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Yes, you can eat cicadas. Here are 3 recipes to try before they go underground for more than a decade.

Historic cicada event underway in parts of U.S.
Historic cicada event underway in parts of U.S. 02:09

You deserve a treat – and this spring, Mother Nature is providing a seemingly endless supply. Trillions of cicadas are emerging from the ground after a years-long absence, and any one of them could be part of your next meal

Yes, you can eat the Brood XIX and Brood XIII cicadas. And this is how to do it. 

During a different cicada emergence in 2021, Montclair State University Assistant Professor of Anthropology Cortni Borgerson said that the insects, which only come out of the ground every 13 or 17 years, can be a valuable source of food. In many areas of the world, eating insects is a staple.

"These little meats are not only a mainstream food source, they're also a more sustainable choice than other species of livestock, which can require a lot of land, water and feed," Borgerson said. "Embracing food diversity and incorporating insects and other traditional foods into our diets isn't only a great way to connect with our cultures and our natural environments, it's also a key step toward living sustainably."

What is the best way to cook cicadas?

Before you cook, you have to catch. Retired chef Jim Warner, the former program director of culinary outreach at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said it's best to gather your cicadas for consumption from a wooded area away from homes. Getting them from yards and lawns isn't advised as they may have absorbed pesticides, lawn chemicals or other contaminants.  

"Cicadas are at their most tender just out of the shell. The tough exoskeleton is not very tasty," he said in a post for the university. "Watch them climb up a tree and begin to molt from their outer shell. When they're out of their shell, gently grab the soft bodies, blanch them in boiling water for one minute, then put them into a zip-lock bag and place them in the freezer before preparing them to cook."

The Forest Preserve District of Will County in Illinois says that to humanely kill cicadas, they should be frozen at least overnight. When you are ready to prepare them, they say it's best to defrost them before removing their heads and wings. 

Borgerson said cooking with them is relatively easy. 

"You can add them to any of your favorite dishes," she said. "They don't need peeling or extensive prepping, just pan fry them or parboil and toast them in the oven, and then use them like you would any of their crustacean relatives."

Brood X Cicadas Emerge After 17 Years Underground
Pan-fried periodical cicadas are coated in hot sauce as part of the Hot Ones challenge between Mike Rothman and his friends at home on June 04, 2021 in Hyattsville, Maryland. / Getty Images

What do cicadas taste like?

There always seems to be one person who says a new meat "tastes like chicken." And in this case, it's Warner – but he says there's another flavor that comes out when you bite down. 

"They do have a nutty flavor and a nice crunch when sautéed in olive oil with a few seasonings tossed in for good measure. Old Bay seasoning is always a winner," he said. "...But please don't use ranch dressing. After all, they've been waiting 17 years for this big dance, and you shouldn't humiliate them one last time."

For Borgerson, the cicadas are good to eat just themselves or in tacos, where she said "you can use the toppings to bring out a lot of their green spring flavors." 

Cicada allergy warning

While trying a new food, or insect, can be exciting, it's important to be wary of allergies. According to Montclair State University, the outside of their body is similar to that of shellfish. The university said that there is no overwhelming evidence showing a link between those with shellfish allergies and those with cicada allergies, but there is also minimal research saying otherwise. 

Cicada recipes 

Tempura Cicadas (courtesy of Borgerson for Montclair State University)


  • 15 cicadas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Cold seltzer
  • Oil for frying

While your oil is preheating in a deep pan, use a bowl to combine the flour, salt and egg. Slowly pour the seltzer into the flour bowl and mix until it reaches a pancake batter-like consistency. Place the mixture in the fridge until oil is properly heated, at which point you'll coat each cicada in the batter and then fry until golden brown. 

Emergence Cookies feature a peculiar ingredient: Cicadas, which are high in protein and low in cholesterol.  CBS News

Emergence cookies (courtesy of "Cicada-Licious: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas," from Jenna Jadin and the University of Maryland Cicadamaniacs)


  • 60 parboiled dry roasted cicadas 
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 beaten egg white 
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar + additional 1/3 cup 
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • (optional) 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts

To make this recipe, which yields about 60 cookies, start by mixing the shortening with 1 1/2 cups of sugar, chocolate, baking powder and vanilla. Once well combined, gradually stir in flour and nuts and then cover and chill the dough for 1 to 2 hours. While the dough cools, combine 1/3 cup sugar and egg white and brush the egg mixture on top of your cicadas, which should be laid out on wax paper. 

Once the dough is chilled, shape pieces into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Put one of the cicadas on top of each cookie and lightly press down. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes at 375º and transfer to a rack to cool.

Cicada pizza (courtesy David George Gordon via the Associated Press)

Dough ingredients: 

  • 1 teaspoon active dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal

Tomato sauce ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 pound peeled tomatoes sliced into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
  • 6 marinated artichoke hearts
  • 8 sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 8 cicadas
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Start off preparations for this cicada pizza feast by making the dough. You'll need to combine the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup of warm water. Add that mixture, as well as 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the rest of the water to the flour and cornmeal. Mix the ingredients and knead on a lightly floured board until it appears smooth, which should take about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover for about 45 minutes as it rises. 

As the dough rises, heat the olive oil for your sauce in a pan and cook the onion and garlic until soft. Stir in the threat of the ingredients, cover and simmer for about half an hour, stirring occasionally. 

Once your dough is ready, punch it down and knead before placing it in the center of an oiled 12-inch pizza pan. Use your knuckles to make the dough evenly spread across the pan and brush with olive oil. At this point, preheat your oven to 425º and start building your pie. Spoon the homemade sauce over the top, sprinkle your cheese and add coarsely chopped ingredients of sundried tomatoes (without oil) and artichoke hearts. Add the cicadas on top and sprinkle the top of the pizza with some of the sundried tomato oil before baking for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and crust is golden. 

U.S. cicada invasion excites food enthusiasts 05:30
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