Jackfruit & Nopales Sandwich

This is a variation on a sandwich a local restaurant serves here in Phoenix and one of my students asked me to do a version of it, so now I am sharing it with you. It’s an easy to make sandwich and if you’re worried about working with cactus paddles (aka nopales,) don’t worry. There’s an easy substitute for them. I particularly love this sandwich because it’s big on flavor and it’s super satisfying. 


Time to Make: 20 minutes
Makes 4 sandwiches


1 large cactus paddle, trimmed (or 1 cup of meatless strips)
2 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 1/2 cups of rinsed jackfruit
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons of chile powder
¾ teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of Mexican oregano
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lime
4 ciabatta rolls
Smashed avocado or vegan mayo
1/2 cup of refried black beans
Baby arugula


To trim the cactus, hold the cactus with a pair of tongs and use the back of your knife to scrape off the thorns. Trim away the rim of the cactus paddle. Cut the cactus into strips.

“I was nervous the first time I worked with cactus paddles. The thorns intimidated me, but after a few times spent trimming them, I realized how easy they where to handle.” 

Over medium high heat, saute the cactus strips or the meatless strips in the oil until they are lightly browned. Add the jackfruit and garlic and saute this for 1 more minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chile powder, cumin, oregano, salt, orange juice, and lime juice, and simmer this until most of the liquid has evaporated.

“This is basically an easy way to create a carnitas-like filling. The orange juice and chile powder are classic carnitas ingredients, which slowly simmer into the jackfruit. As the liquid evaporates, the residual oil in the pan will lightly fry the ingredients. It’s the perfect filling.” 

Toast the rolls. Spread avocado or mayo on the top bun and about 2 tablespoons of refried black beans on the bottom bun. Add the jackfruit and nopales, some baby arugula, and serve.

“The black beans are a way to give some depth to the sandwich, add in some extra protein, and make it super satisfying.”

Make It Low Fat

You can skip the frying part of the recipe, omit the oil, and simmer all the other filling ingredients together. Just make sure to cook the slimy part out of the cactus strips. As soon as the sliminess goes away, your filling is done.


Cutting Board
Measuring Cup
Measuring Spoon
Stirring Spoon