Other Names
nōpalli, nopales (plural)

Nopales are the young pads of the Opuntia ficus-indica cactus, which is the same species from which prickly pears are harvested from. They’re eaten as a vegetable in Mexico after the spines have been removed.

What’s it taste like?
Nopales have a moist crunchy texture with with a slightly slimy texture similar to okra. In terms of flavour, they are tart, with a slightly citrusy taste.

Where do I get it?
They’re available fresh in most Latin American groceries, and you may even find them in western groceries in areas with a large Hispanic population. You can also find them bottled or canned.

When is it best?
There is no season for nopales, but the pads should be picked young. Look for small tender pads that are firm with tight skin. They should not be spongy or wrinkly, and the color should be bright green.

How do I use it?
Nopales can be grilled, pickled or sauteed and served with eggs, in tacos or by themselves as a vegetable.

High in dietary fiber, vitamin A, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.

  • Pingback: Grilled Nopales Recipe | Canape Recipes | Appetizer()

  • Bromography

    I have often seen these nopales in markets before, but did not know where to begin. Thanks to your information I will give these a try.

  • Syrie

    Really impressive ingredient section Marc. I love nopales. I was addicted to a nopales salad in Oaxaca made with avocado, tomatoes, cilantro and lime juice. I had one everyday.

  • Habsah61

    I was so surprised about the Nopal that can be eaten. Any recipes for this and their special?

  • BritniChavez

    My boyfriend is hispanic and he has gotten me hooked on these. He cooks them with pork meat. Cut the pork in to strips and fry them then add the nopales, we buy the ones from walmart in the glass jar. Then he takes chile japon and toastes around 10 of them for about 3 to 5 minutes. Be careful because they can choke you up so turn on a fan or open the door. Then he boils tomato, half of a white onion and about 5 cloves of garlic then when they soften up he blends the chiles, tomato, garlic in a blender. Then add all of the ingredients together in one big pot. This dish is best served with black beans and onions. Add oil to a small pan, saute about 1/3 cup of onions then add beans and let cook for about 3 minutes.

    Best of luck to you . =)

  • Chefette

    My neighbor taught me to clean them, and gave me a simple stovetop recipe:

    3-4 prepared nopales, roughly chopped
    1 small white onion, finely chopped
    2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    2-3 Roma/plum tomatoes, chopped
    1 finely chopped jalapeno chile (optional), remove seeds & membrane
    1/8 tsp salt
    pinch ground cayenne (optional)

    In a nonstick pan, saute all vegetables in a little oil; stir in salt and cayenne. Cook on medium setting until nopales begin to turn color and remove from heat.

    Serve as a side salad dish or a vegetarian taco filling with grilled/warmed corn tortillas.


I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

All text and photos ©2007-2015. All rights reserved. [ No Recipes ] - Privacy Policy