cactus paddle tostada


Cactus Paddle Tostadas

Cactus Paddle Tostadas

Tostadas de Nopales

Recipe Yield

8 servings

Cooking time

25 minutes

Rate this recipe

4 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!


20comments inCactus Paddle Tostadas

  1. Rose Montoya

    Jul 27

    Looks delicious…Will make them! Thank you
    Would also like a seafood version that’s not ceviche!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 20

      How about this one with scallops and shrimp Rose?

  2. Neill Smith

    Jul 27

    Dear, Pati, your recipe for Napoli really brings up my past growing up in Southern AZ. Now, I’m living at Southern CO , and many of those foods are hard to get now.
    Love your show on Borderlandia and your cooking show I watch regularly. Keep up the excellent work.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 20

      Thanks so much for tuning in Neill, so glad you have been enjoying the shows!

  3. Melissa Castro

    Jul 27

    This is such a delicious recipe! My daughter is vegetarian and when we watched your show, when you were in San Miguel, we decided to pick some Nopalitos up and try it. They came out amazing and we went back and picked up another bag of them! Thank you so much, my family loves them! 💚

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 20

      So glad to hear Melissa, hugs to all the family!

  4. Patricia

    Jul 27

    I’ve always wanted to taste cactus paddles but didn’t know how to eat them. This recipe sounds delicious!
    Thank you Pati!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 20

      My pleasure Patricia!

  5. Cheryl Kiefer

    Sep 23

    I watched you make this recipe on TV & it looked really good. I never attempted to make it as fresh cactus paddles are not available around here. Surprisingly I am able to purchased cactus in a jar in larger supermarkets. I noticed you’re notes about using jarred & made this today! It was wonderful! Using precooked cactus makes this a very quick meal. Since I have never had fresh cactus I don’t know how the flavor compares but I like this & will make it often. Thank you Pati for another wonderful recipe!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Oct 11

      So glad you found Nopalitos in a jar Cheryl! Use them every time, they are a life saver!

  6. Iris Perez

    Feb 24

    Estoy segura que me va a gustar esta receta, pues me encanta el cactus. Lo aprendí a comer aquí en California que es donde resido desde hace 15 años. Soy puertorriqueña! Me encanta tu programa y no me lo pierdo. Me imagino que por la pandemia No estás grabando pues PBS está repitiendo mucho de tus programas!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Feb 25

      Hola Iris, que bueno que te encante el cactus, es delicioso! Ahorita el programa va en la temporada 10 que se estreno en septiembre pasado, no hemos dejado de grabar; pronto saldra la nueva temporada!

  7. Elina

    Jan 09

    Thank you, Pati, for giving me the confidence to brave preparing my own nopales! I made this today for bunch (survived the thorns thanks to your technique!) and added a fried egg. It was delicious! My husband and I really enjoy watching your show — it has been a day of sunshine during this pandemic!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Feb 04

      This is very sweet of you Elina, thanks so much. Hugs to you both!

  8. 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 🙂

  9. 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 😉

  10. Alicia Cole

    Nov 16


    1. Pati Jinich

      Nov 18

      Thank you, Alicia!

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