Amazingly Gruesome, Thrifty Recipes for Halloween

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The most welcoming site at any party.

The most welcoming site at any party.

Halloween is perfect for sliding into a character, scaring the hell out of your loved ones, or ideally, both.

We should embrace these acts more often (especially the scaring of loved ones), so here are a few thrifty things you can prepare for the holiday.


Note: You may not want to eat these items, as we’re shooting for a place that’s a little less cute and a bit more uncomfortable for your unassuming guests.


Fake blood is easy to make, and it allows you to use up ingredients in your pantry that you probably forgot about. Try one of these links (1, 2, or 3) for a recipe.

Extra tips:

  • Use a blender to incorporate the ingredients. It will help not only with this recipe but also with probably all of the gross things you want to make.
  • Add a couple of pinches of xanthan gum (or in a more precise world, 0.2% of the total weight of your fake blood) directly to the blender. This will thicken the blood without making it sticky, and it can replace the corn syrup in most of these recipes. Xanthan gum costs about $10.66 per 8 ounces, but a little goes a long way. That one package will make well over 5 gallons of fake blood.
  • If you make drinkable blood out of a red beverage, wine, or cocktail, add 0.4% of the weight of the beverage in xanthan gum (100 ml of water = 0.4 g of xanthan) to give it some thickness. Be sure to warm the beverage to body temperature to increase the creep factor.


If you have invested in xanthan gum, we might as well make the most of it.

Once you feel comfortable with your thickened beverages, kick it up a notch and make something truly gross. Normal slime recipes call for glue and/or borax. Neither is bad for you, but they aren’t necessarily good for you either—and most importantly, they’re inedible.

So here are a few options:

  • Color or flavor 100 g water to your liking and then blend in 8 g xanthan. POW!
  • Use cornstarch; Here is a simple, great recipe.
  • If you want to get fancy, modify the above cornstarch recipe by adding 0.2% xanthan gum to your water before you heat it up. This will give it a different and slightly gooey greasy texture.


I affectionately remember being grossed out by the main characters in Fight Club throwing around bags of human fat. I figure it might be fun to create a gross bag of human fat-looking deliciousness.

So to keep it easy, we will use agar to make a vegetarian panna cotta. Agar will be much more stable than gelatin, because it doesn’t melt until over 160°F. It will cost a little more, but because it’s much stronger, much less is required—greatly extending the product.

Here is a base recipe that you can play with:

  • 100 g cream
  • 30 g sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1 vanilla bean or 5 g vanilla extract

Add the weight of all your final mixture. Multiple that by 1%— that’s how much agar you need.

  1. Put everything in a blender and then boil for 3 minutes while constantly whisking.
  2. Pour into a mold and let cool until set.
  3. Break into pieces and put into them into plastic bags labeled “human fat.”
  4. Serve warm.

You can color this before it is boiled or add flavors in any way. The only part of this recipe that is important is the 1% agar ratio—you can play with everything else to your liking.

With Halloween a week away, I hope you can find some time to create some grotesque, delicious, and cheap dishes to scare your friends. I would love to see any photos of your creations, so please feel free to post links here.

Good luck being disgusting and making the most out of the items in your pantry.

PS: Little tip that might or might not be awesome to you. Adding tonic water to things (quinine specifically) will make it glow under a black light. This makes for all sorts of glowing gross things possible.

(Photo: Johanne Brunet/Flickr)

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