Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Tortas de Papa con Nopales (Potato Cakes with Cactus)

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 2 hours
Servings: 6 potato cakes
These yummy potato cakes with nopales can be enjoyed as is or as a potato-veggie burger.

There are a few dishes that my mom would prepare during Lent and one of my favorites were these little tortas de papa or potato cakes. Hers were simply potatoes combined with some dried shrimp powder and fried until crispy. For this potato cake recipe, I left out the shrimp powder and added sauteed peppers, onions, cilantro and tender nopalitos (cactus). In a pinch, you could make a great potato-veggie burger dressed with fresh lettuce, tomato and avocado! To garnish the cakes, I included a fresh guacamole recipe that also includes nopalitos as one of the ingredients. As we get closer to Easter, I will prepare my mom’s version of tortas de papa for our special Easter dinner.


Keeping all the air out of guacamole is the key to a fresh, bright green guacamole!


*If you prefer to leave out the nopales (cactus), replace it with 1 cup of roasted red peppers, caramelized mushrooms or finely chopped shrimp (cooked)…


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  1. Combine all of the ingredients to make the guacamole in a bowl. Stir well to combine, taste for salt and cover with plastic wrap, pressing down to keep all the air out. This will keep the guacamole from turning brown. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
  2. Add the potatoes to a medium pot, and cover with water. Add 1½ teaspoons of salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until potatoes are fork tender.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, in a skillet, preheat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium/low heat for 2 minutes. Add butter, onion, poblano and garlic. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. Once potatoes are tender, drain water, add back into pot and mash until there are no lumps. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool.
  5. Once cooled, add the onion mixture to mashed potatoes. Add all of the remaining ingredients, stir well to combine, taste for salt. Make 6 potato cakes; it will be sticky, so keep a little flour in a bowl to dust onto hands. Transfer to plate lined with wax paper. Cover loosely with more wax paper and chill for 1 hour.
  6. In a large skillet, heat 1/3 to 1/2 cup of olive oil to medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Cook the potato cakes for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until golden brown. Try not to move them too much or they will fall apart.
  7. If using fresh nopales, after dicing them, blanch them in some salted boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and rinse well before adding to recipe. If using nopales out of a jar, rinse well under cold water.
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