When life gives you cactus fruit, make prickly pear margaritas. This Southwestern cocktail’s stunning pink color will surely turn heads – and yes, your drink will be that vibrant of color! I can’t wait for you to whip up this super easy, 5 ingredient prickly pear margarita recipe!
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In the Southwest, from July to September, prickly pears are everywhere! For the last two summer seasons I’ve been out with my tongs, foraging prickly pears and making some awesome margaritas. Over time, I’ve perfected my prickly pear margarita recipe and I can’t wait to share this Arizona girl’s favorite end-of-summer cocktail!
This prickly pear margarita recipe can’t get any easier! You’ll find more detailed instructions in the recipe card below but essentially you just mix lime juice, agave, and prickly pear pulp, then strain over ice, top with tequila and sparkling water. Optional margarita additions include a sugar cayenne rim and lime slice garnish.
From start to finish, this recipe takes about 20 minutes to prepare if using fresh prickly pears and even less time if using a pre-made prickly pear syrup. This prickly pear margarita recipe was purposefully designed to have the vibrant, bold colors on the bottom and transparent ingredients on top, which form a really pretty eye-catching ombre.
While this prickly pear margarita recipe is best when using fresh prickly pears, I know not everyone can go out and harvest them whenever they want. Below, I have a few harvesting tips and recipe variations to help with whatever prickly pear situation you’re in!
Tips for Using Fresh Prickly Pears
How to Harvest Fresh Prickly Pears
- First, make sure you are not harvesting on Federal or State land as cacti are protected under law. The best prickly pears to harvest are either on your property or someone has given you permission to harvest on their property.
- Don’t grab prickly pears with your hand, always use tongs when harvesting! Prickly pears can have tiny, invisible thorns that you won’t feel on your hands until hours later. I recommend using these metal tongs, as rubber tongs can get the prickly pear thorns stuck in them.
- Look for prickly pears that have a vibrant color all around and are completely intact. With your tongs, gently grab the prickly pear and give a quarter twist while pulling upward. If the prickly pear is ripe, it will easily come loose.
- When harvesting, place the prickly pears in a disposable plastic or paper bag, or metal basket as the thorns can get stuck in cloth bags.
Prepping Your Fresh Prickly Pears
- When you get home, carefully rinse the prickly pears. Rinsing the prickly pears can remove most of the small invisible outside thorns. If not using right away, place them in a loosely tied plastic bag and store in the refrigerator.
- To prepare the prickly pear pulp, use metal tongs to hold the prickly pear in place while making one center cut from the top to the bottom (hot dog style, not hamburger). Using a spoon, scoop out all the seeds and meat, then discard the skin. Using a fork, mash the pulp until it resembles a chunky puree.
- In the off chance there are any small thorns in the prickly pear pulp, straining in the step below will help catch any potential stragglers.
- For this prickly pear margarita recipe, you’ll then mix the prickly pear pulp with the lime juice and agave, then strain the margarita mix, giving it a smooth texture.
Don’t Have Fresh Prickly Pears on Hand?
For this margarita recipe, the prickly pears contribute mostly color not flavor. If you aren’t able to get your hands on some fresh prickly pears, look for a pre-made prickly pear syrup like this one. Pre-made prickly pear syrups are already sweetened, so adjust your agave accordingly.
If you really want to use fresh prickly pears but can’t find them at your grocery stores, you can order some online here!
Make Ahead & Storage Instructions:
- You can prepare this recipe all the way up to end of step 2 on the recipe card below.
- Store the margarita mix in an air tight container in the refrigerator for no more than 3 days. Before serving, give the mix a good stir.
- If properly sealed in a proper container, the pink prickly pear color will stay vibrant.
- This prickly pear margarita mix will last up to three months in the freezer. Before freezing, try to get as much air out of the bag as possible and always label and date your container.
- I recommend freezing your prickly pear margarita mix without the tequila.
- Agave doesn’t solidify when frozen, so if your frozen prickly pear margarita mix looks more like a slushy, that’s totally normal! To defrost, just leave out of the counter for a few minutes and the frozen mix will quickly melt.
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Alternative to using fresh prickly pears: Prickly pear syrup
NOTE: If swapping fresh prickly pears for a pre-made syrup, adjust the agave sweetness accordingly. Also, the overall serving sizes will be a little different than if you were using fresh prickly pears.
If you made this prickly pear margarita recipe, let me know in the comments section below or tag me on Instagram @mymillennialkitchen. I’d love to see your pretty pink drink pictures, comments, or recipe questions!Print
Prickly Pear Margarita
This easy prickly pear margarita recipe has only 5 ingredients and is full of flavor! The freshly squeezed lime juice, splash of tequila, and sweet agave nectar all come together in the most vibrant pink prickly pear margarita.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 drinks, 6-8 ounces each 1x
- Category: Cocktails
- Method: Mixing
- Cuisine: Southwestern
2 medium prickly pears
2/3 cup lime juice (about 4 medium limes)
1/2 a cup light agave nectar
6 ounces of tequila
1 1/2 cup ice cubes
1 bottle sparkling water (16 ounces)
1/5 cup sugar
pinch of cayenne
Additional limes for garnish
- Prepare prickly pears by slicing each in half, scoop out the prickly pear meat and seeds, and discard the skin. Using a fork, mash the pulp and seeds into a semi-puree consistency.
- In a medium bowl or glass, mix together the lime juice, agave, and prickly pear puree until well combined. Strain with a fine mesh sieve into a pitcher.
- Pour 1/4 of a cup of the prickly pear margarita mix into a 6 – 8oz glass over ice. Add 1.5 ounces of tequila, then top with sparkling water.
- Cayenne Sugar Rim – Before pouring your cocktail in step 3, mix the sugar and cayenne together then spread evenly onto a plate. Rub each empty glass rim with a lime wedge, then invert the glass and dip the glass rim into the cayenne sugar.
- Garnish glass with lime wedge.
- Using foraged prickly pears: Always handle foraged prickly pears with metal tongs when picking, halving, and scooping out the pulp. Prickly pears can have translucent quills that are extremely painful.
- Substituting with prickly pear syrup: For this recipe, fresh prickly pears are best but you can substitute for a pre-made prickly pear syrup. Pre-made syrups already have sugar added, so adjust the agave nectar accordingly. Also, be aware that using a prickly pear syrup for this recipe could change the total amount you’ll be able to serve.
- String before serving: You can stir the margarita before serving but just know that you will loose the pink ombre. I personally don’t stir my drink and I’m able to taste all the flavors in one sip.
- Make ahead: This prickly pear margarita can be made ahead up to the end of step 2, then sealed and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
- Freezing: This prickly pear margarita can be prepared until the end of step 2, the frozen in a sealed bag for up to 3 months. Try to remove as much air out of the bag as possible and always label and date before freezing. When frozen, the margarita mix will be a slushy consistency. To thaw, leave out at room temperature and it will rapidly melt within minutes.
- Serving Size: 8 ounces
- Calories: 305
- Sugar: 31 g
- Sodium: 6 mg
- Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 42 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 1 g
Keywords: prickly pear margarita
This recipe post has been updated from the original August 2017 recipe. The recipe ingredients are the same but the instructions, recipe notes, most images, video, and post structure was updated in October of 2019.