Prickly Pear (Nopales) Pickles

I've been preparing quite a few prickly pear pads in celebration of Wild Things this month.  I will admit that ridding the nopales of their spines and glochids is a bit more work than ordinary produce (click here to find out how to prepare them).  But I'm left with something that is somewhat rare in the world of foraged foods - a solid bite of vegetable.
For the most part, I've been roasting, grilling, or sauteing the prickly pear cactus pads in order to help deal with the slime.  However, the newly prepared nopales smell so fresh, with the same undertones as cucumber and watermelon, that I wanted to find a way to enjoy them raw.

If you're the type of person who is bothered by the slime, then these recipes aren't for you because raw nopales are inevitably a little slippery.  But if you want to delight in the clean refreshing taste of a new veggie, I encourage you to try these recipes.

Salt and Sugar Prickly Pear Pickles

prepared prickly pear pads (nopales)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. sea salt

1. Cut prepared nopales into 1/4" slices, and lay them on a flat surface.
2. Combine the sugar and salt, then sprinkle it over the prickly pear slices.
3.  Let the pickles sit for 30-45 minutes, then rinse them well with cold water.
4.  Blot the prickly pear pickles dry with a towel, and serve immediately.  If you let them sit, they will get slimy again.

Air-Dried Prickly Pear Slices

prepared prickly pear pads (nopales)
chile powder

1. Cut prepared nopales into 1/2" slices.
2.  Arrange them on a cutting board, and let them air-dry at room temperature for 2  hours, turning once.  The slime will disappear from the outer surface of the slices.
3.  Season the slices with a sprinkling of salt and chile powder before serving.


Wild Things is a foraging recipe challenge, and you still have time to share your favorite prickly pear recipe (using either the pads or fruit) this month.  Just send it to in the next few days.


  1. Ok, definitely trying these soon... I don't mind a little slime :)

  2. I grew up in a house that ate nopales several times a week, but never raw like this. I made these and it was fun to taste them not being all army green. So fresh!

    1. It certainly is a change of pace from always having them cooked, and their taste is so refreshing and cooling.


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