10 Easy Nopales Recipes Full of Goodness (2024)

There’s a new “it” vegetable in town, and its name is nopales.

So if you want to keep up with the trends, you’ll need to try these easy nopales recipes.

10 Easy Nopales Recipes Full of Goodness (1)


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Nopales (aka cactus paddles) are nutritional powerhouses and add a delicious flavor boost to any dish.

While they may seem intimidating at first, with a bit of preparation, they can be a versatile component in a whole bunch of meals.

So, whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or special occasion recipes, I’ve got you covered!

These are some of my favorite nopales recipes ever, and they’re all crazy delicious and super simple to recreate at home.

How To Prepare Nopales (Cactus Pads)

10 Easy Nopales Recipes Full of Goodness (2)

1. Cactus Salsa (Mexican Nopalitos)

Cactus salsa is a unique and delicious dish that’s perfect for any occasion.

The nopales provides a crunchy texture and a mild flavor, while the other ingredients add a touch of sweetness and spice.

This salsa is incredibly easy to make, and it can be served with chips, on tacos, or even as a side salad.

Best of all, cactus salsa is healthy and nutritious, so you can feel good about indulging in this tasty treat.

2. Nopal Soup

Nopal soup might not be the first thing that comes to mind when looking at a cactus. But it’s actually a delicious and easy-to-make dish.

Native to Mexico, nopal soup is traditionally made with cactus pads, eggs, and vegetables.

The cactus pads give the soup a slight crunch, while the chicken and vegetables provide plenty of flavor and nutrients.

3. Pork Chile Colorado with Nopales

This is a dish that is sure to please any palate.

The succulent pork is cooked in a flavorful red sauce, making it tender and scrumptious.

Meanwhile, the nopales add a lovely brightness and texture to the dish, as well as a touch of acidity that helps to balance out the flavors.

This dish is typically served with rice and beans, but it can also be enjoyed on its own.

4. Nopales con Huevo

For those who’ve never experienced the joy of eating nopales con huevo, let me just say that you are missing out.

This dish is simple to make and jam-packed, and full of flavor.

The combination of eggs and cactus is sure to tantalize your taste buds.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, consider this: it’s also an excellent source of protein and vitamins.

So not only will it leave you feeling satisfied, but it will also give you the energy you need to power through your day.

5. Cactus Salad with Grilled Nopales

Cactus salad is a healthy and delicious dish you can enjoy as a light meal or a side dish.

The cactus pads are grilled until tender and then diced. They’re then combined with tomatoes, onions, and cilantro.

The dressing is made with lime juice, olive oil, and spices for something pretty simple but zesty and fresh.

I highly recommend trying this recipe. It’s easy to make and can be served either warm or cold. I like it with grilled chicken or fish. Enjoy!

6. Authentic Mexican Cactus Salad (Ensalada de Nopales)

Ensalada de nopales is a traditional dish from Mexico that’s crazy nutritious because nopal is an excellent source of fiber and Vitamins C and K.

It’s also known for lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

In addition to being healthy, nopal has a unique flavor that’s slightly sour and slightly sweet.

7. Grilled Cactus and Corn Salad

Ready to add a little zing to your salad game? Then it’s time to try grilled cactus and corn salad.

This dish takes the basic ingredients of a salad – greens, vegetables, and dressing – and gives them a smoky, southwestern twist.

The cactus is grilled until tender, then paired with onions, queso fresco, and some zesty lime.

Serve with tortillas or taco shells and enjoy authentic Mexican flavors.

8. Nopales en Escabeche

If you’re on the hunt for a delicious and easy recipe to add to your repertoire, look no further than nopales en escabeche.

This dish features tender nopales simmered in a vinegar-based sauce with onions, jalapeños, and bay leaves.

It’s the perfect blend of sweet, tart, and spicy, and it’s sure to please even the most discerning palate.

Plus, it’s incredibly versatile – it can be served as an appetizer, side dish, or main course.

9. Nopales con Chorizo

Nopales con chorizo is a mouthwatering recipe that combines two of Mexico’s most iconic ingredients: nopal cactus and chorizo sausage.

The nopal cactus provides a crunchy texture and mild grassy flavor, while the chorizo adds richness and spice.

Nopales con chorizo is typically served with rice and beans but also goes well with tortillas or bread.

Don’t forget to add your favorite toppings, such as salsa, queso fresco, or sour cream.

10. Vegan Breakfast Tacos

Hearty, healthy, and vegan, these tacos are a dream.

Packed with protein and vegetables, they’ll give you the energy you need to power through until lunch (and maybe even after that).

And if you’re worried about missing out on the flavor of traditional breakfast tacos, don’t be – these are just as flavorful, if not more so.

So why not give them a try? You might just be surprised at how tasty they are.

10 Easy Nopales Recipes Full of Goodness (3)

10 Best Ways To Use Nopales

There’s a new “it” vegetable in town, and its name is nopales. So if you want to keep up with the trends, you’ll need to try these easy nopales recipes.


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10 Easy Nopales Recipes Full of Goodness (4)

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10 Easy Nopales Recipes Full of Goodness (2024)


Do you rinse nopales after boiling? ›

Whichever way you boil them, once cooked you have to drain and rinse them many times. My favorite way to cook them, aside from grilling them, is to sear them in a skillet with a bit of oil for a few minutes and then let them cook covered until all of that liquid comes out, then uncover until all that liquid cooks off.

What are the benefits of eating nopales? ›

Prickly pear cactus — or also known as nopal, opuntia and other names — is promoted for treating diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and hangovers. It's also touted for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

Can I eat slimy nopales? ›

While everyone may not be keen on eating nopales' slimy composition, traditional recipes bring the diced nopales to a boil to reduce their slimy texture. Then it can be poured onto a salad to enjoy or seasoned and sautéed and added into a taco.

How long do you boil cactus for? ›

Place in a medium pot with salt, and fill with water until all the cactus paddles are covered. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover with a lid, and cook for 10 more minutes. Drain the water from the nopales and give them another rinse under warm water to remove any excess slimy liquid.

Is it okay to eat raw nopales? ›

Nopales are also edible when raw. When a person dices them, they resemble a green pepper. Additionally, people can turn them into juice, jams, or tea. Individuals can also eat prickly pear fruit, which is the small, rounded, and often colorful part of the nopal plant.

How long do nopales take to cook? ›

For Boiled Nopales

Add smashed garlic cloves to water and place pot over high heat. Bring water to boil. Once liquid begins to boil rapidly, add prepared nopales to pot. Cover pot with lid and boil nopales 8 to 10 minutes or until paddles are tender and mucilage has seeped out.

How long do nopales last in the fridge? ›

If they're fresh when you get them at the store, whole paddles can last upwards of a week or more in the refrigerator. Once cooked, nopales should be eaten within 5-7 days. If pickled, nopales can last for several weeks to a year. Raw nopales can also be frozen for up to 6 months.

How can you tell if nopales are good? ›

Note: When buying cactus, make sure the paddles are bright green and not brown in spots. Many grocery stores sell them already cleaned, but sometimes upon further inspection, they've got a few spines. You'll want to remove those with a sharp knife — the LA Times has a good tutorial on how to clean nopales.

Can you put nopales in the fridge? ›

Edible cactus can be refrigerated for more than a week if wrapped tightly in plastic.

How do you know when nopales are done? ›

Put them on the hot grill and cook, undisturbed, until grill marks form on 1 side and the nopales wilt, about 4 minutes. Turn them over to cook on the other side and let sit until grill marks form on the other side and the leaf is tender all the way through, about another 4 minutes.

What are the side effects of nopales? ›

Prickly pear cactus can cause minor side effects in some people, including diarrhea, nausea, bloating, and heartburn. Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if prickly pear cactus is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick to food amounts.

What do Mexicans use nopales for? ›

There are about 114 known species in Mexico, where it is a common ingredient in numerous Mexican cuisine dishes. The nopal pads can be eaten raw or cooked, used in marmalades, soups, stews and salads, as well as being used for traditional medicine or as fodder for animals.

Is cactus good for arthritis? ›

Nopalea is a drink made from the nopal cactus. It's marketed as a treatment for inflammation and joint pain, such as from arthritis.

How long do you boil nopales? ›

For Boiled Nopales

Add smashed garlic cloves to water and place pot over high heat. Bring water to boil. Once liquid begins to boil rapidly, add prepared nopales to pot. Cover pot with lid and boil nopales 8 to 10 minutes or until paddles are tender and mucilage has seeped out.

Why is my cactus like jelly? ›

Mushy leaves mean overwatering; let soil dry out before watering again. Check roots for rot due to overwatering and poor drainage. Improve drainage and monitor health to keep your cactus firm and healthy.

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