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About Nopales (Prickly Pear Pads)

Crooked Sky Farms sometimes sends us nopales (prickly pear pads). The cooked cactus has a delicious tangy flavor. Here are some ideas on how to prepare them:

If the pads are sent untrimmed, you will need to remove the leaflets that hide glochids and small spines before use. This isn’t as daunting as it seems! Use a newspaper or other disposable barrier to hold the cactus pads with one hand while you use your other hand to trim with a knife. You’ll want to run the knife down the two faces of the cactus pad, a long boning knife works great for this, but a paring knife or veggie peeler work too! The goal is to pop off the tiny leaflets and glochids while keeping the rest of the skin intact. Use the knife to cut around the whole edge of each pad as well. Rinse and dry. For recipes that call for canned or cooked nopalitos you want to slice pads in strips then steam or boil for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.

1. Serve simple with lemon or lime juice and a sprinkle of salt.

2. Stir fry with other vegetables and use in place of green beans.

3. Serve as a salad with finely diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro and jalapeños and season with vinegar, salt and lime juice.

4. Mix with scrambled eggs, and sprinkle with salt and pepper and chile flakes or powder.

5. Add to a red chile or enchilada sauce and serve with beans and rice.

You can also grill or broil whole nopales. If you are cooking over a direct flame, you can even skip the trimming process. Just use metal tongs to hold the nopales in the flame to singe off leaflets and glochids! Otherwise trim as suggested above, coat nopalites with pepper, salt, and other spices. Grill or broil until tender and slightly browned. Flip and let other side brown slightly. Season with lime juice and a little olive oil. It’s best to keep the pads whole and slice into nopalitos after grilling them. Serve these alongside grilled meat and veggies, tucked into burritos or tacos or as a sandwich ingredient.


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