An Edible Insect Thanksgiving

Four Easy Ways to Make Entomophagy Part of Your Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. We love a holiday that allows us to take time out of our busy lives and celebrate what we’re grateful for with family, friends and food.

We’re especially thankful for crickets, not only environmentally and nutritionally, but also culinarily. Not many other foods boast the versatility that crickets do. Powdered or roasted, sweet or savory, they can be eaten as part of a balanced breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. It’s easy to include crickets in almost any Thanksgiving dish, whether you’re trying to be healthy and sustainable or just want to contribute something unique to a traditional holiday.

Chances are, there will be someone at your table who has never heard of insects as food. Thanksgiving is a time to share things with family and friends, so take advantage of the opportunity. Explain the basics of entomophagy and invite them to try their first insect.

Crickets can also provide a welcome alternative for any vegetarians in attendance. Not all vegetarians eat insects, but many do and would probably welcome the extra protein on a day when their options are limited to casserole and mashed potatoes. Ask your non-meat-eating guests if they would be willing to make crickets a part of their holiday.

Whether you’re hosting or have offered to bring a dish, here are a few ways to shake things up with edible insects.

If you want to introduce edible insects to a more traditional crowd, a cricket appetizer may be perfect for your Thanksgiving gathering. There are so many options out there, but we chose to go simple on this one—sometimes crickets taste best on their own.

Roasted crickets are an excellent substitute for mixed nuts when it comes to hors devours, and they’re easy to make or buy in advance. Just put a bowl of these out right before guests arrive and you’ll have a fun alternative to conventional appetizers that will be sure to get people talking. Also, Crickets provide protein without being too filling, leaving your guests with plenty of room for the main course.

With a plethora of rich comfort food spread across the Thanksgiving table, vegetables seldom play a starring role. We may plop a small helping of roasted carrots next to the main attractions on our plate in an attempt to be healthy or polite, but it’s tough to get excited about them.

Like it or not, vegetables are a staple of the traditional American Thanksgiving. And luckily, there’s one sure way to add interest to even the most boring dishes: Just throw a few handfuls of crickets onto the baking sheet with your favorite veggies. Alternatively, place a bowl of pre-roasted crickets on the table so guests can sprinkle the insects onto their own plates.

An American favorite that ranks second only to turkey, stuffing—dressing to Southerners—is a Thanksgiving essential. While turkey prep tends to stay traditional, stuffing can taste very different depending on where you’re dining. Everyone has his or her favorite recipe. Many choose to include nuts, mushrooms, dried fruit or sausage for a little extra flavor. You can make your stuffing truly unique with crickets—just mix them in with your stuffing ingredients and cook as normal. They’ll deliver some protein in a dish where it’s usually lacking, and your guests will love the added crunch they bring to the table.

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pie. There are so many easy ways to add crickets to all of your favorite pies! We recommend using whole crickets in a rich pecan pie, where they’ll accentuate the flavor and crunchiness of the nuts.  

For pumpkin pie, take your pie filling (homemade or canned—we won’t judge) and thoroughly combine it with half a cup of cricket powder before baking. The flavor will be slightly earthier than usual, but otherwise it will look and behave exactly like a traditional pumpkin pie.

If you make your piecrust from scratch, it’s easy to substitute cricket flour into your recipe. You can buy cricket flour or make your own by mixing one part cricket powder with two parts white or whole-wheat flour.

With so many different dishes, there’s plenty of room for creativity and innovation. If you have any other ideas for edible insect Thanksgiving dishes, let us know in the comments.

Happy Turkey Day!