When can babies eat chapulines?
Chapulines are dried grasshoppers that can be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, but you may want to wait until baby is closer to 12 months of age to offer them whole for two reasons. First, chapulines will be easier to pick up, chew, and swallow after the first birthday. Second, if you wait until 12 months to introduce them, you’ll avoid having to jump through hoops to find unsalted chapulines. (Generally you want to limit salty foods in a baby’s diet as early and excessive exposure to sodium is thought to play a role in cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and obesity.)1
Are chapulines healthy for babies?
Yes. Worldwide, edible grasshoppers vary in size and nutrition can vary depending on the type, but generally speaking, chapulines refer to edible grasshoppers that are sourced in Mexico.2 A beloved snack, these little bugs are not only comfort food; they also pack a strong nutritional punch. Chapulines are a terrific source of fat, fiber, and protein.3 They also contain plenty of vitamin A and a few B-vitamins, too. To top it off, they offer lots of minerals to help your baby thrive, including calcium, copper, iron and magnesium.4
Note: In 2007, there was a report that chaupulines from Zimatlán contained high levels of lead, from the glazed pottery in which they were cooked.5 If chapulines are important to your diet, take care to buy them from a trusted source and make sure the provider is not using glazed pottery in the cooking process, which can contain high levels of lead.
Are chapulines a common choking hazard for babies?
They can be. You won’t find chapulines listed among the common choking hazards for babies, but the bugs are typically quite dry from the roasting process, which creates a texture that can be difficult for young eaters. As always, stay within an arm’s reach of your baby during meals.
Are chapulines a common allergen?
No—they’re not named on lists of common food allergens. However, studies show that individuals who are allergic to shellfish or dust mites may also be allergic to certain insects, including chapulines.6
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity on its own for the first couple of servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
How do you prepare chapulines for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline. The preparation suggestions below are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional, nutritionist or dietitian, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 12 months old: If you are able to find unsalted chapulines, you can pulverize them and sprinkle on other foods for a nutritional boost and introduce them whole once your baby develops a pincer grasp (where the thumb and pointer finger meet). Offering them alongside an age-appropriate drink can aid swallowing.
12 to 18 months old: Offer whole roasted chapulines on their own to introduce the taste and texture. From there, chapulines can be a great way to try new flavors as the bugs are often seasoned with salty spice combinations like adobo or tajín. Just take care to serve chapulines as a treat rather than a regular snack and keep tabs on your baby’s overall sodium levels.
18 to 24 months old: Once your child is acclimated to the shape, taste, and texture of chapulines on their own, try mixing them into other foods like salads, smoothies, and tacos.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
If you can’t find or afford chapulines, try crickets, which are widely available in a variety of forms, from whole roasted crickets to protein bars to cricket flour.
Recipe: Grasshopper Croquettes
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 large onion
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 1 ¼ cups flour, separated
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup chapulines
- 2 cups sunflower oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup cornmeal
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle (optional)
- Finely chop the garlic and onion. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat, then add the alliums. Sauté until the alliums are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add ½ cup of flour and stir continuously until lightly browned. Immediately add half the milk, and stir to combine. Add the remaining milk, and keep stirring until the mixture forms a loose dough.
- Remove from the heat. Chop the grasshoppers and add to the dough, stirring to combine. Chill the dough for 2 hours in the fridge.
- About 30 minutes before mealtime, remove the dough from the fridge and prepare your workstation. You’ll need a deep skillet for frying, a large plate to queue the croquettes, a large plate lined with a paper towel to drain the fried croquettes, a slotted spoon, and three shallow bowls: one for the cornmeal, one for the eggs, and one for the flour.
- Warm the oil in the skillet over medium high heat. As it’s warming, place the cornmeal, flour, and eggs in their respective bowls, and beat the eggs.
- Prepare the croquettes. To form, scoop a spoonful of dough (about 2 tablespoons) and use your hands to create a round or oval-shaped croquette. Your choice! Use your palms to lightly flatten the croquette, like a patty. Coat the croquette with flour, then dip it in the egg and roll it in the cornmeal. Set aside on the plate, and proceed with forming the rest of the croquettes.
- Once the oil is ready (the tiniest drop of water in the pot will sizzle and evaporate), start frying the croquettes. Use the slotted spoon to lower a croquette into the hot oil, then add more, taking care not to crowd the skillet. Fry each croquette on each side until golden. This happens quickly in hot oil so start checking each side after 30 seconds or so.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the croquettes from the oil to the paper towel-lined plate. Fry the rest of the croquettes, taking care to bring up the oil temperature between batches if it starts to cool.
- Serve alongside a dollop of mayonnaise, seasoned with ground chipotle if you’d like to add a little heat.
On their own, chapulines have a mild earthiness and lots of crunch when they’re freshly roasted. The bugs are delicious on their own as a snack, but they can also be treated as a salty condiment for dishes like casseroles, quesadillas, salads, and tacos. Chapulines are typically seasoned with salt and different spices before sale, so use the flavorings listed on the package as a guide for pairings. Adobo go well with creamy foods and hearty meats; tajin tastes delicious with fresh fruits and raw vegetables; and sea salt-flavored chapulines pairs with just about anything!
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2019. Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press
- Payne, C. L., & Van Itterbeeck, J. (2017). Ecosystem Services from Edible Insects in Agricultural Systems: A Review. Insects, 8(1), 24.
- Ssepuuya, G., Mukisa, I. M., & Nakimbugwe, D. (2016). Nutritional composition, quality, and shelf stability of processed Ruspolia nitidula (edible grasshoppers). Food science & nutrition, 5(1), 103–112.
- Ssepuuya, G., Mukisa, I. M., & Nakimbugwe, D. (2016). Nutritional composition, quality, and shelf stability of processed Ruspolia nitidula (edible grasshoppers). Food science & nutrition, 5(1), 103–112
- International Journal of Epidemiology, December, 2007.
- de Gier, S., & Verhoeckx, K. (2018). Insect (food) allergy and allergens. Molecular immunology, 100, 82–106. doi:10.1016/j.molimm.2018.03.015 Retrieved July 15, 2020