Cyclospora cayetanensis is a protozoan parasite that causes human diarrheal disease associated with the consumption of fresh produce or water contaminated with C. cayetanensis oocysts. In the United States, foodborne outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce, including cilantro and raspberries. An improved method was developed for identification of C. cayetanensis in produce at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The method relies on a 0.1% Alconox produce wash solution for efficient recovery of oocysts, a commercial kit for DNA template preparation, and an optimized TaqMan real-time PCR assay with an internal amplification control for molecular detection of the parasite. A single laboratory validation study was performed to assess the method's performance and compare the optimized TaqMan real-time PCR assay and a reference nested PCR assay by examining 128 samples. The samples consisted of 25 g of cilantro or 50 g of raspberries seeded with 0, 5, 10, or 200 C. cayetanensis oocysts. Detection rates for cilantro seeded with 5 and 10 oocysts were 50.0 and 87.5%, respectively, with the real-time PCR assay and 43.7 and 94.8%, respectively, with the nested PCR assay. Detection rates for raspberries seeded with 5 and 10 oocysts were 25.0 and 75.0%, respectively, with the real-time PCR assay and 18.8 and 68.8%, respectively, with the nested PCR assay. All unseeded samples were negative, and all samples seeded with 200 oocysts were positive. Detection rates using the two PCR methods were statistically similar, but the real-time PCR assay is less laborious and less prone to amplicon contamination and allows monitoring of amplification and analysis of results, making it more attractive to diagnostic testing laboratories. The improved sample preparation steps and the TaqMan real-time PCR assay provide a robust, streamlined, and rapid analytical procedure for surveillance, outbreak response, and regulatory testing of foods for detection of C. cayetanensis.