Nopalitos with Tomatoes and Onions

Nopalitos are the edible young paddles of the prickly pear cactus, grown throughout their native Mexico, the southwestern United States, and the Mediterranean (brought back by the conquistadores). The paddles are widely available in Mexican markets in the US, either whole (with spines) or prepared (cleaned, spines removed, chopped). They are tasty cooked, and are used in many traditional Mexican dishes. Here is a quick, easy, and delisioso nopalitos recipe prepared for me by my Mexican friend and caterer Arturo Vargas.

Do you have a favorite nopalitos recipe? Please let us know about it in the comments.

  • Prep: 5 minutes
  • Cook: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3 to 4.



  • 1 lb nopalitos, nopales prickly pear cactus paddles that have been stripped of spines, cleaned, and chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper


nopalitos-tomatoes-2.jpg nopalitos-tomatoes-3.jpg

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add red onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Cook for a minute, stirring occasionally, then add the nopalitos. Cook for several more minutes. Then add the chopped tomato. Continue to cook until all vegetables are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


Cactus Salad, Ensalata de Nopalitos from Morsels and Musings
Nopalitos Frittata from What's Cooking
Hominy and Cactus Soup from the Perfect Pantry

Main Ingredients