~ This Halloween appetizer dip “recipe” is really more of a how-to post, filled with ideas and tips. The spooky yet adorable “pepper spider” can top any veggie dip you like (although we love it with scary-good green dips). It’s fun and easy to make, and can even be created ahead of time, so your spider is all ready to go, just waiting to make a spook-tacular appearance on your Halloween appetizer buffet! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Make Ahead • Vegan (and Vegetarian) • Gluten Free • Paleo •
One of the very best things about Halloween is that it’s so purely creative. No need for expensive gifts or greeting cards or stressful obligations. Just fun and silliness – the more, the better!
And at my house, as much as we love dressing ourselves up for Halloween (ahem … just ask my husband’s coworkers about this!), we also can’t resist dressing up our food. Possibly the ultimate in Halloween silliness!
Remember some of our other Halloween creations?
They all make terrific Halloween party snacks or after-school treats, and they’re ideal edible party decorations for your serving table or buffet.
No doubt, you can definitely build one heck of a scary-good fruit platter with all those adorable guys!
But why should fruit have all the fun? How about some Halloween veggie love?
That’s where our spooky little spider comes in!
Think Beyond the Ranch Dip
Our spider is perfect, perched on top of veggie dips, and makes a darling party centerpiece on a big vegetable tray. It’s also a terrific dip topper alongside whole-grain chips or crackers.
Works great for pretty much any dip, from ranch to hummus, as long as the dip isn’t too thin to keep the pepper pieces in place.
Since it’s Halloween, though, we especially like to go with a monster-colored green dip, for added spook-tacular effect. We photographed our spider with a simple Avocado-Ranch Dip (recipe coming soon!), but our Edamame Hummus would be another great choice.
I could even see one of these spooky guys presiding over a 7-layer dip or a thick, hearty pot of chili. Remember: the fun is in being creative, so go for it!
And you don’t have to save this as a Halloween party idea, reserved only for big veggie platters or centerpieces. Surprise the kiddos after school with a “Spooky Spider” snack, and help them fuel up with something nutritious before they head out to fill their goody bags!
Tips for Making Your Spider
1) Choose the Right Pepper Shape – The best tip I can give you is simply to take an extra moment at the store or farm market, to choose a pepper that will just naturally become a spider’s body.
See the three peppers below? Waaaaay different, shapes, right?
The pepper on the far right in the photo above was the ideal shape to become our little spider! By comparison, the one on the left is so bumpy and lobed, that it wouldn’t work nearly as well.
With the right pepper, it just takes one cut and … ta-da! … you’ve got a spider body. Easy!
But, if you find yourself with a pepper that isn’t quite the shape you’d like, don’t despair: you can also cut a spider-body-shape out of the large sidewall of your pepper (carefully, with a sharp paring knife). Really, though – it’s much easier to choose the right pepper from the start!
2) Select Your Pepper Color – Orange is the obvious Halloween color, but green would be eerily excellent, too. Bonus points if you can find a dark purply-black pepper!
3) Options for Your Spider’s Eyes – Tiny triangles cut from canned, sliced black olives work really well.
Alternately, you could also try cutting the eyes from thin pieces of other dark veggies you’re using for your vegetable tray – maybe dark green peppers or a skin-on section cut from a cucumber or zucchini.
We find that just laying the little triangle eyes on top of the spider’s head is all that’s needed, but if your spider’s head is really domed, and the eyes keep falling off, you could also try using a teeny dab of your dip to help the eyes stay put.
From Garden Octopus to Spooky Spider … Another Option!
Here’s a fun little twist I just had to mention: this spider actually started out as an octopus … which is a clever adaptation for anyone who might be hosting an ocean-themed birthday party!
You see, back in August 2010, FamilyFun magazine featured a “Garden’s Octopus,” which turned a bell pepper into a “crunchy creature from the deep.” So cute! That octopus idea totally stole the show when my daughter, Amy, made it for my family’s annual “Fish-Off” Labor Day party, showcasing it on top of a fish-shaped platter loaded with crudités.
But as I gazed happily at her octopus centerpiece that day, I suddenly knew. What also has eight legs? Spiders! Yes! … a Halloween Pepper Spider needed to happen! With a few little tweaks to the original octopus body and eye shapes, the octopus-to-spider transformation was complete.
But hey, no reason our spider can’t go right back to its watery octopus roots. Planning an under-the-sea Ariel extravaganza? Or how about a fun snack after taking the kids to your local aquarium? Well then … make a Pepper Octopus!
If you want to try it, I’d recommend that you ditch the spider’s triangle-shaped eyes and use friendly, round ones for your octopus. And don’t worry so much about body shape – an octopus can be all sorts of bump-ity body types! In fact, whereas our spider is cut to be pretty flat, the original FamilyFun octopus used about the bottom two-thirds of a pepper for the body, to give the octopus lots of height as it rose from the depths of the dip bowl … so virtually any pepper shape should work well for crafting an octopus.
From an octopus to a creepy, crawly, too-cute Halloween spider … plain-old bell peppers will never be quite the same, will they?!? Dress ’em up in fun and kid-appealing costumes, and watch those veggies disappear!
No doubt – this Halloween, you’ve just gotta get your pepper all jazzed up in a festive little spider costume. Spooky-good fun that’s healthy, too!
Happy Halloween, friends!
- 1 orange bell pepper (a purple-black pepper would be great, too)
- 1 sliced black olive
Cut the bottom off the pepper, to form the shape of the spider's body. (See note.)
From the remaining sides of the pepper, cut 8 long, slender slices for the spider's legs.
Cut two tiny triangles from the olive slice to from the eyes.
Arrange the spider's body and legs on top of your appetizer dip (see note for dip suggestions). Then, lay the two triangle eyes into place. (As mentioned in the post, if your spider's head is slanted such that the eyes keep sliding off, you can try using a very tiny dab of dip to help hold the eyes in place.)
Serve alongside vegetables or whole-grain crackers, as desired.
Spider body shape: As we show in the photos in the post above, choosing the right pepper at the market is key to getting a great "spider" body shape. However, if the bottom of your pepper doesn't have the right shape, you can also carefully use a sharp paring knife to cut a body from the sidewalls of the pepper.
Dip suggestions: This appetizer dip idea will work well with pretty much any type of dip, as long as it isn't so thin and runny that it can't keep the spider's body parts in place. We offer a number of ideas in the post above, but our favorite way to serve this is with a green dip (just because it looks more Halloween-y), such as our Edamame Hummus.
Make-ahead tips: You can cut out the pieces for your spider several hours or a day ahead. Wrap and store them in the refrigerator, so they're all ready to assemble on top of your appetizer dip. You can also place them on the dip ahead of time, but be careful that they aren't smashed down if you wrap or cover the dip to keep it fresh until serving.
This Halloween appetizer dip idea was adapted from FamilyFun magazine’s “Garden’s Octopus,” which appeared in the August 2010 issue. (Side note … after FamilyFun magazine changed hands in 2012, I can’t find an online link to the original article anywhere. If anyone knows where I can unearth it, feel free to shoot me the link so I can share it, as I always like to give props for our inspiration.)