Watercress Salad

This easy watercress salad is packed with fresh peppery watercress, crunchy radishes, and hard-boiled eggs and tossed in a simple homemade garlicky dressing.

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Why We Love This Recipe For Simple Watercress Salad

Here at Healthy Seasonal Recipes, it’s no secret that we love a good salad. And while we love the traditional salads that grace almost every table, like a good classic Caesar Salad, Greek Salad or Garden Salad. But sometimes, we like to spice things up!

In this super easy springtime recipe, we swap out classic lettuce greens for a bunch of peppery watercress, mix in crisp radishes, and creamy hard-boiled eggs, then toss it with a simple homemade garlicky vinaigrette. One thing is for sure, this light and refreshing salad is bursting with flavor.

And this healthy side is the perfect complement to almost any dish which means it will quickly make its way into your family’s weekly weeknight menu rotation.

Recipe Highlights

Made with nutrient-dense spicy watercress

Uses a handful of ingredients, most of which you probably already have on hand

Comes together in just 20 minutes

Easy to customize and goes with almost any main dish you can think of!

Watercress 101

What is Watercress?: Watercress is a low-calorie, nutrient-rich, dark, leafy aquatic green.

What does it taste like?: peppery, minerally similar to radish or horseradish

Can you eat it raw? We like it best raw as cooking it causes it to wild considerably and it loses most of its peppery bite when it is cooked.

What To Do With Watercress: Cress can be eaten raw or cooked; however, we prefer it best when enjoyed raw as cooking causes it to wilt considerably and it loses most of its iconic peppery bite. Cress is a classic accompaniment to steak (check out this steak with watercress salad recipe.) It is also good paired other meat dishes. Watercress soup is another traditional preparation. See this Chinese Watercress and Pork Soup for example. We also like Watercress and Egg Sandwiches.

When is watercress in season?: Watercress is an aquatic plant that usually is harvested in the spring; however, it can be grown and enjoyed year-round in an indoor, vertical hydroponic garden. 

Other Types of Cress: There are other common cress plants as well as the common hollow-stemmed plant called watercress. Examples are garden cress and upland cress (which is grown hydroponically and a popular CSA item in early spring.) These various cress varieties can all be used interchangeably and are good substitute greens for watercress. Upland Cress, has the same nutrients and peppery notes as watercress but is thinner, more tender, and usually sold with its roots still intact.

Key Ingredients for this Watercress Recipe

Watercress: Purchase 2 bunches that have large, dark green, round leaves while bypassing any cress that is yellowing or wilting. You can also buy bagged cress. You’ll need eight cups of cleaned watercress for this salad. Be sure to wash and spin dry before use and then break into bite-sized pieces.

Radishes: Gather a bunch of firm radishes with the greens still intact. Red radishes, garden radishes, French Breakfast, watermelon radish, Easter, or even Spanish all can be used interchangeably in this salad. In the end of the summer you can sub in another crisp veggie or thin slices of apple.

Hard-Boiled Egg: Creamy hard boiled egg is a classic foil for peppery watercress.

White Wine Vinegar: Used to help brighten up the deep, spicy notes of the dressing while not overpowering the dish with a robust vinegar flavor. Apple cider vinegar would be a great substitute if that’s what you have on hand or would prefer to use.

Dijon Mustard: This type of mustard has a distinct spiciness that we feel pairs beautifully with the other peppery elements of this salad! However, a brown deli mustard would be a delicious substitute since it will have a mild peppery mustard flavor that will compliment the cress and radish too.

Kitchen Staples: We recommend using extra virgin olive oil when making the dressing as it will add another layer of peppery notes to this simple salad. You will also need salt, pepper and garlic.

Step By Step Instructions To Make This Cress Salad

Step 1: Make the Dressing

In a medium bowl combine garlic, vinegar, Dijon, salt, and pepper. Then, gradually whisk in olive oil.

Step 2: Dress the Salad

In a large salad bowl, combine the watercress and radishes. Drizzle homemade dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Taste and add more dressing if desired. Top with a hard-boiled egg if using. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tip: To make perfect hard-boiled eggs, follow these 6 easy steps:

Place eggs in the bottom of a large saucepan. Cover generously with tap water. 

Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.

Cover and remove the pan from the heat. Let the eggs sit in boiling hot water for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, set up a bowl of ice water. 

Drain the eggs and transfer them to ice water. Let cool for one to two minutes.

Then crack and peel under running tap water. 

FAQs and Expert Tips

Substitution For Watercress

Watercress has a unique peppery flavor that’s similar to radish or horseradish. So, if you do not have watercress on hand or cannot find it at the local grocer, any peppery green, such as arugula, radish sprouts, upland cress, or baby mustard would be tasty substitutes.

Make Ahead

While a dressed and tossed salad does not keep, each component can be prepped and kept separate up to 1 day in advance in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, bring the dressing to room temperature, especially if it has become solid in the fridge, dress, toss, and enjoy!

Variations To Try

While we find this simple watercress salad delicious as is, any of these easy variations can spice up this recipe:

Not a fan of eggs? No problem! In place of eggs, we love swapping in 1 ounce of blue cheese, buttery pecorino, creamy goat cheese, or salty feta. 

In place of radish, feel free to use another veggie, like sweet cherry tomatoes in the summer or sliced tart green apples or pears in the fall. 

During the winter months garnish with segmented oranges and shaved fennel and serve alongside salmon for a flavorful complete meal. 

Top with nuts, toasted almonds, or spiced nuts for a crunchy complement to the peppery cress

Change up the dressing and top with a tangy horseradish ranch, maple ranch dressing, tarragon dressing or a lemon vinaigrette.

Serving Suggestions

This easy watercress salad is the perfect side dish for a hearty grilled steak, prime rib, roasted chicken, or honey glazed ham.

Serve this salad as an accompaniment to a grilled cheese sandwiches, chickpea salad sandwiches, or tuna melts.

If you’re just in the mood for a salad but would prefer something more substantial, top it off with a protein like canned tuna, sliced steak, or seared salmon filet for a quick and easy lunch or dinner. 

Sunday Supper Dinner Menu

This watercress salad with garlicky dressing and hard-boiled eggs is the perfect side salad for a meal shared with family. Here’s a Sunday Supper menu suggestion:

One-pan chicken and potatoes

Sauteed peas

Roasted radishes

Whole wheat dinner rolls.

Coconut Cake with Raspberries.

More Salad Recipes To Try

Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!

Happy Cooking! ~Katie


Watercress Salad

Katie Webster

Total Time:
25 minutes

4 servings


This easy and fresh watercress salad is packed with peppery watercress, crunchy radishes, and savory hard-boiled eggs and tossed in a simple homemade garlicky dressing for one delicious side or light entrée salad.


8 cups watercress, cleaned and broken into bite-size sprigs (about 2 large bunches)
½ cup sliced radishes
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Optional 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped


Combine watercress and radishes in a large salad bowl. 
Whisk garlic, vinegar, Dijon, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. 
Drizzle dressing over the salad, to taste, and toss to coat. Taste and add more dressing if desired. Divide among 4 plates. Top with egg if using. Serve immediately.


Ingredient Note: Hydroponic watercress and uplands cress are more tender than mature watercress and sold in bunches so it wilts more readily. These more tender cress varieties need less dressing, so we suggest dressing the salad a little at a time. Taste as you go.

Make Ahead: The dressing can be made, the eggs boiled, radishes chopped, and greens washed and chopped up to 1 day ahead. Dress and toss just before serving.

To Hard-Boil Eggs:

Place eggs in the bottom of a large saucepan. Cover generously with tap water. 
Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.
Cover and remove the pan from the heat. Let the eggs sit in boiling hot water for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, set up a bowl of ice water. 
Drain the eggs and transfer the eggs to the ice water. Let cool for one to two minutes.
Then crack and peel under running tap water.

Prep Time: 10 minutesCook Time: 15 minutesCategory: SaladMethod: No CookCuisine: American


Serving Size: 2 cups
Calories: 215
Sugar: 1 g
Fat: 21 g
Carbohydrates: 3 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 5 g

Keywords: cress salad, watercress salad, salad cress

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