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A beautiful egg and cress sandwich is a simple but special British classic. Here’s how to make the perfect one, and why.

An egg and cress sandwich on a plate
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Why we love this recipe

We lived in London for a few years and were vegetarian for much of that time. The egg and cress sandwich quickly became one of my go-to lunches from Pret and other better-than-American convenience food shops. In the ensuing years, it’s continued to beguile me with its irresistible combination of nostalgia and deliciousness.

This sandwich has:

  • Simple, creamy, assertively seasoned egg salad
  • Peppery watercress
  • Soft, flavorful whole-grain bread
  • And absolutely nothing else, which is exactly how it should be

I first published this recipe here in 2011, when we’d just returned from a school- and flat-scouting trip for our move to London. You can read the full story by scrolling below the recipe card.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients on plates
  • In England, the cress in this sandwich refers to garden cress (sometimes called mustard and cress or mustard cress). In the U.S., I use watercress, a related and much more widely available green. It makes a beautiful, peppery, and totally apt companion to the simple egg salad. You can use either one.
  • Use the best eggs you can find, and boil them perfectly
  • You can use a good-quality supermarket mayo, an easy homemade version, or my favorite, extra-savory option: Kewpie mayo. This Japanese brand is creamier, tangier, and more umami-fied than its American counterpart.
  • For the bread, I like something vaguely whole-grain-leaning but also soft and tender. I usually use Oatnut sandwich bread. Leave it untoasted.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a perfect egg and cress sandwich. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Break up your perfect hard-boiled eggs with a fork.
  2. Mix in the mayo, salt, and pepper.
  3. Spread evenly onto one slice of the bread and top with cress.
  4. Close sandwich, cut in half, and serve right away.

Expert tips and FAQs

Got any suggested additions?

Unsurprisingly, an egg and cress sandwich is great with a few slices of bacon tucked in. I also love combining it with another U.K. Pret classic and adding a few slices of smoked salmon.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

You can make the egg salad up to a week in advance and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Assemble the sandwich just before serving.

More nostalgic favorites from London

An egg and cress sandwich on a plate

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An egg and cress sandwich on a plate
4.85 from 13 votes

Egg and Watercress Sandwich

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
This sandwich is simple and simply wonderful. You'll start with our perfect hard boiled eggs recipe, linked in the ingredients list. Then you'll season the egg mixture assertively — with more salt and pepper than you think — so it's flavorful enough to carry the whole sandwich.
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 1
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Ingredients 

  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) mayonnaise
  • 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
  • teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices soft whole-grain bread
  • 1 handful watercress

Instructions 

  • Peel the eggs, place into a small mixing bowl, and mash well with a fork.
  • Add mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, and continue mashing until nicely combined.
  • Spread mixture evenly over one slice of bread.
  • Top with watercress and the other bread slice. Cut sandwich in half and serve immediately.

Notes

  1. You can make the egg salad up to a week in advance and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Assemble the sandwich just before serving.
  2. The original recipe instructions from 2011 said, "Just go ahead and make the sandwich, mate." It's good to know I have a long history of amusing myself, if no one else. 

Nutrition

Calories: 556kcal, Carbohydrates: 41.3g, Protein: 13.6g, Fat: 33.4g, Fiber: 6.8g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sandwiches
Cuisine: English
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

To England, where my heart lies.

Before I had memories, I had nostalgia. I pined for other people’s memories. By 1990 I was 14, with no notable romantic experience under my belt (or above it, for that matter) and not a modicum of worldliness to speak of. I really, truly didn’t have my groove on yet. What I did have on — on repeat on my boom box, to be precise — was Kathy’s Song.

If you want to know how I feel about moving to London, pop in your earbuds and listen to it while you read this post. For the full effect, you’ll have to imagine me singing along with the same descant I made up 20 years ago — because, you know, where would a Paul Simon love song be without girlie parts?

It’s London, now that you mention it.

Maybe you pined a bit in your adolescence as well. Maybe you grew out of it. Me? Not as much. To this day, I don’t think of happiness as something you show with a smile on your face. Contentment, instead, is a lump in the throat and a diffuse but energizing longing in the soul. It’s a drizzly day, a gentle nudge out of the comfort zone, an adjusted but not totally unrecognizable perspective.

It’s forging ahead while remembering to look back with kindness. “Cress” where you once had watercress, “nicking” a parking spot without denting a car, and, apparently, calling everything from a living room to a kindergarten class “reception.” It’s London, now that you mention it.

London flat-hunting

Last week we went flat- and school-hunting in the city that is soon to be our home. It wasn’t all English rose bushes, tiny Richard Branson look-alikes sitting next to us on Virgin Atlantic, and smartly dressed female real estate brokers saying, “Just stick it in there and jiggle it like a bastard. Excuse my language.” Though those were a few of the highlights.

The London food scene, uneaten

There were also sleepless nights with jet-lagged children, and, amazingly, a complete lack of time and energy to explore the food scene in any way, at all, whatsoever, in each and every real or imagined capacity. There was no Borough Market, no Barrafina, no Gelupo, no St. John, no Hix, no The Eagle, no Morito, no Vinoteca, no Andrew Edmunds, no Mandarin Oriental, no Yalla Yalla, no Harwood Arms, no Tayyabs, no Neal’s Yard Dairy, and no Cookbook Cafe, despite all of your helpful suggestions.

You can be sure that we will hit that list HARD when we arrive for reals in July. (Book your flights now, won’t you please?)

Egg & Cress

Instead of any of that, I was tailed around the city for five days straight by an egg and watercress sandwich operating under the alias Egg & Cress. It even followed me home on the plane. I kept eating it, but then there it was again. Sometimes it jumped off the shelves at the market. Twice we found it in a small sandwich shop next to Cope’s new office. Once it was handed to me by a flight attendant. Clearly Egg & Cress really likes me.

Deliciousness-in-dissonance happy

Thank goodness I like it, too. It makes me happy. Not smiley happy, of course. It’s more of a heightened-awareness-of-beauty-due-to-viewpoint-set-askew, deliciousness-in-dissonance kind of happy. Not a bad day’s work for a sandwich, right? Still, I think I’ll save the full Kathy’s Song treatment for Borough Market. Assuming we ever make it there.

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Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.85 from 13 votes (13 ratings without comment)

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12 Comments

  1. OH Carolyn,
    I was just searching some recipe for quick lunch and found this…
    Love it how simple this sound, Just few ingredients and then HEAVEN!!!
    I am making this sandwich now, trust me I have never paired eggs slices with watercress…
    Yumm…

  2. your writing is alive and compelling–i’m happy to have stumbled upon it. how enviable to read that your UK adventure is to come. we returned to the US last year from two years there and loved it thoroughly, more than thoroughly, to the bottoms of our souls. may your adventure be equally charmed in that rich, magnificent place. the food there is exciting. be sure to go to monmouth coffee and ottolenghi and to check out the funky, wonderful clothes shop called fifi wilson on monmouth street.

    1. Hi Monique, thank you so much! I’ve already got my eye on Ottolenghi now that I’ve seen the gorgeous cookbook and will certainly check out your other recommendations. Hope you’ll continue to read and suggest!

  3. Your writing is so quietly beautiful, and powerful. The images float. I was going to tell you my favorite lines, but there were too many. (OK, I pick this one: “Contentment, instead, is a lump in the throat and a diffuse but energizing longing in the soul.” Thought this one was a close second: “…smartly dressed female real estate brokers saying, ‘Just stick it in there and jiggle it like a bastard. Excuse my language.'”)

    I’m just so glad the web means I’ll continue to follow you, and that you’ll continue to be writing in English.

    Also, in July, find your way to the Hummingbird Cafe for cupcakes. And that is all.

    1. Cheryl. Thank you. Lovely person, you are, especially because you know how much I adore the way you write.

      A law colleague once introduced me to the banana cake recipe from Hummingbird. It may have been the best thing to come of my law career. You’ll have to visit, please, so we can go there. xx

  4. I still cannot believe you are moving to the UK. We have some friends who made the move last October, and they are in love with it!!! I hope you will still be writing, cooking, and sharing your lovely recipes!

    I have always wanted to make egg salad with watercress. You made this recipe look amazingly delicious!

    1. Denise, I will definitely be forging on with Umami Girl and continuing to follow the wonderful work of all of my friends. No idea where I’d be without the internet, but I’m glad not to have to find out. Makes moving so much easier. xx

  5. Wow, the second I saw the title of this post it took me right back to listening to that song at about age 14 or 15. Nice!

    1. I love how universal that song is turning out to be. Who knew we all heard the drizzle of the rain? 🙂