Watercress Dinner Pancakes: Full of Greens and Kid-Approved!


Once a month we’re featuring a family-friendly recipe from the Hatfields for our Kids Can Cook section. Their dairy-free teen cooking star is Katherine and this week she and her “mama”, Sarah, are continuing with their savory pancake kick. These watercress dinner pancakes are a full meal deal, and a delicious way to get kids to eat their dairy-free greens and protein.

Watercress Dinner Pancakes Recipe - Kid-approved way to get greens and protein! Dairy-free, gluten-free optional

Much like the Scallion Pancakes we recently featured, these Watercress Pancakes are a fun and easy way to get reluctant children to try an unusual vegetable. I don’t know if it’s the magic of the word “pancake”
or the tastiness of a pan-fried food, but something about these crispy little cakes encourages kids to give watercress a try.

Young cooks are also more likely to try something new if they cook the recipe themselves! Kids can help buy the watercress at a farmer’s market or store, or help pick it if you have a stream or spring nearby. They can also help clean and chop the watercress and green onions, mix the ingredients, and fry the pancakes with an adults help. Older kids and teens can make the entire recipe by themselves.

Watercress is a great green to work into your diet. Besides having a delicious peppery flavor and containing several vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, watercress is packed with vitamin K. Just one 3.5 ounce serving has 238 percent of the daily allowance of vitamin K, which is a key ingredient in helping with calcium absorption.

This simple recipe for Watercress Pancakes comes from a cookbook my great aunt and uncle bought at an Asian cooking class in California sometime in the late 1960s/early 1970s. It’s original name is Fried Water Cress with Meat (Minari Juhn). I’ve made a few minor alterations to make the recipe easier to follow.

You can of course leave out the beef for a vegetarian dish, but I will say that the addition of beef makes some children more likely to try the pancakes. The soy sauce encourages them, too!

Watercress Dinner Pancakes Recipe - Kid-approved way to get greens and protein! Dairy-free, gluten-free optional

Special Diet Notes: Watercress Dinner Pancakes

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, optionally peanut-free, optionally soy-free, and optionally vegetarian.

Watercress Dinner Pancakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2 servings
  • ¼ pound ground beef or vegetarian ground
  • 2 bunches watercress (about 3 to 4 cups), chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup all-purpose, wheat, or gluten-free flour, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons peanut oil or other high-heat oil, divided
  • Soy sauce, for serving (can substitute wheat-free tamari, for gluten-free, or coconut aminos, for soy-free)
  1. Brown the ground beef or vegetarian ground in a skillet.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the beef or vegetarian ground, watercress, and green onions.
  3. Add the eggs, flour, and water and stir gently until combined. Add more flour if needed. We sometimes have to add more flour depending on the size of the watercress bunches.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  5. Measure out 2 tablespoons of the watercress mixture and drop into the skillet to make one pancake.
  6. Fry until brown, then turn and brown the other side.
  7. Remove the dinner pancake to a parchment-lined sheet pan until ready to serve.
  8. Repeat this cooking process with the remaining batter, adding more of the oil as needed.
  9. Serve warm with the soy sauce.

More Kid-Friendly Ways to Eat Greens

Ultimate Herb & Veggie Dip (vegan, gluten-free & optionally allergy-friendly)

Veggie Yogurt Dip

Weeknight Falafel Burgers (vegan, optionally gluten-free & allergy-friendly)

Falafel Burgers

Soba Noodles with Wilted Watercress (vegan, gluten-free & nut-free)

Vegan Gluten-Free Spicy Soba Noodles Recipe with Wilted Watercress

About Author

Sarah is the Associate Editor for Go Dairy Free. Her previous experience includes work as a copy editor at Thoroughbred Times magazine, a content writer at Travelago.com, and an intern at Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Sarah was a 'mom blogger' for many years but now mostly hangs out on Go Dairy Free and Instagram.


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