Cheap, easy-to-make Halloween recipe ideas for students on a budget


The Pumpkin Pie Blizzard is back at Dairy Queen, signaling the return of the fall season and the close proximity of Halloween. For students craving similarly fall-inspired snacks and treats, there are several cheap and easy options available.

In the 21st century, candy is mostly dominated by chocolate. Of course, it wouldn’t be Halloween without candy, so why leave it at just an old boring bag of chocolate? Just one bag can run up to $10 these days. Frankly, most college students just don’t have that kind of money to throw around.

Christina Klein, freshman in animal science and industry, said she makes “Snickers-doodle” cookies every Halloween. Taking the average snickerdoodle cookie recipe, she mixes crushed Snickers candies into the dough before she bakes them.

Premade cookie dough can be bought at the local grocery store for about $4 and a small bag of Snickers is about the same price. It really is a great bang for the buck, and who doesn’t love “homemade” cookies? This can also be done with sugar cookie dough and finely chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups or any other preferred candy.

Candy corn has become extremely popular on Pinterest. People devote their own boards to this singular candy, but candy corn is more than just candy. It has now become an ingredient. Popular in white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies, as well as in festive trail mixes, candy corn can be added to just about anything.

Try mixing peanuts and candy corn with melted marshmallow for a quick snack or even adding candy corn into your grandma’s homemade fudge recipe. Candy corn screams Halloween and is rarely found outside of the holiday season. This simple candy is also becoming very popular in Halloween bark and snack mix, often paired with Chex cereal and pretzels.

Cinnamon is yet another classic flavor of this particular holiday season. Some prefer the Mexican-inspired cinnamon and spice flavored candies over cinnamon flavored baked goods. Either way, this simple spice screams October.

Red Hots cinnamon candies can be found in any candy aisle, allowing for more creativity when it comes to decorating for Halloween parties. The red color creates a vibrancy amongst the traditional oranges and browns of the other Halloween food traditionally set out. Try mixing this hot candy with some popcorn, or better yet, with caramel corn.

Popcorn is a relatively cheap food found virtually anywhere. One cheap Halloween party food idea is to have Halloween popcorn. Mix popcorn and candy corn, spread out on a tray, drizzle melted chocolate over the mix and add sprinkles, then refrigerate until it hardens.

For those who simply cannot tear themselves away from the sweet pumpkin flavor that accompanies Halloween, there are numerous creative ways to incorporate this flavor within a cheap college budget. Pumpkin Spice Lattés, chocolate chip pumpkin bundt cake, or even pumpkin cinnamon waffles are some options.

“We sell pumpkin spice coffee all year long, but there is definitely a huge increase in sales during October,” said Jon Hastings, junior in pre-professional secondary education and barista at Bluestem Bistro. “It is simply anticipated every year.”

There are numerous other flavors associated with Halloween. Licorice is often eaten out of the bag, unless a gourmet chef is in the house. Some easy ways to incorporate this unique candy into the holiday is to mix chopped licorice with a bag of caramel corn and candied pecans for a great party snack. Try adding licorice, candy corn and any other chopped candy into marshmallow popcorn balls.

Candied and caramel apples are a signature Halloween treat, often associated with the witch’s poison. Spice it up with various types of drizzled chocolate and crushed up candy bars. Or take the apple on the stick, roll it in caramel, then roll in crunched up heath bars and let sit a few hours, creating a “vomit” look.

Looking to do something really cheap on a college budget? Go to your local grocery store and pick up some plastic spoons, white chocolate, peanut butter and nutella. Melt the white chocolate and scoop it onto the spoon, refrigerate until serving. These can even be decorated to be “ghost spoons.” Do the same thing with peanut butter and nutella, creating a peanut butter chocolate spoon the guests are sure to love.

Bring a Halloween theme to cake pops by decorating them with frosting or fondant to look like an eyeball. Or instead of having the regular boring stick, use plastic forks to increase the “gross” factor. Other ways to incorporate the spirit of Halloween include creating “ghost pops,” “bat pops” or even a witch’s hat or broom. Ultimately cheaper than cupcakes or even a cake itself, cake pops are great for Halloween. A box of cake mix at the store runs about $4 or $5 and easily makes about 30 to 40 cake pops.

For those who prefer the traditional cupcake, there are plenty of festive ways to tie it to Halloween.

Brea Asbury, Hy-Vee employee and freshman in open option, advised fellow Halloween enthusiasts to complement the flavor of the cake with the frosting decoration. If one were to have a Jack Skeleton cupcake, choose chocolate cupcake with white frosting, and then decorate his face with black frosting. If students are looking for a simple, quick cupcake, try pumpkin cupcakes with either cream cheese or buttercream frosting or even an apple cinnamon cupcake, decorated with orange and black sprinkles — amazing fall flavors, all screaming Halloween.

Halloween brings out many flavors in food choices and recipes, whether homemade or store bought. Check out Pinterest, Tumblr and other online media for a multitude of other Halloween recipes, flavors and ideas.