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Nopalitos en Salsa de Chile Ancho(Cactus in Salsa)

I will always say that it's the simple dishes that remind us of home that are the most delicious! Because of a recent conversation with my brother, I was reminded of this simple, yet delicious dish of nopalitos that my Mom prepaed during lent. 
Course Meatless, Nopales
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 Servings


  • 6-8 chile ancho depending on size of chile, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 2 serrano peppers stems removed
  • 1/3 white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Water
  • 3-4 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds nopalitos previously cooked and diced
  • Cilantro for garnish



  • To a sauce pan, add the chile ancho, tomato, serrano, onion and garlic. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. Let cool on stove top for 20 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon or tongs, add the chile ancho, serranos, garlic and onion to the blender. Transfer the tomatoes to a plate and remove the skins as best you can. Add them to the blender, along with bouillon, oregano, cumin and 3 cups of water. Blend on high until very smooth. Taste for salt and pepper.
  • In a large skillet, heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil to medium heat. After a few minutes when oil is hot add the ancho sauce. Reduce heat and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more water. Taste for salt. Add the cooked nopalitos and continue cooking for 5-6 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving. 


To cook freshly diced nopales, simply place them in a sauce pan with a little salt, fresh onion, garlic clove and chile serrano. I learned this no water method from my friend and fellow food blogger Leslie @lacocinadeleslie! Heat the covered saucepan to medium/low heat. The nopales will release their own liquid after a few minutes. Cook, stirring now and then, until most of the liquid has evaporated. 
If you prefer, you can use chile guajillo or chile california for the recipe. Just know that they can typically a little smaller than the ancho. They don't render as much pulp either. So bump up the quantity. Instead of 6-8 ancho, use 8 large or 12 small,