Prickly Pear Cactus Recipes

Welcome to the delightful world of prickly pear fruit! Bursting with vibrant colors and a unique flavor profile, prickly pear, also known as cactus pear or nopales fruit, has captured the hearts and taste buds of food enthusiasts worldwide. From luscious purees and refreshing juices to tantalizing jellies and enticing prickly pear margaritas, this versatile fruit offers a plethora of culinary possibilities. Whether you’re seeking a healthy addition to your breakfast routine or an exotic twist to your cocktail hour, prickly pear fruit is here to elevate your culinary adventures to new heights. Join us as we explore a medley of tantalizing prickly pear fruit recipes, guaranteed to awaken your senses and leave you craving for more.

Removing spines and glochids from cactus pears

There are several ways to remove the Prickly Pear spines and glochids, the tiny spines that are almost invisible. You can cut them off which a vegetable peeler or knife.  Be sure and wear gloves if you use this method.  Another option, which I prefer, is to burn them off of the fruit by holding the fruit over an open flame using tongs or a fork.  Once the spines and glochids are removed from the cactus pear you can peel or cut them and to eat raw. Other ways to remove the spines include: Blending, juicing or boiling the fruit. 

If you want to skip the step of harvesting the Prickly Pear Fruit yourself, you can purchase the fruit at farmer’s markets, specialty stores and Mexican markets. The Prickly Pear fruit you purchase, will already have the spines and glochids removed.

The Prickly Pear Juice and Prickly Pear Puree can be used for a variety of food and drink recipes.

Prickly Pear Juice

Select ripe prickly pears, including a few on the green side to add pectin if making jelly. Wash and rinse. Place in a pot with 1 cup of water and cook over low heat until tender (about 20 minutes). Mash with a potato masher and strain to remove seeds and fibers.

Prickly Pear Puree

Wash and peel ripe prickly pears. Cut in half with a knife and scoop out the seeds. Force the raw pulp through a medium to fine strainer. Freeze either fruit pulp or the puree. Simply pack into freezer containers and seal. Thaw before using.

Prickly Pear Jelly Recipe

4 cups prickly pear juice
5 cups sugar
2 packages of powdered pectin

Follow the pectin manufacturer’s directions for adding ingredients and fast boil, stirring constantly. Bring to a hard boil that cannot be stirred down, boil for 3 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

Prickly Pear Marmalade Recipe

4 cups chopped prickly pears
1 cup sliced lemon
2 oranges
1 or more cups of sugar (see below)

Chop orange peel and pulp. Add 4 cups water to lemon and orange. Let stand 12 to 18 hours in a cool place. Boil until peel is tender. Cool. Measure lemon, orange and water in which cooked. Add chopped prickly pears and 1 cup of sugar for each cup of combined pear, lemon, orange and water. Boil to the jellying point. Pour, boiling hot, into hot jars. Seal at once.

Prickly Pear Salad Dressing Recipe

1/2 cup prickly pear puree
1/3 cup salad oil (not olive oil)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
3 to 4 Tbs. tarragon white wine vinegar

Shake all ingredients together in a covered jar. Makes about 1 cup. This pretty pink dressing is thin like an oil and vinegar dressing, but lower in calories. Good on fruit salads and tossed green salads.

There has been medical interest in the prickly pear plant. Some studies have shown that the pectin contained in the prickly pear pulp lowers levels of “bad” cholesterol while leaving “good” cholesterol levels unchanged. Another study found that the fibrous pectin in the fruit may lowers diabetics’ need for insulin. There are ongoing studies and at this point there are no proven results on humans. You can make your own study and see if works for you, which is the only test that really counts. More…

Note: In California, it is illegal to collect or pick fruit within 100 yards of a road or highway. It is also illegal to collect fruit that is growing on private property or property designated as a protected area, including a state or national park.

Prickly Pear Drink Recipes

The popular Desert USA Prickly Pear Margarita is a ruby red color with a sweet prickly pear flavor that enhances the flavor of the lime and tequila. Prickly pear fruit syrup also pairs well with lemon juice which enhances the flavor of the prickly pear fruit. Prickly Pear Lemonade puts a new twist on pink lemonade.  If you love Prickly Pear Lemonade, you will want to check out Desert USA’s NEW Whipped Prickly Pear Lemonade recipe! It is a decadent shake with delicious lemon and prickly pear flavors   If you want to spice up any of our Prickly Pear Syrup recipes, consider drizzling some Desert USA Hot Honey on top or garnish with sliced jalapeños.

These southwest inspired prickly pear drink recipes for cocktails and mocktails are made using Desert USA’s Prickly Pear Fruit Syrup. Our syrup is available for purchase in Desert USA’s online store and on Amazon.

Prickly Pear Margarita Recipe

(Makes 1 drink)
2 oz Silver Tequila
1 oz. Lime Juice
1.5 oz Desert USA’s Prickly Pear Fruit Syrup
Salt for Rim of Glass (optional)
Lime Wedges for Garnish

Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into a glass filled with ice. To serve blended, add ingredients with 1 cup of ice in a blender and blend. Pour into margarita glass with or without a salt rim and garnish with a lime wedge.

Tip: For a “Spicy” Prickly Pear Margarita drizzle 1-2 tsp of Desert USA’s Hot Honey on top of the finished drink. Garnish with a few sliced jalapenos in the glass and a slice of lime. Rim the glass with a little water or lime juice and TAJÍN® Clásico Seasoning (a blend of chili peppers, lime and sea salt).

Prickly Pear Lemonade Recipe

1/4 cup Desert USA’s Prickly Pear Fruit Syrup
1.5 cups of fresh lemon Juice
3 cups cold water, to dilute as needed.

Directions: Mix lemon juice, syrup and water in a pitcher.  Add more lemon juice if too sweet or more prickly pear syrup if too tart.  Chill and serve over ice.  Garnish with a lemon slice.

Tip: For a unique twist, garnish with piece of Prickly Pear Sour Candy.

prickly pear lemonade recipe

Prickly Pear Martini Recipe

2 oz. Vodka
1 oz Desert USA’s Prickly Pear Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Lemon Slice or Twist

Directions: Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake and strain into a glass. Garnish with lemon slice or twist.

prickly pear martini recipe

Prickly Pear Lemon Drop

2 oz Vodka
1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1.5 oz Desert USA’s Prickly Pear Cactus Syrup
Lemon slice or twist
Sugar for rim of glass (optional)

Directions:  Add vodka, prickly pear cactus syrup and lemon juice into a shaker with ice.  To prepare your martini glass, wet rim of glass with water or lemon juice and dip rim in sugar. Shake and strain mix into your prepared glass. Garnish with a lemon slice or lemon twist.

TIP – Garnish with a piece of Prickly Pear Cactus Sour Candy.

Whipped Prickly Pear Lemonade

Whipped Prickly Pear Lemonade

½ cup of fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup condensed milk
2 oz Desert USA Prickly Pear Syrup
2 cups of ice cubes or crushed ice
Spray whipped cream (optional)
Sliced lemon for garnish (optional)


Mix lemon juice, heavy cream, condensed milk, prickly pear syrup and ice cubes in a blender, cover and blend for 15 – 20 seconds.  Pour the whipped beverage into glasses, garnish with whipped cream and a lemon twist or wedge. Drizzle a bit of the Prickly Pear Syrup on top of the whipped cream to garnish.

whipped prickly pear lemonade shake

Shop for Prickly Pear Syrup

12 oz Desert USA’s Prickly Pear Syrup – Desert USA Store
12 Desert USA’s Prickly Pear Syrup – on Amazon
23 oz Prickly Pear Syrup
35 oz Prickly Pear Syrup (2 pack or 3 pack)
Gallon Prickly Pear Syrup

Shop for Prickly Pear Nectar (No Sugar Added)

32 oz Prickly Pear Nectar

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