Prickly Pear Drink / Agua de Tuna

Prickly pear9c
These past few weeks I’ve found myself making Aguas Frescas (Mexican Fresh Fruit Drinks) a lot more often, a sign that summer has arrived. The possibilities for making Aguas Frescas are endless, especially if you live in a big multicultural city like we do. The international and ethnic markets here are overflowing with all sorts of tropical fruits. I know that it’s not the case with everyone, but here  even at the flea market you can find vendors with wooden crates full of fruit, and to my surprise they also sell prickly pears. While I was picking the fruit, a woman approached me and asked me how we eat them.
I told her that the easiest way to eat them is to just peel them and eat them as you would an apple or banana, but I was buying them to make a prickly pear drink. The recipe is really easy, and she was amazed when I gave her the instructions to make it herself.
tunas foto
Mexico is not the only country were prickly pears grow, but we do have a large share of them growing all over the central states of Mexico. They are sold at markets and as street food, peeled and ready to eat as a snack. The peel has some fine needles, and the pulp is juicy and sweet with lots of seeds (that are edible). The green prickly pear that grows in the central states of San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo, Puebla, and Estado de Mexico is more common that the red prickly pear. They come in many varieties and colors, some in different tones of yellow and some with less seeds, like the Queen Green Prickly Pear, which has more pulp than seeds. Prickly Pears are used to make different  types of drinks and even desserts. The seeds are used in some regions to make salsa, after they’ve been sun-dried.

Here is the recipe:

Renders about 8 cups

  • 6 Prickly Pears (tunas)
  • 6 cups of filtered water
  • 1/2 cup of sugar*
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • Adjust the sugar to your taste.
  • First of all, handle the prickly pears with care, since the tiny thorns sometimes are not easy to see. If you’re not familiar working with them, use gloves as a precaution.

prickly pear drink11. Rinse the prickly pears and dry them with a paper towel. With a sharp knife, cut both ends off and discard.

2. Make a slit along the side and, with your finger, pull the skin and peel. Proceed to peel the rest of the prickly pears.

3. Place the peeled prickly pears in your blender with 2 cups of the filtered water.

Prickly pear drink2
4. Puree for a few seconds, the fruit pulp is so soft that it doesn’t need a long time to puree. The seeds will remain intact.

5. Pour the mixture onto a pitcher using a strainer. Discard the seeds. Add sugar, ice cubes, and the rest of the filtered water to the pitcher and mix. Add more sugar if needed, according to your taste.

¡Buen provecho!


  1. I have never had or seen a prickly pear would love to taste one. have a nice week end

  2. This looks refreshing, delicious and I am sure very healthy. Blessings dear. Catherine

  3. I like! It looks very refra what a great color.

  4. I must say I that I had never tried this agua de tuna before. I did it yesterday and I LOVED it! Its so refreshing! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I am so making this awesome drink!! My neighbor has a LARGE cactus that overflows to my garage so I guess I will be picking some later and making this refreshing drink. Thanks for taking the time and sharing all of your amazing authentic Mexican recipes. Love your blog!! I always look forward to your new entries. Thanks.

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  7. This is very delicious. We made this and your flour tortillas with our fajitas tonight and it was a huge success. Also played around with the recipe and added lime which was also delicious. Thank you very much.

    1. Hello Andy,

      Thank you for telling me about the addition of lime. I will do that too next time.


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