What Does Cactus Taste Like | How to Eat Cactus

Ever wondered what a cactus will taste like if you ever have to eat one? Perhaps you have eaten one before but could not make out the taste.

Seeing a cactus plant at first, one would think, “how do you eat this with all the spines?” However, a cactus plant like the prickly pear cactus is edible.

Cactus taste like many things. When you eat one, you’ll surely make out a lot of things. Also, you can eat it in many ways. You can have it raw, boiled, or sautéed.

Ahead, this article discusses what cactus will taste like when you cook it in different ways.

What is cactus?

The Cactus is a plant of the family Cactaceae. The cactus family comprises edible and inedible cacti. The fruits of the cactus plant are soft and spongy, with short spines (glochids) around their edges.

Furthermore, edible fruits have very attractive colors, sweet-smelling flavors, and shapes that will stir your appetite. Cactus fruits make a tasty addition to salads, vinaigrette, sauces, syrups, appetizers, juices, candies, and some desserts.

You should also know that not all parts are fit for food, even on the edible cactus. The edible parts of the prickly pear cactus include the cactus paddles, the flower petals, and the pear. And they make great salads, smoothies, and many other dishes.

What does cactus fruit taste like?

The cactus fruit has a familiar, mild taste. Although not definite, you won’t be puzzled for too long. Generally, cactus has a sour taste. One cactus may taste like green peas and another may taste like cucumber, zucchini, or asparagus.

When you cut open the tough skin, you’ll find soft, crunchy, and sticky flesh with a thick liquid that makes it taste like okra.

In addition, cacti may taste crunchy in one dish and gummy in another. Consequently, the taste of the cactus fruit largely depends on how you choose to cook it.

What does a grilled cactus taste like?

Grilled cactus makes delicious steak. It tastes somewhat like asparagus with a mild, grassy flavor.

After grilling nopales, they lose their slime and become more firm. You can eat grilled cacti alone or pair them with cheese, hot sauce, corn avocado salsa, and salads.

What does a fried cactus taste like?

Stir-frying cactus removes the slime and brings out the crunchy taste of the fruits. You can either stir-fry the cactus alone or scramble it with eggs for breakfast.

What does cactus water taste like?

Cactus water tastes like watermelon mixed with kiwi with hints of a berry-like flavor.

Some people relate the taste of cactus water to coconut water, but it’s just a little like it. The water or juice from nopales can be added to soups to thicken and make them tastier.

Additionally, cactus water is chock full of antioxidants (including an amino acid called taurine) and electrolytes. It is also hydrating and refreshing.

These are the reasons why cactus water is recommended for athletes. It helps to maintain a potassium-sodium balance and aids muscle repair.

How to eat cactus

Store-bought cacti come without spines. But if you grow a small bush in your backyard, ensure you wear hand gloves before you harvest the cactus fruits because of the spines.

Use a knife to scrape off the spines, skin, and edges. While you scrape, you can leave some of the peel on the cacti (the peel is also nutritious).

Afterward, rinse the cacti well to reduce their sliminess. Then, you can chop them into cubes or strips for grilling.

1. Boiled cactus

  • Boil the cubes of cactus at low heat until they are tender enough
  • Afterward, drain the water and rinse the cacti in cold water
  • Store the boiled cacti in an airtight container in the refrigerator
  • Add them to scrambled eggs, salad mix, or serve as they are

2. Sautéed cactus

  • Sauté the nopales bits in olive oil with diced onions
  • Cool until you see the thick juice come out of the nopales
  • Add lemon zest, pepper, and salt. Then, serve

3. Add cactus to soup

  • Add the nopales cubes to your soup as a thickening agent
  • As they cook in the soup, they exude their thick juice, which will help to thicken the soup and add volume

What are the benefits of eating cactus fruit?

Cactus fruits have high nutritional value. Asides from taurine and other antioxidants it contains, eating cactus also provides the body with vitamins A & C, omega-3, iron, calcium, and potassium.

Moreover, eating cactus fruit can help lower blood cholesterol, and prevent stroke, heart disease, and other vascular diseases. Some people claim that drinking cactus water or juice can help to ease hangovers.

Other benefits of adding cactus to your diet include antiviral properties, regulating blood sugar and preventing diabetes, immunity booster, improved digestion, treatment of ulcers, and improved appearance and texture of your skin.

What are the side effects of eating cactus fruit?

Eating cactus fruit can increase stool frequency, and cause nausea, headaches, and bloating.

Moreover, cactus is a no-no for women who are expecting conception, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers.

In addition, because of the great impact of cacti on blood sugar levels, you should be very careful with them. Monitor your sugar level to prevent hypoglycemia.

Also, if you’re on any routine medications, consult your doctor to know if you can take cactus as a supplement.


Can you eat raw cactus fruit?

Yes, you can eat raw cactus fruit.

You can chop or dice it into a salad or use it to make pickles. However, some species need to be cooked before you eat them.

Do cactus fruits taste like chicken?

If cactus tastes like chicken, it’s most likely because of how you cooked it. Expect cactus to taste like chicken if you added chicken bouillon to the dish.

How long should you cook cacti?

How long you cook cactus depends on the dish you’re making.

Generally, cactus fruits should be well-cooked between 7-15 minutes. When the cactus is ready to eat, it should be tender and crunchy. Keep an eye on the cactus; it will become slimy if it overcooks.

Can you eat cactus fruits with spines?

No, you should not. Remove the spines before you cut and cook cactus fruit for food.


Not all cacti are inedible. When you find edible ones like the prickly pear cactus, you’ll love them. The sweet, sour, and sometimes bland taste makes it interesting.

Cactus taste like a lot of things. The taste varies with how it is eaten or cooked.

When you are ready to taste this seemingly unconventional fruit and vegetable, get nopales and eat only the edible paddles, pear, and flower petals.

Add cactus to salad, tacos, sauces, and other dishes. Extract the juice for medicinal purposes.

Thanks for reading.

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