Qué es La Jícama?

Jícama looks like a cross between a potato and a huge turnip. I love eating cold slices as a snack, and so do most Mexicans. Have you noticed the frequency of street eating in Mexico? For every holiday, every evening on the plaza, at every beach, every bus stop, every market, there is someone with a cart selling sliced watermelon, cucumber, pineapple, or jícama — all sprinkled with chile powder and spritzed with lime juice.

While I can’t advocate street eating for us weak-stomached foreigners who have no way of telling if the vegetables have been disinfected, if the knife, cutting board and hands are super clean, we can prepare jícama at home using our favorite method for cleaning and disinfecting produce. And we can use chile powder or not, lime juice or not.

Jícama in the stores can look unappealing sometimes. They can be a little beat up, muddied and oddly shaped, or smooth and clean as a whistle. Look for smooth, light skinned, small jícama. Don’t worry about a little dirt. Just scrub it off and soak the tubers in a disinfectant solution.

The skin pulls off when you grab the end with a paring knife. If it doesn’t want to pull away, as sometimes happens, use a vegetable peeler. Often you can pull off a piece of skin with your fingers, once you get it started.

Use a paring knife to finish cutting out little rootlets or nicks. Then slice, dice or chop.

For an easy snack or an appetizer that is muy mexicano, squeeze some lime juice over cold, sliced jícama, and sprinkle with coarse salt and chile power. Or sauté chopped jícama in a stir-fry as a substitute for water chestnuts. Or sprinkle with cinnamon and a pinch of brown sugar. Or use as a base for spreading guacamole or ceviche. Or add to a fruit salad or vegetable salad. Or just eat it cold, sliced and unadorned.


  • Etmology — The name jícama is from the Nahuatl word, xicamatl.  Jícama is the name of this native Mexican plant, as well as the name of the edible root. It also goes by the names of yambean and Mexican turnip.
  • The tuber can weigh up to twenty kilograms, but you will never see them in the stores this big. Usually they are between one half to one kilo (1-2 pounds) in weight. A half kilo-sized jicama is young and juicy.
  • Jícama has a water content of 86-90%, and is high in dietary fiber.

More Reading:

Jícama (Wikipedia)

Jícama Factbites

Jícama Mexconnect


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21 thoughts on “Qué es La Jícama?

  1. Pingback: Ensalada de Jicama, Mango y Pepino | Sweet Life

  2. Pingback: Salad of Grilled Nopal with Carrot, Jícama and Beet « Cooking in Mexico

  3. cranefixer

    These are one of my Fav things to eat raw it is almost as good as a fresh beet
    I have never tried cooking them hmmm
    Water chestnuts are always canned but Jicama would be fresh what a great idea !!!!

    I just like them sliced up with a little lime in a salad the crunchy is so fantastic

    1. Arva1

      With hummus, interesting, I have to try it !

      I usually eat Jícamas with a sauce that I make with: lime, a bit of worcestershire sauce, a bit of maggi sauce, chile piquín and some good chamoy.

      1. And I will have to try your taste treat with chamoy. For readers not familiar with chamoy, this is a pickled fruit sauce that is sweet, salty, spicy and sour. Wikipedia tells me that chamoy can be used as a condiment for “Flaming Hot Cheetos”. Yow!

  4. vicki in GA

    In September, I recall trucks along side of the highways near GDL selling Jicama.
    I always bought little bags of Jicama with sal y limon from ladies on the streets.
    I’ve never once had a sick stomach from street vendor foods.

    The only time I got sick was in Puerto Escondido from drinking too many fresh piña coladas – I shudder thinking about it.

  5. I visited Mexico, over two years ago but didn’t notice Jicamas. But I did have a bout of Montezuma’s revenge. Why are the vegetables so dangerous in Mexico? It’s the irrigation water isn’t it?

    1. There are many reasons for stomach illness when you eat uncleaned fruits and veggies in Mexico. Sometimes, it is due to unsanitary handling, or the produce is not refrigerated, or the natural flora that lives on the surface of produce is different from what our intestinal systems are used to, or water systems are contaminated, or the food is handled by someone who is ill and didn’t wash their hands. (Of course, food borne illnesses occur in other countries besides Mexico, and vegetables should be properly cleaned wherever you live.)

      Produce (fresh fruits and vegetables) will always be clean and healthy to eat without causing illness if proper procedures are followed by soaking in a disinfectant solution. I wrote about how to do this in an earlier article titled “How to Clean and Disinfect Fruits and Vegetables in Mexico.”


    Huitlachoche. Have you seen any in the markets lately? They used to have it at Sorina occasionally, but I havn’t seen any in a while. I use the canned stuff but I’m sure the fresh is far superior.

    1. I bought fresh huitlacoche at Leys grocery store in downtown Puerto Vallarta about 2 weeks ago. It is the only store where I have seen it here, but I bet Rizzo’s would have it also. I’ve never tried it canned, but I want to now so I don’t have to go so long without making huitlacoche quesadillas.

  7. I don’t know why, but even though I often see Jicama at the store, I just never get it. You are right, it probably is because it looks a little unappealing. I am going to make a purpose of buying one next time! I always enjoyed it growing up in Mexico, I would get it from the little glass cart that parked outside my school. You can also add some carrots and cucumbers, just yummy and super healthy.

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