What Does Watercress Taste Like?

Watercress is a plant a part of the cabbage family. It’s a leaf vegetable packed with nutrients and has been used in many Asian and European dishes. You can eat it like kale or spinach

With watercress becoming more popular, people wonder what it tastes like. Is it bitter? Crunchy? Maybe sour? 

Like many dark leafy greens, watercress has a slightly bitter taste. However, it’s more known for its peppery taste similar to wasabi. Its more powerful flavor makes it great in many dishes including soups and stews. 

A Taste Breakdown

When picked earlier, watercress has a very fresh and powerful taste. When ripened and more mature, the watercress plant can taste a bit more bitter. The peppery taste that this plant has is similar to wasabi or mustard. 

Many people like the stronger and spicier taste that watercress has, adding it to many of their dishes. 

Watercress has the strongest taste when raw. Cooking allows the flavor to seep out, losing flavor in itself but adding flavor to the other dish components. 


Watercress is a crunchy green. When you need something crisp and fresh, watercress is the way to go. Like many other greens, this plant softens when cooked. Because it softens, watercress can be blended into a smooth pesto for different pasta.


Watercress has a light and fresh scent. The smell isn’t as strong as its taste, so it wouldn’t overpower in recipes. Its smell is similar to the smell of other leafy greens like lettuce or spinach. 

Fool’s watercress, which is a similar plant, is said to smell like carrots. 

What is Watercress Cooked With

Since it stemmed from both Europe and Asia, many different dishes involving watercress were made. In western countries, it is more common to eat watercress raw. In Asian countries, more dishes involve cooked or steamed watercress.

Here are some different ways to prepare watercress:

  • Added in salads
  • Sandwiches
  • Pesto
  • Soups and Stews
  • Paired with eggs
  • Stir fry

In France, watercress is added to fine herbs, white sauces, and flavored vinegar. It is usually used to enhance the flavors of dishes or, in combination with other herbs, used to give a smooth taste. 

What is Watercress Usually Paired With?

With watercress’s flavor profile, this plants pairs well with other more bitter plants. It also goes well with other peppers because of its peppery taste.

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Parsely
  • Bell Peppers
  • Red Peppers
  • Ginger
  • Horseradish
  • Dandelion

Final Thoughts

Even though watercress may have a different flavor profile to other greens that you have eaten, watercress can still make its way into many dishes. Its stronger flavor can distribute to make a great soup. If you don’t like the strong taste, cooking it down can soften the flavor.

Since it’s already had an influence on different cultures, there’s a dish that many people can add this plant into to enhance it more. Will it give a nice crunch on your salad or spice up a hearty stir-fry?