Spicy Pickled Nopales


Slideshow: Delicious, Quick Side Dishes


  • Active:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: Makes 2 cups
  • Time(Other): plus 2 days marinating
KEY: Pickling, Barbecue/Cookout, Holiday Open House, Mexican, Southwestern/Tex-Mex, Side Dishes, Healthy, Make Ahead, Vegetarian

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  • 1 pound nopales (fresh cactus paddles)—thorns removed, paddles peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick (see Note)
  • 2 jalapeños, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sweet pimentón de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large bowl, toss the cactus paddles and jalapeños with the salt and let stand for 45 minutes. Drain well. Transfer the cactus and jalapeños to a heatproof bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the water with the vinegar, sugar and paprika and bring to a boil. Pour the brine over the cactus and jalapeños and stir well. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for 2 days before serving.

Make Ahead

The pickled cactus and jalapeños can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.


Most nopales are sold with the spikes removed; any stray spikes can be removed with a sharp paring knife.

Contributed By Published November 2008

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