Ensalada De Nopales (Cactus Salad)

Make this super delicious Ensalada De Nopales with tomatoes, onions, avocados and queso fresco drizzled with an easy lime vinaigrette. This nutritious cactus salad is perfect for lunch or as side.

A bowl with cactus salad and a cactus paddle on the side.

🌵Nopales Salad

This Mexican superfood cactus salad combines all my favorite seasonal produce – crisp nopalitos, sweet tomatoes, jalapeños and a citrus dressing. It’s easy to make, it’s flavorful, bright and refreshing. Enjoy it on its own for a light lunch, or serve it as a side dish with almost anything you like.

The taste

The flavor of nopal is mild and a little tart at the same time. With a consistency similar to asparagus or okra with and a slight touch of acidity. This flavor profile lends itself to many uses since it will not overpower the other ingredients. So good!

A vintage plate with ensalada de nopal.

Let me show how easy it is to make this ensalada de nopales. I recommend you buy the paddles already cleaned up (spines removed), but if you don’t have those available, you can follow this post where I show you all about how to prepare nopales from scratch.

Ingredients

This salad uses few ingredients but they’re all powerful in flavor creating an incredible salad that you won’t be able to stop eating!

For the salad

  • Cooked nopales.
  • Tomate – use your favorite type. For this recipe I used sweet grape tomatoes and they were perfect!
  • A Jalapeño or chile serrano – skip this one if you don’t want any heat in your salad.
  • Red onion 
  • Avocado – it goes perfect here!
  • A handful of chopped cilantro
  • Queso panela or queso fresco. Alternative you can use feta cheese.

For the dressing

  • Fresh lime juice (1 large lime)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dried orégano
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Agave nectar, honey or maple syrup.
All ingredients placed on a blue board.
A branch graphic for posts.

How To Make the Ensalada De Nopales

Step 1. Start by making the dressing. If you want to make extra for another day, just double the ingredients.

  • In a small bowl or jar whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, agave or honey, dried oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Set aside.
Lime vinaigrette in a small jar with a squeezed lime on the side and olive oil.

Step 2. If your nopales are not cooked, follow this post on how to cook nopales perfectly. There I show you step by step how to cook them to remove the slimy texture that it produces when cooked. You can do this step one day in advanced.

Step 3. In a large bowl combine the cactus, tomato, sliced onion, cilantro, queso fresco, and jalapeños if you’re using any. Mix to combine all ingredients.

Ingredients Icon Graphic.

Do not mix in the avocado just yet as it will become all mushy when mixing the salad a few times. Leave it for the last step!

A bowl with cactus salad and a cactus paddle on the side.

Step 4. Pour the desired amount of dressing over the salad and mix together.

Step 5. Add the cubed avocado and gently fold into the salad. That’s it!

Serving Recommendations

  • Protein: Add in chicken, pork or beef into the salad. Even salmon or tuna fish are a great combination as well. Or just serve as a side dish to any of these proteins.
  • Serve on tostadas or with tortilla chips.
  • As a side dish with Carne Con Chile Colorado or Carne Deshebrada stew.
  • Add on top of Tlacoyos.
  • With beans and rice for a nutritious vegetarian meal.

The possibilities are endless!

A blue vintage plate with cactus salad with two cactus paddles on the side and tortilla chips.


Storage Icon Graphic.

How to Store

  • Fridge – Store leftover ensalada de nopales in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 day. The cactus may become too slimy after that.
  • Freezer – I do not recommend freezing the salad once it has been prepared, Just freeze the cooked nopales in an airtight container and assemble with the other ingredients when ready to eat.

People asks:

Can I use cactus sold in jars?

Yes you can! Just rinse prior to mixing with the other ingredients and you should be good to go. Enjoy!

Are nopales healthy?

The nopal contains, it has vitamins and minerals such as: vitamin A, complex B, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron and lots of fiber!

This prickly pear cactus is known for treating diabetes by regulating blood sugar, prevents colon cancer, helps with high cholesterol, obesity, keeps us hydrated and hangovers plus many more benefits. It is also known for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. For more information see WebMD.

A bowl with cactus salad on a white plate with blue flowers.

💫 If you make this recipe be sure to leave a rating in the comments below. You can also tag me on Instagram at @anafriasb.🙏

Print Recipe

A bowl with cactus salad and a cactus paddle on the side.

Ensalada De Nopales (Cactus Salad)

Servings 2 servings
Ana Frias
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Make this super delicious Ensalada De Nopales drizzled with an easy lime vinaigrette. This nutritious cactus salad is perfect for lunch or as side.
2 servings

Ingredients
  

For the salad
  • 2 cups cooked nopales (see instructions here) diced or cut into strips
  • 1 cup Tomate (your favorite type) diced
  • 1 large Jalapeño o serrano pepper sliced thinly, optional
  • ½ cup Red onion sliced
  • 1 Avocado
  • A handful cilantro chopped
  • ¼ cup Queso panela, queso fresco or feta cheese (200g) cubed or crumbled
For the dressing
  • 3 Tablespoons lime juice (1 large lime)
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher or sea salt (or more to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar, honey or maple syrup.

Instructions
 

Make the dressing

  • In a small bowl or jar whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, agave or honey, dried oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Set aside.

Assemble Salad

  • In a large bowl combine the cactus, tomato, sliced onion, cilantro, queso fresco, and jalapeños if you’re using any. Mix to combine all ingredients.
  • Note: Do not mix in the avocado just yet as it will become all mushy when mixing the salad a few times. Leave it for the last step!
  • Pour the desired amount of dressing over the salad and mix together.
  • Add the cubed avocado and gently fold into the salad. 

*Ana’s Notes:

Storing:
  • Fridge – Store leftover cactus salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 day. The cactus may become too slimy after that.
  • Freezer – I do not recommend freezing the salad once it has been prepared, Just freeze the cooked nopales in an airtight container and assemble with the other ingredients when ready to eat.

ADD YOUR OWN PRIVATE NOTES

Whenever you come back to this recipe, you’ll be able to see your notes.

NUTRITION

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 360kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 800mg | Potassium: 653mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 10g

The nutritional information and US conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this data. If this is important to you, please verify with your favourite nutrition calculator and/or unit conversion tool.

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Recipe Rating




One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Cactus is in season so I made this last night. It was a big hit at my family’s gathering. Sadly there was no leftover for me. So good!