Watercress Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Simple watercress salad with fresh peppery watercress and a hot bacon apple cider dressing.

Watercress Bacon Salad
Elise Bauer

Watercress salad is one of our favorite family salads. We serve it with a warm, sweet and sour bacon dressing that perfectly complements the peppery watercress greens.

I love this watercress salad! It's like a wilted spinach salad, only less wilted, and more peppery.

This watercress salad requires the sturdy watercress variety which can hold up to both the heat and the flavor of the dressing. This type of watercress is thicker, crunchier, and stronger flavored than the tender watercress grown hydroponically. It's only in season a few months of the year (early spring) so if you see it at the market, buy it!

Bacon or no bacon?

In our family's opinion, the watercress salad really must be made with bacon fat and crumbled bacon. You can substitute olive oil, but it's just not the same.

fresh watercress for watercress salad
Elise Bauer

Watercress Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 4 to 6 servings


  • 2 bunches watercress (Try to get mature watercress as shown in the photo, not the hydroponic watercress that Whole Foods carries. It will hold up better to the hot dressing.)

  • 3 to 4 slices bacon

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 4 teaspoons sugar

  • Salt and Pepper

  • 1 pinch ground mustard

  • 1 pinch paprika (sweet)


  1. Prep the watercress:

    Rinse thoroughly the watercress, removing old leaves and thick stems. Set aside in a serving bowl.

  2. Cook the bacon:

    Heat a small stick-free pan on medium heat and cook the bacon until done, several minutes on each side. Remove the bacon from the pan and put on a paper towel. Keep the bacon fat in the pan.

  3. Make the dressing:

    Add the cider vinegar and sugar to the bacon fat. Stir to dissolve. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add a pinch of ground mustard and a pinch of paprika. Taste and adjust seasoning. This is a sweet-sour dressing, so if it is too acidic, add a bit more sugar, if too sweet, add a bit more vinegar.

  4. Pour hot dressing over watercress:

    Bring the dressing to a simmer. Pour over the watercress. Crumble the bacon over the top. Toss and serve.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
50 Calories
3g Fat
3g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 50
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 8mg 3%
Sodium 183mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 5mg 24%
Calcium 16mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 84mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.