Paleo Cricket Nettle Pesto




This cricket and stinging nettle pesto is the perfect springtime forager’s recipe!

Instead of using a traditional basil base, we’re using a plant that many people consider a weed called stinging nettle. This under-appreciated weed makes a bright base for your pesto. It has been used as food, dye, and medicine since the Bronze Age!

Humans and their ancestors have eaten insects for thousands of years. Eating bugs is going the ‘full paleo’—no true paleo diet would be complete without it! Crickets in particular are an excellent source of protein, yielding 20.5g of protein per 100g (compared to about 24g in 100g of chicken). They’re also a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional livestock. Growing insects uses less feed, far less water, and emits less greenhouse gasses. For example, it takes about 24,000 gallons of water over a cow’s lifetime to produce one pound of beef. Crickets on the other hand, require hardly any water at all (most of their water is contained in the food scraps they eat, if that’s what they’re raised on as I have done at home!). In this recipe crickets are being used as a replacement for pine nuts, as they have a similar nutty taste.


Step 1: Ingredients

1/2 pound of nettles

3/4 cup of crickets

4 cloves of garlic

½ tsp. salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Other Specialty Tools needed:

Food processor


Step 2: Sourcing Nettle

The stinging nettle plant is a sure sign of spring, and can be found in backyards, gardens, stream banks, and even along the road. Their characteristic serrated leaves have stinging hairs on the underside that are quite unpleasant if you brush up against them. Stinging nettle should be collected before it flowers. When you’re harvesting your nettle, make sure it’s coming from an area you know has not been treated with pesticides or herbicides! Always use a glove when harvesting and handling before cooking to avoid a painful sting.

Step 3: Sourcing Crickets

Crickets can be ordered online. It’s best to get them from a farm that rears them specifically for human consumption. Mine came from Big Cricket Farms in Youngstown, Ohio. Always keep them frozen when not in use, and they need to be cooked before they’re safe to eat—just like any other kind of meat!

(this photo is from a cricket farm in Don Chedi, Thailand. Cricket farms are big business in Southeast Asia!)

Step 4: ​Prep and Cook Nettles

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Using a gloved hand, cut the leaves off the stems. Add the leaves to the pot of water and let it boil for about a minute, or until it looks a bit like cooked spinach. Drain in a colander, and pat dry with a paper towel. You should have about 1 cup of cooked nettle leaves.

Step 5: Cook Your Crickets

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the crickets to the water. Boil for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Drain.

Step 6: Combine Dry Ingredients

Smash the garlic and add to the work bowl of your food processor. Add crickets, salt, and pepper. Puree until well blended.

Step 7: Final Ingredients

Add the nettle a little at a time to your food processor. Next, squeeze in the lemon juice. Again puree until smooth. Add the olive oil a little at a time. Puree until smooth.

Step 8: Enjoy Your Paleo Pesto Sauce!

And there you have it!

Top some spaghetti squash with your pesto and you’ve got yourself a meal that’s as nutritious as it is tasty! You can also use it as a sauce for a paleo-friendly pizza. The possibilities are endless!

Keep Rustling Up Some Grub!

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    13 Discussions


    2 years ago

    This is great, it's inspiring to see people cooking with more insects, I know it can be a tough sell in this country, but I've had some really amazing things made from bugs. Food taboos are so strange. Thanks for sharing :)


    3 years ago

    Why boil the crickets? I'd like try this with roasted crickets.


    3 years ago

    this looks awesome congrats on the win!

    1 reply

    3 years ago on Introduction

    I heard crickets also don't taste so bad. I wonder if America can start "sneaking" it in our fast food and maybe breaking the ewwwwww stereotype? I can imagine all the resources we'd save. We as humans may be forced to go this route in the future when we start to run short of land.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Crickets are tasty! Kind nutty. You're right-- breaking through that 'ick factor' can be a barrier to widespread acceptance of entomophagy. There's a lot of potential in the industry right now, but we need more diverse dishes and more education, I think! Thanks for your comment!

    T Bomber

    4 years ago

    I just discovered nettles eating a couple of weeks ago.All I can say is-where have they been all my life!Yesterday I made some pesto that I cobbled together using nettles and pecans instead of pinenuts.Yummmo.I would def try crickets,

    1 reply
    KBthreadsT Bomber

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Totally the same here! This was really my first go with them and I was completely amazed at how good they were! Oooh pecans would be good too! I hope you try it with crickets!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Well, I've wanted to try both nettle pesto and crickets so I guess this will do the trick. Will have to remember this for next year, the nettles are already too big for picking here. :)

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome! Let me know how it turns out. You're totally right- the young nettles are by far the best!