Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
Instead of filling up on candy, enjoy these devilishly delicious appetizers on the spookiest night of the year. If you are hosting a party or just a guest bringing food, let your slow cooker do the work for you. Set up a chili bar with toppings or lay out a spread complete with pumpkin hummus, butternut squash queso, and sweet potato tots. We love soup as an easy appetizer or light dinner on Halloween because hosts can focus on their costume as the soup simmers on the stove and guests can help themselves throughout the night. Most of these healthy Halloween appetizers can be made ahead of time, too, and served right before the first trick-or-treater rings the doorbell.
Healthy Halloween Appetizers
Why should the trick-or-treaters have all the fun? With these appetizer recipes you'll have a Halloween spread fit for all your spooky (and not-so-spooky) visitors. Many of these recipes can be made ahead so you won't be rushing around the kitchen between dashes to the front door with the candy bowl.
First up, White Bean and Pumpkin Hummus with Pita Chips. This lightly sweet and smoky take on hummus is the perfect snack or a fitting starter for any autumn gathering.
Sweet and Spicy Pumpkinseeds
Once you've carved out your Jack-o-Lantern, don't even consider throwing out those seeds, as they can be roasted for a delicious Halloween treat. This crunchy snack packs a ton of heat and flavor that's the perfect solution to your strongest savory craving. If you're serving it to a crowd that's shy on spice, scale back on the red pepper for a salty toasted seed that everybody can enjoy. For even more kick, add an extra 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper.
Butternut Squash Queso Fundido
Butternut squash adds distinct flavor (and color) to this satisfyingly cheesy dip. To make it vegetarian, sub vegetable stock for the chicken stock. If you prefer, you can roast a halved, seeded butternut squash at 350° for 45 minutes or until soft. Scoop 10 ounces of flesh, and use in place of the puree.
Spiralized Butternut Squash Toast with Goat Cheese and Pomegranate Seeds
Toasted bread is a great vehicle to get veggies and protein-packed ingredients, from avocado to almond butter, into your diet. Spiralizing butternut squash makes it easy to top toast, and paired with creamy goat cheese and fresh pomegranate seeds, it makes for a supreme salty-sweet combination. Feel free to substitute whole grain bread or sprouted breads for another option.
Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
Get the chili started in the morning and keep warm in the slow cooker while you're out. Calling for a mixture of beans and hominy, this recipe boasts bold, rich flavor, something that can often be dulled in a slow cooker. Whirring some of the beans in a food processor thickens the soup, lending a heartier texture to the dish. We suggest serving the soup with green onions, cheese, cilantro, peppers, and plain yogurt, a great substitute for sour cream.
Sweet Potato Tots
Take a break from sweet potato fries and try out tots instead. Oven-baked until they're brown and crispy, these tots will satisfy your wildest savory cravings without overloading you with calories and fat. Served with a zippy jalapeño ranch dipping sauce that's loaded with protein and fresh herbs, these cute sweet potato tots make for the perfect appetizer or mid-afternoon snack that your kids will devour.
Butternut Squash, Kale, and Black Bean Quesadillas
Mashing half of the beans provides creamy texture and helps to seal the quesadillas.
Chicken Tamales with Ranchero Sauce
Use your go-to convenience appliance in unexpected—dare we say brilliant—ways to turn out fuss-free, fabulous fare for entertaining's busiest season. Cook tamales without any need to check or adjust the temperature or water level. It's a worry-free method that dials down the maintenance for this Halloween night favorite.
Gingered Sweet Potato Soup with Toasted Coconut and Pumpkinseeds
Pureed sweet potatoes are topped with coconut and pumpkinseed kernels making this soup perfect for fall.
Look for sweet chili sauce on the ethnic aisle at most supermarkets, or in Asian grocery stores. Dark sesame oil and lower-sodium soy sauce deliver tremendous flavor with less sodium and saturated fat.
Sweet Potato Fries
1 bag frozen sweet potato fries (such as Alexia Sweet Potato Fries with Sea Salt)
Bake according to package directions. Makes up to 6 servings (serving size: 3 ounces or 12 pieces)
Brown Sugar-Spiced Nut Mix
Achieve a bronze-like patina on these candied nuts by keeping a close watch near the end of their roasting time. Too long and they'll overdarken and take on a bitter flavor.
Roasted Beet Hummus
The beet flavor (if not the color) in this dip is very subtle, with a nutty edge from walnuts and walnut oil and concentrated sources of fat and flavor. Pair with crunchy crudités.
Spiced Apple Two-Bite Tarts
The nutty pastry is absolutely delicious, like pecan shortbread. You can make the tart shells and filling the day before and assemble just before serving: Place the shells in an airtight container and chill the filling, bringing it to room temperature before placing it in the shells so it's not ice-cold. The crème fraîche dollop is more than just a pretty garnish; its rich, tangy flavor makes these sublime.
Butternut Squash Pizza with White Sauce, Spinach, and Goat Cheese
Try swapping out the goat cheese for feta or Gorgonzola to switch up the flavor profile.
Carrot Hummus With Cumin and Almonds
Bright, beautiful carrots give this dip its gorgeous hue, while a pinch of paprika adds a slight kick of spice.
Baked Mozzarella Bites
A healthier alternative to traditional fried cheesesticks, these bite-size snacks are perfect for dipping.
Spicy Red Pepper Hummus
Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House
Prepare and refrigerate hummus a day ahead, and let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving with homemade pita chips.
Order this warm, creamy, and cheesy dish in most American chain restaurants and you could be looking at nearly a day’s worth of calories! Not so here; my version has fewer than 150 per serving. Assemble the dish up to two days ahead and bake just before serving. Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips, or sliced baguette.
Black Bean Hummus
This hummus recipe has a southwestern kick that everyone will love. We recommend serving with pita chips but you can also serve with assorted crudités.
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Dipped Pretzels
Dip the pretzels, and store in the fridge on a parchment-lined tray up to five days ahead. Set out shortly before serving, but not too far ahead, as the chocolate may melt.
Peanut Butter Caramel Corn
Just enough butter for caramel goodness. Peanut butter for heart-healthy richness.
Phyllo-Wrapped Asparagus with Prosciutto
Crunchy phyllo-wrapped asparagus makes great pick-up bites for a party. You can also chop the prosciutto and sprinkle it on the phyllo if you want.
Caramelized Onion, Gruyère, and Bacon Spread
Serve with crackers or bread slices. If you can't find Gruyère, substitute raclette, fontina, or Swiss cheese.
Baked Feta with Romesco and Olive Tapenade
Make the romesco sauce and tapenade up to three days ahead, and keep them chilled separately.
Thai Cashew Brittle
Sharp shards of crisp Thai Cashew Brittle combine salty cashews and hot chile paste.
Date, Walnut, and Blue Cheese Ball
Prepare this retro-chic snack up to two days ahead, and serve with crackers, bread, or veggies. Rolled in minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, this cheese ball is festive enough for the most discerning party guests.
Bring out the best of fall's flavors with this super-easy pumpkin dip, perfect for enjoying with fresh apple slices.
Spicy Almond-Pumpkinseed Snack Mix
This snack mix is a great choice for an office pick-me-up. It stores well for up to a week in an airtight container.
Sloppy Joe Sliders
An already kid-friendly classic just got kicked up a notch. All your Halloween guests will love these pint-sized sliders.
This appetizer recipe offers a fall-style twist on the traditional Middle Eastern spread. You can find pumpkinseeds—also called pepitas—in groceries and Mexican markets. Prepare this pumpkin hummus recipe up to a day ahead, and refrigerate.
Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
These flavorful nuts make a convenient party snack. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week.