A woman holds up a moon-shaped pastry in front of her face.
Kitchen witchery is becoming more and more popular with young people. | © Frances F. Denny

Cook Like a Kitchen Witch With These Magical Halloween Recipes

Embrace your magical side with these Halloween recipes, which make use of autumnal ingredients like rosemary, hazelnut, cinnamon, and juniper.
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Walk into any witch’s kitchen, and you’ll see the tools of their trade: a big pot, herbs hanging to dry, a mortar and pestle, and probably a well-worn cookbook. The kitchen is the heart of the home; it makes sense it would be the heart of their craft. And it might be the heart of yours too, whether you’re officially a witch or not.

Kitchen witchery, and witchery in general, is rising in popularity as more millennials and Gen Zers seek to add creativity, inspiration, and mystical connection to their food and lives. The movie Practical Magic is the perfect example of kitchen witchery—growing mystical herbs in the garden, banishing demons with a stovetop concoction. Look around; you’ll be able to see witchcraft creeping into your life in everyday relatable ways. Think about how many people you know who ask if Mercury is in retrograde, or pull a tarot card every morning, or have an amethyst or other crystal on their desk. 

The Wiccan community alone has grown more than 4,000% since the 1990s, rising from 8,000 practitioners to more than 340,000. Keep in mind, though, that not all pagans and witches are Wiccans—it’s estimated that the pagan population on the whole in the United States is about 1.5 million people, larger than even the Presbyterian church membership. 

Witches' Cauldron featuring Allison Olivia Moon
The season is upon us to summon kitchen magic. | Allison Olivia Moon

Whether you’re a kitchen witch or just a little witchy in the kitchen, our season is upon us! Halloween is the best time to experiment. According to folklore, on Samhain (the ancient Gaelic festival that precedes and influences the Halloween holiday), the barrier between the world of the living and the spirit world is at its thinnest. That means it’s easier to connect with ancestors, deities, or any other spiritual entity you can imagine.

We’re starting to stay inside more and enjoying the last of warmer weather’s harvest. It’s a season of change. Everything around us is shifting color, fading into the slower part of its lifecycle. But along with that, there’s rebirth. There’s transformation. Things begin to enter a new phase of life. Think of the herbs you grew over the summer, dried and hanging in your kitchen. What new life are they breathing into the meal on your stovetop? What magical qualities of those herbs are imbued into the food?

October is the perfect time to head into the kitchen and create recipes full of intention. Try using these four ingredients in your own kitchen to embrace your magical side.

halloween cooking with kitchen witch Lo Juniper
Lo Juniper uses powerful herbs and spices at Halloween to connect with the spirits. | Lo Juniper

Magical halloween recipes

Rosemary

Rosemary has such a long magical history that even its name has a legend attached. The story goes that the Virgin Mary put her blue cloak down on a field of white flowers. When she picked her cloak back up, all the flowers had turned blue—creating the herb, Rose of Mary.

Even before that, rosemary was revered in ancient civilizations like Egypt and Greece. It was used for divination (mostly to find information about someone’s future spouse); people kept it under their pillow to stave off nightmares; sprigs were worn for protection; and in Italy, rosemary bushes were thought to be fairy homes. Plus, it’s just plain healthy, according to a study in the Journal of Biomedical Science. It’s full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, antimicrobial compounds, and more.

“Not only is it a rich source of antioxidants, rosemary has been used in magical practice for ages,” says Instagram herbalist Allison Olivia Moon. “It can be carried around in a satchel to improve thinking and memory. It’s an excellent herb for clearing negative energy in the household. The smell alone is a mood-booster.”

Try making Moon’s rosemary-spiced pumpkin stew for a protective meal, both physically and magically. “Rosemary pairs beautifully with pumpkin, and now it’s the perfect time since we’re approaching Halloween season,” Moon says. She encourages you to prep this stew in advance, since its leftovers keep well.

A pumpkin stew with rosemary
Rosemary pairs “beautifully” with a hearty pumpkin stew. | Courtesy of Allison Olivia Moon

Rosemary, Roasted Garlic and Pumpkin Stew

By Allison Olivia Moon

Vegan

Ingredients

  • 1 small 1 small 3- or 4-pound pie pumpkin, cut into half-inch chunks (I also love to use kabocha squash or butternut squash)  
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, depending on your preference  
  • 1 cup diced onion  
  • a few sprigs rosemary  
  • 1 cup diced carrots    
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • paprika, to taste  
  • cumin, to taste  
  • 1 pinch nutmeg, to taste    
  • 1 cup  beans (black-eyed peas or white beans are a great option), optional  
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, as needed

Preparation

  1. 1
    Preheat oven to 425F. Cut your pumpkin into large chunks, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until golden brown and cooked through. This will make it a lot easier to scoop and add to soup.
  2. 2
    Rub your garlic, still in its papery outer skin, with olive oil. Wrap it in foil and roast it next to the pumpkin. This brings out the nutty flavor of garlic.
  3. 3
    In a large pot, add diced onions and some olive oil and sauté until golden brown. Add in the rosemary. Press the rosemary between the fingers and also in the pot to release the aromatic oils.
  4. 4
    Add your carrots and celery, mix everything, and cook until golden brown.
  5. 5
    Add in your roasted pumpkin, garlic, spices, and beans, and then mix thoroughly.
  6. 6
    Add in your vegetable broth and let everything come to light boil before turning down the heat and covering it to simmer.
  7. 7
    Let it cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until everything looks incorporated. At this point, you can remove the rosemary from the soup, as the flavor should be infused. (If you diced the leaves and added them in for maximum rosemary flavor, that’s okay too!)
  8. 8
    Use an immersion blender or high-speed blender to (carefully) blend the soup together until it is a creamy delight. Serve hot. You can top it with black sesame seeds, a few sprigs of rosemary, some leftover roasted garlic, whatever you like.

Recipe Notes

Besides pumpkin, you can use any kind of winter squash. Add in some protein like white northern beans and you have yourself a warm meal that is easy to make.

Hazelnut

In ancient Celtic cultures, the hazel tree was a tree of wisdom and creativity. Celtic mythology says that there was an ancient Well of Wisdom, and nine magical hazel trees grew on the edge of the well. The hazelnuts they produced were imbued with knowledge, and as they dropped into the well, the salmon that ate them became known as Salmon of Wisdom. 

“When it comes to magical trees, there can be none more bewitching than the hazel,” says Melissa Jayne Madara, author of The Witch’s Feast. “From the use of hazel wands in ritual magic, to traditional hazelwood divinations about one’s future, to hazel’s reputed use in uncovering secrets and treasures, the hazel tree has long been considered an ally to witches and sorcerers.”

Madara encourages the use of these witch cakes for divination on any topic or question. “Our ‘witch cake’ explores one possible application for food as a vehicle for divination, allowing us to reveal information and receive counsel by means of kitchen witchcraft.” The use of three divinatory plants, hazelnuts, vervain (a flowering herb also called verbena) and four-leaf clovers, aids in second sight, “being able to ‘see’ or discern our answers from the noise, as a clover with four leaves is spotted within a field.”

witch cakes
Hazel has a significant role in Celtic mythology. Use it to make these witch cakes. | Frances F. Denny/Penguin Random House

Salem Witch Trials 'Witch Cake'

By Melissa Jayne Madara

30 mins to prep
30 mins to cook
Yields 2 cakes

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons vervain, finely ground or powdered  
  • 1 whole hazelnut  
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted vegan butter or vegetable shortening  
  • 1/4 cup milk or non-dairy substitute  
  • 2 cups rye flour  
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar  
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder  
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt  
  • 2 four-leaf clovers, optional

Preparation

  1. 1
    This work is best performed when the moon is waxing or full and is without strong negative aspects. On the evening before the cakes are made, sit by candlelight before your altar or a quiet workspace. Burn an incense of black frankincense, storax, hazel leaves, mugwort, and yarrow. Set a clean dish upon your altar and use the powdered vervain to draw an X across the dish. Place your hazelnut in the centre of the mark. If lunar divinities are a part of your practice, you may invoke them here, or otherwise read the lunar invocation of your choosing. Knock with your knuckles three times on either side of the dish. Lift the hazelnut into the incense smoke and recite the following: “Remember, hazel, what you revealed in gold, in truth, in treasure hidden beneath the earth; Commanded by witches who sought to see; Now, compelled by Selene, you shall do the same for me.”
  2. 2
    Spend time in meditation about the question you wish to ask, and take your time to discern precise phrasing for your question. Before the altar, craft a sigil of your question and rework the design until you are fully satisfied. Allow the incense to burn out completely and go to sleep, paying specific attention to any information revealed in dreams.
  3. 3
    The following day, begin at the hour of the moon (see details and description in Recipe Notes). Place your butter in a frying pan or skillet over a medium–low heat and cook until the butter is browning and releasing a nutty fragrance. Transfer the browned butter to a small dish and set in the refrigerator until slightly solidified, about 20 minutes.
  4. 4
    Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Retrieve the dish of vervain and the hazelnut from your altar. In a small saucepan, combine the milk and vervain powder and set over a low heat until it just comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to infuse and cool to room temperature.
  5. 5
    In a medium bowl, mix together your flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, work the solidified butter into the flour mixture until it is crumbly and no large lumps of butter remain. Add half of your milk to the flour mixture and work until the dough begins to come together, then add the rest of the milk and mix until a smooth ball of dough forms.
  6. 6
    Line a baking sheet with baking parchment, and lightly grease a three-inch (seven-and-a-half centimeter) round cookie cutter. (If you do not have cookie cutters at home, these biscuits can be formed by hand.) Press a one-eighth inch (three-millimeter) layer of dough into the bottom of the cookie cutter and set one of your four-leaf clovers in the center.
  7. 7
    Place your hazelnut on top of the clover and whisper your question into the dough. Seal the biscuit with more dough, pressing into the cookie cutter until the biscuit is half an inch (approximately one centimeter) thick. Inscribe it with the sigil you created, then slide the cookie cutter away from the dough.
  8. 8
    Repeat this process again exactly, but instead of a second hazelnut, use a ball of cookie dough the same size. When finished, the biscuits should be identical, with the hazelnut fully obscured. Any remaining dough can be wrapped tightly and stored in the freezer for up to two months to repeat this ritual again.
  9. 9
    Bake the shortbreads for 18 to 25 minutes, or until they slide away from the parchment easily and are fully cooked underneath. Let them cool to room temperature.
  10. 10
    When you are ready to perform the ritual, recite your question aloud, and allow your hands to select one of the cakes. The other cake should be immediately buried, burned, discarded or destroyed, so that there is no possibility of changing your selection. Eat the biscuit you selected and truth will be revealed. If the hazelnut is present, the answer is yes; if it is not, the answer is no.

Recipe Notes

The hour of the moon can be determined by using the charts available here.

Cinnamon

For centuries, cinnamon has played a role in natural healing, both by settling nauseated stomachs and by regulating blood sugar. But it has magical qualities as well. It’s a warming herb, and as we head into the colder months, it will help keep you toasty. For kitchen witches specifically, cinnamon speeds up the pace at which a spell works, and it attracts happiness and money. Plus, it’s an aphrodisiac.

“As the world slowly turns from green to umber, we all start seeking out warmth, comfort and tradition,” says Lo Juniper, The Coffee Cup Witch. “Halloween, also known as Samhain (pronounced sah-win) is a holiday rich in legend, superstition and lore. It’s the final of the three harvest festivals and celebrates the end of harvest season and the beginning of the dark months. It’s a great time to practice simple folk magic and kitchen witchery using ingredients with magical correspondences and my favorite recipe is this simple Samhain cider.”

Juniper also notes that this recipe’s other ingredients also play important roles in the magic of this recipe, which is designed to summon love, success and money to one’s doorstep. “Apples have long been known as a love and fertility symbol as well as a sign of knowledge, wisdom and eternal youth, so be sure to set your intention as you add them to your cider. The spices included in this recipe, allspice, cinnamon and cloves, are generally associated with the element of fire and play an important role in Samhain magic. They pair beautifully with apples for growth, abundance, luck and prosperity.”

Lo encourages kitchen witches to use this recipe as a natural simmer pot to infuse their homes with delicious aromas, as well as to provide a winter warmer during parties.

cinnamon cider
Use a natural simmer pot to warm this comforting, aromatic cider. | viennetta/iStock; inset: Lo Juniper

A Simple Samhain Cider Recipe

By Lo Juniper

Ingredients

  • 8 Gala or Fuji apples  
  • 1 teaspoon allspice  
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves  
  • 6 sticks cinnamon  
  • 10 cups water  
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar  
  • star anise, orange slices, apple slices, vegan whipped cream, or caramel drizzle, optional

Preparation

  1. 1
    Core apples and cut into quarters.
  2. 2
    Add all ingredients except brown sugar.
  3. 3
    Cook on high heat for three hours.
  4. 4
    Check regularly and stir as needed.
  5. 5
    Mash apples and add brown sugar after three hours.
  6. 6
    Reduce heat to low and simmer for another two hours.
  7. 7
    Strain solids if desired (you can do this easily with a slotted spoon and keep the cider warming in the slow cooker).
  8. 8
    Garnish with optional items if desired. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

All you need for this recipe is your modern witch’s cauldron (a slow cooker!)—or, if you don’t have one, you can simply use a stovetop simmer pot and keep a closer eye on it, checking the cider frequently. 

Juniper

Surprisingly, juniper has a somewhat short mythological history, making appearances as mostly a symbol of fertility or shelter for someone fleeing a dangerous situation. In magic, though, juniper is a powerhouse. It was regularly used for ritual purification by burning the bark, which gives off surprisingly little smoke but smells divine. It had such strong connections to healing and cleansing that people burned it during the plague in the mid-1300s in order to chase disease out of the area.

“The defining quality of gin is juniper, and juniper is a powerful ingredient for cleansing, healing, and psychic enhancement as well,” says Julia Halina Hadas, author of Moon, Magic, Mixology. “It is often used to protect and ward away toxic energy, while helping one still maintain a heightened and positive connection to their intuition. As one can imagine, this would also be a great ingredient to work with for Halloween themes, as well as for the seasonal pine aroma that accompanies the transition from fall to winter.”

Juniper’s cleansing and healing powers take center stage in this recipe—as gin—from Hadas. ““Draw down the potency of the moon to cleanse your energy with this crisp, refreshing rosemary and grapefruit spritzer. With the herbal base of gin, rosemary, and grapefruit for purification, elevated with soothing vegan honey, floral rose, and bubbling sparkling wine, this concoction will revitalize your energy. Delight in this beverage to call down the light of the moon, to cleanse your energy during the waning moon, or to prepare for the coming new moon.”

a gin cocktail split with Julia Halina Hadas
“The defining quality of gin is juniper,” says Julia Halina Hadas. | Simon & Schuster

Lunar Purification Potion

By Julia Halina Hadas

Ingredients

Spritzer

  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary  
  • 3⁄4 ounce grapefruit juice  
  • 1 ounce gin  
  • 1⁄4 ounce Vegan Honey Syrup (see recipe below)  
  • 4 dashes rose water  
  • 2 ounces sparkling white wine

Vegan Honey Syrup

  • 1⁄2 cup water  
  • 1⁄2 cup vegan honey

Preparation

    Spritzer

    • 1
      Place rosemary sprig, grapefruit juice, gin, vegan honey syrup, and rose water into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake the ingredients, also shaking away any negative energy.
    • 2
      Strain into a coupe glass with one large ice cube/sphere, and top with sparkling wine.

    Vegan Honey Syrup

    • 1
      Boil water in a small pot over high heat. While you are waiting for water to boil, place vegan honey in a small, heatproof glass jar. Pray over the ingredients as you wait.
    • 2
      Pour boiling water into a jar. Stir, let cool for 10 minutes, then cover and store syrup in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to one month.