Chicken with tender cactus in guajillo sauce (Pollo con nopales en salsa de guajillo)

Cactus are a staple in Mexican cuisine, they are delicious grilled with cheese, as the main ingredient in salads or the perfect companion for all sorts of meats. Uncooked cactus is also added to smoothies as they are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

In Canada it’s difficult to find fresh cactus, as it’s an endemic plant of Mexico and other Latin American countries. Some supermarkets with a Latin aisle carry tender cactus fully cooked in can or glass jar.


For the chicken with cactus:

  • 2 lbs. uncooked chicken (thighs or boneless breast) or shredded rotisserie chicken meat
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. of salt
  • 1 jar of tender cactus

For the guajillo sauce:

  • 5 dry guajillo peppers (remove seeds and veins for a mild flavour)
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 small tomatoes, cut in large chunks
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil


Guajillo peppers sauce:

In a small sauce pan put all dry guajillo peppers and cover with water, cook until peppers are tender.

In another pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, tomatoes, onions and garlic. Cook for 10 approximately minutes,; the tomatoes will release some of their juice.

Blend all ingredients. Return them to the pan and cook for another 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large pot cover the chicken with water and add 1 tablespoon of salt, cook until tender. Let the chicken cool then drain the water and shred.

Using the same large pot add 2 tbsp. of olive oil and fry the onion until caramelized. Add the chicken and tender cactus; fry for 5 more minutes.

Incorporate the sauce and simmer for approximately 10 more minutes. Enjoy with rice and refried beans.

Author: F. Guerra

Foodie, amateur cook/baker & a spicy food lover with a sweet tooth.