11+ Edible Succulents To Excite Your Taste Buds

Although it may be hard to believe, cacti and other succulents are excellent food sources for people and livestock. Unfortunately, the knowledge of how to harvest them to use them in the kitchen is scarce. This article will show you a list of edible succulents that you can incorporate into your diet without problems.

Before we begin, let me ask you a question: Have you ever eaten a cactus? Maybe you have, and you just don’t know it. So, are succulents edible? A pineapple, for example, is considered succulent. How’s that for food for thought? Comment below if you know that fact already 🙂

Edible succulents are interesting to look at, but they come with a fantastic array of health benefits for your body. This is not the point where you start chewing on the first succulent you see. Like most living organisms, they have an inherent defense mechanism. If it’s not sharp thorns on the outside to keep off predators like cacti, they could produce poisonous alkaloids that can completely mess up your insides.

We don’t want that either …

We have made it easier to sort out the good from the ugly with a list of 6 edible succulents that you can find at your local farmers’ market or even order online!

6 edible succulents
succulent cupcakes! @mynameishandmade

Opuntia Ficus-Indica The ‘Prickly Pear’

If you are a true connoisseur of authentic Mexican cuisine, at one point, you should have had the Prickly Pear in a breakfast burrito or Sopa de Nopal (Nopale Soup). Nopales happen to be the Spanish vegetable name for the flat, oval leaves or pads of the Prickly Pear cactus. This Native American succulent also produces an edible fruit called Tunas that can be found in local Mexican markets.

Having been a staple food for hundreds of years, Nopales are star attractions when they are included raw in salads or salsa, cooked with black pepper in casseroles, or grilled with garlic butter for tacos. It has a mild, neutral flavor, and the taste is similar to that of green beans or asparagus. Like Okra, they also produce a sticky substance when cooked, which should be rinsed off before eating.

Tunas, the edible fruit, grows on the tips of the leaves, and it is ripe when the fruit is deep red in color and soft to touch. Tunas can be peeled, sliced and juiced, or mixed in a fruit salad.

The Prickly Pear has been a delicacy for ages, not only for its versatility but also for its health benefits. The leaves are packed with fiber, while the fruit is high in calcium and low in calories.

6 edible succulents
fresh prickly pears @donnamtrewin

Portulaca Oleracea – The Tasty Weed ‘Purslane’

Can’t find spinach in the market? Why not go for a succulent substitute such as Purslane?

Portulaca Oleracea, or Purslane, is a fast-growing, weed-like succulent that has been found to inhabit Northern Africa, the Middle East, Southern Europe, India, and Australasia. It, therefore, has a lot of different names depending on which country you are in.

What makes this succulent exotic is that the whole plant (the leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds) is all edible and has been used in recipes since the Middle Ages!

Purslane has smooth, red stems sprouting small, oval-shaped green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Young stems and leaves make a healthy addition to salads when eaten raw but should be picked before flowers start to bloom. The leaves are crunchy and have a tangy, lemon-pepper flavor, creating an appetizing

A great alternative to kale or spinach, the stems and leaves can be steamed or sautéed, topped with cream, and served to accompany a fish or duck dish. The seeds have been known to feature in a variety of seed cakes.

Purslane has been considered in the culinary and medical world to be a nutritional powerhouse that helps in weight management and organ detoxification and boosts the overall health of your immune system. A vegan’s dream, Purslane is known to have more Omega-3 Fatty Acids than most green vegetables and some fish. It is also a great source of Vitamins A and C, promoting the growth and rejuvenation of healthy skin and nails.

A word of caution, though, just like too much of something is poisonous, eating Purslane frequently can be harmful because of the Oxalic acid found in the plant. Although steaming and cooking the succulent reduces the acidity by half, it’s advisable not to eat it too often.

Do not forget to garnish your plate with the bright yellow edible flower for any recipe.

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purslane flowers
Photo by ignartonosbg via Pixabay

Hylocereus – The Famous Dragon Fruit

Indigenous to the Americas, the Hylocereus is an exceptional delicacy growing from a cactus cultivated throughout tropical and subtropical regions, including Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Caribbean.

The cactus is colloquially known as Queen of the Night because the flowers only bloom at night and give off a fruity fragrance. Growing on vine-like stems, this succulent produces bright pink fruits with a leathery cover and scaly spikes, resembling a dragon’s head.  It acquired the official name Dragon Fruit in 1993 and also went by Pitaya and Strawberry Pear.

The Dragon fruit has white edible pulp with tiny black seeds and a mild flavor compared to a bland, slightly sweet, kiwi or melon. The pulp can be scooped up and eaten raw, blended to enhance juices and cocktails like the ‘Dragotini’. 

The Dragon Fruit is rich in antioxidants that help prevent inflammatory conditions like gout and other forms of arthritis. It also contains low iron levels, is low in calories, and aids in weight management.

6 edible succulents
sliced dragonfruit @theformerfatgrl

Sedum

Next on the list of succulents on a plate is Sedum, also known as Stonecrop. This ever-forgiving succulent has water storing edible leaves and grows rampantly on walls, as ground cover, and in-between rocks.

Sedum has its origins in the Northern Hemisphere but has also appeared in Africa and South America. There are about 600 species, most of which are safe to eat.

The leaves of the Stonecrop have a mild, slightly bitter, peppery taste and crispy texture, making them popular in soups, tossed in a salad, or with your favorite stir-fry.  The leaves can be eaten raw, steamed, or fried. Cooking the leaves helps reduce the tartness in the taste.

Like too much of something is poisonous, Sedum should be consumed in moderation, as heavy consumption has been reported to cause stomach upsets.

The health benefits of munching a Sedum salad include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. It has been identified to reduce coughing and is recommended as a laxative.

Check out “All You Need to Know About Stonecrop Succulents.”

6 edible succulents
freshly watered stonecrop @cactulentguy

Carnegiea Gigantean—Saguaro Cactus

The Saguaro cactus stands tall like a security guard against the harsh Sonoran Desert. Famous for its appearance in Mexican and Western cowboy movies, this tree-like succulent produces white blossoms only at night. These blossoms are the official state wildflower of Arizona and tend to release a scent like over-ripe melons.

Having grown to over 40 feet (12.2 meters) tall, the Saguaro cactus has lived past 150 years and developed branches that look like arms waving from the central stalk. Once a year, around June, the Saguaro cactus produces a ruby-colored edible fruit on the crown of the arms and stem. The fruits are packed full of pulp and seeds and require a special stick (Saguaro arm) to knock them off the succulent. 

Saguaro fruits have a faint taste of sweet strawberries and can be eaten fresh or baked into cakes. The fruit pulp is commonly used to create juices, jams, syrups, and fermented wine. About 2000 seeds inside each fruit have a nutty taste and are crushed to create baking flour or a peanut butter-like paste used in cooking.

The Saguaro fruit is high in vitamin B12, which helps grow probiotic bacteria. It is also rich in fiber which helps with digestion.

6 edible succlents
blooming saguaro cactus @tilmanchris

The Fancy Sea Beans Dish ‘Salicornia Europaea’

Have you seen ‘Sea Beans’ or ‘Sea Asparagus’ on a fancy menu? My friend that is not a vegetable but a succulent! Salicornia europaea is a salt-tolerant succulent that grows wildly among mangroves, in salt marshes, and on specific beaches.

Notoriously legendary in current culinary trends, this succulent has been plated up under Sea Beans, Sea Asparagus, Samphire Greens, Beach Asparagus, Glasswort, Pickle Weed, and Sea Pickle. This edible plant has small, chubby, finger-like stems that look like green asparagus and is best harvested between June and August.

Crunchy, yet highly salty! Sea Beans taste their best when boiled in water for about 90 seconds and are immediately shocked in a bowl of ice water to reduce the salt and retain their color and crispness. It is an excellent accompaniment to fish dishes and has also found its way into potato salads and Chinese stir-fry.

Sea Beans are a great protein supplement and contain almost the same protein as spinach! Being rich in iron and vitamin C, this succulent helps increase your iron uptake, while the high iodine levels help guard against thyroid disorders.

6 edible succulents
fresh sea beans @_mindfulmunch

Euphorbia Balsamífera

It is one of the scarce species of Euphorbias that are not toxic. In ancient times they were used as chewing gum and believed that they used for dental hygiene. When it comes to growing this plant for consumption, we mustn’t confuse it with another of the same kind since many of these other Euphorbias look and produce almost the same fruits. Still, these can cause a dangerous irritation of any mucosa that can even be fatal if consumed.

Edible Succulent-Euphorbia Balsamífera-SC
IG@mas.que.cactus

Aloe Vera – A Versatile Edible Succulent

Although traditionally considered medicinal, Aloe vera is an edible succulent originally from Kenya. It brings healing in its topical use and oral use as a purgative and laxative. Its application has spread to other areas as a food supplement and even a culinary one in recent years. Despite different opinions about its consumption, mainly because some parts of the plant may present astringent substances, constant direct consumption or derived from Aloe vera products may not be as beneficial as is believed.

Edible Succulent-Aloe Vera -SC
Aloe Vera Image: IG@kanafrik

However, it is essential to note that this plant’s pulp does not present any of the substances above but preferably has beneficial healing and culinary properties. We could use their interior content by peeling the leaves without fear or risk. Contrary to the plant’s skin, this pulp has a mild flavor with a mucilaginous texture; thanks to this characteristic, there are many drink recipes whose main ingredient is this pulp and soft on the palate.

Portulacaria Afra – A Delicious Edible Succulent

It is an edible succulent with high water content, like other plants with edible fleshy leaves. The palatal properties of the South African Portulaca Afra have led to its traditional use to prevent dehydration in arid regions. It has been exploited medicinally in ancient times. Consumed and used as food for elephants and in South African gastronomy. Its leaves have a high oxalate content that crystallizes, making it difficult to assimilate by the kidney (like spinach or yucca); it has vitamins and minerals good for health.

ortulacaria afra
Photo by shungray24 via Pixabay

Cereus Fruits

These have the appearance of tomato; its pulp is very abundant in each fruit. The flavor is very rich in sugars, and one can use it both in the preparation of jams and in the preparation of desserts in some countries of South America.

cereus peruvianus
Cereus Peruvianus
Photo by ggniemela via Pixabay

Garambullo

It is the fruit of the Myrtillocactus, the fruit has a small size and a vivid reddish color, and they have a somewhat sweet taste. Thanks to the flavor that one can use to make sub-products such as jams.

Edible Succulent-Cereus Fruits-SC
Cereus Image: IG@karlos_kytkos

Ferocactus – Edible Succulent

Edible Succulent-Garambullo-SC
Garambullo Image: IG@unamamavegana

This classification is divided into two groups: those with fleshy fruit; in this case, the pulp they contain is consumed; it has a sweet and pleasant taste. On the other hand, there are those with non-fleshy fruit; in this case, the outer layer and the seeds are discarded; this layer has a flavor of sour apples that can be delicious for lovers of this taste.


Final Words

The next time you have a dinner party, why not introduce your guests to some succulents on a plate?

Test out different taste buds with a Purslane salad or Prickly Pear soup as an appetizer. Go into the main course with sautéed Stonecrop or Sea Beans and finish with a Saguaro and Dragon fruit salad.

Not only do these exotic plants have health benefits, but you will be the culinary genius serving up succulent succulents!

Have any recipes you’ve tried with these delicious edible succulents? Today, share your story in our exclusive Facebook group, Succulent City Plant Lounge!

Enjoyed learning about Edible Succulents to Excite Your Taste Buds? If so, you’ll enjoy the ebook about All the Types of Succulents for Indoor & Outdoor. With this ebook, you’ll find more detailed answers to help your succulents grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

Happy planting… and eating!

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