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30 Halloween appetizers for a spooky start to the night

Make sure Halloween is a scream with scary snacks and fun finger foods.
/ Source: TODAY

The best way to start any spooky soiree is with a selection of scary snacks that are as tantalizing to the taste buds as they are eye-catching. Halloween is the time for costume and culinary creativity to run wild. Everyday recipes can be turned into festive dishes for the holiday: Think ghastly guacamole, haunted hummus, devilish deviled eggs, yummy mummy dogs, a party-perfect pumpkin-shaped cheese ball, vampire-repelling garlic fries, post-jack-o'-lantern-carving pepitas, fiery, flame-fanning dips and more. Let the spooky spirit inspire party snacks and finger foods that are spicy, savory, sinister and, of course, frighteningly full of flavor.

Aside from the aforementioned flavor, color is key when it comes to Halloween-themed eats and treats. Incorporating classic black and orange ingredients will add a festive touch to the table. But don't forget blood-red foods and ghoulish-green eats, too. You want all eyes on the eyeball-shaped food on the table.

This holiday is known for its overabundance of sweets, so a savory spread will be a welcome change from the bounty of sugary treats. Including kid-friendly fare is a must, but keep in mind that Halloween isn't just for the kiddos — or the faint of heart! Visually chilling dishes and terrorizing tastes that push the palate to its limit will give grown-up guests plenty of amusement.

No matter their age, your party guests won't be able to resist sinking their teeth into these bewitching bites — then gobbling down Halloween dinner, drinks, snacks and desserts (including cookies) — especially after an exhausting night of trick-or-treating.

Roasting cauliflower with a crispy breadcrumb topping creates fabulous texture without having to be fried. For the dip, black sesame tahini is used instead of a traditional tahini paste, which adds some spooky flair to this recipe if you want to make it for Halloween (though we must say, it's a winner year-round).

Mozzarella Eyeballs

Easy to make and even easier to eat, these one-bite mozzarella eyeballs come together in a snap. Have fun and display these in a head of cauliflower to resemble a brain. Drizzle with a little balsamic glaze for some sweetness and a creepy drip effect!

Nobody will be able to resist this ghoulish guacamole dip with several devilishly delicious layers. Use different color pitas to add variety to the scene. Make the chips extra festive by cutting the pitas with oval, cat, ghost or tombstone cookie cutters.

These knobby garlic bread-stick fingers may just put a spell on you! Dip them in your favorite marinara sauce for a spooky snack. Because they're gluten free party guests with dietary restrictions don't have to be afraid to dig in.

Yummy Mummy Dogs for Halloween

The scariest thing about these frightful franks is that they're terrifyingly delicious! Three ingredients — puff pastry, hot dogs and beaten egg come together in just a few simple steps: roll, cut, twirl, brush, bake and eat! Either type of puff pastry (all-butter or shortening) will work here.

Zombie Cheese and Prosciutto Halloween Party Skull

Your guests will be head-over-heels for this creepy centerpiece. It's a great way to present a meat and cheese platter for any Halloween party. This snack platter is a real scream!

Black Sauce and Lingonberry Sauce Wings

Chicken wings take fright with this spooky sauce makeover. The wings get fried and smothered in two diabolically delicious sauces. One is a tangy red lingonberry barbecue sauce and the other a jet-black spicy bean sauce — perfect for some frightening fun!

This recipe is great because it gives guests a break from the sugary candy. It keeps the spooky theme of a Halloween party while providing a healthy snack at the same time. Use any veggies and ghoulish shapes to design the platter.

Spider Eggs

These irresistible bites have all the flavors of classic deviled eggs but with the spooky, salty bite of an olive "spider" on top. Make extra for a party because these will literally be eaten by the dozen.

Pastry Puff Wrapped Mummy Brie

This recipe has just two main ingredients, so it could not be any simpler to assemble, yet the final presentation is totally centerpiece-worthy. The gooey melted cheese and flaky puff pastry make this a completely craveable appetizer. Serve with fresh cut vegetables and crackers so guests can choose different dippers.

With a carved pumpkin, this popular party dish becomes a spectacular centerpiece to wow guests at a Halloween party. Make the dip dairy-free by taking out the mayonnaise. A little lemon juice will also help prevent the dip from turning brown.

Nothing beats the expression on peoples' faces after biting into one of these and realizing there's a grape inside! The juicy, sweet surprise gives the creamy, crunchy treats a burst of freshness. If any guests have a nut allergy, try rolling the cream cheese-covered grapes in fresh herbs like basil and chives.

Mummy Hot Dogs

Pigs-in-a-blanket get a spooky makeover! This recipe requires very little time and effort yet is a savory showstopper for an otherwise sweet-filled holiday. For vegetarians, swap out hot dogs for jalapeño peppers that have been halved and stuffed with a mixture of shredded cheese and cream cheese.

Vampire Garlic Fries

It's Halloween and what could be spookier than the threat of a ghastly vampire bite? These garlic fries will keep your immune system strong — and chase all the vampires away! Just be sure to keep some breath mints handy.

These savory bites are the ideal way to balance out your candy-induced sugar shock. That's because each edible "eyeball" is packed with blood-sugar-stabilizing stuff: protein-rich egg whites plus fiber-filled hummus and guacamole, which also contribute heart-healthy fat. Kick things up a notch in the decoration (and heat) department by making the eyeballs look extra eerie with bloodshot streaks using a drizzle of Sriracha.

Queso Fundido (Melted Cheese) in a Pumpkin

What could be better than a gooey dip with three kinds of melted cheese? That dip served in a hollowed-out pumpkin! Marcella Valladolid fills the seasonal squash with gooey queso fundido for a decorative and delicious Halloween treat.

Indian-Spiced Pepitas

This recipe turns something that could become food waste and turns it into something delicious. After carving jack-o'-lanterns, save the seeds to make this tasty snack. The texture of the pepitas along with the flavors of the spices make a wonderful combination.

Cream cheese and sausage is an unbeatable combo for dips. This recipe takes it to a whole new level by stuffing it into bite-sized mushrooms. It's a portable pick-up your Halloween guests will love.

3-Ingredient Chorizo Pigs in a Blanket

These sweet and spicy pastries are a unique twist on the classic pigs in a blanket. The corn syrup glaze adds a sweet touch that contrasts with the spicy sausage. Serve on their own or along with your favorite mustard for dipping. When purchasing the chorizo be sure to buy fully cooked (not fresh) sausage.

Black Forbidden Rice Arancini

The color of the black rice with the digestive charcoal is surprising but the flavor is deep and rich. It's fun to see the initial skepticism on people's faces before they bite it and then react to the delicious taste. They're the perfect spooky snack for Halloween!

Slow-Cooker Barbecue Cocktail Wieners

Your guests would never know this deliciously addictive appetizer was made in mere minutes and with just two ingredients. The sticky sauce and plum mini dogs are the perfect easy-to-eat party bite. They're delicious and couldn't be easier to prepare.

This cheesy and savory party pumpkin is the perfect edible showstopper for any festive autumn party. It adds instant fall flair to the table and gives guests a fun and interactive appetizer. Serve with a selection of chips or colorful crudites.

Deviled Crab Dip

This recipe takes the fresh flavor of crab and ups the ante with spicy jalapeños, a creamy cheese and zesty spices. It comes together very quickly, too. Just mix it, bake it and serve. Change up the flavors by substituting crab for diced cooked lobster or shrimp.

Smoky chipotle peppers bring the heat to this Southwestern-inspired dip whose dark color is perfect for Halloween. Use just one pepper if you want a mild dose of spiciness, or add more adobo sauce or pepper if you want to amp up the burn. If possible, use fresh, in-season corn — the raw kernels’ juicy sweetness will offset the heat.

Bacon Bites

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Bacon Bites

Elizabeth Heiskell

This appetizer is a surprising mix of subtly sweet and salty, savor flavors. They have the look of spooky tree branches and crowd-pleasing bacon. Remove bread sticks from the baking sheet while warm or they will stick like glue, which would be a major party fail.

Popcorn shrimp wouldn't be exciting without a sauce. This is one that packs in complex flavors. The gochujang in the sauce adds an intensely sweet and spicy taste (and gives it its bloody appearance), and the shrimp is slightly spicy and tangy from the buttermilk-chili marinade.

Parmesan Kale Chips

Ina Garten turns leafy kale into crispy chips. Flat kale — sometimes labeled cavalo nero, Dinosaur kale or lacinato — it can be roasted for the perfect light bite to serve with drinks. It's simply kale, olive oil and salt, and it roasts in 15 minutes. Of course, freshly grated Parmesan cheese makes everything taste better, and its dark-green hue is perfect for the spookiest autumn night.

The spiced cereal, candied nuts and dried fruit are a great mix to serve at gatherings. Don't skip browning the butter! Making brown butter for this recipe takes it over the top from usual cereal party mix. It just adds that extra layer of caramelized flavor and nuttiness. And don't skip the blueberries: The fruity sweetness adds the best foil to the spicy, savory saltiness of the rest of the mix.

Avocado Hummus

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Avocado Hummus

Heather and Terry Dubrow

This hummus recipe is a real crowd-pleaser. It owes its ghoulish green color to fresh avocados. It pairs nicely with chips to enjoy as a dip, or it can be used as a spread on wraps and sandwiches.

What's not to love about barbecue-flavored sweet potato chips? These are the perfect snack for a party, or the perfect thing to serve alongside a bunch of sandwiches or sliders. The orange chips and smoky spices make them perfect for a haunted Halloween gathering.