cupcake. I\'ll be trying a second attempt of this cupcake soon!
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17 comments on “Watermelon Cupcakes – Attempt Two (This Time With Jelly)”

  1. You got me. I want to make watermelon jelly (I LOVE making jams/jellies) too! What about a vanilla cupcake with the jelly filling. then a very light glaze over the top. Or maybe not even a glaze. Maybe whip cream on top.

    Or… Going the other direction. I wonder what a bittersweet chocolate ganache would taste like with the watermelon. Now I’m going to have to try them all!

  2. My favorite summertime salad is fresh peaches and watermelon. So what about trying a peach cupcake with watermelon jelly?
    Just an idea.

  3. Karasays:

    I’ve never made any jams or jellies before, but the watermelon recipe has stirred my interest. I wonder how it would be as a danish…hmmm.

  4. Joysays:

    Keep trying. You will get it. It looks great.

  5. Tanyasays:

    GFin the City recently posted a watermelon cupcake recipe that used Jell-o as an ingredient.
    Apparently, They taste nothing like what you expect a cupcake to taste like and every bit like watermelon candy. It’s a combination that makes you giggle and widens your eyes.
    I think its worth a try, if you really want watermelon cupcakes, though :)
    Maybe make you’re own watermelon flavoured gelatine mix?

  6. MelissaJanesays:

    I think I’d stop trying to bake the watermelon flavor into the cupcake. It seems like you’re inevitably going to lose a lot of its nuance, since it’s such a delicate flavor. Given that you’ve got the jam, I’d use a less exotic cupcake and fill it with the jam after baking. Maybe also incorporate some jam into buttercream (not the icky confectioner’s-sugar kind, a meringue-based buttercream, which does a better job of letting flavors come through). If you must have the basil flavor too, make a basil-watermelon buttercream.

  7. JodieMosays:

    I think you are getting close! Glad you liked the idea! Keep trying! I’m going to have to give the watermelon jelly a try next summer!

  8. Paulasays:

    looks great with that jelly :)

  9. Jane Kosays:

    I’ve never had watermelon jelly or watermelon cupcakes with basil. How interesting :) I will give these a try in the future.

    I would like to invite you to participate in my giveaway at http://atasteofkoko.blogspot.com/2010/08/mini-pistachio-tea-cakes-40.html

  10. I love the way you featured the jelly by using a roll technique (jelly roll = perfect). They turned out supremely gorgeous.

    I had 2 watermelon in my frig (I’m clearly in the mood for watermelon-based treats), just used one, so maybe I’ll try the jelly recipe with the second one. Mmm.

  11. Monicasays:

    Maybe attempt 3 should include the watermelon flavoring by LorAnn Oils…

  12. Anonymoussays:

    while reading through this recipe it seems like they are more of a bread/cinnamon roll than a cupcake.

  13. Anonymoussays:

    I tried to find the Watermelon Jelly recipe at all; any idea what happened to it? I’d die to have spreadable watermelon long after the summer is gone!

  14. Stefsays:

    Anon – The recipe is back up on Food in Jars.

  15. Maybe a a sponge cupcake with a jelly center or soaked in watermelon syrup? Either way, I <3 your cupcakes and wish you luck

  16. Jackie Delksays:

    You have some interesting recipes from interesting fruits….I too have thought about watermelon jelly, just never tried it…maybe this summer would be a good time….a thought on the watermelon bread, try using 3/4 cup olive oil, then bread won’t be crumbly.

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