Easy Halloween Dirt Cup Recipes for Digging Your Own Grave
Dirt parfaits transform a table of treats into a sweet cemetery where you can eat, creep, and be scary!
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Sometime in the last 2,000 years, someone decided to make food to resemble the dirt you might dig up to clear the way for a coffin — worms and all. Creative crafters ran with the idea, leaving no tombstone unturned in the quest for the cutest, tastiest, and dirtiest no-bake, DIY Halloween treats. We’ve selected some of our favorites to cover a range of tantalizing flavors and almost all dietary preferences or restrictions, with this season’s most-available spooky decor.
Since holding a Halloween party may not be possible this year, why not create a fun dessert celebration at home, with dirt?
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How to make Halloween dirt cups >>
How to make Halloween dirt cups
Okay, we’re talking about a pretty easy dessert concept here! Basically, all you do is layer a batch of pudding (instant or homemade) with crushed Oreos in small glasses (or plastic cups or mason jars) so you can clearly see the treat's layers. To change things up you might add whipped topping or cream cheese to the mix, and vary the flavor with peanut butter, say. But the devil is in the details — as in, the right decorations to pull off the graveyard theme.
Sadly, Covid-19 has played us a trick and there will be no Halloween Peeps until 2021. While you may still be able to snag a few stockpiled marshmallow ghosts, marshmallow monsters, and spooky cats online, supplies will likely go quickly. Fortunately, there are plenty of other creative options.
Cookie tombstones. If you can find special tombstone cookies, just set them out in your dessert-scape. Otherwise, add a squeeze of melted chocolate from a small zip-top bag to give Milano cookies the right “RIP” message for tombstones.
Extra-easy Halloween dirt cups
Short-cuts like instant pudding, whipped topping, and store-bought cookies help you achieve a spooky look with minimal effort.
If you haven’t dug up a good dirt cup yet, this classic Graveyard Dirt Cup is a good starter recipe. Think “mud” parfait. For the mud, it’s your basic instant chocolate pudding mix with the usual cold milk, plus cream cheese and whipped topping (like Cool Whip) folded into it. Then, in a clear plastic cup, you layer the pudding mixture with your favorite crushed chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreos) to resemble dirt, and top the works with bones and a headstone (of the sugar variety, of course).
No graveyard is complete without a lost soul hovering above the crypts and prowling around the mausoleums. It’s a fairly simple addition to your sugary cemetery — stiff whipped cream piped onto the Oreo dirt in a spooky swoosh to create an edible apparition. We ain’t afraid of no ghost made of whipped cream.
The Great Pumpkin rises! Fit for a Charlie Brown Halloween, this recipe injects pumpkin purée into instant vanilla pudding instead of earthy chocolate pudding to make a fitting fall dessert. But the real flavor secret is a sprinkle of cinnamon in the whipped cream. A Milano cookie tombstone is the final Halloween touch. Did you know that Pumpkin Spice Milanos are a thing now? What a time to be alive.
If you had any doubts about the power of gummy worms to transform a Halloween dessert, let this four-ingredient, 30-minute-ish recipe make the case.
This one starts out as your standard graveyard-themed dirt cups of layered chocolate pudding, whipped topping, and cookie crumbs, but incorporates a couple of special touches. A bit of green coloring lends a ghoulish cast. While the Peeps-de-resistance likely won’t be available this year, you can squeeze melted chocolate details onto Milano cookies to create tombstones.
Homemade, classic dirt cups
One of the lures of most dirt cup recipes is that they tend to use ingredients from mixes, making them quick and easy. But if you like the purity and fresh flavor of from-scratch recipes, these next ones are for you.
Cooking up a batch of cornstarch-thickened, homemade chocolate pudding is way easier than you might think. Once it’s cold, fold in whipped cream, add plenty of crushed cookie “dirt,” and some creepy-crawlers.
Adults deserve their fun on Halloween, in this case, in the form of rich homemade milk chocolate pudding flavored with whiskey, and topped with crushed chocolate cookies and gummy worms soaked overnight in booze.
With homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream chocolate mousse and plenty of dark chocolate Oreo crumbs, this one might be worth making year-round — with or without the worms.
Dirt cups for special diets
The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, but only if they’re herbivores or gluten-free? If this strikes a familiar chord, you’ve got options.
This one is for those who seek a plant-based treat but also want the fun of something creepy-crawly lurking in their cemetery glass. The pudding is made with dates, almond milk, chia seeds, and cacao powder, and it makes a pretty impressive pudding considering no cooking is involved. The “dirt” is made from a gluten-free almond meal-cacao mixture sweetened with agave nectar. But what’s really amazing is the freaky worms, made with dates, almond meal, and cacao powder!
The dirt cup meets the vegan ice cream sandwich! You’re going to make a stove-top almond milk pudding and chill it down, then blend in whipped vegan cream cheese and coconut cream. Layer it up with crushed Oreo cookies, and freeze until firm. Or fridge it, if you’re in the mood for a vegan scoop-and-serve dessert.
If you’re Paleo, you’re probably used to scaring up a lot of ingredients to come up with recipes to mimic modern food — and a Paleo dirt cup is no different. This recipe is intense but impressive. Homemade Paleo gummy worms? Yes! It takes effort, but it’s totally worth it for a hauntingly delicious, Paleo-friendly Halloween dessert.
Clean eaters don’t have to declare a cheat day with this dirt cup recipe. The pudding is homemade, and instead of using crushed cookies, the recipe recreates dirt using dates, nuts, and chocolate pulsed in a food processor. It doesn’t stray too far from its time-saving counterparts and still gives you all the dirt you need to recreate a sweet cemetery atmosphere.
Creative variations on dirt cups
No need to cling with ghoul-like claws to the traditional dirt cup, because the concept is made for changing up!
If you’re looking for a devilishly rich version of the dirt cup, you’ve landed in the right place. Once you bake up a batch of fudge cake mix into cupcakes, the fun begins. You’ll poke generous holes in the tops, the better to soak up the rich fudge sauce. Cover the cupcakes with fluffy instant pudding topping, drizzle with more fudge sauce, and open wide for a monstrously big bite.
Skip the usual serving vessels and create your own sugar cookie cups in mini muffin pans. You’ll fill the hand-held treats with chocolate ganache (melted chocolate chips and whipping cream), crushed cookies, and a modest half-candy worm each.
If all but assembling individual portions appeals when it comes to dirt cups, make a big-batch dirt cake instead. This one’s a bit like a trifle, with cream cheese-instant vanilla pudding and crushed Oreos layered in a big bowl. Plan on 30 minutes to assemble and two and a half hours total time with chilling, and you’ve got this.
Another big-format dessert, this one features a ghostly white pudding base made with cream cheese, whipped topping, butter, and white chocolate pudding mix. Add on the usual crushed Oreo cookie “dirt,” then dark chocolate cookie tombstones, and candy corn pumpkins for a spooky, pumpkin patch-meets-graveyard look.
No cups in sight here. Instead, you'll melt store-bought chocolate almond bark (or even candy melts or chocolate chips) and spread it in a sheet pan. Complete the seasonal theme with crushed mini Oreo cookies, colorful candy sprinkles, and gummy worms.
If you love Reese’s peanut butter cups, this no-bake dirt cake recipe expands on the salty peanut butter and chocolate flavors in a swoon-worthy way. A dark chocolate cookie crust is followed by a cream cheese-peanut butter-whipped topping filling. Then come chopped peanut butter cups and a chocolate pudding layer. Finally, the dessert is topped with more crushed cookies and peanut butter cups. Devilishly decadent or heavenly? You decide.
Looking for more tricks and treats?
We have buckets more spooky and tasty Halloween ideas to explore! How about some frightfully delicious Halloween appetizers, a sprinkling of healthy treats, and a plate of weird but wonderful cookies?