Licuado de Nopal (Cactus Smoothie)

Over Christmas I met a new friend Ania at a posada and we were talking nopales. I know, weird party conversation right, nonetheless it happened. She was telling me about a licuado de nopal that she drinks every morning. Her skin is radiant and she is super thin even after having had twins, so of course I have started drinking this new drink as a healthy resolution for 2011.

My hubby and I have been drinking this juice every morning for one week now. I’m amazed that he wanted to try this with me. I have not lost any weight, but I do feel less bloated; sorry, that might be TMI. I wanted to give some type of testimonial and that’s all I got. I have a feeling once I stop snacking in the evening on fresh salsa and tortilla chips that I might lose weight. I’ll report again in one more week after I try harder with the rest of my “diet”. ~ Yvette

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Licuado de Nopal (Cactus Smoothie)

Yield: 2 drinks


½ cup nopal (cactus pads cleaned, spines removed), julienned

1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 lime, juiced

1 cup water

Crushed ice (optional)


Store julienned nopal in snack bags in the freezer. To make one smoothie use only half the bag of nopal.

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend. If you want it to be less chunky then blend longer and or add more water.

Drink this smoothie every morning before you eat anything else. This juice is rich in fiber, helps speed up your metabolism, and helps eliminate grease and toxins.

This cactus smoothie is choc-full of antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and B, cleanses the liver and colon and provides an uber-rich source of fiber and hydration.

The nopal cactus is a plant native to the mountains of Mexico. It has been used since ancient times as both a food and for its medicinal and health benefits. Read about the incredible health benefits here.

This smoothie is supposed to be great for overeating and hangovers too!

For best results, drink this juice for seven days straight.

Super delicioso, jaja mentiras!

Cheers to a healthy year! Salud!

Photography by Jeanine Thurston

Pssst…don’t forget to order the 2011 Muy Bueno Calendar here.

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74 Responses to “Licuado de Nopal (Cactus Smoothie)”

  1. 1
    sweetlife — January 8, 2011 @ 3:14 am

    I need to begin drinking this NOW!! lol, yes the tortilla and salsa are addicting, the color is amainz, thanks for not lying about the

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — January 8th, 2011 @ 9:30 am

      The taste is really not that bad. It tastes very fresh with the cucumber. I actually like it, but others might not like the fresh pulp texture ;)

  2. 2
    Angie — January 8, 2011 @ 8:58 am

    Ok, this is a stupid question but please don’t laugh :-) Do the thorns in the cactus dissapear when you blend it to make tthe smoothie?

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — January 8th, 2011 @ 9:27 am

      Angie: Not a dumb question at all. Buy the pads from the store with thorns off, then you want to be sure to remove any little thorns/spines left over by running the knife up and down the pad or rubbing them off with a kitchen sponge. They even sell fresh nopales sometimes pre-cut, but do not buy the ones that are in a jar.

  3. 3
    Joyce — January 8, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

    I was just going to ask 2 questions and noticed they were already answered. Thanks.
    OK for better skin and a few pounds, I’m willing to give it a try. Did I read it correctly, you said it doesn’t taste bad- do you pinky swear?! Smile…
    I’m not sure if our local store carries them, but we do have a mexican store in town. I will give this a try- I have never tried cactus before.
    Just curious besides the smoothie, does one eat them as carrots with skin and all?

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — January 8th, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

      Joyce: I totally pinky swear!!! I have grown to actually like them. I love fresh juices and love wheatgrass and stuff like that. So if you are not into fresh earthy tastes then you might not like it. And yes, skin and all ;)

  4. 4
    Jessica — January 8, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

    I’ve never eaten or drunk cactus before! I wonder if I can get it in Paris?

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — January 9th, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

      Jessica: I’ve never been to Paris (sigh). Let me know if you find it — so curious ;)

  5. 5
    Livin' in the Kitchen — January 8, 2011 @ 10:32 pm

    This is a really cool concept. It just seems so fresh and natural! I’ve been attempting to eat healthier, but as you could probably see from my blog I’m not exactly succeeding yet..
    Jess : )

  6. 6 — January 9, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

    I have a shake that I drink almost every morning with lots of “good for you” stuff in it that tastes amazing ( I might try adding the cactus to it. Thanks for the great info!

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — January 9th, 2011 @ 6:58 pm

      Sounds yummy!!! My hubby is a fan of smoothies and loves drinking fruit ones. I’m more of a warm breakfast kinda girl in the winter so this has been challenging for me ;)

  7. 7
    Lacey @ dishfolio — January 9, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

    Wow. Your food looks just amazing. What a creative drink! We’d love to see your stuff posted at!

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — January 10th, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

      Hi Lacy: Thanks for the compliment! We will definitely look into Gracias!

  8. 8
    Mary Ellen — January 10, 2011 @ 9:56 am

    I am going to add this smoothie as a mixer for tequila. I live in Tijuana where any imported spirits including wine are expensive so tequila is the drink of choice.
    I’ve already used cucumber (pepino) as a mixer drink with tequila so this will be perfect! Adding 1/3 of a jalapeno will give it a kick!

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — January 10th, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

      Mary Ellen: Tequila makes everything yummier! We’d love to hear how your mixer turns out! Feel free to share a photo of it on our Facebook page! My mouth is watering now!!!

  9. 9
    Mary Ellen — January 10, 2011 @ 9:58 am

    Also…the reason most diets fail is because people do not strictly follow the guidelines and deviate from them. And eating at night is a NO NO. Stop eating at night and you will see a weight loss. Unfortunately this is a Western syndrome which is why obesity is so epidemic.

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — January 10th, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

      Mary Ellen: You are preaching to the choir! I know its naughty, and am determined to try harder. Wish me luck!

  10. 10
    Cooking in Mexico — January 10, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

    This looks so refreshing — I am making it in the morning. I could do with something that will add radiance to my skin. But you don’t think it increases one’s chances of having twins, do you?? :)

    By the way, your nopal pads are so much larger than what I can find here in the grocery stores — just small, tender ones. They are very good, but don’t make great “plates”.


    • muybuenocookbook replied: — January 10th, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

      Kathleen: LOL! Twins?! Hmmm, not that I know of! But if that happens be sure to tell us. Hey, maybe this is what the celebrities drink in Hollywood with the epidemic of multiples ;)

      Interesting about the size of nopales?! I remember my grama’s thorny cactus bush in the backyard being HUGE — Must be a U.S. thing ;)

  11. 11
    muybuenocookbook — January 10, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

    Hola Muy Bueno fans: I just wanted to share this GREAT video by Zarela Martinez and her son Aarón Sánchez. Removing Thorns from Nopales (cactus paddles) and Chayotes (Mirliton):

  12. 12
    Ana Flores — January 10, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

    I am a nopalera, but I´ve never done the juice myself. I might give this a try next week!
    The five years I lived in Mexico I was a vegetarian (*gasp* I know) so I ate a LOT of nopales–in salads, smothered in cheese, grilled, etc, etc. I still love it.

    Yvette, does the smoothie come out gooey at all? I wonder because it has a sap it releases when you cut it.

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — January 10th, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

      Hola nopalera (LOL)! I was afraid of the same thing. Actually there is NOT any gooey stuff ;) Its very fresh and yummy — Let me know if you try it.

  13. 13
    Nopalea — January 12, 2011 @ 11:28 am

    Beautiful. And delicious, I’m sure. Just another use for this wonder cactus. Nopalea (made from the prickly pear cactus) is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is said that inflammation is the root cause of many diseases and chronic discomforts. It is also believed that Nopalea juice is chock full of antioxidants and a property called betalains which contains many of the B vitamins and minerals.

  14. Pingback: Nopal licuado — cactus in a glass « Cooking in Mexico

  15. 14
    sweetlife — January 18, 2011 @ 9:42 am

    Stopping by again from Kathleen’s (cooking in mexico)to let you know I tried this juice, love it!! my girls have enjoyed it also. I am going to try using the juice tommorrow..thanks


  16. 15
    Nopalea Ingredients — February 3, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

    Dr. Oz recently named the Prickly Pear Cactus as one of the seven wonders of the world. Nopalea (made from the prickly pear cactus) is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is said that inflammation is the root cause of many diseases and chronic discomforts. It is also believed that Nopalea juice is chock full of antioxidants and a property called betalains which contains many of the B vitamins and minerals.

  17. 16
    Nopalea Reviews — February 7, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

    I love the idea of mixing it with cucumber. Perfect and refreshing and best of all — good for you!

  18. 17
    housewifingaround — February 19, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

    Wonderful. I’m glad this secret is coming out. I have a friend who’s liver was saved from shutting down and needing a transplant because a Peruan friend made her drink it every day. Now, I find myself ill and I’ve started taking it everyday.
    I’ll be writing about it on my site too if you’d like to stay tuned. Your blog is great by the way and I’m glad you shared this!

  19. 18
    housewifingaround — February 24, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

    Just thought I’d share that I linked my readers to this recipe, and by extension your blog. I’ve been taking the Nopal and benefits are becoming obvious.

    This is the link where I try and share with little masses of girls who need to detox for clear skin.

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — February 26th, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

      Thanks for sharing — This recipe has been wonderful! I’m happy to report my hubby and I LOVE it!

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  22. 19
    Linda — September 8, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

    I spend my winters in Chile and everyone there eats Tunas, is that the same as the Nopal. If so I know what I am going to be eating a lot of this winter.

  23. 20
    Ella Sharpe — October 21, 2011 @ 1:35 am

    no comment, I just now heard of it and am wondering where to get the nopal castus

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — October 21st, 2011 @ 11:13 am

      Hi Ella,
      Cactus paddles can be tricky to find. I have had the best of luck finding them at Latin grocery stores in the produce section. Best of luck!

  24. 21
    alfredo — November 7, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

    Try it with pineapple, so very delicious.

  25. 22

    My suegra makes this licuado ALL the time! Sometimes she adds pineapple and sometimes she adds other stuff. I don’t remember what exactly, but I’ll ask her. Doctors here recommend drinking this licuado de nopal to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. So just know that you really are on your way to a healthy 2012! :)

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — January 3rd, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

      Leslie: I usually add either orange juice or pineapple juice — Its so refreshing and very filling. Salud! To a healthy New Year!

  26. 23
    Carmen Morales — January 27, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

    Is this licuado de nopal once a day?

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — January 29th, 2012 @ 8:30 pm

      Hola Carmen: Yes, once-a-day. I usually drink it for breakfast. I also add either orange juice or pineapple juice too.

  27. 24
    Christian — February 15, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

    what camera did you use? the pictures came out awesome!!! This is also the best drink ever!

  28. 25
    canceriana — February 22, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

    wow i” like much.favorite diner grill,not grase eat natural yummy .olso make juice good recipe

  29. 26

    This is an awesome, very healthy smoothie.

    I make mine with Aloe Vera juice instead of water and I add a small piece of Serrano for a little kick. I have even, on occasion added 1/4 of avocado for a creamier texture.

    Love it!

  30. 27
    Nopalea juice — May 3, 2012 @ 9:19 am

    Nice pictures! And the drink is definitely healthy with lots of benefits.

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  32. 28
    chino lopez — June 14, 2012 @ 12:04 am

    I’ve been drinking this shake for 1yr now every morning but the ingredients I use is aloe vera fresh from the plant carrots I squeeze a grapefruit .salary and 100% orange juice .. and of course nopales and I’ve lost 70 pounds but I also workout almost every day but I feel great and I recommend this shake =)

    • Muy Bueno replied: — June 14th, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

      Wow Chino!!! Congrats on your weight loss – that’s incredible! Thanks for sharing your recipe! I will be sure to try it with aloe. YUM!!!

  33. 29
    Mayra — June 22, 2012 @ 1:20 am

    Oh my gosh my mom is doing similar to your licuado. She doesn’t add cucumbers or lime juice. Instead my mom adds fresh squeeze grapefruit juice, fresh squeeze orange juice, pineapple, spanish, parsley, and cactus. I recent told her to add beets because I’m going to be donating blood. This is so good.

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  35. 30
    Amber — August 2, 2012 @ 10:07 am

    This looks fantastic! I cannot wait to try a sweet recipe using cactus. Adding cucumber is a lovely idea. Thanks for a great recipe!

  36. 31
    Donna — August 14, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

    So, it’s true that it will lower blood sugar levels?

  37. 32
    Carmen Morales — August 31, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

    I just had to share!
    My husband is diabetic! THIS SMOOTHIE has help him control his blood suger!!!
    In February My cholestrol was 273, last week 217 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Muy Bueno replied: — September 1st, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

      WOW Carmen! Thank you soooo much for sharing! GREAT idea about the Flax seed. Sometimes I add Chia Seeds to mine. I’m so happy to hear the results of you and your husbands improved health. Keep up the great work. Many blessings to the both of you for a healthy life.

  38. 33
    Nopalea Reviews — September 7, 2012 @ 8:08 am

    The tortilla and salsa are addicting i am making it in the morning. It is also believed that Nopalea juice is chock full of antioxidants and a property called betalains which contains many of the B vitamins and minerals.

  39. 34
    Jennifer — November 9, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

    I’m near Chicago. Any chance I could get my hands on this cactus?

    • Muy Bueno replied: — November 29th, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

      Sorry for the delay Jennifer. I know there are quite a few Latin markets in Chicago. Have you tried La Casa Del Pueblo, Cermak Produce, or Maxwell Street Market? Best of luck!

  40. 35
    angel kinsella — January 27, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

    Hi! I tried making this liquado before and it came out with a lot of baba. That was really gross for me! Any sugestions on removing all that baba?

    • Muy Bueno replied: — January 30th, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

      That has happened to me before too. I prefer to freeze julienned/chopped nopales and then throw them in the blender when frozen vs. at room temperature. You might want to try that if you have not already. Good luck!

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  42. 36
    EstherMurphy — March 26, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

    Just discovered your sight. Am so interested in trying this tomorrow! Can you drink it everyday forever or should you take a break? I’m Irishican(ha!ha!), my husband is Irish but I am Mexican and grew up with nopales. Gonna really try for this to reach my husband’s Irish lips!! Wish me luck…

    • Muy Bueno replied: — May 17th, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

      Too funny Esther! I know of many people who drink this daily. It should be perfectly healthy. What did your hubby have to say about it?

      Best wishes!

  43. 37
    karen — April 25, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

    Hello there :) so mi kon just got a huge bix fulled if nopales and we have been rrying to to some smothies and this recipe sounds perfect. But i had a question i saw that you mix it with pineapple juice or orange juice. My question was do you use fresh pineapples and oranges or do you just use the bottled juices ?

    • Muy Bueno replied: — May 17th, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

      Sorry for the late reply Karen — I have used both fresh and bottled juices. It’s whatever you prefer. I’ve done it with water only too. Feel free to experiment.

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  45. 38
    esther murphy — May 17, 2013 @ 11:03 pm

    Thanks for the reply. I love the nopal smoothie. It’s filling as well. What is the difference if I drink it before or after breakfast? Tried to get hubby to try it but it’s the same response as with menudo…..NO BUENO!

    I really love your sight. My mother just turned 98 last week and your recipes remind me of how she would cook for us. Especially the frijoles del la olla coming out “bonitos.” For her birthday I made your capirotada for her and I got the seal of approval…..I was so happy. It seemed to last only seconds!

    Thank you again!

    • Muy Bueno replied: — May 21st, 2013 @ 9:50 pm


      If I drink this smoothie, then that is my breakfast ;)

      Happy belated birthday to your mom! WOW, 98! That’s wonderful. We are honored that you made our capirotada for her special day.

      Thank you!

  46. 39
    Franklin Vansteenburg — June 7, 2013 @ 3:52 am

    Aloe vera is a succulent plant species that probably native plant originated in northern Africa. The species does not have any naturally occurring populations, although closely related aloes do occur in northern Africa.

  47. 40
    Gerardo Godinez — January 26, 2014 @ 10:38 am

    What you said is very true that it is rich in fiber… I tried it and the results were real. I lost fat and everyone at work were telling how I did it. I stopped drinking sodas, and eating fast food because I was feeling full and not hungry at all. The
    problem is that I lended my magazine and never got it back. I was cooking with
    nopales and drinking nopal juice at the time.

  48. 41
    Lorrie — June 11, 2014 @ 7:09 am

    Sounds like an interesting way to use nopal. I had heard it was great to eat for diabetics.

  49. 42
    Claudia Aparicio — July 18, 2014 @ 5:34 pm

    Is it okay if I add pineapple? aveces yo le hecho pero no se si es saludable

    • Muy Bueno replied: — July 20th, 2014 @ 9:12 am

      Absolutely! I love it with fresh pineapple.

  50. 43
    Judy — August 12, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

    Is this good for weight loss? I’ve heard people drink it before each meal would you recommend it?
    Thanks :)

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