Cactus Fries with Avocado Dipping Sauce

by Kris on May 3, 2012

There aren’t enough days between now and Cinco de Mayo! I have so many Mexican inspired recipes that I want to share with you, it’s a little unreal. I usually don’t post so late in the day, but I couldn’t wait to share this recipe! If you like fried green beans, fried zucchini, fried okra, or fried pickles then you will love fried cactus.
Before moving to Texas, I had no idea one could eat cactus. One day while at the grocery store I noticed a large stand of nopales cactus and a woman removing the thorns with a large knife. I stood there in awe, watching this woman prep cactus in seconds. I was so intrigued by this I knew I had to try it. The woman made it look so easy, that rather than buying a prepared bag of nopales, I bought a few with thorns. Big mistake, I was picking thorns out of my hands for weeks.

The first time I made it, I made a casserole. Many people have described cactus as having a similar texture and flavor to green beans. While this is somewhat true, it has a slight sour taste and can easily get slimy the way okra does if it’s not properly prepared. To prevent the sliminess, I coated the cactus twice. The first coating I used coconut flour because it soaks up moisture very well. I then coated it again in panko bread crumbs to create a crunchy exterior.

These cactus fries surpassed my expectations. It was so hard to photograph them because I couldn’t stop snacking! I made a creamy avocado dipping sauce which complemented the slight sourness of the cactus really well. I also baked these fries to make them a little healthier and I have included vegan substitutions so everyone can enjoy them.

These would make a fun and unexpected appetizer for a Cinco de Mayo party. They’re also great on tacos, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that recipe.

Have you ever eaten cactus before?

Cactus Fries

  • 1 nopale cactus (thorns removed)
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 egg whites (or 6 tbsp. cashew cream to make vegan)
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp. coconut flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

Avocado Dipping Sauce

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 tbsp. sour cream (or cashew cream to make vegan)
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise (or veganaise)
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. onion powder
  • juice from ½ lime
  • 1 tsp. fresh dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a cookie sheet with cooking oil, set aside.

In a large bowl combine panko, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Place egg whites in a separate small bowl (or cashew cream if making the vegan variety). In a third bowl add coconut flour, salt and pepper.

Slice cactus into long strips, about half an inch wide. Dip cactus strips into the egg whites (or cashew cream) and then coat them with the coconut flour mixture.

Return cactus strips to the egg whites (or cashew cream) and then coat them with the panko bread crumbs.

Place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway through.

In the meantime prepare the sauce. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. To keep the avocado from going brown, place the pit in the center of the sauce.

Serve immediately.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Courtney Rae Jones May 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm

This looks unreal. YUM! :) I just tried cactus for the first time while visiting Mexico last month. Pretty tasty. The avocado dipping sauce looks like something I could just eat with a spoon! *hehe* Awesome post!

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Kris May 3, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Thanks Courtney! When you had cactus in Mexico, how was it prepared? As for the Avocado sauce, I caught my fiance eating it straight from the bowl. He’s Californian so I guess I should expect no less. :)

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CJ at Food Stories May 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I have never had cactus before and this looks interesting :)

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Kris May 3, 2012 at 9:56 pm

You should give it a try! It’s surprisingly good!

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Lori @ RecipeGirl May 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Well this is definitely something I’ve never done! Looks like it would be worth a try for sure. And I bet they’re even better than Mexican Blanket Cookies, lol! :)

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Kris May 3, 2012 at 9:55 pm

I dunno, those Mexican blanket cookies looked pretty yummy! :) Cactus is pretty yummy though. It’s something I never would have tried if it wasn’t for moving to Texas!

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LorrieB May 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Oddly I see cactus in the grocery store here in Victoria, BC ALL the time and think “What the hell…..?”. I’ve always been too scared to deal with them. I am not a fan of okra so have always been leary of the “slime” factor. But you have certainly made it more appealing here. But on another topic, my California cousin has a big ol cactus plant like that in the back yard, what are your thoughts on hackin bits off there and cookin them up? Is it like a mushroom thing where when gathering in the “wild” some are great…..but others will KILL you??

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Kris May 4, 2012 at 5:27 pm

That is so random! I never would have expected cactus at a grocery store in BC! If you ever give it a try, you should make these fries. The coconut flour eliminates all the sliminess. The texture is more like fried green beans or Jalapeno poppers without the cheese.

You know, I’ve wondered the same thing! There are cacti that look just like nopales that grown wild on the side of the freeways here in Texas. I’ll do some research and let you know. If that’s the case I’ll be picking them on the side of I-30. lol

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LorrieB May 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Thanks for that. I’d be interested to know. Then again….if they were ……wouldn’t EVERYBODY be picking them?? Just a thought.

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Kris May 11, 2012 at 9:06 am

This is true…

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abby May 4, 2012 at 10:36 pm

My 7 year old saw cactus at the grocery store last week and asked if we could try it. I think I’ll pick some up next week and give this recipe a try!

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Kris May 7, 2012 at 10:25 am

Looks like you have a future foodie on your hands Abby! What an adventurous little 7 year old! I love it! Hope y’all enjoy em!

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Stephanie May 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm

That is so cool that you can eat cactus. I love that there are still new foods out there for me to try.

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Kris May 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm

That’s how I felt when I first tried it. I love finding new foods to eat!

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