22 Recipes to Make You Fall in Love with Nopales aka Cacti

Hello and welcome to this thing we’re doing where we help you figure out what you’re gonna put in your mouth this week. Some of these are recipes we’ve tried, some of these are recipes we’re looking forward to trying, all of them are fucking delicious. Tell us what you want to put in your piehole or suggest your own recipes, and we’ll talk about which things we made, which things we loved, and which things have changed us irreversibly as people. Last week, we whipped up some hot grits.

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I’m not sure if I had just never seen a bunch of cactus paddles in a grocery store before I moved to Los Angeles or if I had just never noticed, but now that I’m here and this is my life I need to learn how to cook these motherfuckers, because I’m just totally and completely intrigued by their prickly exteriors and absolutely delicious spirits.

If you need some help prepping these babies, click here. If you need some inspiration for how to put them in your mouth, scroll down.


1. Cactus Salad with Shrimp

Roasted Cactus Salad with Shrimp


2. Nopale Soup

Nopale Soup


3. Cactus Salsa

Cactus Salsa


4. Nopales con Chile y Queso

Nopales con Chile y Queso


5. Cactus with Chicken in a Red California Chili Sauce

Cactus with Chicken in a Red California Chili Sauce


6. Cactus Casserole with Rice, Cheese, and Ancho Chiles

Cactus Casserole with Rice and Acnho Chiles


7. Cactus Blossom

Cactus Blossom


8. Cactus Paddles with Pork Ribs and Red Chile

Cactus Paddles w Pork Ribs _ Red Chile


9. Grilled Nopales (Cactus) Huaraches

Grilled Nopales (Cactus) Huaraches


10. Jalapeño and Cactus Tamales

Jalapeño and Cactus Tamales


11. Nopales and Fried Tofu in Red Chipotle Sauce

Nopales and Fried Tofu in Red Chipotle Sauce (1)


12. Chile Con Queso With Nopalitos (Fresh Cactus and Mexican Cheese in a Warm Salsa)

Chile Con Queso With Nopalitos (Fresh Cactus and Mexican Cheese in a Warm Salsa)


13. Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Nopales Salad

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Nopales Salad


14. Stuffed Nopales with Black Beans, Cheese, and Roasted Red Pepper

Stuffed Nopales with Black Beans, Cheese, and Roasted Red Pepper


15. Cactus Fries with Avocado Dipping Sauce

Cactus Fries with Avocado Dipping Sauce


16. Cactus Tacos

Cactus Tacos


17. Chipotle Cashew Chicken Tostadas with Cactus Guacamole

Chipotle Cashew Chicken Tostadas with Cactus Guacamole


18. Huevos con Nopales y Cilantro

Huevos con Nopales y Cilantro


19. Nopales and Tomatillo Stew

Nopales and Tomatillo Stew


20. Stuffed Nopales in Batter

Stuffed Nopales in Batter


21. Nopales and Cotija Salad with Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette

Nopales and Cotija Salad with Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette


22. Chipotle Chili with Venison and Cactus

Chipotle Chili with Venison and Cactus (1)


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Carmen is the Digital Editor at Ms. , Managing Editor at Argot, a Contributor at Everyday Feminism, and Co-Host of The Bossy Show. She previously served as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor, and Social Media Co-Director at Autostraddle. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 924 articles for us.

9 Comments

  1. DANG I didn’t know you could leave the outer skin on, that would’ve saved me so much time the last few times I made them, I skinned the whole stupid thing. they’re good, sort of funny in that they’re not really like anything else but remind me of water chestnuts or chamoy for having really consistent texture.

    • You could try Italian green grocers. They occasionally have them here in Australia for use in different Italian recipes.
      Here they’re called Prickly Pear and are not supposed to be grown without a license as they’re classified as a noxious weed.

      Things may be different in Europe with EU rules though.

  2. I woke up yesterday morning with a burning passion to try new things. So far today, I’ve booked a totally impulse trip to Puerto Rico with my girlfriend for the next month, finally took advantage of my Spanish grocery store after moving to NYC in August, and now I have you to thank because I totally have cactus fries baking in my oven. So many snaps to you and this list!

  3. #7 has zero cactus in the recipe, folks. It’s a ‘bloomin onion’. I was excited to eat deep fried cactus but it’s not actually a cactus recipe. I feel so misled!

  4. I woke up yesterday morning with a burning passion to try new things. So far today, I’ve booked a totally impulse trip to Puerto Rico with my girlfriend for the next month, finally took advantage of my Spanish grocery store after moving to NYC in August, and now I have you to thank because I totally have cactus fries baking in my oven. So many snaps to you and this list!

  5. Wow – these look delicious! The last time I had cactus was years ago, and I didn’t know what to do with it (the same goes for grits, actually). Thanks for inspiring me to try new things.

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