Crispy baked strips of cactus, black bean corn salsa and creamy avocado sauce create the most delicious, vegetarian Cactus Tacos! Known as Nopales Tacos in Spanish, this unique taco recipe is sure to impress your friends and family! They’re simple to make and easily made gluten free or vegan!

Tacos on plate filled with crispy cactus strips and salsa

One of my best ideas ever. Crispy Cactus Tacos.

If you’ve never cooked with cactus before, I recommend starting with this recipe. It’s easy, delicious and will make you fall in love with cactus!

This was actually the second recipe that I ever made with cactus. The first was nopale guacamole. I used it to top these Chipotle Cashew Chicken Tostadas and immediately fell in love with adding cactus to recipes!

Whenever I’m at a Mexican market in San Diego, I always pick up a couple jars of nopales to add to my pantry. But don’t worry, if you don’t have a Mexican market near you, jarred nopales are generally easy to find in the Hispanic section of most major grocery stores. And if all else fails, you can always order them online!

To create the delicious crispy cactus found on these tacos, I breaded them in a slightly spicy, flavorful mixture, then popped them right under the broiler to get them nice and crispy!

The combination of crisp cactus strips, with fresh corn and tomato salsa and creamy avocado is perfection!

Ingredients for crispy cactus tacos

What You’ll Need

  • Cactus, AKA Nopales or Nopalitos – found in a jar at Mexican grocers, in the Hispanic section of your local grocery store or online.
  • Eggs
  • Hot Sauce – pick your favorite, it can be spicy or mild. We love Pico Pica around our house, so that’s what we use in this recipe, it’s slightly smoky with a medium spice.
  • Taco Seasoning – I use my homemade seasoning, which you can find the recipe for at the link to the left, or you can purchase prepared taco seasoning at the grocery store.
  • Panko Breadcrumbs – I like the texture panko breadcrumbs gives the crispy cactus strips, but in a pinch, regular breadcrumbs can also be used.

Serving Options

For authentic, traditional nopales tacos, serve the tacos in warm corn tortillas. If your family loves flour tortillas, use those instead, or double up on the crunch with crispy taco shells!

You can even serve the crispy cactus strips on top of a taco salad, in a bowl or crispy tortilla shell! Simply toss chopped lettuce with your favorite Mexican style salad dressing, like this Chipotle copycat vinaigrette dressing.

Top the lettuce with crispy cactus, tomato corn salsa and creamy avocado sauce for an amazing taco salad recipe!

Topping Options

No matter how you serve the crispy cactus tacos, you’re going to want some delicious toppings to finish off the dish!

  • Black Bean Corn Relish – this fresh topping pairs perfectly with the crispy cactus! Follow the link to grab this easy recipe and try not to dip it all up with chips before it makes it’s way on to your tacos!
  • Creamy Avocado Sauce – combine avocados, lime juice and fresh cilantro in a blender to make this deliciously creamy & seriously easy sauce, perfect for topping your tacos!
  • Queso Fresco or Cotija Cheese – both of these salty, crumbly cheeses pair perfectly with these crispy cactus tacos!
  • Hot Sauce – want to spice up your tacos a notch, or two? Drizzle your favorite hot sauce right over the tacos!
Collage of images showing how to make crispy cactus strips

Step by Step Instructions

  • Pour the jar of cactus in a fine mesh strainer in the sink and drain off all of the liquid from the jar.
  • Transfer the cactus to a large cutting board and pat dry with paper towels.
  • In a shallow bowl, whisk the eggs and hot sauce together.
  • In another shallow bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs and taco seasoning.
  • Bread the cactus by first dipping it in the hot sauce and egg mixture, then dredging it through the seasoned breadcrumbs.
  • When coated in the breadcrumbs, place the cactus strips on an oiled wire rack on top of a baking sheet.
  • Once all of the cactus is breaded, turn the broiler on the oven to high.
  • Place the baking sheet of cactus in the middle rack of the oven for 7-10 minutes, or until the breading on the cactus is crispy.
    • Quick Tip! Keep an eye on the cactus while it’s under the broiler. Every oven broiler is different, so I recommend checking it every 30-60 seconds to make sure the cactus does not burn. Remove the cactus from the oven when it’s golden brown and crispy.
  • Once the cactus strips are crispy, it’s time to prepare your tacos!
  • Place the crispy strips on warmed corn or flour tortillas, in crispy shells or on a taco salad.
  • Top with the black bean corn salsa, a drizzle of avocado sauce and a sprinkling of cheese. If you’re feeling spicy, add a drizzle of hot sauce on top!
Hand holding taco

How To Make These Tacos Vegan

  • For the breading, instead of eggs, use a plant-based egg replacement, such as JUST Egg.
  • Omit the cheese as a topping on the tacos. The creamy avocado sauce and black bean corn relish are already vegan and provide plenty of delicious toppings for these tacos!

How To Make These Tacos Gluten Free

  • For the breading, use gluten free panko breadcrumbs or grind rice chex cereal into a fine crumb mixture in a food processor, to replace the breadcrumbs.
  • Serve the tacos in corn tortillas or in a taco salad, instead of flour tortillas.
  • Always double check the hot sauce used to make sure that it’s gluten free. All of the other toppings are naturally gluten-free!
Tacos on plate filled with crispy cactus strips and crumbled queso fresco

Looking for more delicious vegetarian taco ideas? Check out these popular recipes!

  1. Butternut Squash Tacos
  2. Crispy Baked Vegan Avocado Tacos
  3. Vegan Tacos with Grilled Veggies & Chimichurri
  4. Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos
  5. Apricot Dessert Tacos
Tacos on plate with crispy cactus strips, avocado sauce and tomato salsa
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Crispy Cactus Tacos

Crispy baked strips of cactus, black bean corn salsa and avocado cream sauce create the most delicious, vegetarian cactus tacos! Known as Nopales Tacos in Spanish, this unique taco recipe is sure to impress your friends and family!

Ingredients

Crispy Cactus Tacos

  • 30 ounce jar cactus strips
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 8 corn tortillas

Creamy Avocado Sauce

  • 2 avocados
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Toppings

  • 1 cup black bean corn relish, click link for recipe
  • ¼ cup queso fresco, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions

Crispy Baked Cactus Strips

  • Using a mesh strainer, drain the cactus from the jar, then place the cactus strips on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • In a shallow bowl, whisk the eggs and hot sauce together.
  • In another shallow bowl, combine the taco seasoning and panko breadcrumbs.
  • Bread the cactus by first dipping it in the hot sauce and egg mixture, then dredging it through the seasoned breadcrumbs.
  • Once coated in the breadcrumbs, place the cactus strips on an oiled wire rack on top of a baking sheet.
  • Once all of the cactus is breaded, turn the broiler on to high.
  • Place the baking sheet of cactus in the middle rack of the oven for 7-10 minutes, or until the breading on the cactus is crispy.

Creamy Avocado Sauce

  • Place avocados, lime juice and cilantro in a blender.
  • Blend until creamy.
  • If the sauce is too thick, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency.

Tacos

  • Prepare the tacos by warming the tortillas on the stove, in the oven or in the microwave.
  • Add 6-8 strips of crispy cactus to each tortilla.
  • Top with the black bean corn relish, a drizzle of creamy avocado sauce, crumbled queso fresco and fresh cilantro.

Notes

  • Always keep an eye on the cactus while it’s under the broiler. Oven broiler temperatures vary, so be sure you’re checking it every 30-60 seconds to make sure that it does not burn. The cactus is ready to come out of the oven when it’s golden brown and crispy.
  • To make this recipe gluten free, substitute the panko breadcrumbs with gluten free breadcrumbs or rice chex cereal ground in a food processor. Always make sure the hot sauce used is gluten free and serve the tacos in corn tortillas.
  • To make this recipe vegan, use use a plant-based egg replacement, such as JUST Egg, instead of the egg and omit the cheese topping.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 235kcal (12%)Carbohydrates 30g (10%)Protein 8g (16%)Fat 11g (17%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Cholesterol 44mg (15%)Sodium 432mg (18%)Potassium 671mg (19%)Fiber 9g (36%)Sugar 3g (3%)Vitamin A 744mg (15%)Vitamin C 23mg (28%)Calcium 247mg (25%)Iron 2mg (11%)
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