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Cactus Fruit | Prickly Pear Gum Drops

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Cactus Fruit make some pretty delicious Prickly Pear Gum Drops. A fun recipe to make, however keep in mind your climate and other factors when making these.  You may need more pectin than called for to get them to firm up if you’re in a humid climate.

When I lived in Arizona, we practically lived on candy made from Prickly Pear.

It was everywhere.

I didn’t have to make it, because it was readily available in every store within walking distance and beyond. I loved my time in Arizona for so many reasons, and I long to move back there some day.

It probably won’t happen. But a girl can dream.

And in the mean time, I made Prickly Pear Gum Drops.

Did you see these fun Prickly Pear Gum Drops made from Cactus Fruit?

In the meantime, I can at least give myself a little taste of Arizona via some homemade Prickly Pear Gum Drops.

Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit Gum Drops

I’ll be totally honest, I was not convinced this was going to work.

We make fruit gum drops all the time, but this is prickly pear fruit (cactus fruit) which for whatever reason, is just different than regular fruit and different to work with.

But guess what? It totally worked. It’s great!

Just a note: I am in Missouri. St. Louis to be exact, and both of our local chain grocery stores carry Cactus Fruit/Prickly Pear fruit.

It seems to be slightly seasonal appearing mostly in the spring/summer months.

It’s in a really small section by itself, but you might consider asking your produce manager if they ever get it in. It was super easy to find for me, but since then some are saying they can’t find it at all.

Update June 2013: I asked our local Schnucks produce manager about the cactus fruit and he said they get what they get.

They get a very small amount and sometimes it goes really fast, and other times it lasts for a bit.

Find out when your local store gets their shipments in and that might help. 

Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit Gum Drops

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Recipe for Cactus Fruit – Prickly Pear Gum Drops

Cactus Fruit | Prickly Pear Gum Drops
Fun and different candy made from Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit.
4.57 from 67 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Additional Time 1 d
Total Time 1 d 25 mins
Course Candy and Treats
Cuisine American
Servings 2 cups


  • ½ cup ripe prickly pear cactus fruit peeled, pureed and de-seeded
  • 1 ½ cups plain no sugar added applesauce
  • 3 teaspoons of powdered pectin I used Sure Jell
  • 2 ½ cups sugar divided
  • Sugar for dusting each gumdrop at the end


  • Spray an 8 x 8 glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Then set it aside.
  • In a large saucepan, combine the pureed and de-seeded prickly pear cactus fruit with the applesauce.
  • Whisk the pectin and a ½ cup sugar together in a small bowl. Once mixed well, add to the cactus fruit.
  • Clip a candy thermometer onto the side of your saucepan and bring your mixture to a boil.
  • Whisk in the remaining 2 cups of sugar.
  • Bring everything to a boil and stir constantly until your mixture reaches 225°. (this took me less than 5 minutes)
  • Remove from saucepan from the heat. (and shake your arm from all that stirring!)
  • Pour the hot mixture into your 8×8 prepared glass dish.
  • When slightly cool (about an hour), sprinkle sugar on top.
  • Allow to set several hours (this is going to vary depended on your weather, humidity outside/inside. I recommend letting them dry at least 12 hours. (Seems like 12+ is the magic number so plan ahead)
  • Once the candy is mostly set, enough to cut, cut your mixture into 1-inch squares, or use a mini cookie cutter sprayed with non-stick cooking spray to make hearts, flowers, whatever – though if you plan to use anything other than just a sharp knife, you might need to let them dry even longer, though they will dry better when cut.
  • Dredge in some sugar and allow to dry another 6+ hours or overnight on a piece of parchment paper. Store covered for up to two weeks.
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Thursday 29th of August 2019

I hope you still check this post. I have a lot of prickly pear concentrate juice. Can I use that for this recipe. It does not have any pureed fruit in it. Just juice. I would love to make these and add it to my Christmas baskets!

Kindest Regards

Letha, from Texas

Nicole Cook

Sunday 1st of September 2019

Hi Letha, My answer is that I am unsure. I have not tested this recipe using that method, so I don't know how it would turn out. However, I was able to locate a recipe that might work better for you. Good luck and I hope you enjoy your fruit jellies!


Sunday 4th of November 2018

I had not thought of trying a J store for nopal & tuna! I’ll give it a try. I live in S St Louis, and J stores are everywhere. However, last week I stopped at El Torito (Cherokee & California) and they had bins of tuna, both red & green, as well as nopal pads. I plan to also try Carnicería Latinoamericana, since they have a branch on Grand, much closer than Cherokee. My Dad used to talk about prickly pears and how cattle people would remove the thorns with fires so cattle could eat them safely; naturally my first impulse now is to flame them. The produce department does not clean them as well as Schnucks’s supplier; there were thorns loose in the produce bag when I got it home. The grocer provides tongs. Use them.


Wednesday 24th of October 2018

Can I put alcohol in them?

Nicole Cook

Monday 29th of October 2018

I suppose you could try, but I'd definitely assume the texture, drying time and other components would change quite a bit. If you do decide to try it, please let us know how they turn out. Good luck!

Janie W

Wednesday 21st of March 2018

I"m making this recipe for party favors, but prickly pear is out of season. I found some prickly pear puree on line, but it was sweetened with sugar. When I made the recipe, I omitted 1 cup of sugar to compensate for the already sweetened puree. They taste divine and look very pretty, but are not gummy like gum drops and after leaving them out to dry for 2+ days figure they won't get any more solid. Any suggestions? And will the end product be impacted if I double the recipe?


Saturday 21st of October 2017

How do these taste? I was very excited to find this but for some reason reading the apple sauce on the ingredient list kinda made myself turn over in my future grave. Does it taste like apples or taste like the cactus fruit? Thanks!

Nicole Cook

Monday 23rd of October 2017

Cactus fruit is very strong and has a very unique flavor. It tastes like Cactus Fruit not applesauce.

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