What Does Cactus Taste Like | How to Eat Cactus

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. I believe you’re already wondering what cactus will taste like when you eat one. Perhaps you have eaten one before but could not make out the taste.

Cactus tastes 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, sautéed, or as a side. Continue reading to see what cactus will taste like when you cook it in different ways.

What Is Cactus?

Cactus is a plant of the family Cactaceae. In the cactus family, while some are inedible, there are edible cacti like the nopales or prickly pear. The fruits are soft and spongy, with short spines (glochids) around their edges.

Furthermore, the 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. On the prickly pear cactus, the cactus paddles, the flower petals, and the pear are the edible parts. And they make great salads, smoothies, and many other dishes.

What Does Cactus Fruit Taste Like?

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

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

In addition, cactus 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 Grilled Cactus Taste Like?

Grilled cactus makes a 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 cactus with cheese, hot sauce, corn avocado salsa, and salads.

Moreover, you can choose to eat grilled nopales alone or green steak as a side dish.

SEE: Read This to Find Out What Guava Tastes Like

What Does Fried Cactus Taste Like?

If you stir fry cactus, it brings out the crunchy taste in the fruits, removing the slime too. You can either stir-fry cactus 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 shock 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 aid muscle repair.

SEE: What Do Beets Taste Like?

How to Eat Cactus

If you’re using store-bought cactus, the spines would have been removed. But if you grow a small bush in your backyard, it’s fine too. Make sure you wear hand gloves before you harvest the cactus 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). Afternoon, rinse the cacti well to reduce the 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

SEE: What Do Turnips Taste Like?

What Are the Benefits of Eating Cactus?

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 diseases, and other vascular diseases. Some people also take cactus water or juice before or after drinking alcohol to ease hangovers.

Other benefits of adding cactus to your diet include providing antiviral properties, regulating blood sugar and preventing diabetes, acting as an immune system booster, helping to improve digestion, treatment of ulcers, and improving the appearance and texture of your skin.

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What Are the Side Effects of Eating Cactus?

Eating cactus can increase stool frequency, cause nausea, headaches, and bloating. Cactus is a no-no for women who are expecting conception, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers.

In addition, because of the great impact of cactus on blood sugar levels, you should be very careful with it. Monitor your sugar level to prevent hypoglycemia. Also, if you have any routine medications you’re taking, consult your doctor to know if you can take cactus as a supplement.


Can you eat raw cactus?

Yes, you can eat raw cactus. 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.

Does cactus taste like chicken?

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

How long do you cook cactus?

How long you cook cactus depends on the dish you’re making. Generally, cactus 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; if it overcooks, you’ll have a slimy dish.

Can you eat cactus with the spines?

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

SEE: What Does Okra Taste Like?


Not all cacti are inedible. When you find edible ones like the prickly pear cactus, you’ll love it. The sweet, sour, and sometimes bland taste of the fruit makes it an interesting one. Cactus tastes like a lot of things, and this varies with how it is eaten or cooked.

When you are ready to have a taste of these seemingly unconventional fruit and vegetable, make sure you get nopales or prickly pear cactus and eat only the edible paddles, pear, and flower petals. Add cactus to salad, tacos, sauces, and other dishes, and enjoy the juice as well.

Thanks for reading.

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