Every Halloween party needs a monstrous spread. Whether the frightful fest falls on Oct. 31 or a few weekends before, fueling up guests with ghoulishly great goodies is imperative.
It's always wise to provide some hearty appetizers and snacks that people can enjoy before marching towards a candy coma. If trick-or-treaters are present, try sneaking healthier fats like guacamole into a gourd-geous pumpkin, making mac-and-cheese in bell pepper jack-o'-lanterns and providing some other proteins like eerie chicken wings and mummified hot dogs (don't worry, they just look like mummies). Finger foods and fun snacks that are easier to eat than full dinner are ideal, too. That can be particularly helpful to anyone dressed up in an elaborate costume or antsy to keep boogying on the dance floor.
Well-done drinks are another menu item that can make or break a party. From kid-friendly concoctions to adults-only cocktails and tasty mocktails, there are plenty of ways to transform classic beverages into spooky sensations. Even if the to-do list is already packed, there are easy hacks that'll feel just as simple as throwing juice boxes in a cooler. Yet, the result will impress every ghostly guest and blood-thirsty vampire in attendance.
And of course, don't forget the desserts! These are a huge part of what makes Halloween such an exciting holiday. Plus, cakes, cookies, bars and other confections may be one of the easiest foods to decorate with a Halloween theme — scary on the outside, sweet on the inside.
Just follow TODAY Food's sinfully simple recipes to plan a Halloween spread that's truly to die for (*cue the evil laughter*).
Spice up your Halloween party with a warm blood-red punch simmered with seasonal flavors — cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Guests can ladle it directly from the slow cooker, which will keep your concoction warm all evening long. It's alcohol-free, so bloodthirsty little goblins and grown-ups alike can partake.
This is the ultimate spooky sipper. Instead of vodka, use prosecco for a bubblier cocktail. For a nonalcoholic version, leave out the alcohol, add more cranberry juice and enjoy!
This recipe is very versatile since you can use any flavor gelatin you like. This dessert also goes well beyond Halloween: It's great for school events and birthday parties, too! Add vodka where it calls for water to make this shooter into a cocktail adults can slurp.
Delight the kids — and adults — this Halloween with an easy make-at-home slushie using everyone's favorite rainbow-colored candy. They'll have a hard time picking just one flavor to try! They're a fun, fizzy, refreshing addition to the party!
This bubbling Halloween party punch takes no toil or trouble to make. The rolling plumes of smoke from the addition of dry ice make this a dramatic and stunning centerpiece. Guests will have fun drinking the enchanting elixir. And, since this brew is booze-free, littles ones can enjoy it, too.
Beware! This punch is booooozy! The dark fruit juices, bitter spirits and sweet, juicy fruit eyeballs make this the perfect punch for Halloween. The tantalizing taste is an eye-opening experience.
Everybody loves the idea of a bloody mary bar, but what about a margarita bar? Set out all the ingredients so guests can make their special potion just the way they like it. Make the setup even more festive by decorating the area with dry ice, toy Dracula fangs or candy corn.
Sherbet punch brings back memories of childhood parties. Using a frozen hand, creepy gummy worms and dry ice make this punch perfect for a Halloween celebration. For a less sweet punch, replace lemon-lime soda with club soda. You can also experiment with different flavors of sherbet.
A sugary black rim and spooky green drink make this the perfect cocktail concoction to serve on Halloween. The flavors of grassy matcha and the floral botanicals of gin set this drink apart. It's sure to add some sophisticated flair to any haunted gathering.
Always keep an eye on your drink — or in your drink? Blueberry and jam-stuffed lychees make a spooky garnish for this festive cocktail. The sweetness of the fruity "eyeballs" complements the tart, citrusy drink, providing a great balance of flavors.
Make a party punch your Halloween guests can really sink their teeth — or fangs — into. This cool cocktail has a slushy texture that's great for slurping through a straw or eating with a spoon. The fruity drink will satisfy their thirst, but the irresistible taste will keep them craving more!
Serve frozen piña coladas in blood rimmed glasses with edible eyeball garnishes for a grown-up Halloween treat. Proceed with caution: These icy cocktails go down very easily. The tropical flavors and festive garnishes make these drinks quickly disappear into the night.
Use those pretty copper mugs for a seasonal sip. The sweet apples and spicy ginger make this drink perfect for any fall occasion. Up the spook factor of these drinks by carefully adding a small piece of dry ice to the drink for a smoky effect.
Enjoy all the sweet and spiced goodness of pumpkin pie in one tasty sip. The combo of warm cinnamon and velvety liqueurs mimic the taste and texture of the real deal dessert. These shots are perfect for any fall celebration.
This spooky drink dispenser is seasonal, flavorful and functional. It makes the perfect centerpiece for a Halloween party, or any autumn get-together. You can use it to serve up your favorite pumpkin-flavored beer, cocktail or a nonalcoholic brew!
This cocktail is great for groups and can be served straight from the crock-pot. Tangy apple cider, the spice of cinnamon and bright orange evoke the familiar flavors of autumn. Since it's a heated drink, is can warm even the coldest-hearted creature on a chilly Halloween evening.
Serve this bloody delicious drink to vampires, ghouls, ghosts or any other creepy characters at your Halloween bash. A syringe filled with red cherry syrup makes this an interactive drink experience that guests won't soon forget. It's a simple mixture but leaves a strong and lasting impression.
Pomegranate juice gives this moody mix its dark hues. The glasses are rimmed with colored cane sugar to give this cocktail an extra festive touch. It's a superb sipper to enjoy on a stormy night.
Martha Stewart sets the scene for a thriller night! Her ginger-grape punch is topped with a giant floating orange moon and candy bats. The intoxicating aroma, luxurious flavors and festive adornments make it a treat for the senses.
Mix up cocktails for the whole crowd with just one pitcher and four ingredients. Clementine juice, vodka, simple syrup and orange soda make a large-batch cocktail that can be poured, sipped and enjoyed with minimal effort. To make this suitable for trick-or-treating tots, simply omit the vodka.
With its eerie orange color and notes of baking spice, this drink was made for fall festivities. A dash of cayenne pepper kicks up the heat while the flavors of chai complement the smokiness of the mezcal. Serve it over ice to add a cooling sensations to the warm flavors.
These eyeball milkshakes may look grotesque — but looks can be deceiving. With the combo of vanilla and chocolate ice cream and strawberry syrup, they're quite the tasty treat. Edge the glasses in advance to help the blood drips stay in place when the milkshake is added.
This simple shake breathes new life into your Halloween treats. For a thinner, more sippable shake, blend in a splash of milk. Any ice cream and candy combo works here!
Sandra Lee stirs up a spooky espresso martini for Halloween. It has a great, strong espresso flavor but also adds hints of chocolate and a touch of creamy texture. A daringly delicious indulgence!
Turn classic Halloween candy corn into a tasty drink. This three-ingredient mocktail is alcohol-free so it's great for grown-ups and kids alike. The signature layers of yellow, orange and white not only look just like the iconic candy, but also have the same fun flavor.
Dry ice not only makes these cocktails super chilled, but it also adds a layer of spooky smoke for an extra eerie touch. Muddled blackberries give the drink a deep reddish-purple hue that matches the holiday's color scheme. The addition of fresh and dried sage complements the juiciness of the fruit and adds a ton of seasonal flavor to the drink.
This milkshake really features all of the flavors we love in a Snickers bar. It packs in the salty goodness of roasted peanuts, gooey caramel and rich chocolate! You can also make this with other chocolate candy bar or create a custom mix.
Keep an eye out for these terrifyingly tasty drinks … and they'll keep their eye on you, too. These can be made several days in advance. The gummy eyeballs will gradually absorb moisture and are at their best within three days of assembly. Want to make these treats for adults? Just add vodka!
Heat up the festivities with diabolically fiery drinks. Classic margaritas get a spicy sizzle from hot jalapeños and serranos. Two devilish chile horn garnishes make this drink fit for the prince of darkness himself.
Now you can eat your candy and drink it too! This milkshake is great for the kid in all of us because it's super creamy, sweet and colorful. Use a sherbet or cherry ice cream instead of vanilla for more of a tropical flavor.
Appetizers and snacks
Let guests dig into this spooky graveyard dip that has layers of refried beans, shredded cheddar cheese, pico de gallo, seasoned sour cream and guacamole. Turn pita bread rounds into spooky shapes like tombstones, creepy cats and ghosts by using cookie cutters. Then toast them in the oven until they're golden brown. Place the pita chips in the dip, then top off the dish with scallion "grass" and mounds of olive "dirt."
Don't have time to make a layer dip? No problem. The only things needed here are a pumpkin and some store-bought guac. Instead of placing the spread in a plain bowl, turn the creamy green goop into a gruesome Halloween appetizer. This cute but creepy appetizer sometimes goes by the rather unappetizing names "pumpkin vomit" or "puking pumpkin," but let's just call it delicious.
This creepy zombie skull is the ultimate way to serve charcuterie on Halloween. Simply wrap a clean plastic skull with prosciutto and serve it with more salumi, plus cheese and crackers. Guests will be head over heels for this creepy centerpiece.
Roll garlic bread dough into knobby witch fingers that are almost too creepy to eat. Pat down the dough to create knotted knuckles and use a knife to make light creases. Then press in the almonds to create fingernails. Give them a swipe of garlic-infused ghee or butter and serve them up with blood-red marinara sauce for dipping.
Give guests a break from the sugary candy and fill them up with some nice, creepy veggies. It keeps the spooky theme of a Halloween party while providing a healthy snack at the same time.
These irresistible bites have all the flavors of classic deviled eggs but with the spooky, salty bite of an olive spider on top.
Get dressed up for Halloween with these little brie bites. They're more snazzy than spooky, but they're sure to get the party started.
This recipe has just two main ingredients, so it could not be any simpler to assemble, yet the final presentation is totally centerpiece worthy.
You don't have to wait for the carnival or circus to enjoy cotton candy. This recipe lets you make the sugary treat right at home. Plus, you can customize the flavor and color to your taste!
"I love to watch the expression on peoples' faces after biting into one of these and realizing there's a grape inside," Elizabeth Heiskell says about this salty, sweet recipe perfect for Halloween parties.
Save the seeds from jack-o'-lantern carvings, clean them and dry them out for an easy, on-the-go snack for Halloween's busy activities. This healthy munch is also great as a flavorful topper for a creamy soup or fall salad.
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.
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!
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.
Give your popcorn an addictive, pumpkin-y spin by tossing a batch with a sweet and caramel-like sauce and then crisping it in the oven. It helps take a standard snack from good to, well, incredible. Plain crunchy popcorn becomes completely irresistible with the cozy warm flavors of fall.
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 the shrimp is slightly spicy and tangy from the buttermilk-chili marinade.
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, of course, eat!
Let's be real: Kids don't want to eat the pepper part of stuffed peppers anyway. So just make them into fun and festive serving bowls instead for delicious mac-and-cheese. It'll help everyone fuel up before they hit the streets for trick-or-treating.
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.
The color of the black rice with the digestive charcoal is surprising but the flavor is deep and rich so it's fun to see the initial skepticism on people's faces before they bite it and then react to the delicious taste.
This easy recipe turns to regular hot dogs and pre-made croissant dough for one adorable dish. It requires very little time and effort yet is a savory showstopper for an otherwise sweet-filled holiday!
You don't have to feel the sugar rush to celebrate Halloween. This recipe from Buzzfeed Tasty is the perfect way to get into the spirit without experiencing the crash. And we say, why not make it all year long? It's great for a hearty snack or appetizer.
These sweet and crunchy meringue bones are sure to have everyone gasping and giggling on Halloween night. They're a great gluten-free option for guests and so simple to make.
This recipe uses leftover hard candies in a fun and creative way! Experiment with different colors and flavors for a show-stopping holiday party display.
"I was the kid during Halloween who was only in it for the peanut butter cups. Every other candy was irrelevant in my eyes. To be honest, not a lot has changed other than the fact that I have now discovered almond butter," says Samah Dada about her homemade candy.
It is always more fun when you have your own homemade candy for your Halloween party and these matcha monster fudge squares are both easy to make and delicious to enjoy.
This recipe could not be any easier or fun to make. It's a great one to get the kids involved and using store-bought pie crust is a great shortcut!
Two of the best things about fall are hot chocolate and Halloween. These fun cupcakes combine the comforting flavors of warm cocoa with all the festive colors of the holiday. Plus, they're topped with candy!
For this cake, Milky Way bars are melted in butter and mixed into traditional cake batter. The result is a chewy cake with a slight chocolate flavor. Serve it warm with a light dusting of powdered sugar or with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of caramel.
Did someone say DIY butterfingers? While some news spread about Halloween candy shortages, making your own version of chocolaty classics is fun whether you can get the real deal or not.
Just the idea of a skillet cookie is drool-worthy. Once you add Halloween candy all crumbled up on the top, it becomes a truly decadent affair. But that's what trick-or-treating is all about, right?
There's lots to do this fall, so why not skip the long ingredient list and cheat a bit with this tasty, three-ingredient recipe. All you need is a box of spice cake mix, a can of pumpkin and some chocolate chips.
A little food coloring goes a long way to transform the beloved cereal-based treat into bloody little brains. Aside from cooking spray, the recipe only requires five ingredients that are probably in your kitchen already.
These sweet pumpkin treats are an adorable, crowd-pleasing addition to any Halloween party.
These fun cupcakes use two mini doughnuts stacked on top for extra height. Anna Helm Baxter recommends using natural food dyes for the fun colors.
Zombie brain cupcakes manage to be creepy, cute and delicious all at once. In other words, they're perfect for Halloween. Just don't think too much about eating brains when you dig in.
The not-so-tangled web on these cookies is created by frosting them with white royal icing, adding a thin spiral of black frosting and pulling a skewer from the center of the cookie out to several points on the edge.
Whether you "borrow" from the bags of candy before Halloween or use leftovers after the 31st, these gooey, salty cookies flecked with the flavors of a good night of trick-or-treating are a winner.
Vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli's homemade version of classic Hostess cupcakes is just as rich and decadent as the original — even without butter or cream. It's a dark-hued classic hard to pass up!
When fall strikes, we all long for cozy, chewy treats, but who is always in the mood to make a full pie? Not us. These little squares deliver big on dessert magic and pumpkin flavor leading up to October's spookiest night.
These sweet and spooky cupcakes help set the scene for a festive Halloween party.
A pack of store- or bakery-bought macarons and a food-safe marker transform this elegant French cookie into a ghoulish group of lovable creatures.
Once you get past the anatomical likeness, these are in fact delicious — creepily delicious, that is! This recipe makes 28 eyeballs and uses one 8- or 9-inch cake layer (half of a boxed cake mix).
These adorable banana pops, dipped in white chocolate and coconut are a lesser evil on Halloween than the standard gummy worms, taffy brains and candy corn! Baby bananas are a great choice here, because of their size, but regular halved bananas are fine too.
Halloween is all about tricks and treats … and this creative cake has both! Hiding inside the colorful layers is a stash of candies just waiting to jump out.
If gingerbread men are sugar, spice and everything nice, these pumpkin-spice "ghoulmen" are sugar, spice and everything spooky. With just a hint of pumpkin spice, these cookies are the perfect fall treat.
When it comes to these mummy cookies, the messier the better! Use a fork to drizzle the frosting back and forth over the cookie then leave it to dry. Use different sized candy eyeballs to give each cookie its own unique personality.
Some of the best party desserts are ones that come from the store but look completely homemade! Turn chocolate doughnuts into a Halloween treat you'll want to sink your teeth into.
Even if you're a pumpkin skeptic, you can't deny the magic that is made when these cakey cookies meet melted chocolate chips — it's a true match made in fall heaven. The pumpkin adds a subtle flavor that isn't too overpowering, while lending to the extremely soft and fluffy texture of these cookies.
Make three-ingredient, personal-sized pies and turn them into sweet and spooky mummies for a fruity and festive Halloween treat for morning, noon or night.
These doughnuts are a scream! Their fluffy texture and sweet, ghostly glaze will have them all devoured in no time. You won’t believe they aren’t from your favorite doughnut shop.
These hand-shaped pies are the perfect portable, easy-to-eat treat for ghouls of all ages. And unlike traditional hand pies, these are better when there’s some filling oozing out to really make them Halloween-worthy.
No fright fest is complete without Frankenstein — and here he is in cheesecake form. The best part is it's a no-bake dessert, which means you don't even need an oven to exclaim, "It's alive!"
These super souped-up brownies have something for everyone! Piled on the rich brownie base is a layer of creamy frosting, chocolate candy bars, caramel popcorn, candy corn, chocolate chips and so much more.
Add a creepy confection to your Halloween menu with a quick and easy recipe that transforms store-bought puff pastry into individual desserts. These sweet treats are filled with fresh raspberries and then topped off with sprinkle-studded spiders for the ultimate addition to your spooky soiree.
Cookies or candy? Why choose? Have them both in these mouthwatering candy cookie bars, which repurpose leftover Halloween candy.
Pumpkin cake and Halloween candy come together to create the ultimate cake for October. It's sweet inside and out.
These cupcakes come together in just a few minutes because there's no cooking involved — which is definitely something to love! They only require three ingredients, including store-bought or made-ahead frosted cupcakes.
Store-bought doughnuts make the perfect blank canvas for creating these adorable treats! Technique tip: Use forks to dip the doughnuts, this will help prevent finger smudges.
Make a batch of Martha Stewart's vanilla madeleines (the batter of which can be refrigerated for up to two days) for the base of these festive cookies. With some chocolate frosting and almond slivers, you'll soon have the fixings for a frightening feast.