cactus paddle tostada


Cactus Paddle Tostada

Cactus Paddle Tostada

Tostadas de nopales

Recipe Yield

8 servings

Cooking time

35 minutes

Rate this recipe

4.6 from 5 votes


  • 3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
  • 3 pounds fresh nopales rinsed, cleaned and diced; or, if canned, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1/2 pound ripe tomato chopped
  • 3 tablespoons white onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro chopped, optional
  • 1 jalapeño pepper chopped, seeding optional
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Salt to taste

For the tostadas:

To Prepare

To clean fresh cactus paddles:

  • Rinse fresh cactus paddles under cold water, being careful not to prick your fingers with the small thorns on its surface. Using a vegetable peeler or small sharp knife, peel away the darker bumps where thorns grow, as well as the thorns, trying not to peel off all the outer dark green skin. Lay the paddles flat on a chopping board, then trim around approximately 1/4 inch of the edges and 1/2 inch of the thick base. Once cleaned, rinse and dice into 1/2-to-1-inch squares, to your liking.

To use cactus from a can, bag or jar:

  • After you have removed the diced cactus from the jar or can, rinse it under water and drain well.

To cook the cactus:

  • Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a thick, large-sized skillet (one that has a lid) over medium-high heat. Add the diced cactus, stir in the salt and stir for a minute or two. Place the lid on the skillet.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and let the cactus cook and sweat for about 20 minutes, until it has exuded a gelatinous liquid that will begin to dry out (NOTE: If using cactus from a can or jar, already cleaned and cooked, just cook for an additional five minutes).
  • Take the lid off the skillet, stir and make sure most of that gelatinous substance has dried up. If it hasn’t, let the cactus cook for a few more minutes until it does. Let the cactus cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, toss the cactus with the tomato, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Like this, it can be eaten as a cactus paddle, nopal salad!

To assemble the tostadas:

  • Spread a layer of refried beans on each tostada. Spoon some the cooked cactus mixture on top, and add the garnishes of your choice. I add avocado slices, queso fresco, Mexican crema and salsa verde!


6comments inCactus Paddle Tostada

  1. Rachel I. Smith

    Mar 03

    Hi Pati,

    My Maternal Grandparents would eat nopales quite often. Grandpa would harvest, and clean them of the spinas, Grandma washed, prepared, and cooked them very simply with onion, garlic and tomato. They were never slimy. I can’t achieve this no matter how much I soak, drain, and rinse. What am I doing wrong? Also, Grandpa said there was a right time in the day to cut them. I believe he said after 3pm. I never questioned him. I regret it now. Do you know why?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Mar 07

      Hi Rachel, such a cute story about your grandparents, thanks for sharing! Here is the link to my blog about cleaning and cooking nopales, hope you will find it useful 🙂

  2. Mari Lazaro

    May 22

    So, I was surprised to find Fresh Nopal at our local NY supermarket & inspired by your recipe, I made Tostadas tonight for dinner. It was a good VEGAN dinner-the nopales came out Great! Gracias!!💞

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 23

      Awesome Mari, nopales are not just delicious, but also very healthy. So glad to read you loved the tostadas 😉

  3. Alicia Cole

    Nov 16


    1. Pati Jinich

      Nov 18

      Thank you, Alicia!

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