Buzzing About Cicada Cookies: One Family's Culinary Adventure

The results may bug you into giving them a try yourself

By Susannah Ferguson, publisher of Macaroni KID Columbia, Mo. May 27, 2024

Cicada mania is in full swing for much of the country. Not sure what you’re missing? Imagine an ear-splitting buzz coming from the trees, bugs flying everywhere, and piles of shed exoskeletons stacking up on the ground. Good times.

The good news? Cicadas are harmless to people, animals, and mostly to plants as well. 

My family — OK, it was my idea — decided we may as well make the most of this modern-day plague ... kind of like making lemonade from lemons, but in this case...

Cookies from cicadas!

It turns out these noisy insects are 100% edible and a great source of protein and fiber. Our adventurous family accepted the challenge. Is your ick factor engaged yet?

@macaronikidnational currently taking requests: what do you want us to put in our cookies next? 👇 . #Macaronikid #bakingwithkids #bakingrecipe #fyp #trending #viral #cicada #cookies #cookierecipe #chocolatechipcookies #recipesoftiktok #recipe #recipes ♬ Get Ready - SUPER-Hi & NEEKA

Bugging out

The first step to making cicada cookies is gathering your main ingredient. My son helped me pick cicadas off trees while they were just hatching around our house. It was an easy task given the apocalyptic level of insects in the air. 

Next, we boiled the cicadas for five minutes to kill any germs and firm up the bodies (sounding like a gourmet meal already, right?). 

After their bubbly bath, we roasted them in the oven for seven or eight minutes to give them a nice crispy crunch. 

Some cicada culinary critics recommend removing legs, heads, and wings at this point to optimize the texture. 

But we decided if we’re going all in on cicada cookies, we're doing just that. No crunchy parts removed around here. We popped our inviting invertebrates into the fridge to cool off while prepping the cookie dough. We just used our normal chocolate chip cookie recipe for this venture. 

Once our dough was ready? It was time to add the cicadas. 

We decided a rough chop might increase the palatability, but it was at this point I first began to have doubts. 

Catching, boiling, roasting — none of this phased me. But gliding my chef’s knife through some very textured insect bodies? That’s when I began to second-guess my life choices. But as Vincent van Gogh said: “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

So chop I did. Then I slid the chopped-up bits of legs, wings, and bodies right into that cookie dough for a quick stir. 

We baked the cookies as usual (and honestly they smelled delicious) and when the chime of the oven timer told us they were done? We pulled them out and were surprised that at first look, these cookies weren't giving away their secrets. They looked just like any other chocolate chip cookie. 

Until you looked closer. 

A leg here, a head there. 

Oh my. 

Buzzing about the taste

Cookies are always best fresh out of the oven. We reminded ourselves of that as we looked over our cicada cookies.

My first trepidatious bite tasted surprisingly like a normal chocolate chip cookie. My second, more adventurous bite signaled a significant departure from the norm. It was crunchy, with an unusual texture and a very nutty flavor. Putting the notion that I was eating bugs aside, it was actually pretty tasty — much like a cookie laced with extra crunchy walnuts. Overall, it was not bad at all. 

The rest of the family shared similar sentiments. But at the end of the day, my sugar-obsessed kids left a pile of uneaten cookies on the counter. Maybe we’re not quite ready to embrace a sustainable lifestyle of insects just yet. 

Susannah Ferguson is the publisher of Macaroni KID Columbia, Mo. and Macaroni KID's social media & content strategist.