How to Dry Mealworms

By Jo Chester

Mealworms can be a nutritious addition to almost any pet bird's diet. However, if they reproduce beyond your capacity to use them, it may become necessary to preserve them for future use. Drying mealworms reduces the space required to store them and, according to, increases the time for which they can be kept without refrigeration to up to one year. It also preserves the proteins within the mealworms during the storage period. Roasting is the most efficient and effective way to dry mealworms; however, they can be freeze-dried and dehydrated with the proper equipment.

Roasting Mealworms on a Grill

Collect a large number of mealworms from your colony: 1,000-2,000 larvae.

Place the mealworms in the appropriate-sized plastic container. About 5,000 mealworms should fit in a 2-quart container.

Cover the container securely and place the container in the freezer. Freezing the worms will humanely kill them in as little as 15 minutes. If some mealworms are still moving after this time, put them back into the freezer and check them periodically.

Turn on your electric or gas grill. Select the lowest setting and allow the grill to preheat. If a charcoal grill is being used, adjust the vents and any existing smoke stack to ensure slow roasting at a low temperature.

Prepare the roasting pan(s) by covering the bottom(s) with a thin layer of cornmeal. This step can be skipped; however, the cornmeal will help prevent the mealworms from sticking to the pan(s) during roasting.

Transfer the frozen mealworms into your pan(s). Layer the mealworms and spread evenly to ensure that they cook at the same rate.

Place the roasting pan(s) onto the grill. Close the cover. If the grill has no cover, use aluminum foil to cover the pan(s), venting as needed.

Allow the mealworms to roast 4 to 5 hours. Periodically check the pan(s), gently shaking them to prevent the mealworms from sticking. Mealworms should darken as they roast.

When the mealworms reach a dark golden-brown, remove the roasting pan(s) from the heat. When the mealworms have cooled, place them in a plastic container. Store tightly covered in a cool, dry area.

Coat mealworks with a supplement powder after they are roasted; this will provide the greatest benefit to your birds or other pets. Place the mealworms to be coated into a small- to medium-sized plastic bag with about 2 tbsp. powder per 500 mealworms.

Gently shake the plastic bag, making sure to cover all of the mealworms with a light, even coat of supplement powder. Add more powder to the bag as needed. Shake off any excess supplement powder before storing the mealworms or feeding them to animals.