Acitrón is one of the few ingredients used for Mexican cooking that is still very hard to find outside of Mexico. Acitrón is made with the pad or paddle-leaf-of a cactus plant called biznaga, which is similar to the prickly pear but rounder in shape and it also grows in dry land. To make acitrón, the leaves are peeled off the outer skin along with the little thorns, sometimes soaked in a lime solution, dried in the sun and finally simmered in a syrup made with water and sugar or honey, then left to dry again.

In Mexico it is sold in stores and markets in square or rectangular small blocks along with other candied fruits or vegetables, of which my favorite is the candied sweet potato or camote.

Acitrón, with its pleasant and mildly sweet flavor and chewy consistency, is mixed with other ingredients ironically heightening the flavors of those other ingredients. It is used to make many dishes such as the famous Chiles en Nogada, picadillos or meat fillings for other chiles and tamales, in their savory or sweet takes, as well as in breads like Rosca de Reyes and also just as a candy.

For dishes that call for acitrón, if you can’t get your hand on any, you can substitute with candied pineapple, mostly the kind that comes without a heavy sugar coating.


7 comments on “Acitrón

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. I am looking for Biznaga cactus candy, back in the 50’s my grandma would bribe me to play the piano with cactus candy, it was great. It looked like a French fry in size and was semi clear and was sugar coated and came from Biznaga cactus. Grandma said it came from the heart of the cactus and it tasted a lot like ginger. I have tried to fined it but no luck, can you help. I have tried the jellies but the is not the same. Please help? Jim

  2. The biznaga cactus is actually a large barrel cactus which has recently been listed as highly endangered. The Mexican government has criminalized all export and production of acitron from the biznaga. Anyone convicted of harvesting it can get up to nine years in prison. I am so sorry, we seem to lose something of our heritage every day.

  3. I asked my Mexican neighbor to look for biznaga for me when she went to her weekly trip to the flea market. She got some for me and it cost 4.50 for a pkg of about 10 oz. She said there were 3 vendors selling it. So check your local flea market. Most communities nowadays have a large Hispanic population amd most have a flea market.

    1. Hi Jonathan,
      It is quite hard to find Acitrón outside of Mexico. you can however, ask grocers of Latin or International stores if they can source for you. You can surf online and see if you get lucky or ask friends that go to Mexico to bring you some! If nothing else works, substitute it for candied pineapple…. Best of luck ; )