Prickly Pear, Lime and Chia Drink

This drink combines three very important ingredients that have played a significant role in Mexican cuisine for centuries: prickly pear fruit, lime and chia seeds.

Prickly pears or cactus fruit are grown throughout the Americas, Europe as well as Northern Africa, however the largest producer worldwide of this spiny fruit is Mexico.  Prickly pears have a thick skin covered with delicate, transparent thorns and are filled with a juicy meaty fruit interspersed with lots of hard black seeds.  Depending on the variety they can be green, yellow, orange or a deep red.  They are in season in Mexico during the summer months and are frequently sold in fresh fruit stands in large plastic cups, pealed and served with chile and lime juice. Additionally, they are also used to prepare juices and salsas among other things depending on the region.

Originally from Mexico, chia seeds are small black and white seeds that date back to pre-Hispanic times and were one of the most important ingredients along with beans, corn and zucchini.  Chia seeds are used to prepare fresh juices and are recognized as an important source of omega-3s.

Agua de Tuna 2

Originally from Asia, limes arrived to Mexico via the Spanish in the early 16th century.  Since then limes have become an integral part of Mexican regional cooking and are used to accompany soups, tacos, grilled meats, fruit, salads and also in the preparation of fresh juices, ceviche and micheladas among other things.  Mexico is currently the world’s largest producer of limes.

This is a ridiculously refreshing drink for  a hot summer afternoon. Serve very, very very cold.

Agua de Tuna 3


  • 6 prickly pear fruits
  •  juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • liter of water
  •  honey or sugar

***Notes for American cooks, finding ingredients: Where there are Mexicans you will generally be able to find supermarkets stocked with a variety of Mexican products. While I cannot speak for the entirety of the U.S., being from Chicago, I can assure you that prickly pear fruit (in Spanish known as tunas) and chia seeds are available in Mexican grocery stores in my hometown. Chia seeds can be found in small bags along with other Mexican spices, seeds and nuts.

On a recent trip back to the states I discovered that chia seeds have become a hip pre-Hispanic ingredient sold at Whole Foods and are sold in large bags and in prepared in bottled juices. So if worse comes to worse one can always head to Whole Foods and spend a lot of money. If you cannot find prickly pears you can prepare a similar drink without them substituting limes for the cactus fruit.

Agua de Tuna 4


Remove the skins of the prickly pear fruits and cut them into large chunks. Blend the prickly pear fruit with the lime juice, ¼ cup of water and honey. Strain the mixture to remove the seeds and add the rest of the water as well as the chia seeds. Mix well, refrigerate and serve with ice.

** in the photo the juice is orange because some of the tunas I used were a yellowish/orange on the inside.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *