10 Best Leafy Veggies to Substitute Watercress


Watercress is a dark leafy vegetable used in salads, toppings, fillings, and garnishes.

This veggie is known for its peppery flavor and the plethora of health benefits it has.

However, fresh watercress can be hard to find nearby.

10 Best Leafy Veggies to Substitute Watercress

In that case, here are ten great ingredients that you can use in your following recipes to replace watercress.


Arugula, also known as roquette, is an excellent replacement for watercress. It has a similar mild flavor and goes well in soups, salads, sandwiches, and as a topping or garnish.

This leafy vegetable is also a great source of calcium; one serving may provide 18% of the daily recommended calcium intake.

However, arugula doesn’t have as many health benefits as watercress. Its texture also differs.


Arugula is a calcium-rich alternative for watercress with a mild flavor. It is not as nutrient-rich but works well in most dishes.

Radish Sprouts

Radish sprouts are an excellent replacement for arugula in most salads and sandwiches.

They are rich in several complex vitamins, including vitamins A, B, C, and K. They are also rich in minerals like potassium, zinc, iron, and calcium.

Unfortunately, radish sprouts aren’t common and may not be readily available in grocery stores or farmer’s markets regularly.


Radish sprouts are a nutrient-packed substitute for watercress in many different recipes. However, it may not be easily available.

Nasturtium Leaves

Nasturtium leaves are an almost identical replacement for watercress. The flavor profile is peppery and has hints of mustard Which makes it a great alternative.

They are also high in vitamin C, manganese, flavonoids, and beta carotene.

WebMD suggests that the high vitamin C may help in curbing UTIs and fungal infections.

The only demerit to this alternative is that sourcing good quality and fresh nasturtium leaves can be challenging.


Nasturtium leaves are very similar in flavor to watercress and may replace them in several recipes. It is also rich in nutrients. But it may be difficult to source.


The healthiest alternative to watercress is probably kale. It is a superfood known for its nutritional value, packed in vitamins A, B6, C, K, manganese, potassium, riboflavin, and much more.

It is more readily available than most other watercress alternatives and is also known for its retention of freshness.

This leafy vegetable does not have an overpowering flavor when consumed raw, but cooked kale may have a bitter flavor.


Kale is an easy access alternative to watercress that is full of health benefits. It stays fresh for longer. It may have a bitter taste when cooked.

Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens are available easily in most farmer’s markets. They have a significant quantity of potassium. Additionally, it has several nutrients ranging from calcium, folates, and carbohydrate inulin fibers.

It adds texture to roasts and soups. Its bitter flavor pairs well with most dishes. Younger leaves may have a milder bitterness. Dandelion greens must be used carefully, given their low shelf life.


These greens are a great healthy alternative that works well in most dishes. They have a bitter flavor.


Endive is a leaf that has a unique flavor. It also has a distinct texture, significantly different from watercress. However, its bitter and mildly peppery flavor profile makes it a great alternative.

Endive contains several nutrients Vitamin A, E, folates, and potassium. It also has a large number of beta carotenes.


Endive is a flavourful leafy vegetable that can replace watercress in most dishes. It is also nutrient-rich.


This is a beautiful purple leafy vegetable that can be used as a replacement for watercress in salads. This vegetable tastes particularly delicious in salads and sandwiches.

Radicchio is also rich in vitamin K and folates. It adds both color and flavor to dishes. It is known for its versatility since it works well with most recipes.


Radicchio is a substitute for watercress that can add both color and flavor to preparations.


Spinach is an affordable and easy-access alternative to watercress, both cooked and raw.
It has a mild flavor and works well in salads, soups, sandwiches, and fillings too.

Spinach is an outstanding source of iron, which makes it great for blood health. It also contains several minerals that help uplift the body’s immune system.

Furthermore, a serving of spinach may provide you with 34% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C.


Spinach is nutrient-packed and easy to access. It may not be as flavorful as watercress, but it works in most dishes.


The flavor profile of purslane is very similar to that of watercress. It’s a great addition to most savory dishes to add a kick of nutrition to any preparation.

Purslane might be a common salad green, but it hides a plethora of nutrients. It’s a great source of Vitamin A, Riboflavin, and a ton of potassium.

This veggie is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient component rarely found in vegetarian foods. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for regulating cardiovascular health.


This underrated leafy vegetable is a powerhouse of nutrients and has a very similar flavor to watercress, making it an excellent substitute for it.

Water Spinach

Water spinach is an excellent replacement for watercress in salads, sandwiches, fillings, or as garnishes. It has a savory flavor and goes well with most recipes calling for watercress.

It is a good source of fiber and vitamin C. However, since this vegetable is grown in water, it must be sourced very carefully.

It may carry the larvae of parasitic worms that can cause severe illnesses like liver fluke infestations.


Water spinach is a fine alternative to watercress. It works well in many preparations. However, it must be sourced with caution due to its tendency to carry parasitic larvae.


What would work best in salads as a replacement for watercress?

Spinach and purslane are the best alternatives to use in a raw form in salads since they are very similar in flavor and texture to watercress.

Does arugula taste identical to watercress?

Arugula has a similar peppery flavor, but it has a more intense spicy flavor as compared to watercress.

Is watercress the same as water spinach?

No. Water spinach is native to Asia, and though it is also known as Chinese watercress, it is very different.

Bottom Line

Watercress is a versatile green leafy vegetable that can be consumed raw or cooked in several dishes.

But, if you’re unable to find it quickly or can’t consume it, we hope you can pick any of these nutrient-rich alternatives to add to your following recipe in place of watercress.

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About Karen Wilson

Karen is a foodie to the core. She loves any variety of food - spicy or junk! Her slender body and height are deceiving, as she enjoys eating hearty meals that would leave most people gasping for air. She has an appetite for life, and wants everyone around her to share in it too.