Watercress Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

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

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 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.)
  • 3-4 slices bacon
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • A pinch of ground mustard
  • A pinch of 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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  • At Home with Kim Vallee

    Watercress is my favorite green. I crave for the true taste – not the washed out flavor version. Like Alice, I buy mine year long at an Asian Fruit and Vegetable store.

    I often eat mine with slices of red peppers and anchovies with the classic Dijon mustard French dressing.

  • JMarie

    I bought a pound of swiss chard for $1 from a gardener with no clue what I would do with it. I ended up trying this recipe, and it was *wonderful*! Unfortunately, my boyfriend is super sensitive to both bitter and vinegar flavors, so he couldn’t eat it. I didn’t think the bitter or vinegar flavors were pronounced at all, though; it was a very nice blend of flavors. I can’t wait to make this for my dad!

  • Annie

    Just found a creek full of watercress and pulled me a mess for dinner tonight. Had it in the creek on our East Tennesssee Farm and always had wilted watercress in the spring until it bloomed. Found your recipe using google to remind me of how Mother fixed it. Very similar to the one you wrote. Can’t wait until tonight. Actually can’t imagine having to buy watercress.

  • Jose Martinez

    We like it like with Olive Oil and salt. That’s all. Not too much oil cause will washout the salt. Just clean the watercress in very salty water. Put a lot of salt on the water to rinse the watercress. Rinse it only once. Taste leaves to make sure it is fairly salty. Then add the olive oil, a bit of olive oil will go a long way. Avoid too much olive oil, it will washout the salt.

    Good luck.

  • MeltingWok

    Hi Elise,
    Usually I’d cook watercress soup with figs, wolfberries & chinese dried longan. I’ll definitely try this watercress salad, very refreshing indeed :)

  • Vivian

    You can use this dressing with curly endive or any other sturdy, bitter greens with wonderful results!

    Congrats on your ‘Best Food Blog – Overall’ win, you deserve it!

  • Trig

    Sorry Elise – shoot me – congratulations on your win!

  • Trig

    I usually use nutmeg but I’ll try the paprika and mustard.

  • Cris

    Elise, what an easy treat and it seems soo yummy. I think we can get two kinds of watercress here, the real watercress and the one you can plant in your garden. The garden type is not too tender. This recipe might work good with swiss chard too.

  • Rachel

    I would like to second nava’s comment…among my favorite recipes are:
    brussels sprouts with almonds and onions
    onion quiche
    greek salad
    mollasses cookies
    Blueberry Buckle

    …and SO much more that I love or am itching to try!
    Have you thought about doing a ‘Favorites’ post, in which you list your all-time favorite blogged-about recipes? I can’t wait to read that one. :-)

  • soozer

    Try one of your local asian markets for watercress. Not only will it probably be organic and fresher, but will probably be 1/2 the price of Whole Foods!

  • Alice

    If there’s an Asian grocery store nearby, you can probably find good, cheap watercress year round.