Texas Tech University

Desert Survival Guide: How to Pickle Cactus

July 22, 2022

If you’re feeling parched or hungry, Texas Tech’s Executive Chef Dewey McMurrey has just the recipe for you.

It all began on a blisteringly hot Tuesday afternoon in the desert. Starving for a brand, the communications and marketing team at Texas Tech set off to find the perfect sustenance. 

Bewildered and without identity, they stumbled upon an oasis and a mystical being named Chef Dewey. He took one look at the weary travelers and exclaimed “Let them eat cactus!”

With the help of Chef Dewey, we have found the perfect balance of salty and sour in these pickled cactus bites. So, if you ever find yourself brandless in the desert, feeling as crusty as a horned frog, here are a few simple ingredients you'll need to survive:

Recipe 1
Recipe 2


  • 1 pound prickly pear cactus (julienne)
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup rice vinegar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 clove (whole)
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns (roasted)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger (chopped)
  • 1 jalapeno (minced)
  • 1 shallot (chopped) 


Place the julienned prickly pears in a mixing bowl and set aside. Add the remaining ingredients to a pot with the water and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the liquid through a chinois over the prickly pears and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

These tasty treats are best served with tortillas and a Chilton.

Remember, it's better to be sour than bitter. Live, Laugh, Cactus.

Pickled Prickly Pear