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A picture of a Cactus Salad in a serving dish with a spoon.
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4.84 from 6 votes

Ensalada de Nopales

Ensalada de Nopales (or Cactus Salad) is a tasty, vegan-friendly, and refreshing side dish that's a staple in Mexico. It's quick and SO versatile. You can pair it with just about everything!
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 4
Calories: 133kcal


To Cook the Cactus:

  • 2 paddles cactus
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tspn salt

For the Salad:

  • 1 tomato diced
  • ¼ onion diced
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • ¼ cup cilantro chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ½ tspn dried oregano
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • cup Queso fresco crumbled (optional)


To Cook the Cactus:

  • Using a sharp knife and a glove, remove the thorns from both sides of the cactus pad.
  • Cut off the side edges and tough bottom end.
  • Slice and dice the nopales.
  • Rinse the nopales.
  • Place the diced cactus in a stock pot and cover with water. About 4 cups.
  • Add salt to the stock pot.
  • Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Drain and rinse well. Let cool before assembling.

To Assemble the Salad:

  • Mix the tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and cactus in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, mix olive oil, lime, oregano, and salt.
  • Add the dressing to the cactus mixture.
  • Mix well.
  • Let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • Mix in queso fresco (if using) right before serving.
  • Serve and enjoy!



Word to to the Wise: Buy cactus that is already diced. That way you can avoid having to remove the thorns. 
If you buy nopalitos already diced, use them up right away. They produce more baba (or slime) when they are cut.
Pro Tip: When cleaning the cactus, the thorns tend to fly everywhere when you are removing them. Try doing this in the sink. It will make for easy clean up.


Calories: 133kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 1958mg | Potassium: 109mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 525IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 126mg | Iron: 1mg