Can you really eat cicadas? Try these delicious recipes to find out

FILE - In 2021, during a cicada emergence event, a company named All Creatures Yum served cicada tacos.

The U.S. is set to experience the emergence of two broods of cicadas, an event more than two centuries in the making. This marks a remarkable moment as these insects burst from their prolonged underground dormancy. 

The scene is reminiscent of a zombie apocalypse, yet their arrival has a delicious twist. 

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Properly prepared, cicadas can be a culinary delight. They offer a sustainable and protein-rich option for adventurous food enthusiasts eager to explore new recipes with these edible insects.

What you need to know before eating cicadas

Known for their loud mating calls and large gatherings, cicadas can also be a sustainable food source. Knowing which types are safe to eat is essential before you consider adding cicadas to your menu. 

Entomologists recommend consuming only the newly emerged, soft-shelled cicadas for the best culinary experience.

They might resemble tiny monsters, and their constant din can be quite irritating, but as numerous parts of the country gear up for trillions of loud cicadas, entomologists point out that these tiny insects can also be a delightful treat. 

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For example, the University of Maryland released a cicada cookbook back in 2004.

Additionally, the Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans is known for showcasing methods for cooking cicadas at its snack bar, where visitors can already sample other unique dishes like Southwest Waxworms seasoned with chili powder and crispy crickets with a Cajun spice.

Preparing cicadas for cooking

Once you've gathered your cicadas, the next step is preparation. Begin by thoroughly washing them to remove dirt or debris from their bodies. Boiling them for a few minutes can help eliminate any potential bacteria and make them safer to eat. After boiling, you can roast, sauté, or even deep-fry the cicadas. Cicadas are known for their versatility in recipes, lending a texture and flavor that many compare to shrimp or asparagus.

Tasty cicada recipes to try

For those ready to turn these buzzing insects into a tasty dish, here are a few recipes to consider:

Cicada tacos

Sauté your prepared cicadas with garlic, chili powder, and lime juice. Serve them in a soft taco shell with toppings such as avocado, cilantro, and diced onions.

Chocolate-dipped cicadas

For a sweeter version, dip your boiled and roasted cicadas in melted chocolate. Allow them to cool on parchment paper until the chocolate sets, creating a crunchy, sweet-and-savory snack.

Cicada stir-fry

Combine roasted cicadas with vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and snap peas. Add soy sauce, ginger, and garlic for a quick, flavorful stir-fry highlighting the cicadas' unique taste.

Researchers at Ohio State University published a few more recipes. 

Health benefits of eating cicadas

Cicadas offer several health benefits. They are high in protein, low in fat, and contain various important minerals. 

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They are an excellent alternative for those looking to reduce their meat consumption without sacrificing protein intake. Eating cicadas can also contribute to a more sustainable food system by reducing the demand for traditional livestock, which requires more resources to raise.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. It was reported from Los Angeles.