Crickets as protein? We get it. The idea’s sure to raise a few eyebrows. Even among the super environmentally-conscious hiking folks out there.
But hear us out! As odd as eating bugs may sound, consuming protein-packed insects is already considered a regular thing by over 80% of countries in the world. Here are eight awesome cricket bars we have tested and reviewed in this post.
|Bug Out Bar
Let’s look further into what makes these little insects such a protein-packed, environmentally-friendly snack. In a hurry? Skip straight to the reviews.
Entomophagy is the term for humans who eat insects. If you live in the US, Canada or parts of Europe, you may find the whole bug-eating idea a bit surprising. In this circumstance, however, these countries are the minority.
CRICKET CONSUMPTION WORLDWIDE
Over two billion people in the world eat a variety of 2000 different insect species with the highest entomologist populations living in Africa, Australia, China, Central and South America, Mexico, and New Zealand. Crickets and grasshoppers are the most popular insects consumed—and beetles aren’t far behind.
(You might also like: 16 Edible Insect Ideas for Survival | How to Find, Cook and Eat)
Whereas the U.S. still sees eating crickets as a bit out there, many cultures that regularly consume insects consider them a reliable food source or even a delicacy. The belief behind first eating bugs in various cultures draws back to our early ancestors, where insects were seen as additional nourishment and even the main source of protein in many environments where warm-blooded animals were rare.
CRICKETS IN THE US: A RISING MOVEMENT OR A FAD?
Cricket and insect consumption in the U.S. seems out of the ordinary because of cultural bias. Americans weren’t raised eating insects just like other parts of the world weren't brought up eating bacon or cheese that comes out of a can.
But thanks to major market leaders like Tim Ferriss backing cricket protein companies such as Exo, this cultural bias may be shifting. Or, well, at least the idea of consuming insects is being considered. Mark Cuban from Shark Tank even got on board when the first edible insect product company, Chapul, presented their business idea that’s since paved the way for cricket products in the US.
"Insect protein—specifically crickets—were of interest to me [...][...], and you don't have to overly process the protein." - Tim Ferriss
Consuming crickets is only gaining popularity and momentum across the globe, whether that be because of the push to develop food systems that will coincide with our future growth predictions, or as a means to save our planet's environment.
Here are a few important points that detail the major considerations on both sides of the argument:
- Excellent protein and nutrition source.
- Efficient for the environment.
- A gateway to long-term food security for future generations.
- Insect farming could expand income opportunities for the economy.
- Cultural bias: Many people in the Western world can’t wrap their heads around the idea of eating insects… yet. (source)
- Because cricket protein is still in the developmental stages, it comes with a hefty price tag.
- The insects need to be bred in regulated, clean conditions to ensure food safety and that pesticides are not used.
Cricket Bars Considerations
PROTEIN AMOUNT: AT LEAST 5 GRAMS
For high-intensity activities like thru-hiking, at least 12-15% of your daily calories should come from protein. To break this down simpler, for every pound of your body weight you should try to eat roughly .5 grams of protein. When looking at protein bars, make sure they contain at least 5 grams.
BALANCED NUTRIENTS: 4 GRAMS OF CARBS TO 1 GRAM OF PROTEIN
A healthy balance of good fat, carbs, and proteins is important in creating a well-rounded bar. As a rule of thumb, a good protein to carbs ratio for active individuals is around 1:4. In other words, a cricket bar with 10 grams of protein should have around 40 grams of carbs.
ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS AND INGREDIENTS: KEEP IT NATURAL AND FAMILIAR
Be on the lookout for artificial sweeteners which can spike blood sugar levels and cause bloating and digestive distress. Sugar can take many different forms and companies often disguise it by changing its name on product labels. As a rule of thumb, if you don't know what an ingredient stands for, stay away from it. Instead, look for bars that get their carbs/sugar from natural good-for-you and familiar sources.
|High fructose corn syrup
|Brown rice syrup
Best Cricket Bar Brands
Protein (per bar): 10-16g
Weight (per bar): 2.1 oz
Price: 12 for $28, 3 for $8
Flavors: Cocoa Nut, PB&J, Blueberry Vanilla, Banana Bread, Peanut butter chocolate chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Fudge Brownie
These bars are gluten-free and contain no wheat, soy or milk. They also don’t have syrups or fillers, just 100% real food and cricket, pea and egg protein powder. The bars have a subtle sweetness to them and chewy texture of what you’d expect out of a protein bar. They aren’t dry, and if left in the heat for long periods, they’ll get a bit oily in the packaging (which isn’t all that uncommon for protein bars). Exo offers a variety box option so you can find your favorite flavor, and you can choose between Classic, Paleo or High Protein bars. Exo also sells roasted crickets that come in four flavors.
Protein (per serving): 6-20g
Weight per bar: 2.1 oz
Price: 12 for $40
Flavors: Chocolate Sea Salt, Mocha Hazelnut, Choco Banana, Choco Orange, Raspberry Apricot, Coco Macadamia, Maple Walnut, Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, Cookie Dough.
This Quebec based company makes powders and energy and high protein bars. The bars are made by athletes, with athletes in mind, and they have a texture like a soft brownie that’s easy to chew and swallow while on the go. They’re good as a quick snack to boost your energy before an activity, or to use as recovery after or even during exercise. You can create a 20-bar box and mix and match flavors for $65. They also have subscriptions available.
Protein (per serving): 7g
Weight per bar: 1.7 oz
Price: 12 for $47
Flavors: Chocolate Chirp, Peanut Better, Jiminy Ginger
Bite Snack bars come from Vancouver, B.C. They’re gluten-free, dairy-free, non-GMO and are a good introduction into the world of cricket protein since they taste like a guilt-free dessert. You’d never know there were 20-30 crickets in each bar! They have a nutty and sweet flavor, a soft texture, and they leave no sign of a funky protein after-taste. They’re made with ingredients like peanut butter, whole grains oats, honey, crystallized ginger and chunks of peanuts. These little bars are a great snack for an afternoon hike or a mid-day pick-me-up.
Protein (per serving): 7g
Weight per bar: 1.7 oz
Price: 12 for $36, samples for $3.50
Flavors: PB Choco Chunk, Double Chocolate
Each Earthproof protein bar has complex carbs for energy, over 100% of your daily B12, and the cricket powder comes from a local facility to this Nova Scotia-based company. The bars are dairy and gluten-free and contain no artificial ingredients and offer a good, quick boost of energy. They’re easy to digest and don’t feel heavy on the stomach. They’re naturally sweet without being overly so, and kind of taste like a cookie.
Protein (per serving): 10g
Weight per bar: 1.8 oz
Price: 6 for $24
Flavors: Chili Chocolate, Lemon Coconut, Apple Pie
Fit Cricket bars are available in 6 or 12 packs, and the company also sells whole roasted crickets for munching or cricket powder for mixing. The protein bars each contain 60 crickets/bar and have no refined sugar and are gluten and dairy-free. The bars have ingredients like date paste, honey, seed butter, cocoa, and cricket flour. Fit Cricket is proud to be BullfrogPowered with Green Energy certified, which means they as an organization use green energy to reduce their overall pollution and support renewable energy projects across Canada. Fit Cricket plans to expand their line of products, even adding in different bugs.
Protein (per serving): 10g
Weight per bar: 1.8 oz
Price: 12 for $42
Flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Mint Chocolate
Landish produces a variety of protein bars and powders including ones made from spirulina, reishi mushroom and of course, cricket powder. All bars are gluten, dairy, pea, soy, whey, nut and egg-free so they’ll work for just about anybody (except people allergic to crustaceans. Sorry.) The bars are light and not overly sweet, and they’re created from a mix of ingredients like seed butter, brown rice syrup, flax and buckwheat which makes for a great texture. Along with the cricket protein, seed powders are also used. Landish bars have a shelf life of 9 months. For maximum long-term freshness, they should be stored in cool temps.
Protein (per serving): 15g
Weight per bar: 2.19 oz
Price: 12 for $42
Flavors: Chocolate brownie
This new to the market company is bringing their first flagship bar to the public this year, available starting 2/19! Their chocolate brownie bar is Paleo friendly, packs a whopping 15g of protein and 9 grams of fiber. The bar has a good flavor and it will keep you full for hours on end. When you open the package, you’re hit with a smell similar to a freshly baked brownie, and the bar kind of tastes like one too—with a healthy spin. It has a soft and smooth texture made from ingredients like almond butter, pea protein, dates, and honey. Each 12-bar box includes free shipping.
Protein (per serving): 20g Serious, 6g Pleasure
Weight per bar: 1.7 oz
Price: 4 for $11
Flavors: Dark Chocolate & Orange, Pineapple & Coconut, Dark Chocolate & Sesame, Peanut Butter & Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate & Sour Cherry
This one's for our European readers. Sens is a UK-based company that sells two bar choices: the ‘pleasure bar’ which will keep you full and focused, and a ‘serious bar’ which is a low-carb, high-protein option for muscle recovery. The bars either contain 10% cricket powder or 20%. The rest of the protein comes from pumpkin seeds and fava beans. Both are tasty, but the serious bar’s a bit on the dry side. Orders come in 12 or 20. SENS also sells cricket protein crackers, pasta and baking, and protein powder.
Side note: We intended to review Chapul’s gourmet cricket bars. However, we learned that they're co-packer recently went out of business and the company is taking this time to pursue insect farming operations in Indonesia. However, they plan to return to bars in the future.
More Cricket Snacks
If sugary protein bars are not your forte but you still want to jump on the cricket bandwagon, here are some alternative products you can try. We have not had chance to taste those yet, but if you have, let us know your thoughts in the comments, below.
Chirps chips are the first ones ever made from cricket flour. They’re naturally gluten-free and each serving packs 5 grams of protein and 20% of your daily B12. They’re also mixed with chia seeds and non-GMO corn. You can choose from BBQ, Cheddar or Siracha. The chips have a mild flavor with Siracha being the fan-favorite. Bags are available in 1.25 or 5 oz.
Made from only eight natural ingredients, this cookie mix was created after testing out 50 different chocolate chip cookie recipes. Its base is cricket flour, and it tastes just like a regular chocolate chip cookie from grandma’s house. Each serving has 5 grams of protein and provides a healthy dose of zinc and B12. All you need to whip up a batch of these is the mix, butter, egg, and vanilla.
This Portland-based company offers a 5-pack variety of slow-roasted flavored crickets. The crickets are raised in the US and fed a healthy diet of protein and vegetables. Each bag weighs .32 oz and contains 6 grams of protein. The flavors include original, spicy cayenne pepper, hickory-smoked peppery bacon, cheesy ranch and buffalo wing sauce. The crickets taste nutty and similar to a toasted pine nut or rice puff.
Health Benefits of Cricket Bars
NUTRIENT-DENSE AND ALLERGEN-FREE
Crickets are naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and non-GMO. They’re stocked full of good nutrients like Omega-3’s and 6’s which benefit brain, heart, and metabolism function. Protein derived from crickets proves to be easier on the digestive system for people who have sensitivities to beans, legumes, whey, and soy.
It’s important to note that people allergic to crustaceans will also be allergic to crickets!
HIGH-GRADE PROTEIN SOURCE
For a protein to qualify as a ‘complete protein source,’ it must include all nine of the essential amino acid’s humans required to absorb nutrients and maintain, develop, repair and grow muscles.
It’s no secret that we all need protein to live, and it’s especially important when we’re pushing our bodies to physical lengths like thru-hiking 20 miles/day. Crickets give a big ‘ole check to that box and more. Not only are crickets a lean, complete protein source, but a single ounce fills around 1/3 of a person’s daily protein needs.
Crickets contain a prebiotic fiber known as Chitin that helps soothe inflammation in the body and maintain and feed healthy gut flora. A recent study even found that eating at least 25 grams of crickets a day can help raise strands of good probiotic gut bacteria, which is linked to improving overall gastrointestinal health and digestion. Since Whey is a by-product of dairy, crickets can also be suitable for people who have tummy troubles with dairy, or who just want to follow a dairy-free diet.
Crickets vs. Plant-Based and Animal Protein Sources
Crickets, Whey, Meat, Seafood, Eggs, Quinoa, Hempseed, Buckwheat, and Soy are all considered complete proteins. That’s a fair mix of options that’ll work for about every diet. So how does cricket powder stack up against these common animal and plant protein sources?
- Crickets have 2-3 times more protein than beef
- They deliver 1.5 times more calcium than milk
- They're high in fiber—while chicken, beef and whey do not contain any
- They're one of the cleanest, least-processed sources of protein available
- Whey and plant-based protein can have a chalky aftertaste
No matter where you get your daily protein intake from, make sure it comes from clean sources.
A lot of common protein sources like fatty meats, fish, whey, soy, and even some plant-based options can be sneakily stocked full of unnatural fillers, additives and even toxins that do more harm than good. These additives can disrupt our bodies with good gut bacteria.
To make sure you're eating ‘clean’ protein, keep it simple. Stick with lean, organic meats and plant-based protein sources with labels that include ingredients you can pronounce.
Straight up—insects are hands down better for the environment than livestock. Why? Here’s where the world is currently at:
- 1/3 of our agricultural land is used to grow crops to feed livestock.
- 68% of our land is being used for livestock.
- 1/3 of our greenhouse gas emissions (which contribute to global warming) are from animal food production.
If we all became vegetarians, food linked emissions would drop by nearly 60%, and 80% of the land reserved for pastures could go towards restoring forests and parkland.
The hard truth is—humanity should cut back on meat, eat more plants, and look at sustainable solutions for the future.
The world has around 7.5 billion people right now. By 2050, it’s predicted to have nearly 10 billion. What does this mean? We need a way to feed everyone, and eating insects could be a real sustainable step in the right direction.
Here are 10 ways crickets leave a much smaller ecological footprint:
- They drink less water (1 gallon of water for 1 lb. of crickets vs. 2000 lbs. of water for 1 cow).
- They eat less food.
- They can live off practically anything.
- They release 100 times fewer greenhouse gases (methane is a gas that cows release which is contributing to global warming and climate change).
- They don’t require all the land, grain, and energy sources necessary to grow and house livestock.
- Crickets are a zero-waste food since they’re eaten in entirety. With cattle, only about 40% gets used for meat.
- Cricket poop is actually an excellent environmentally safe fertilizer.
- They grow about 13x faster than livestock, with a life cycle of 6-7 weeks.
- It takes 100 lbs. of feed to make 10 lbs. of beef, while 10 lbs. of feed will make 40 lbs. of insects.
- Crickets are a cheap and efficient source of nutrition that could be available to all.
Eating Cricket Food Products: What Is It Like?
Taste: Cricket flour really doesn’t have much flavor. You’ll get a mild, earthy, almost nutty flavor. It’s subtle and can easily be overpowered by other spices and ingredients. It’s a great nutrient-dense addition for mixing in meals, baked goods, and even smoothies.
The cricket's diet along with its age can affect how it tastes. Small crickets in the 6-week range are believed to be the best taste-wise. As for the diet, if a cricket’s fed grain it will have more of a nutty, almond-like flavor. If it’s given sweets like fruits, then it will mimic that flavor.
The Acheta Domesticus is the main cricket used in most products because it has a milder taste compared to others.
Texture: Cricket flour has a texture that’s a little grainy like sand, yet still soft like other flours. It can be subtly mixed into recipes and makes for denser baked goods.
Satiation: Because cricket powder is naturally high in fiber, it helps keep you full longer. Many bars that include nuts, seeds and fruits are also good fiber sources.
What's in a cricket bar?
A cricket bar is a high protein energy or power bar that’s main protein source is derived from cricket flour. It takes roughly 1000 crickets to make 1 pound of cricket flour. This flour can then be mixed alongside a blend of other ingredients and even other protein powder sources to create cricket bars. Most bars will be gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, soy-free and Non-GMO friendly.
Is eating insects good for you?
Crickets as protein. Who would have thought? If this article hasn’t convinced you to give eating a protein-packed, nutrient-dense, environmentally friendly insect a go… then maybe this will.
We hate to break it to you, but we all already eat bugs every day. Without knowing it.
They get mixed in with our ground up coffee, juices, tomato sauces, rice, pasta… and plenty of other pantry staples. It’s just one benefit of growing food where bugs live and mass food production. Those suckers just wander in there and get ground up. But instead of thinking of it as eating bugs, just think of it as getting a little extra protein. For free. Don’t knock it ‘till you try it.