Packed with crunchy veggies, these nopales tacos are the light and refreshing meal you need to get through the summer. They’re super easy to make and waiting to be loaded with toppings for a healthy Mexican lunch.
Why You’ll Love These Nopales Tacos
These nopales tacos are crunchy, refreshing, and lightly spicy— in other words, perfect. However, here are other reasons that’ll convince you that they’re the ultimate summer taco.
- Easy. Made with simple veggies, these tacos can be thrown together with lots of things you usually keep in the fridge anyway.
- Healthy. Nopales are loaded with vitamins and minerals, just like tomatoes and onions. Plus, salt and fat are kept to a minimum, making them super healthy.
- Veggie. This is one vegetarian recipe you’ll be making on repeat, especially if you love Mexican food! To make them vegan, all you need to do is leave out the cotija.
What’s in These Nopales Tacos?
You can’t have nopales tacos without nopales, so don’t forget these green paddle-looking veggies while you’re at the supermarket. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for full ingredient amounts.
- Nopales – Fresh green cactus paddles.
- White onion – Yellow onion works too.
- Tomatoes – Roma tomatoes are best. Feel free to use heirloom tomatoes if you remove the seeds.
- Serrano – Use a Jalapeño if you don’t like a lot of heat and want your tacos milder. Make sure to remove the seeds and membrane out of the chiles, this helps reduce the heat.
- Corn Tortillas – Store bought or homemade corn tortillas both work. For an authentic flavor, I do not recommend using flour tortillas.
- Cotija cheese – You can also use crumbled queso fresco.
- Salsa – Use your favorite red or green salsa. I love this restaurant style salsa or this creamy avocado salsa. You could also use homemade pico de gallo.
Tips for the Best Tacos
A couple of these cheats will make putting these tacos on the table a lot easier, even if you haven’t been to the supermarket in a while.
- Hot Grill: Make sure your grill, or grill pan, are nice and hot before you add the cactus. You want to get a good sear!
- Use leftovers. Using leftover Pico de Gallo as the veggie mixture in these tacos is a great way to reduce waste.
- Make burritos. Spread flour tortillas with Refried Beans and add the nopales mixture to make yummy breakfast burritos.
- Use canned chiles. Drain and rinse canned jalapeños if you’re out of fresh chiles. They’ll add all the heat these tacos need.
- Buy diced nopales. Mexican supermarkets often sell diced or sliced nopales that will help you cut down on prep time.
- Add beef. Cook thinly sliced beef in a pan with 1-2 teaspoons of oil for 2-3 minutes on each side or until done to taste. Season with salt to taste. Slice it into strips and add it to the nopales mixture for extra protein.
- Crumble chicharron. For a bit of crunch, top the tacos with crumbled chicharron.
- Use carnitas. Mix the nopales asados with Carnitas to taste for the perfect bite.
- Add avocado. Sliced avocado or a bit of Guacamole can give these tacos some natural creaminess.
What Goes With Nopales Asados?
These tacos are great on their own for a light, healthy lunch. You can also serve them with other kinds of tacos like my Flank Steak Tacos or Chicken Tacos to lighten the meal. A warm bowl of Caldo de Pollo or Spicy Black Bean Soup can make things heartier as well.
Need some good sides to round out your meal? Try this Authentic Mexican Rice, Frijoles Charros (Charro Beans), Ranch Style Beans, or some Calabacitas for a great vegetable filled side dish. And while they are Puerto Rican, we also love to serve some sweet Maduros (pan fried plantains) with our tacos!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Throw them away once the slime thickens and the nopales begin to taste sour or smell rancid. Reheat it in the microwave for up to a minute or until warm.
Can I Freeze Nopales Tacos?
Unfortunately, no. Nopales don’t freeze well because they have a high water content, which changes their texture significantly when thawed. They lose their crunch and soften too much, as do the other veggies in this recipe.
More Mexican Recipes to Try
- Mexican Street Corn (Elote)
- Chilaquiles Rojos
- Camarones al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp)
- Flank Steak Tacos
- Instant Pot Cochinita Pibil
- Pozole Rojo
- Tacos de Birria
Nopales Asados Tacos
- Place the nopales on a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Let them cook for 6-8 minutes on each side or until they turn olive green. They should also have some grill marks and have begun to release a bit of their slime out the sides. The exact cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of the nopales, but they should have softened.
- Remove them from the heat and set them on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut them into 1/2" thick strips. Set them aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix the onion, tomato, serrano pepper, and cilantro until well combined. Add the sliced nopales and mix well. Season with salt to taste.
- Place 3-4 tortillas in a large griddle or pan over low heat. You can also use a comal if you have one. Don't overlap them too much so they heat evenly. Let them heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until soft and bendy. Remove them from the heat and set them aside. Cover them with a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm.
- Assemble the tacos with warm corn tortillas and the nopales asados mixture. Add cotija cheese and salsa to taste.
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