Prickly Pear Ice Cream

Post image for Prickly Pear Ice Cream

by Nancy Newcomer

You may have noticed that I rarely post dessert recipes on my blog, but when I do, they have to be exceptional. I absolutely LOVE this recipe because it’s a little different than your average bear and it’s super easy to make. Most people are intrigued when I serve it because they’ve never tasted prickly pear and many have never even heard of it. My fascination with the prickly pear came after moving into our new house just over a year ago. The border of our property is lined with large cactus plants full of prickly pear fruit. After a little research on learning how to carefully handle the fruit–yes, it’s full of thorny pins both visible & invisible, I started experimenting.  What’s really cool is that prickly pears can vary in color, so my ice cream has ranged from pale orange to vibrant magenta. It’s always a surprise!  Please note, I also have a Prickly Pear Margarita and Grilled Salmon with Nopales Salsa (made from the paddle of the cactus plant) all of which are featured in the latest issue of Santa Barbara Dining & Destinations Magazine. Festive recipes just in time for Cinco de Mayo, Summer Solstice, & Fiesta in Santa Barbara ~ Enjoy!
PS The beautiful photo was taken by the award winning photographer Matt Dayka ~ thanks Matt! You captured this before it had a chance to melt :)

Prickly Pear Ice Cream

Serves 6-8 people

Prep time 20 minutes/Freeze 6 hours to overnight before serving for best results


1 cup prickly pear juice (about 4-6 prickly pears)

⅛  cup meyer lemon juice

2 cups sugar

1 pinch sea salt

1 tsp tangerine zest (2-3 strips

1 pinch meyer lemon zest 1 strip)

1 quart half & half


I recommend using gloves to handle prickly pears. Cut prickly pears in half, scoop out entire center as close to the peel as possible, put in blender–there will be seeds. Discard peels. Blend until thoroughly liquid. Strain out seeds and pour into a measuring cup. Add in ⅛ cup meyer lemon juice, set aside.  In food processor (or your washed and dried blender), add 2 cups sugar & salt.  Wash tangerines and lemon, pat dry. Using sharp vegetable peeler or zester, remove tangerine zest in thin strips and allow to fall directly into food processor~ about 2-3 strips–about the size of 2 band aids for lack of better description! Add one strip meyer lemon peel.  Run processor until peel is finely ground, 3-4 minutes. Scrape this mixture into large, non-aluminum bowl. Add prickly pear juice, meyer lemon juice, half-and-half, and salt, stir to combine. Note: You may also use an ice cream maker, but NOT necessary–I have a cuisinart ice cream maker and throw in the mixture for about 20 min then freeze. To freeze: Store in glass container with plastic wrap, then an airtight lid. Best to freeze at least 6 hours for scooping consistency, but even better when frozen overnight.


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