Healthier Halloween Candy recipes

Healthier Halloween Candy

If you find the ingredients in Halloween candy a little spooky, you may want to try making treats for your children this holiday. The recipes below for healthier Halloween candy are a great way to please palates in search of sweets this season.

Here are a few of my favorite healthier candy recipes:

Our boys are now 11 and 13; they started their Halloween candy careers when they were 7 and 9 years old. BTT (before trick-or-treating) we used to take them to a haunted house at the Waldorf school which seemed to entertain (and distract) them from the unhealthy aspects of Halloween quite effectively.

Our strategy now is to let them trick-or-treat. However, when they get home, we offer them money for their candy –we pay by the piece, and they love it. Even though they are still left with sugar to eat, they probably sell us about 80% of their haul and then keep the special things that they really like.

This works for me because the boys are at an age right now where they are increasingly out of the house and have more freedom of choice to exercise surrounding food. And selling the candy to us allows them to create their own boundaries with foods they know are seductive, yet devoid of nutrition.

If you’re trying to maintain a healthy household, how do you deal with the onslaught of processed sugar that arrives at Halloween each year? Do you let your children trick-or-treat? If you do, do you let them keep their candy? What about the Halloween fairy? Does she visit your house? Let’s all share our strategies (or lack thereof) for dealing with this difficult season.


  1. says

    Wanted to provide you some awesome feedback. The class loved the treats. The parents loved the treats. The teachers and staff loved the treats. For the class I made 3 of the 4 items. I did not make the nut butter cups.

    I just made the almond joy bars again and brought them to my girlfriend’s home. Her hubby made a special request for those.

    The parents of the boy with Leukemia were thrilled and so was he. He was able to eat the mounds bar which I made in a mold with halloween characters, the orange cluster, and the almond joy bars. Because some of the goodies were made with either coconut palm sugar or agave syrup he was able to eat all of them.

    On Halloween everyone came to our house for a potluck and after they went trick or treating he came to me and asked if the candy he had received was made with sugar. I went to the refrigerator and got a chocolate orange nut cluster and told him he could eat that one. He was delighted. His mom was relieved and delighted.

    Thank you from all of us for the awesome treats that are healthy and sweet. I passed out your recipes with your website information and I already know who is getting your cookbooks for the holidays. Your gift of food goes beyond and keeps on giving. I’m so glad you have this blog.

  2. Melanie says

    I just made these. I did omit the extract and used the zest from one orange instead. These are AMAZING! Thank you so much for posting some clean candy ideas. My son opted to trade in his Halloween candy this year for a small toy. I was so proud that I wanted to make him some “clean” candy as a treat. This really fit the bill. I am going to try all of your clean candies and serve for the holiday’s. Thank you!

  3. says

    I love Connie’s idea. That makes so much sense:

    In our area the dentists buy the candy from kids and then send it to the troops!

    I think the children would be more willing if they really understand what they are giving up the candy for.


  4. says

    Sugar is a simple carb and eating sugar has the same effect as eating potatoes,for instance – it increases the level of insulin. As long as my children are not drinking fizzy drinks with high-fructose corn syrup, there is not much to worry.

  5. says

    I made the peanut butter cups with almond butter and they were FABULOUS!!! I also made a recipe from your new cupcake cookbook and baked them in a Babycakes cake pop maker. Thanks for a great Halloween!

  6. Kimsage says

    My kids are now in their late teens and 20’s. We also “bought” their halloween candy, both in hard cold cash and in lego sets. A fun tradition that they still try and get in on.But a homemade treat would have been a harder buy off. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  7. says

    Our son is six. We give out spooky little toys at halloween, this year it’s green fingers and eyeball pingpong balls. Earlier in the evening we go to a halloween carnival. There’s lots of festivities so candy doesn’t take center stage.

  8. Paula Brown says

    I have a little bit of a problem with kids bringing home a bunch of candy to be “bought” or traded and then thrown away, because it just doesn’t seem right. After all, the giver paid good money for that stuff! But the dentist buyback, the Christmas Child or similar program, or the donation to a food bank solves that issue. I love the switch witch with the rotten teeth!

    As far as what to hand out–pencils, stickers, gum, small bags of sunflower seeds are a few ideas. There are also several companies where you can order a bag of little toys such as you see at school Halloween carnivals as prizes– pencil toppers, bouncy balls, fake teeth, etc. for a very reasonable price. (All probably made in China, though…oh, dear!) Of course, healthier homemade treats could be handed out to children you know, bagged in baggies and labelled with your name, phone number, and ingredients.

  9. Karina says

    At my house, the Halloween witch visits each year the night after halloween, in the morning all the candy is gone and replaced with a special present or gift which the children have been wishing for.

    • Karina says

      and for the trick or treaters there is always organic fairtraid chocolate bars and natural fruit juice sweetened lollipops.

  10. Jessica says

    This is our first Halloween sans gluten and sugar (among many other things). I had planned to buy my son’s candy or gift him with something he’s been eyeing. Figuring out what to place into the eager hands of tiny sugar fiends is my bigger problem. I just can’t bear to hand out twizzlers and sweet tarts when my family can no longer have them. What do you guys hand out to trick or treaters?

  11. says

    We let the kids trick or treat, then they come home and separate their loot by categories. They keep only the chocolate candies they enjoy (Hershey bars, Reese’s PB cups, etc.,)stored in ziplocks marked with their name. (They must ask first, and are allowed one mini-size bar a day, usually.) and all the rest goes into boxes we pack for Operation Christmas Child in November. Every year, each of my kids shops for a shoe box full of small gift items,such as toys, toothpaste, socks, crayons, and … hard candy for children in underprivileged countries. (We cannot send chocolates, because they melt in transport to warm climates.) We never need to buy hard candy, thanks to Halloween.

  12. says

    My son is sensitive to artificial colors (it basically makes him lose his mind and become very out-of-control and sometimes aggressive) so we don’t allow much candy or processed foods during the year. Halloween is the one time he gets to go crazy. He can eat whatever he wants from his haul after we get home but after that it’s gone. Since he’s been out running around and it’s usually past bedtime when we get home he’s so exhausted that the colors don’t have much effect.

  13. says

    My sons are now giving out treats to children who come to their rented house near their University. They are quite careful about what they deal out!
    We live in a rural area and as youngsters, we only did the one block around our house, using it as a time to visit the neighbours – which limited the amount they got. We then emptied the pile on the table, sorted out what did not look safe and paired up the treats (one for each of them). These were stored away and they could both agree when they needed a treat and pick a matching set. (My husband helped get rid of the unmatched ones!)
    The past few years we have given kids a choice between small bags of organic potato chips, mini granola bars or little packs of gummy bears. I usually have decorated Halloween pencils for kids not allowed sugar.

  14. Melodee Issa says

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes and advice. I have 2 daughtersagrs 2 and 5. We started with the candy fairy from the time my daughter understood what candy was about(around 3 years old). The candy fairy comes and spine all of the sugar into special gifts for the girls. This works for all of our candy laden events.

  15. Barb says

    I removed any items or home made treats that could be tampered with. My children were allowed to keep their loot bags in their rooms. Most things were not eaten. I ate the odd piece. They are grown up and did not develop a candy or sugar habit. I give trick or treaters small bags of potato chips.

  16. Lori says

    What a great idea to buy our kid’s candy! Not only does it support our paleo lifestyle, but it supports our educational efforts related to saving and investing. Sweet in so many ways! Thanks.

  17. Chrissy says

    Our dentist buys back candy and then ships the candy to deployed troops. Although I think that is an awesome program, we’ve never taken part. I allow the kids a few pieces that night and then a piece every day for awhile. They lose interest pretty quickly. We were never allowed to go Trick-or-Treating as kids and I always hated missing out on it!!! So, I’m not doing it to my own kids! They eat well so I don’t want to go too extreme buy eliminating everything “fun”.

    By the way, I’ve made those Nut Butter Cups (truffles in my case). THEY ARE FABULOUS! I am still dreaming of them. Like Reese’s Peanut Butter cups except a million times BETTER!!! Thanks for the recipe!

  18. Julie says

    I read a tip in the newspaper this week from a mom who lets her kids keep all the Halloween candy — but it has to last until Easter! When the Easter bunny brings candy, that has to last until Halloween. I could see this working really well, depending on the age of the kids and how much they collect.

    Thanks for the links! I’m looking forward to trying the peppermint patties.

  19. KellyBelly says

    My boys are 6 & 8 and have been selling their halloween candy to the dentist for $1/pound. During the rest of the year I will pay them for candy. The amount depends on how “yummy” the item is to them. The yummier the candy the higher the dollar amount. I also teach them about “quality” verus “quantity”. So this year I said I’d buy them a quality piece of chocolate after they sell the quantity junk candy.

  20. carmen says

    We’ve never really had a battle with our 6 year old. We let him pick 15 of his favorites the rest goes to trash or husbands work. Sometimes we still have half of that candy at christmas. He’s always been empowered to make choices and now that he’s older he makes good food choices on his own.

  21. says

    Last year we let our boys (4 and 2) trick-or-treat and eat a few pieces as we roamed the neighborhood. When we got home, they each picked 7 pieces of candy (enough to last a week eating one piece a day) and they left the rest out for the Candy Fairy. The next morning they woke to find a toy they had each really been wanting. I sent the candy to a dear friend of the family who was deployed to pass out to his fellow troops. We have the same plan for this year, and the boys are thrilled about getting to exchange the candy for a visit from the Candy Fairy. We want them to have the experience of trick-or-treating, but without the candy becoming a huge issue for the next few weeks. We talk a lot about how candy isn’t very good for their/our bodies, but it sure is a special treat that we get to enjoy sometimes. They seem totally ok with giving most of it up and I am so thrilled we found a solution that works for us all!

  22. Tonya says

    I recently ordered your almond flour cookbook and the almond flour you suggested. So far I have baked the choc chip cookes and they are outstanding. I am a recovering sugarholic and the holidays are going to be brutal with temptations. Thank you so much for giving us healthier alternatives. I cannot wait to make some of the Halloween goodies for my family….and a few for me.

  23. says

    Last year At our home we were visted by a switch witch after we went trick or treating…we left the candy out for her and she switched them for tatoos stickers, and healthy treats. The switch witch of course had rotten teeth ;)
    This year were going to a friends halloween party where the children will be lead on a lantern walk in the forest in search of treats the jack o lantern will light the way!

  24. says

    So glad you posted these recipes. I’m in charge of goodies for my son’s preschool class on Halloween. We have a child who has cancer and cannot have any refined sugar, but the md says honey or agave are okay. Now I can make fun treats and all the kids can enjoy themselves with healthier snacks! Will also use these recipes for their cooking classes.
    Thank you so much. This means a lot to all of us.

    Elana Daley

  25. Maria says

    I let my kids to trick-or-treat because I wasn’t allowed to celebrate Halloween at all as a kid…and I just don’t want them to miss out. But, they really only go trick-or-treating for the experience of it. In years past, I’ve taken the kids out early in the evening and then we’ve given the bulk of the candy they’ve received out to the later trick-or-treaters. That way, we really only buy candy for the early kids (usually organic lollipops) and we don’t end up with a boatload of sugary stuff at the end of the night. It’s kind of a win-win. Besides, my kids have just as much fun giving out the candy as they do collecting it.

    Since last year there have been dentists in our area that have offered the candy buy-back for the troops. We might do that instead this year. My kids never turn down money!

  26. Judy says

    My kids (all grown) didn’t have sugar problems. I did nothing. My oldest daughter preferred frozen peas to M-n-M’s. Then, when my oldest son came to live with us at 8. I pointed out to him he could eat it all at once and be sick, or he could eat a piece once a day or every other day or once a week, his choice. How long did he want that sack of candy to last? By acknowledging his ownership and his control, the candy became a non-issue. This worked with his younger brother and sister too. Most years they still had candy come the following Halloween when we went on the hunt for their pumpkins. They would laugh about having forgotten the candy, we would dump it in the trash and move on. (The candy was stored in a zip-lock bag to protect it.) My kids wanted fresh vegetables and fruit with whatever sweet treats I make instead of candy.

  27. Susie says

    My kids will LOVE helping make these treats. It will help ease the pain of taking the candy haul to the orthodontist this year:-). Both of my daughters are excited about taking the candy they receive to the orthodontist who will weigh the candy and give them a Starbucks card for $10 dollars for 10 lbs of candy. From there, the orthodontist is going to package the candy and send it to the US Military serving overseas. My girls know there isn’t too many Paleo choices at Starbucks, but they love the idea of their own card to buy their treats(you can only get 2 frappachinos at Starbucks for $10)and spreading joy to the troops.

  28. LauraK says

    My kids are 5.5 & 2.5 and the eldest is really into trick-or-treating. We have been doing the “Halloween Fairy” where she chooses a few special treats to save and leaves the rest out for the alleged fairy to take to children who do not get to trick-or-treat. The fairy, in turns, leaves a small gift. It worked great when she was 3.5 but last year I could tell she was a little sad about giving up the candy (not that she is deprived in any way with holidays and birthdays coming up!). So, the fairy is either going to have to up her game or we are going to have to pick a new strategy.

    I like your plan of buying the candy – how much do you offer per piece?

  29. tanya says

    For the past three years we have let our daughters go out for a fun night of trick or treating, and when they are done for the night they hand over all but a few pieces in exchange for a trip to toys r us. we let them pick out a new toy or craft project within a reasonable price to enjoy. This lasts longer than a piece of candy and they have fun with something new!

  30. Debra says

    Buying off the candy is a great idea! This is the first Halloween for my 5 yo daughter as a diabetic and I proposed the same idea to my husband about buying both our girls (age 5 & 3) candy for a set price then taking them to the store to spend their money.

  31. says

    Great idea, Elana! I have been wondering how I would handle our first Halloween as a “paleo” family. It seems counter-productive to simply forbid my two boys (6 and 10) eating any candy. I will definitely try a couple of these recipes as alternatives but I love the idea of paying for the candy they get when trick-or-treating. It lets the kids feel more in control. And I know my boys will be thinking of the Yu-Gi-Oh cards they can buy, etc. :-)

    • says

      Paleo halloween is definitely challenging, especially for the youngsters! I’ve decided not to take the easy way out and stock up on the usual gut-busters at CVS – we’ll be giving these recipes a shot. Might even sneak a few for myself… :)

  32. Anke says

    Thank you for this candy selling tip. We have St. Maarten here and New years Eve to collect candy in the neighborhood. I was thinking in an exchange-the-sugar-into-fruit something.

  33. says

    these all look beautiful, and i’m dreaming of the almond joy bars right now…
    anyway, just curious about which candy you do let your boys eat, i know one of them can’t have gluten, right? is there a mainstream brand that doesn’t pass gluten through the factory?

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