How to Eat Prickly Pear?
Here's The Right Way to Enjoy Cactus Fruit!

Are you confused about how to eat prickly pear or cactus fruit? Don’t worry! This post will tell you the right way to eat cactus fruit and reap its benefits.

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Jimena Bolívar

April 15, 2021

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Never judge a fruit by its skin!

As a kid, I wondered, what on earth is this ugly-looking thick cactus fruit doing? (Don’t hate me for calling it ugly! I was just a little kid!) I was eighteen when I first tasted cactus fruit in Mexico. I was shocked at how delicious this pod is!

vicious prickly pear on the pads of cactus

You don’t just pick it from the tree, and it’s ready to eat like apple or oranges. Some care is required before enjoy this toothsome fruit.

To eat a cactus fruit or prickly pear, first, you need to choose a ripe prickly pear (red or purple). Get rid of all glochids and spines on the surface of the fruit. Cut open the fruit with a knife. Peel off the skin. Take the flesh out. Eat it as it is or use it to make some tasty recipes.

What is cactus fruit or prickly pear?

If you ask me, cactus fruit is just like a lobster; ferocious on the outside but rich and fleshy on the inside!

Ripe prickly pear with thick spines

Cactus fruit, also known as prickly pear is a pear-shaped fruit. It grows on the edges of the cactus pads (also called nopales). The color of the prickly pear ranges from yellow and green to red and purple. The color usually depends upon the ripeness.

The fruit wears a thick skin tucked with many small thorn-like spines. Don’t take these spines for granted. They are as excruciating as the cruciatus curse from harry potter!

Here is some basic information about the prickly pear

Scientific Name opuntia
kingdom Plantae
Phylum Magnoliophyta
Class Magnoliopsida
Order Caryophyllales
Family Cactaceae
Genus Opuntia
Shape Pear-shaped
Common Names Prickly pear, cactus fruit, Cactus pear, tuna
Colors Red, orange, yellow, green

Why prickly pear is named so?

No wonder why prickly pear is named so!

Prickly pear is pear-shaped and it has thorns on the surface. These thorns serve as prickles. Therefore, the shape and appearance contribute to the name PRICKLY PEAR.

close up view of cactus fruit and its glochids

Are all cactus fruit edible?

Yes, all the cactus fruits can be eaten. There is slight difference of taste. Some prickly pears are bitter while others are sweet.

When you cut it open, prickly pears give you a meaty texture. Inside of it, edible crunchy seeds are embedded. The fruit with its nopales is edible.

Cactus fruit tastes like a cross between citrus bubble gum and watermelon. It has the inner texture similar to kiwi. But when you make juice out of it, it tastes like papaya juice. Truly magical flavor it has!

Beautiful peeled prickly pears

Keep reading because you will get some amazing recipes to try on with this fruit.

Fun fact

Prickly pear has been an integral food in Mexican cuisine for years. No wonder why Mexican food tastes heavenly!

The right way to eat prickly pear

If you’re planning to eat prickly pear, you must eat it the right way. Consuming it the wrong way might cause you to hurt just like your ex did. I know you don’t wanna experience that kind of hurt again.

Just follow along with the steps I’ve listed below, and you’re good to enjoy this incredibly fascinating fruit.

Step 1: keep important apparatus handy

Thinking of eating a cactus fruit without apparatus is like getting ready for a party without a dress. It is very important to keep the suitable apparatus handy. Down below is the list of apparatus that you must have. Otherwise, you will be responsible for the consequence!

  • A sharp metallic knife to cut open the Fruit
  • Thick gloves to cover your hands. Buy from here or here
  • A cutting board or cutting dice
  • A pair of tongs if you’re harvesting the fruit directly

pro tip

If you don’t have tongs, you can wrap 5 to 6 towels to make a thick base to pick your prickly pear from the plant.

Step 2: Identify the Digestible Cactus Fruit

The prickly pear comes in different colors. With every color, the flavor fluctuates a bit. The darker fruits are usually sweeter. The two most common colors available in the market are dark green and deep purple. Purple prickly pears are sweeter than the green ones.

3 different coloured prickly pears

If you’re harvesting prickly pear yourself, use a pair of tongs to separate it from the plant. Cover your hands by wearing thick gloves. DO NOT TOUCH THE FRUIT!

Important note

Choosing the right prickly pear is crucial

You might find many prickly pears in the market, but not all of them will taste good. Choose wisely!

Step 3: Remove all the spines and glochids

The entire surface of cactus fruit is embellished with sharp needle-like thorns. The spots on the skin of prickly pear are called glochids. These hair-like spines can be your worst nightmare. If you get glochids, they will cause irritation and redness in your skin. So it is important to get rid of them.

ripe prickly pears in the field

Usually, store-bought prickly pears are free from spines and glochids, but it is better that you always wear gloves. To remove the glochids, take a blow torch and burn away all the spines.

pro tip

Get rid of glochids

If you happen to get glochids unluckily, no need to panic. Just remove them with a pair of tweezers. Another easy yet practical way is to cover the affected area with Elmer's Glue-All or white glue and cover it with gauze. Leave it off for 30 minutes to get dry and then peel off. A duct tape will also do the job.

Step 4: Cutting the fruit and enjoying the pulp

Here comes the final step- the time to reap the benefits of efforts!

  • Place your prickly pear on the cutting board
  • Grab your knife and cut the ends of the fruit on both the sides.
  • Now make a slight cut in the centre at the top of the peel.
  • With the help of your hands peel off the skin.
  • The beautiful and incredibly delicious pulp is ready to eat.

prickly pear cut in halves

Recipes to make out of prickly pear

If you don’t feel like eating prickly pear flesh and wanna go fancy with your fruit, then here are a few amazing recipes you can try out!

Prickly pear juice

Prickly pear juice is an incredible summer drink to ward off heat. It is similar to papaya juice in taste.


  • Half cup prickly pear pulp
  • One cup of water
  • Handful of ice cubes


  1. Pour prickly pear pulp and water in the blender.
  2. Blend until nicely combines.
  3. Take a mesh or strainer and strain the juice.
  4. Put ice cubes and enjoy this tasty drink!

You can but ready-made prickly pear juice by clicking the link below

Prickly pear syrup

Who doesn’t love a generous drizzle of syrup on pancakes? Here a simple recipe to make prickly pear syrup.


  • 500 g of prickly pear pulp
  • One cup of sugar
  • Half lemon
  • Water as required


  1. In a pan, add the prickly pear pulp and sugar.
  2. Add enough water to cover the ingredients.
  3. Cook it for a while then add the juice of half lemon.
  4. Cover the lid and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Turn off the gas and let it cool.
  6. You tasty prickly pear syrup is ready. Put in on deserts and pancakes and enjoy!

If you don’t want to get into hassle of making prickly pear items, you can bu them online by clicking the links below.

Prickly Pear Syrup

Cheris's prickly pear syrup is made from 100% natural ingredient. It has no added preservatives or sugars. It goes super good with pancakes

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Max herb organic Nopal cactus juice

This is what my grandfather used for years to fight diabetes.It contains more than 99% pure juice.Loaded with antioxidants, you get a pretty decent amount in less price

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This product is my personal favorite.

Shadow River Gourmet Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly Made From Real Cactus Fruit Juice, 8 oz Jar

This jelly is my personal favorite. I take a spoon full daily with bread slice. It has no preservatives and extra sugars. totally recommended!

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Health Benefits of Cactus fruit or prickly pear

Prickly pear offers tremendous health benefits

  1. Prickly pear is home to numerous antioxidants.
  2. Cactus fruit is low in carbs and high in fiber. It a great snack option if you’re vegan.
  3. Being low in calories, cactus fruit promotes weight loss. A medium-sized prickly pear contains only 40 calories.
  4. Cactus fruits are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium. Thus, they promote good heart and liver health.
  5. A mild dose of prickly pear also helps to cure a hangover


Making a cactus fruit edible is as not hard as it seems. Just carefully pick one prickly pear. Remove the spines. Make a cut. Peel off the skin. Take out the flesh. You can either eat it or make so many creative recipes out of it. Make prickly pear a part of your diet. It is highly tasty yet nutritious.

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Jimena Bolívar Picture

By Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

Posted in:

Jimena Bolívar Picture

Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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