This Nopales Asados recipe is made by grilling prickly pear cactus pads resulting in a smoky, tangy flavor and chewy, tender texture. It is perfect as a side, salad ingredient, or filling for tacos and burritos.

Nopales Asados are a popular dish in Mexico that consist of grilled cactus paddles often enjoyed as a side dish for carne asada or served over warm corn tortillas to make delicious tacos.

Nopales cactus have a tart flavor with citrusy hints and a texture that is crunchy, moist, and slightly slimy, similar to okra, which makes them perfect to go with many ingredients.

As a Mexican, nopales have been one of my favorite foods since I can remember! I love them for breakfast as nopales con huevo, or mixed with meat in delicious stews.

Nopales asados con queso served topped with pico de gallo.


  • Nopales cactus: You can find raw and fresh nopales cactus at Mexican markets or some supermarkets outside Mexico. They are found whole, sliced, or diced. If they’re not cleaned you’ll need to clean the thorns yourself.
  • Cheese: Use Mexican panela cheese or any melty cheese you prefer.
  • Pico de gallo: Pico adds a tangy and slightly spicy flavor that goes great with nopales asados.
  • Olive oil: Or use your favorite vegetable oil.
  • Salt: As needed, use any type of salt you prefer.

How To Make Nopales Asados

Start by cleaning the nopales to remove any thorns. Use a sharp knife to scrape off thorns and rinse the nopales under cold water to remove debris.

Nopales cactus paddles cleaned on a kitchen countertop.

Heat a griddle or cast iron pan over medium-high heat.

Coat both sides of the nopales pads with olive oil and place the nopales on the hot griddle.

Nopales paddles grilling on a stove griddle.

Cook from 5 to 8 minutes on each side, flipping occasionally until the cactus have changed color and are lightly charred and tender.

Don’t worry if they’re slightly underdone, nopales can be eaten also raw! Aim for a balance of tenderness and slight chewiness when grilling.

Close-up of grilled nopales.

Once done, season the cooked nopales with salt to taste and add a slice of melty cheese on top of each pad.

I am using Mexican panela cheese, but you can use any type of cheese you prefer.

Added slices of cheese on top of nopales asados.

Cook for one more minute, just the time to allow the cheese to start melting for that gooey texture we all love.

Once done, transfer the nopales asados to a large serving plate and top with pico de gallo for extra flavor and texture, then serve immediately.

Recipe Notes & Tips

  • If you are cleaning the cactus paddles, be cautious as they have small thorns. Use gloves or a kitchen towel to hold them securely while cleaning.
  • The secret to achieving a nice char to your nopales asados without overcooking it is to preheat your griddle adequately using medium or medium-high heat.
  • Panela cheese is similar in texture to Indian paneer cheese or Italian primo sale, it won’t melt but it tastes delicious. You can use any of those substitutes or just any cheese you prefer.
  • You can make this dish vegan by using tofu instead of milk cheese.

How To Serve Grilled Cactus

If you want to know how to serve this grilled cactus dish, here are my recommendations:

  • As a side: For grilled meats or any enchiladas.
  • Stuffed: For tacos, burritos or quesadillas like mulitas.
  • On salads: Sliced nopales asados can be a tasty addition to salads or bowls, it is a must-try with Mexican street corn slaw.
  • As a garnish. Garnish for other Mexican dishes, such as sopes, tostadas, or gorditas.
Nopales asado topped with cheese and pico de galo on a plate.

Store & Reheat

To store the leftovers properly, allow them to cool completely, and store the grilled nopales in the refrigerator in an airtight container or tightly wrapped with plastic wrap for up to 3-4 days.

When it’s time to enjoy them again, gently reheat the grilled nopales in a skillet until they’re warm throughout. Remember to enjoy your grilled nopales within a few days for the most delicious flavor and texture!

More Nopales Recipes

Can’t get enough of Mexican food? Here are more nopales recipes that you might want to try:

Did you like this Mexican recipe? Please, don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below. Also, remember that you can share and follow this blog on PINTERESTINSTAGRAMFACEBOOK, and YOUTUBE.

Mexican grilled cactus Nopales Asados recipe.

Nopales Asados

4 servings
Grilled prickly pear cactus paddles, cooked until tender with a delicious char. They're perfect as a side dish, salad addition, or filling for tacos and burritos, adding versatility to your meals.
prep 5 minutes
cook 10 minutes
total 15 minutes


  • 4 large cactus paddles (cleaned, thorns removed)
  • 4 slices panela cheese (or your favorite melty cheese)
  • 1 ½ cup pico de gallo
  • olive oil (as needed)
  • coarse salt (to taste)


  • Preheat a griddle or cast iron pan over medium heat.
  • Brush both sides of the nopales paddles with olive oil.
  • Place the nopales on the preheated griddle and cook for 5-8 minutes per side, or until slightly charred and tender. Flip occasionally.
  • Sprinkle the cooked nopales with salt to taste and place a slice of cheese on top of each paddle.
  • Cook for one more minute or until the cheese slightly melts on top.
  • Transfer the grilled nopales to a serving plate and top with pico de gallo before serving.


  • Preheat your griddle well for perfectly grilled nopales with the right balance of tenderness.
  • Don’t worry if the grilled nopales are slightly underdone, nopales can be eaten also raw! Aim for a balance of tenderness and slight chewiness when grilling.
  • Store the leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container or tightly wrapped with plastic wrap for up to 3-4 days.
Nutrition Information
Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 113kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 1017mg | Potassium: 186mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 817IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 192mg | Iron: 0.4mg
rate this recipeScroll down and leave a comment with stars!

Join now my email list  

Leave a Reply

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

Recipe Rating

One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Wow, I never thought nopales could be this delicious until I tried this recipe! I tried substituting the cheese with tofu like you said and it turns out so good!