If you have wondered what to make with prickly pears, you will love these fun tips and prickly pear recipes! I will walk you through everything you need to know about these exotic cactus fruits and how to enjoy their flavor!

Getting ready to make prickly pear recipes by cutting prickly pears on a cutting board.

I have a special treat for you today! I am in love with prickly pears and will show you some of the best prickly pear recipes you can make with them!

Prickly pears have many names, including cactus fruit, cactus pears, Opuntia, cactus fig, and even Mexican tuna fruit. (How silly is that name?) They can be found throughout Mexico and some of the southern states.

Prickly pears come in several colors, ranging from red to hot pink, orange, and green. You can use any color of prickly pear in the recipes I share. I love using vibrant red and purple cactus pear fruit juice to make syrup.

How to eat a prickly pear:

There are lots of ways to eat a prickly pear. You can make a jam, prickly pear chutney, or cactus pear jelly. I love using juice to make syrup for cocktails! Sauces for roasted meats flavored with prickly pear add so much flavor.

Prickly pears taste like a cross between watermelon, strawberries, and raspberries. They have an earthy flavor and are great for sweet and savory recipes! My favorite way to enjoy them is in my Prickly Pear Margarita recipe!

What part of the prickly pear is edible?

You can eat the fruit inside of the cactus pear rind. You do not want to eat the peel or spines.

How to remove prickly pear spines:

Lucky for us, most prickly pears are sold with the spines removed. If you end up with a spiny cactus pear, you can safely remove the thorns with these steps:

  • Wear thick gloves
  • Use tweezers or plyers to carefully pull the spines out of the prickly pear.
Cutting a prickly pears on a wooden cutting board.

How to cut a cactus pear:

Cutting a cactus pear is easy once the spines are removed. Place the pear on a cutting board, and take a sharp knife, and cut both ends off. Next, make a horizontal knife slice about 1/8 of an inch down the skin. You should be able to peel the skin off, leaving just the fruit.

The bummer about prickly pears is their seeds. They are hard as rocks and not edible in their current form. You will need to either remove them if you use pieces of the fruit or strain them out if you want the juice. Some brave people make cactus pear seed oil out of them, but that takes a lot of special equipment.

Straining out the prickly pear seeds.

How to remove the seeds:

The best way to remove the seeds is to press the fruit through a fine-mesh strainer. The juice can pass through into a glass. If you want to have chunks of fruit, you can eat the fruit and then spit out the seeds. It isn’t ideal, but whichever you do, be careful because the seeds are small but rock-hard.

A cut prickly pear so you can see the bright pink insides.

How long will prickly pears keep fresh?

Prickly pears should keep fresh on the counter or in the produce drawer of your refrigerator for a week or two, depending on how ripe they were when you purchased them. If they are cut open, store them in these airtight containers.

And now for the recipes. These are easy, prickly pear recipes you can make quickly. I can’t wait to hear which one you liked best!

The Best Prickly Pear Recipes

Prickly Pear Syrup
Sandi Gaertner
A simple prickly pear syrup that can be used for cocktails, or on desserts.
Check out this recipe
A jar of cactus pear syrup with a bow around it.
Prickly Pear Paletas Recipe
Food & Wine’s fresh prickly pear ice pops are made of lime, agave, and prickly pear.
Check out this recipe
Prickly Pear Paletas Recipe
Prickly Pear Margarita
Sandi Gaertner
An easy prickly pear margarita recipe.
Check out this recipe
Summer Sorbet: Prickly Pear Recipe—Organic Spa Magazine
Vibrant color, big flavor and nutrients—all from a prickly little fruit that grows atop the nopal cacti found in California and the Southwest.
Check out this recipe
Summer Sorbet: Prickly Pear Recipe—Organic Spa Magazine
Cactus Fruit | Prickly Pear Gum Drops
It’s pretty easy to turn cactus fruit into candy, and I’ll show you how to make prickly pear gum drops. Easy AND delicious! Makes a fun gift idea!
Check out this recipe
Cactus Fruit | Prickly Pear Gum Drops
Prickly Pear Jelly
Prickly pear jelly is a real treat, and lets you have a taste of the dessert anywhere in the world. The fruit has a distinctive taste that’s hard to describe, warm and earthy but also
Check out this recipe
Prickly Pear Jelly
Prickly Pear Jam
Don’t be afraid to use prickly pears to make this uniquely flavorful jam, but do use gloves to remove the invisible spines.
Check out this recipe
Prickly Pear Jam
Tenderloin with prickly pear sauce
This prickly pear sauce recipe combined with the tenderloin is superb. The prickly pear with its prickly exterior has a sour taste.
Check out this recipe
Tenderloin with prickly pear sauce
Prickly Pear Bourbon Cocktail
Sandi Gaertner
A delicious cocktail with prickly pear syrup and bourbon. Enjoy over the rocks with a twist of lime.
Check out this recipe
Prickly Pear Hibiscus Agua Fresca
Looking for a refreshing drink with flavors that are lightly sweet, tart, and fruity? You will love a prickly pear hibiscus agua fresca!
Check out this recipe
Prickly Pear Hibiscus Agua Fresca
Prickly Pear Ice Cream – Zesty South Indian Kitchen
Delicious prickly pear ice cream made with prickly pear juice, milk and cream and sugar without any custard base.
Check out this recipe
Prickly Pear Ice Cream - Zesty South Indian Kitchen
Prickly Pear Mead [Recipe]
Probably one of the most delicious fermented brews that I’ve enjoyed is Prickly Pear mead. Okay, maybe technically its called a “melomel” because it is fermented honey and fruit. …
Check out this recipe
Prickly Pear Mead [Recipe]

Have a tip?

We would love to hear if you have a great gluten-free tip or favorite prickly pear recipe. Please leave a comment. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

16 Comments

  1. Got some local prickly pear jelly and jam. Made from a ladies grandma recipe. Absolutely delicious. But flavor is really hard to discribe, seems everyone has a different take on it flavor!

  2. “The bummer about prickly pears is their seeds. They are hard as rocks and not edible in their current form.”

    Just peel the fruit and eat. You don’t want to chomp down hard on them but the flesh is soft enough you don’t have to chew hard anyway. This is how everyone I know in Mexico eats them.

  3. You can eat the seeds. At least we do in Mexico. They are edible and you don’t need to chew the fruit much so it’s easy to enjoy. Lastly in Mexico it’s called tunas as you mentioned and it’s not a weird name at all for us.

  4. Greetings From Sunny South Africa!
    The easiest and painless way to remove the spines of a prickly pear, is to put it in cold water for few minutes to soften the spines so that it don’t prick you, and lightly brush off the spines with a tooth or small nail brush under the water. You will also notice that most of the spines are dislodged by itself after a few minutes in the water. Be careful not to keep it in the water for too long. Try it, it works and been tried and tested for many years (at least where I live) If I CAN, YOU CAN!
    Enjoy!

  5. I can’t get past the frothy, mucilaginous texture. It makes me gag just looking at it. Am I doing something wrong?

    1. Hi Anitai, I am curious which color of cactus fruit you tried? I don’t eat the fruit flesh, the seeds are too much for me, but I do press the fruit through a strainer and use the juice in my recipes.

    1. Hi Dennis, that sounds so yummy. I am not sure how to do that with prickly pear. The seeds are scattered throughout the prickly pear fruit, and they are hard as rocks. I am not sure how to get the seeds out except to press the pulp through a strainer…which is too runny for pie.

  6. “How silly is that name.” It’s not silly at all. “Tuna,” the word by itself, is the legitimate name for this fruit in Mexico. It does not mean the fish. 🙂

  7. I tried versus of spices on the prickly pear and found that allspice and cloves seem to work well with it. I tried cinnamon, nutmeg, they don’t seem to work at all. Ginger and cumin is usable but no great deal. I tried imitation brandy which worked but rum didn’t. Milk gave it a smooth texture. So cream and any milk might work. Like in a mousse.