I'm going to be honest—I'm not much of a Halloween fan. I don't like scary movies, have never been one for costumes, and the average Halloween party goes way past my bedtime. I am, however, always on board for food. You might think Halloween is all about the candy, but the holiday has inspired us to create tons of homemade treats over the years. We've collected 23 of our favorites, from severed witch finger cookies to the biggest peanut butter cup you've ever seen, plus a few savory recipes like orange-and-black carrots and ghostly pizza, in case you need a break from the sugar.
Roasted Carrots With Black Sesame Dressing
To give roasted carrots a Halloween-appropriate twist we serve them with a jet-black sauce made with earthy black sesame paste, tart lemon juice, and olive oil. The sesame paste is just bitter enough to cut through the sweetness of the carrots, and minced parsley gives the side some freshness.
Ghost and Spider Pan Pizza
Sometimes making a Halloween-appropriate dish is as simple as adding some spooky decorations to a normal recipe. Here that means starting with our foolproof pan pizza and topping it with mozzarella ghosts and black-olive spiders with rosemary legs.
Deviled Egg Eyeballs
This gruesome snack also starts with a classic recipe—we use a standard deviled egg mix of mayo, mustard, and paprika. The shape of the eggs lets them transform into bloodshot eyes, which we accomplish using sliced black-olive "irises" and red-pepper "veins." The olives are creepy, yes, but their briny flavor also helps balance the rich egg yolks.
Seafood Ramen With Squid Ink, Mussels, and Salmon Roe
Squid-ink spaghetti lends itself naturally to Halloween, but to make it even scarier we pair it with bright orange salmon roe, black mussels, squid, and nori "bats." You might have noticed that the name of this recipe doesn't say "spaghetti"—boiling the noodles with baking soda makes them taste remarkably similar to ramen.
Pumpkin Cheddar Crackers
Sweet, buttery sugar cookies were a holiday staple in my house growing up. I still appreciate the fun decorations but find my tastes have veered a little toward savory foods, so now I'm more likely to make a batch of these flaky, cheddar-packed crackers. This recipe requires some family teamwork—the kids can stamp out the pumpkin shape, but you should probably leave the knife-cut ridges to the grown-ups.
Black Sesame Ice Cream
The secret to both the charcoal color and the surprisingly nutty flavor of this ice cream is a Japanese-style black sesame paste—substituting it out for the stuff available on supermarket shelves just won't do the trick. The paste is made from roasted, un-hulled sesame seeds, which results in a toasty and ever so slightly bitter flavor, which we temper with a little brown sugar.
Super-Spooky Halloween Gingerbread House
Gingerbread houses are traditionally a Christmas treat, but if you can't wait until December, then how about making a haunted gingerbread house? It starts with the same crunchy Construction Gingerbread and fast-drying Royal Icing, but the decorations make it clear what holiday we're celebrating.
Homemade Milk Duds
I've always treated Halloween mostly as an excuse to eat candy that I would never buy the rest of the year. I might stop buying Milk Duds even at Halloween, though, because these chewy, lightly bittersweet DIY versions are so much tastier.
Made-From-Scratch Caramel Apples
Ever cracked a tooth on a caramel apple? Yeah, not fun. No risk of that with this recipe: The caramel is tender enough to chomp through with ease, even as it's thick enough to fully coat the apple. Its taste isn't overpowering either, so you get some caramel depth without completely obliterating the fruit's flavor.
Vampire Mouth Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies
A cross between s'mores and those cheap plastic vampire teeth that pop up at Halloween parties, these impressive sandwich cookies are made with home-baked chocolate graham crackers, red frosting "gums," marshmallow "teeth," and almond "fangs." We use a cream cheese frosting for the gums, which cuts through the sweetness of the marshmallows and graham crackers.
Witch Finger Shortbread Cookies With Raspberry Jam
Vampire fangs a little too cutesy for you? If you're more into the gross-out side of Halloween, you have to check out these shortbread cookies. Being shaped like gnarled severed witch fingers makes them gross enough, but the real kicker comes when you bite into them and they start bleeding raspberry jam.
4-Layer Halloween Ice Cream Cake
This monstrous ice cream cake is liable to put you into a sugar coma before you even head out trick-or-treating—the Oreo crust is topped with four different layers of candy-packed ice cream (chocolate/Reese's cups, coffee/Kit Kats, dulce de leche/Twix, and vanilla/Snickers). That's not sweet enough, though, so we drizzle the whole thing with ganache.
Better Than Snickers Milkshake
This milkshake won't require that you bust into your Halloween haul—rather than using actual Snickers we just give it the same flavor as the classic candy bar by blending caramel ice cream, peanut butter, and unsweetened cocoa powder and topping it with caramel sauce, whipped cream, and chopped peanuts.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Jack-o'-Lantern Cookies
More cute than creepy, these kid-friendly jack-o'-lantern sandwich cookies are super easy to make—just stamp out the chocolate dough with a pumpkin-shaped cutter, cut out eyes and mouths in half of the cut-outs, and then layer the cut and uncut cookies with creamy peanut butter.
Peanut Butter Reese's Pieces Blondies
Reese's Pieces are wonderful for topping baked goods because in addition to being colorful, they remain surprisingly crunchy after coming out of the oven. The crispy candy is a nice textural contrast to these nutty blondies, which we make soft and fudgy by under-baking slightly.
Chocolate-Covered Candy Corn Layer Cake
The monochromatic icing on this cake hides a surprise—cut it open and you'll find three layers of cake colored to look just like candy corn. The cake has the intensely buttery flavor of candy corn, too, thanks to a couple sticks of butter and several tablespoons of butter flavoring.
Candy Corn Pecan Pie
It might seem like overkill to add a notoriously sweet candy to a notoriously sweet pie, but Halloween isn't a time to go light on the sugar. If you really need an excuse, I will say that the candy corn gives the pecan pie filling a pleasant vanilla note as it melts. But really, just embrace the sweetness knowing that Halloween only comes once a year.
Cupcakes are one of our favorite desserts to bring to Halloween parties—they're individually portioned, portable, and easy. Plus, who doesn't love a cupcake? You could spread orange icing onto chocolate cupcakes and call it a day, but these ghost faces are way more festive and not too much more work.
Chili-Chocolate Spider Cupcakes
Your options for decorating cupcakes are only limited by your imagination and your patience—this recipe is a little bit more involved than the previous one, but will be the highlight of your party. We top the cupcakes with spicy chocolate spiders made with chili-spiked ganache, licorice-string legs, slivered-almond fangs, and sour-candy eyes.
Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes
Cupcakes aren't the only option when it comes to individually sized desserts—no one is going to complain if you show up to a party with chocolate cheesecakes baked in muffin tins. Made on a vanilla wafer cookie base and topped with white-chocolate "spiderwebs," these cheesecakes are perfect for a more elegant Halloween.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
Peanut butter is a godsend when you want ice cream without the work of cooking a custard—all of its fat and protein lets you make a stable no-bake base. It also tastes pretty good, too, especially when paired with dark chocolate fudge and chopped Reese's cups.
Peanut Butter Cup Pie
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups come in a variety of sizes, but I bet you've never seen one quite like this. To make a pie-sized peanut butter cup we start with a chocolate wafer crumb crust, spoon in a peanut butter and cream cheese filling, and top with dark-chocolate ganache. The recipe doesn't say to wrap the whole thing in foil, but I'm not going to tell you not to do it, either.
Halloween Waffle-Iron S'mores (S'moreffles)
When your kids get home from trick-or-treating, convince them to save some of their candy to make these gooey waffle-iron s'mores the next day. We make the waffles with whole wheat flour and honey so that they taste like graham crackers, then melt in whatever chocolate candy we have left.