Easy Halloween Cupcakes
Sometimes, the world of Halloween desserts is a scary place. That “bloody brains bowl” looks a little too much like, well, bloody brains to be appetizing. But have no fear: these nine cupcakes strike the perfect balance between cute and spooky. Like the surface of a round sugar cookie, cupcakes are the perfect canvas for your artistic creations. Take your pick between options like gorgeous glittery pumpkin cupcakes, adorable “Fraidycat” cupcakes, or appropriately creepy vampire cupcakes. Each recipe calls for just a handful of ingredients, no more than 6 total. If you have some extra time, whip up a batch of your favorite cupcakes and frosting because fresh is always better. However, if you’re in a pinch the great news is you can always buy premade cupcakes from the bakery section of your grocery store and decorate those. Or make your own cupcakes and frost with store-bought icing. We recommend picking up an inexpensive small offset spatula to help with a super neat and speedy frosting job. You’ll be assembling each cupcake with a variety of toppings, so small glass bowls that keep your decorating station organized will be your best friends. If you’re making ahead, store them on a large plate or tray or cake stand and loosely tent or wrap them in plastic to keep them fresh. When you’re displaying your cupcakes, try dispersing several votive candles between them for an extra festive, extra shadowy touch.
Glittery Pumpkin Cupcake
You don’t need be a pro to create this easy look—simply dip the cupcake into a bowl of colored sanding sugar and top with a piece of green licorice twist. The recipe makes 1 jewel-like cupcake so you can easily multiply it based on the size of the crowd you’re feeding. Quick tip: display the cupcakes on tabletop with a light; the light will catch the sanding sugar and make it shimmer and glow almost as if the pumpkin were lit up like a real jack-o-lantern. Serve them next to a stack of napkins so guests can discretely keep their mouths sugar-free.
Get the recipe: Glittery Pumpkin Cupcake
Conjure up this clever Halloween kitty with chocolate sprinkles, York Peppermint Patties, M&Ms, and shoestring licorice. One of the best parts about this recipe is that you can put the little ones to work: ask them to sort a bag of M&Ms into reds and yellows. Use a sharp chef’s knife or a pair of scissors to neatly trim the Peppermint Patties into wedges and the licorice into even pieces. While this is a pretty simple design (and you can even let the kids help decorate some), you’ll want to try to keep most of the designs as neat and precise as possible for polished results.
Get the recipe: Fraidycat Cupcake
Toothy Skull Cupcake
Use chocolate nonpareils, white jelly beans, and black shoestring licorice (all supplies you can pick up in the candy aisle in any supermarket) to form this spooky-cute creature in just 5 minutes. This is a great recipe if you need to make a big batch because the cupcakes look neat and fun with very little effort. To take them over the top, arrange them on a big platter and tuck big colorful flower blossoms around them. The arrangement will subtly reference Day of the Dead, not to mention that it’ll look totally colorful and photogenic.
Get the recipe: Toothy Skull Cupcake
Pumpkin Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting
Amp up boxed cake mix with pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree for an easy shortcut dessert that’s tastier than most store-bought pumpkin spiced treats (ahem, lattes). The results are moist and sweet but not cloyingly so. In other words, if there are any leftovers, you can get away with enjoying them for breakfast the next morning. Making them ahead of time? Garnish them with candy corn right before serving because the longer they sit the more likely they are to bleed a tiny bit of orange and yellow into the white icing.
Get the recipe: Pumpkin Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting
A fun pop of turquoise keeps these wrapped-up treats cute, not creepy. Strips of sour candy tape and gummy candies create the look. If lots of little hands are eager to help, this is the ideal recipe for them. It’s okay—encouraged, even—if the tape is criss-crossed imperfectly. Just make sure to tell kid crafters to aim for full coverage with a little bit of white frosting peaking through. We love using yellow Jujubes candies for the eyes, but if you can’t find them, any sort of gummy candy (like gumdrops) in any color would be perfectly fine.
Get the recipe: Mummy Cupcakes
Crawly Spider Cupcakes
If you’re looking for a dessert that does verge on creepy, this cupcake is your best bet. Observe those crazy legs made from shoestring licorice, angling every which way and looking a little too crawly for comfort. Kids will love picking them off one by one and eating them. Crushed chocolate wafers cookies or Oreos turn the body of the spider dark brown and fuzzy, a bit like the fur on that extremely scary large spider you saw once and never forgot. A pair of fierce red eyes made of red gummy candy complete the spook-tacular look.
Get the recipe: Crawly Spider Cupcakes
Wide-eyed owls will keep careful watch over your Halloween table. Use halved Oreos for the oversized eyes and pointy ears. We love the cookies on their own and never dreamed they could taste even more delicious, but stuck on a vanilla cupcake they manage to take on a new addictive quality. Because when it comes down to it, they never seem to have enough filling. The cupcake’s vanilla icing surrounds the chocolate wafers, tasting a bit like filling and bumping up the filling to cookie ratio. Flavor aside, these quick DIY owls are so cute we’d almost print their faces on t-shirts. Not really, but we’re tempted.
Get the recipe: Owl Cupcakes
Sink your teeth into one of these menacing treats made from shoestring licorice, red candies, and sour candy tape. Although this recipe is straightforward, it’s slightly more advanced than the other recipes in the roundup. So maybe save this project for a day when little meddling hands won’t be trying to get involved and you have enough time to cut the sour candy tape into even little triangles and carefully sprinkle on the crushed cookie crumbs. The finished cupcakes look stunning and enough like the mythical creature to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
Get the recipe: Vampire Cupcakes
This dark creature—with Peppermint Patty wings and red Jujube eyes—is ready to fly right off your party table. It nails slightly scary and creepy but not so scary and creepy that we don’t want to gobble at least two of them up immediately. Although the recipe calls for black or brown sanding sugar, if you don’t have it on hand you can also dip the cupcakes in crushed chocolate cookies; we think the flavor would pair quite well with the Peppermint Patty wings. But be warned, you might not want to unveil these treats until dinner’s over otherwise you’ll be batting away wandering hands.
Get the recipe: Bat Cupcakes