Watercress belongs to the mustard family and is an aquatic salad green that is also considered an herb. It has a pleasantly strong bite and pairs well with lighter flavorings, especially in sauces. While originating in Asia and Europe, “cress” is found growing wild in clear waters throughout many countries. Commercially grown plants are harvested from protected beds that are free of contaminants.

While it is often used fresh and as a garnish, watercress can be pureed (à la cressionnière) with potatoes or chickpeasWatercress sandwiches are a long-standing staple at teatime.


Watercress is among several varieties in the “cress” family, along with garden cress, bittercress, upland cress, and Indian-cress. It is considered the mildest species.

Buying Tips

Watercress is typically sold in bunches, but smaller markets may stock it loose in bins. Look for firm stalks and large, dark leaves that are relatively clean.

Storage Tips

Keep moist in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Do not wash. Watercress will remain fresh for up to five days. For freezing, wash and chop or puree.

Usage Tips

  • Just before using, dip in cold water to remove grit.
  • Blanch, drain, and blend with a favorite salad oil or dressing.
  • Remove the lower portion of the stalk, which can be tough. Upper bracts are edible.
  • Use in combination with lettuce on sandwiches.
  • Crush or coarsely process and add to rice dishes.

Substitution Tips

Try one of our favorite watercress recipes:
Cobb Salad
Carrot and Watercress Terrine
Sauteed Greens