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Taco de Nopal: A Simple Recipe

Taco de Nopal is a vegetarian taco that is popular in Mexican cuisine. It is made with nopalitos, which are cactus paddles that have been stripped of their spines and boiled to remove the slime. The most popular way to enjoy nopales is as a taco, and preparing it is simple. Nopales are popular all over Mexico and have been eaten there since antiquity.

In this article, we guide you through this simple recipe, including this popular Mexican staple.

About this recipe

Taco de Nopal, or Cactus Taco, is a unique and delicious dish that brings the earthy flavors of cactus to your table. This recipe is perfect for vegetarians and those looking to explore the diverse world of Mexican cuisine.

Taco de Nopal recipe background

Originating from various regions of Mexico, Taco de Nopal is a staple in Mexican households. It’s a dish that combines the succulent texture of cactus pads with the richness of traditional Mexican spices.

Why make this recipe?

  • Vegetarian-Friendly: This is a plant-based dish that’s rich in nutrients.
  • Unique Flavor: The cactus offers a unique, earthy flavor that’s unlike any other vegetable.
  • Quick to Prepare: Takes less than an hour from start to finish.
  • Healthy: Cactus is low in calories and rich in antioxidants.

What does Taco de Nopal taste like?

Taco de Nopal has a unique, slightly tart, and earthy flavor. The cactus pads are tender and juicy, absorbing the flavors of the spices and herbs they are cooked with.

What is in Taco de Nopal?

The main ingredient is cactus pads, which are cooked and then sautéed with spices. They are then served in corn or flour tortillas and typically topped with fresh salsa and a sprinkle of lime juice.

Equipment required for this recipe

  • Frying pan
  • Boiling pot
  • Mixing bowls
  • Knife
  • Tongs


  • 4 cleaned raw cactus pads
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small head cabbage, cut into thin strips
  • Fresh Salsa:
  • 4 tomatoes, small-diced
  • 2 jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, small-diced
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 12 corn tortillas


  1. Boil the Cactus: Boil cactus pads in a pot for 15 minutes, then drain and dice.
  2. Prepare the Salsa: Mix tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, and lime juice in a bowl.
  3. Cook the Cactus: Sauté the diced cactus in vegetable oil until golden.
  4. Assemble the Tacos: Place the cactus on tortillas, top with cabbage and fresh salsa.

How to serve Taco de Nopal

Serve immediately, garnished with a sprig of watercress and a slice of lime.

What to serve Taco de Nopal with

  • Mexican Rice
  • Guacamole
  • Refried Beans

My recommendations and tips

  • Use fresh cactus pads for the best flavor.
  • You can add a spicy salsa for an extra kick.

Taco de Nopal storage ideas

Store any leftover cactus filling in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Potential ingredients substitutes

  • You can use lettuce instead of cabbage for a different texture.
  • Flour tortillas can be used instead of corn tortillas.

Nutritional Information

  • Calories: 180
  • Protein: 3g
  • Fat: 8g
  • Carbohydrates: 25g

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I use jarred cactus?
  • Yes, but fresh is recommended for the best flavor.
  • Is this dish spicy?
  • The spice level can be adjusted according to your preference.


Taco de Nopal is a unique and nutritious dish that offers a different take on traditional Mexican tacos. Its earthy flavors and simple preparation make it a must-try for anyone interested in authentic Mexican cuisine.