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Survival Class – Preparing and Eating Cactus

The K-6th grade students got a chance to learn how to prepare and cook wild cactus.   This variety of prickly pear cactus grows abundantly in the dry tropical forests and coastlines of Guanacaste, Costa Rica.  They are also known as “nopalesOpuntia” and “paddle cactus”. While there are many different ways to prepare them, we focused on the two simplest way to cook in the wild: roasting and boiling.  We cheated a bit with the roasted ones and used a special recipe so the kids would enjoy eating them.

See the gallery and recipe below to learn how to cook up your own Nopales.  They’re a great camping food!

So, if you’re ever stuck somewhere and hungry in Central America, here’s one more thing to add to your survival toolbox.

Grilled Cactus Recipe

First cut the spines and their bases off using a knife.  You can also burn the spines off, but I still suggest cutting off the bases due to their course texture.

Brush with Olive oil

Grill both sides until crispy

Cut into strips

Sprinkle lime juice and sea salt to taste


You can also boil them and serve them cold or use them as a salad ingredient.

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2 responses to “Survival Class – Preparing and Eating Cactus”

  1. Nick Schmidt says:

    Oh yea.. That is the good stuff!1 Reminds me of the times in Costa Rica.

    So did they kids like it?