Hot and Crispy Pillbug from Emperor’s New Groove

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tiktok hot and crispy pillbug

What’s Up, Hungry People

Today, I’m taking you on a wild ride through the culinary world of The Emperor’s New Groove. Grab your llamas, because we’re about to whip up a dish that’s as quirky the movie itself – a crispy, cheesy, pillbug-inspired creation that even Pacha would give two thumbs up!

The Emperor’s New Groove is a lively, comedic Disney animated film released in 2000. The story revolves around Kuzco, a self-centered Incan emperor who is transformed into a llama by his power-hungry advisor, Yzma, and her dim-witted assistant, Kronk. Yzma’s intent is to usurp the throne, but her plans go awry when Kuzco ends up in the care of Pacha, a kind-hearted peasant.

The film follows Kuzco and Pacha’s misadventures as they form an unlikely friendship while attempting to return Kuzco to his human form and to the palace. Throughout their journey, Kuzco learns valuable lessons about humility, compassion, and the importance of others’ needs over his own desires.

The movie is known for its unique humor, quirky characters, and memorable quotes, standing out in Disney’s repertoire for its distinctive comedic style and character-driven storytelling.

As one of my all time favorite movies from my childhood, the hot-and-crispy pillbug special served at Mudka’s Meat Hut has stuck with me for nearly 20 years – and after dozens of requests to make the dish popped up over on TikTok, I knew it was high time to bring one of the most iconic movie foods to life (much to Kuzco’s chagrin, I’m sure).

Here’s What You Need

  • Blue Corn Meal: Provides the base for the pillbug shell, giving it a unique color and flavor.
  • Warm Water: Helps in hydrating the corn meal to form a workable dough.
  • Olive Oil: Adds moisture and flavor to the dough, aids in forming and baking.
  • Salt: Enhances the overall flavor of the shell.
  • Blue Food Coloring: Optional for adding a more vibrant color to the shell.
  • Instant Potatoes: Thickens and adds flavor to the filling, creating a creamy texture.
  • Velveeta Cheese: Melts smoothly, adding a rich, creamy cheese flavor to the filling.
  • Milk: Thins and smooths the filling, balancing the consistency.
  • Jumbo Olives: Used creatively to represent pillbug legs, adding a briny flavor.
emperors new groove pillbug recipe

Let’s Cook!

Let’s start with the star of our show: the pillbug’s exoskeleton. Here, we’re using blue corn masa, a nod to the vibrant colors of the movie. We’ll mix it with oil, salt, and just enough water to create a sticky dough. But wait – there’s a twist! A few drops of blue food coloring will bring out that natural corn color and make it pop, just like Kuzco’s personality. Mix it up until the color is as even as Pacha’s good intentions, then knead it lightly to form a soft dough. Give it a rest, like Kuzco should have done in the first place, and let it firm up.

cheesy potato pillbug recipe

Now, I found this loaf pan with scalloped edges that’s a dead ringer for a pillbug’s exoskeleton. Press your dough into this pan, covering the edges and sides evenly – think of it as your own little piece of Mudka’s Meat Hut right in your kitchen. Once it’s shaped, into the oven it goes, transforming into a crispy shell worthy of any Incan feast.

While our shell bakes, let’s get gooey with the filling. Heat some milk and add easy-melt cheese (Velveeta is my go-to, just like Kronk’s spinach puffs). Stir it up until the cheese and milk blend into a creamy dream. Then, to get that perfect dippable consistency, stir in instant potato mix. If it’s too thick, like Yzma’s plot to take over the empire, just thin it out with a little more milk.

emperors new groove cheesy potato dip

Pour this cheese lava into your crispy pillbug shell, filling it to the brim. Now for the pièce de résistance – slices of jumbo olives for the legs, making it look like it scuttled straight out of the jungle.

The result? A crispy, crunchy shell bursting with a super cheesy, almost drinkable filling. Whether you sip it or dip it, it’s an imperial order to cover your tracks as you sneak away from Yzma and Kronk, back to Kuzco’s palace.

This dish is a playful homage to one of the most underrated Disney movies. It’s as fun to make as it is to eat, and let’s be honest, it’s the perfect snack for plotting your own harmless schemes or just kicking back for a movie marathon.

Pillbug Party Tips

  • Dough Consistency is Key: The right consistency for the dough is crucial. It should be sticky but workable. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water; if too sticky, add a bit more corn meal. This balance is important to ensure the shell holds its shape and doesn’t crack.
  • Blue Food Coloring Usage: While optional, the blue food coloring can really enhance the ‘bug-like’ appearance. Start with a few drops and add more to reach your desired shade. Remember, the color will lighten slightly when baked.
  • Cheese and Instant Potato Ratio: The consistency of the filling can vary. If it’s too runny, add more instant potatoes. If too thick, add more milk. This flexibility allows you to adjust to your preferred texture.
  • Olive Placement for Legs: When placing the olive slices to resemble legs, press them gently into the filling so they hold their position and don’t float away.
  • Baking Time Awareness: Keep an eye on the baking process. You want the edges to be crispy, but the bottom should not become too hard or burnt. Baking times might vary based on your oven.
  • Serving and Reheating: This dish is best served warm. For reheating, gently warm the filling in a pot, adding a bit of milk or water to regain the creamy consistency. The shell might soften upon reheating but will still be delicious.
  • Creativity in Presentation: Have fun with the presentation. This quirky recipe is a conversation starter, so play up the pillbug theme with creative serving ideas like a garden-themed platter.
hot and crispy pillbug from the emperors new groove

As we wrap up this whimsical kitchen adventure, remember that cooking, much like life in the Incan empire, is full of surprises. This pillbug dish is more than just a nod to The Emperor’s New Groove; it’s a delightful blend of crispy, cheesy goodness that will bring a touch of whimsy to your table. Whether you’re outsmarting evil advisors or just craving something deliciously different, this recipe is your ticket to a fun, flavorful experience. Remember, every bite is a chance to channel your inner Kuzco or Pacha, turning an ordinary meal into an extraordinary adventure.

Hot and Crispy Pillbug from Emperor’s New Groove

The Starving Chef
Dive into the world of The Emperor's New Groove with this crispy, cheesy pillbug-inspired dish, perfect for adding a quirky twist to your meal.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Fictional Feasts
Cuisine Dips, Movies
Servings 2 hot-and-crispy pillbugs



  • 2 cups blue corn meal + more as needed
  • 1 ½ cups warm water + more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 drops blue food coloring optional


  • ¾ pouch instant potatoes sour cream & cheese flavor, etc
  • 8 oz Velveeta cheese block
  • 4 cups milk + more as needed
  • 4 jumbo olives sliced into eighths for legs


  • In a large bowl, mix the blue corn meal and salt with the olive oil until crumbly. Gradually pour in the water, adding drops of blue food coloring if desired, to achieve optimal color.
  • Mix until a sticky dough forms. Knead with your hands until the dough is no longer sticky. Let it rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Roll the dough into a thick log shape. Place it in a greased loaf pan, covering with plastic wrap. Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, ensuring an even layer and no edges are poking through.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the edges are crispy and the bottom is firm. The dough will shrink and harden as it cools.
  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, add milk. Stir in the cheese until it melts into the milk. Whisk in the instant potatoes, combining well. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk; if too thin, add more instant potatoes.
  • Pour the potato filling into the pillbug shell. Arrange the sliced olives along the edges of the shell to resemble pillbug legs. Serve immediately with chips or vegetables for dipping, or break off pieces of the shell for dipping. Enjoy!


Reheating Notes: The filling will firm up as it cools. To get it back to dip consistency, scrape the filling out of the shell and reheat until creamy. A few tablespoons of milk or water can be used to get it back to the correct texture. Store leftovers in airtight container. Eat within 3 days. 
Keyword cheese, corn meal, instant potatoes, masa, tortilla
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