This hwachae, or specifically subak-hwachae, is also known as Korean watermelon punch. It's a refreshing summer fruit punch made with watermelon, fruit cocktail, lemon-lime soda, and milk. An odd sounding combination, but it'll definitely get you hooked when you try! It's super easy to make and is children and family-friendly, which makes it great for get-togethers. And if you have leftover watermelon, make some watermelon soju for the adults!
If you’ve made this recipe or any recipes from our blog, please tag us on Instagram using #twoplaidaprons! You can also tag us in your Instagram stories using @two_plaid_aprons. We would love to see your creations! It absolutely makes our day! 🥰
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the ingredient quantities!
- Watermelon - Since this is a watermelon punch, a sweet, juicy watermelon is a must! Check out our "How to pick the best watermelon" topic below for some useful tips!
- Fruit cocktail - This is quintessential in Korean watermelon punch! We like to use fruit cocktail in heavy syrup, but the ones in just fruit juice is okay too. However, you may need to supplement with some sugar or honey, depending on your sweetness preference.
- If you can't find fruit cocktail, other canned fruits work too. For example, canned peaches, like how BTS made theirs! You can also use fresh fruits instead of canned fruits for an even fresh flavor.
- Lemon-lime soda - In Korean, Chilsung cider is the classic choice, but it's a bit harder to find in other countries. If you're looking for them, try your local Asian market or Korean market. Otherwise, feel free to use Sprite or your favorite lemon-lime soda.
- Milk - We highly recommend adding milk to your hwachae to give the watermelon punch a creamy, yet refreshing flavor. If you've ever tried milkis, it's similar in flavor.
- Ice - For chilling the watermelon punch, but can be omitted if all of the ingredients are chilled.
How to pick the best watermelon
There are numerous methods out there for choosing the best watermelon. Here are some tips our family use, and this method works 8 out of 10 times!
- Seeded watermelon will usually always be sweeter than seedless.
- Color - Pick the greener watermelon with good color contrast between the stripes
- Yellow spot - Also, known as the ground spot. This is where the watermelon sits on the field. Look for ones that are yellow or almost golden.
- The end - On the end of the watermelon, opposite of the stem, there's a dot. The small the dot, the sweeter the watermelon is.
- Sound - Pick up a watermelon and give it a knock. A sweet, juicy watermelon should sound deep and hollow. A bad watermelon will sound dull, like knocking on a carrot or squash.
How to make hwachae
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe and instructions!
1. Choose a good watermelon. Refer to the topic above, "How to pick the best watermelon", to help you choose a sweet, juicy watermelon.
2. Scoop out the watermelon flesh. Cut open the watermelon and scoop out all of the flesh into bite-size pieces using either a spoon or a melon baller or both. Place the watermelon along with its juices into a large bowl.
📝 Note: If you're using a small watermelon, cut off the top until the red flesh is exposed. For regular size watermelons, cut it in half. If you want to use the watermelon as a bowl to serve the punch, slice off a thin layer on the bottom so that the watermelon has a flat side to sit on.
4. Combine the punch ingredients. To the bowl of watermelon, add the fruit cocktail along with the juices/syrup, the lemon-lime soda, milk, and ice. Stir to combine.
🌟 Pro tip: Depending on the sweetness of your watermelon and whether you used the fruit cocktails with syrup, you may or may not need to sweetened the watermelon punch with either sugar, honey, or your preferred sweetener. It's really up to your personal preference. Give the punch a taste and if needed, start by adding 1 tablespoon of sweetener at a time.
5. Serve. You can serve the hwachae in the mixing bowl, a punch bowl, or transfer it into the watermelon. Enjoy immediately.
This Korean watermelon punch should be enjoyed within 2 to 3 days of making, but definitely best enjoyed freshly made and within a few hours of making. You'll taste the fizz from the soda the most when it's freshly made.
If storing, make sure cover it well and keep refrigerated.
Hwachae (화채) roughly translates to "punch" in english, and this specific recipe, subak-hwachae (수박화채) translates to "watermelon punch".
The most popular type of hwachae is this subak-hwachae, or watermelon punch. It's made with watermelon, fruit cocktail, lemon lime soda, and often times with milk. But there are other varieties of hwachae such as ones made with pears.
Hwachae is pretty limitless in terms of the types of fruits that can be added. Besides the classic water, can fruit cocktail, lemon-lime soda, and milk, some people also add fresh fruits like melons, strawberries, and grapes, or canned fruits, and sometimes yakult (the yogurt drink). So feel free to experiement!
Hwachae (Korean Watermelon Punch)
- 4-5 pounds watermelon seeded or seedless (we usually get a 10 pound watermelon and cut it in half)
- 30 ounces fruit cocktail in syrup *see notes
- 23-25 fluid ounces lemon lime soda about 3-4 cans *see notes
- ¾ cup milk
- Ice cubes for cooling the punch
- Cut the watermelon in half and use either a melon baller or a spoon (or both) to scoop out all the flesh of the watermelon and place it into a large mixing bowl or punch bowl.
- To the bowl of watermelon, add the fruit cocktail and its juice, lemon lime soda, milk, and ice. Stir to combine and enjoy!
- You can either serve the punch in the bowl or in the hollowed out watermelon. If serving in the watermelon, make sure to slice off the end of the watermelon so that it can sit flat.
- A good, sweet watermelon will help elevate this simple punch. So make sure to pick the best watermelon! Check out our post above for some watermelon selection tips!
- If your watermelon is not super sweet, you can add a couple tablespoons of sugar to help sweeten the punch.
- Fruit cocktail - We prefer the ones in syrup but ones in real fruit juice is okay too. If you prefer or if you have trouble finding fruit cocktail, you can also use fresh fruits or other canned fruits.
- Lemon-lime soda - In Korea, hwachae is made with Chilsung cider, which is a lemon lime soda. But you can only find it at some Asian markets and Korean markets like H-Mart. So instead, you can use sprite.
- Dairy-free option - To make this punch dairy-free, you can simply omit the milk, use juice instead, or use a bit more soda instead.