A pastry chef selling air-fried cicadas showed us how she makes the candy-coated insects taste ‘like a toasted walnut’

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Chouqeutte Chocolates has gone viral for selling real Brood X cicadas covered in chocolate. Chouquette
  • A Maryland sweets shop has become famous for selling chocolate-covered Brood X cicadas at $22/dozen.
  • Its owner told Insider that the cicadas are coated in chocolate and spices, then air-fried.
  • Cicadas are safe to eat for most, but people with shellfish allergies should not consume them.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Trillions of Brood X cicadas are swarming the US after spending 17 years underground – and for Sarah Dwyer, owner of Chouquette Chocolates in Gaithersburg, Maryland, that means good business.

Dwyer told Insider that earlier in May, she and her team started selling Brood X cicadas as chocolate-covered treats for $22 a dozen on her website. Recently, demand has soared for her treats, she said.

Ever since CNN reporter Pamela Brown said in a May 22 broadcast she was sick to her stomach at the thought of eating one of the shop’s cicada candies, Chouquette Chocolates has been inundated with orders, Dwyer said.

The recipe is surprisingly simple and something you could do at home, according to an instruction video Chouquette Chocolates posted to their website and social-media accounts on May 20.

To create the treat, Dwyer and her team collect live cicadas that they find crawling on trees and bushes near Gaithersburg and place them in a plastic bag, she told Insider.

They then freeze the cicadas and boil them in water to remove dirt. Next, they coat the cicadas in olive oil and spices – either cinnamon or Old Bay Seasoning – and toss them in an air fryer, Dwyer said.

Cicada process diptych 1
After freezing and boiling the cicadas, covers them in oil and spices, then places them in an air fryer. Chouquette

As a final step, confectioners at Chouquette Chocolates douse the bugs in milk or dark chocolate and let them cool.

The final result is “crunchy” and tastes “like a toasted walnut,” Dwyer said.

Cicada process diptych 2
Next, they coat the cicadas in chocolate. Chouquette

The responses to Chouquette’s chocolate-covered cicada offering on social media have been varied, Dwyer said. Some people said they love the idea, and others responded with a vomiting emoji.

Dwyer told Insider that one of the biggest misconceptions about eating bugs is that they’re “disgusting.”

“They’re not,” she said. “I think it’s more of a mental thing about getting something and trying it. Because honestly, who looked at an octopus and thought ‘that looks delicious’? I would say the first one that you try is a little bit weird – just like the first time you had calamari. Then you try it and you’re like, well, that’s not bad.”

Dwyer said that she is thankful for the interest in her chocolate-coated bug candies because it means her neurodiverse team of 11 can work more hours. They’re now collecting cicadas every day, she said.

Choco-covered cicadas
Sarah Dwyer, founder of Chouquette Chocolates, is turning Brood X cicadas into chocolate-covered treats. Peter Tomlinson

Dwyer is far from the only chef dreaming up cicada recipes.

Joseph Yoon, a New York chef and founder of Brooklyn Bugs, a group that promotes the sustainability of eating bugs as a source of protein, told Ben Cost for the New York Post that he plans to harvest cicadas in all life stages in order to create dishes like cicada caviar and cicada nymph kimchi.

And Connecticut-based chef Bun Lai told The New York Times’ Priya Krishna that he plans to host series of cicada-themed dinners to “pay homage to the global prevalence of cicada consumption while normalizing insect eating in the United States.”

Dwyer said that she thinks over time, eating cicadas “will not be shocking” as more people in the US realize that the bugs are a healthy and sustainable snack.

“People who are looking for alternative sources of animal protein shouldn’t rule out cicadas,” sustainable food expert Jessica Lanzo recently said in an article from Johns Hopkins University.

Eating cicadas will give you as much protein as eating factory-farmed meat, but won’t contribute to pollution, Lanzo continued.

According to Insider reporter Andrea Michelson, cicadas are safe to eat for most, but people with shellfish allergies should not consume them due to the possibility of an allergic reaction.