Nopal Salad (Ensalada de Nopal)

This Nopal Salad is my all-time favorite nopales recipe! It’s made with fresh tomato, jalapeño, onion, cilantro, and avocado. It is the perfect way to add more nutrients to your meals because there is so much flavor and culture in this recipe. Mexican food can be healthy and this ensalada de nopales proves that we can eat nutritious Mexican food.

nopales recipe in a bowl.

Nopal Salad, It’s Origin, and Health Benefits

Nopales in English are called “prickly pear cactus” because this type of cactus grows a sweet fruit called the prickly pear. It has been scientifically proven to help reduce inflammation, control blood sugar, and lower cholesterol. Nopales are a power food as they contain so many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!

A lot of Mexican dishes were influenced by the Spanish. However, nopales are native to Mexico and were part of indigenous peoples’ diets before the Spanish arrived. Nopales are a big part of Mexican culture and this is the perfect nopales recipe to try!

This nopal salad is a great way to add more vegetables to your favorite Mexican dishes! You can eat it as a side with enchiladas, frijoles de la olla, tacos, or even make some nopales tacos.

nopales recipe salad.

What do Nopales taste like?

Nopales have a light, slightly tart flavor, similar to okra or green beans. They also have a crisp, mucilaginous texture. In most recipes, the mucilaginous liquid they contain is included in the cooking. Spring is when they are the most tender and juicy.

Where to find Nopales

You can find nopales at your local Mexican grocery store. If you don’t have one of those nearby, I recommend looking in big grocery stores such as FoodMaxx, Lucky, or Safeway.

You can find nopales sold in 3 ways:

  1. Fresh nopal leaves. This one is sold with thorns and all. This is my favorite way to buy them because they are the freshest and most authentic type.
  2. Cut and cleaned, possible diced. This is my next choice. A lot of people like buying them this way to avoid cutting off the thorns which saves you less time and is safer as well. If you are a beginner in cooking with nopales I recommend you buy them without thorns.
  3. In a jar/can. Canned nopales are available year-round and I use them when I know that nopales are not in season. Doña Maria and La Costeña are the brands I would choose.
nopales recipe ingredients.

Tips to Prep Fresh Nopales

  • Lay out a big area of newspapers or a large area of baking sheets on the table where you will be cleaning your nopales. This will help collect any flying thorns.
  • Clean and slice off all thorns on nopales carefully. Try to cut only the skin of the nopales to avoid waste.
  • Cut the nopales around the edges to get rid of any excess thorns that may be growing on the sides/edges.
  • When slicing off the thorns make sure to slice away from your face/body.
  • Dice nopales into small cubes or whichever size you’d like.
nopales salad recipe in a bowl with beans.

Mexican Recipes to add Nopal Salad to:

Vegan Mexican Quesadillas

Crispy Flautas (Taquitos)

Portobello (Carne Asada) Tacos

Tostadas de Carnitas

Quesabirria Tacos

Print
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nopales recipe in a bowl.

Nopal Salad (Ensalada de Nopal)


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Anna Rios
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 3-4 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This nopal salad is my all-time favorite nopales recipe! It is the perfect way to add more nutrients to your meals because there is so much flavor and culture in this recipe. Mexican food can be healthy! This ensalada de nopales proves that we can eat nutritious Mexican food while still enjoying the flavors.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 3 medium nopales
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 12 jalapeños
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 12 avocados
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 limes, juiced (optional)

Instructions

  1. Clean and slice off all thorns on nopales. Cut the nopales around the edges to get rid of any excess thorns that may be around the edges.
  2. Dice nopales into small cubes or whichever size you’d like.
  3. Put a small pot of water to boil. Add prepped nopales with 1 tsp salt and simmer for 10-15 minutes until all the slimy liquid is released.
  4. While nopales are cooking, dice tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapeños and avocado. Add to a large mixing bowl
  5. Drain and rinse nopales with fresh water to remove excess slimy liquid and add to the mixing bowl with the other vegetables.
  6. Mix in and incorporate well. Season with lime juice and salt to taste.
  7. Serve with any of your favorite Mexican dishes and enjoy!

Notes

*refrigerate for up to 4 days 

  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Salads
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: Mexican

3 thoughts on “Nopal Salad (Ensalada de Nopal)

  1. Antonio says:

    This brings me back to the streets of Mexico 🇲🇽. I really enjoyed this recipe. It’s one of the best for sure






  2. Julia says:

    I hadn’t tried nopales many times before because I never really liked them but this recipe makes me want to eat them more often!






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