Recipes | Trader Joe's Desserts

Halloween Dirt Cake

Halloween is the best time of the year for creative, spooky desserts and this Halloween dirt cake certainly delivers. It’s an embarrassingly easy dessert recipe made with pudding, whipped cream, cookies, and gummy candy. And you’re gonna love it!

Halloween Dirt Cake with cookie tombstones and gummy cats and gummy bats in a glass baking dish.

What is Dirt Cake?

Dirt cake is one of those pudding desserts that looks harder to make that it actually is. In reality, this is a make-ahead dessert that is super easy to make with just 4 ingredients.

Traditionally, dirt cake is made with pudding and sandwich cookies, like Oreos or Trader Joe’s Joe-Joe’s. Some recipes I’ve seen include a layer of whipped cream and some don’t.

The bottom layer is always cookies, followed by a layer of pudding. The pudding is usually vanilla or chocolate but there’s nothing saying you couldn’t use pudding flavors like lemon or butterscotch either.

A scoop of Halloween Dirt Cake in a serving spoon.

The top of a dirt cake is a layer of crushed cookies, which is what gives the dessert its dirt-like appearance. Most of the dirt cake recipes you’ll find have gummy worms sticking out of the crumbled cookies, which really adds to the feeling of the dirt layer.

You’ll see that my dirt cake recipe is a bit different. I’ve got all of the original components: cookies, pudding, and gummy candy. But I went a little further by adding whipped cream and changing up the cookie and gummy candy flavors.

It IS Halloween after all, and I wanted a spooktacular dessert!

Halloween Dirt Cake ingredients on a white marble counter.

Dirt Cake Ingredients

Here’s the basic shopping list for what you’ll need to make this Halloween dirt cake. I bought all of the ingredients at Trader Joe’s but you can definitely find them at your regular grocery store.

And don’t forget that you’ll find the full list of ingredients and instructions down below in the recipe card. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cookies – I used Trader Joe’s Dunkers and Joe-Joe’s. Regular Oreos will work fine here too.
  • Pudding – Chocolate or vanilla pudding are perfect for this dessert.
  • Whipped cream – Either make your own or buy Cool Whip (or another whipped topping).
  • Gummy candy – Gummy worms work just fine but I used Trader Joe’s Sour Bats & Cats.
Trader Joe's Belgian Chocolate Pudding with a spoon in the container.

What Kind of Pudding?

If you know me well enough, you know that I like to make lots of things from scratch.

Yes, I make life harder for myself than it needs to be. I make pudding from scratch when there are boxed puddings that take 2 minutes to whip up.

But I went EASY for this Halloween dessert. I didn’t even make the pudding from a box mix! I bought it.

Trader Joe’s has this outrageous Belgian chocolate pudding that requires zero work and I’m kind of in love with it! So I used it for this dirt cake.

Again, you could make your own pudding if you want to but truthfully, no one would know the difference when it’s all layered up in this dessert.

How to Make Dirt Cake

Let’s keep this an easy dessert recipe, shall we? Here’s how to make it (see the recipe card down below for the full list of instructions):

  1. Start with a layer of the Dunkers cookies on the bottom of a square dish.
  2. Add a layer of pudding followed by a layer of whipped cream.
  3. Repeat the cookie – pudding – whipped cream layer one more time.
  4. Top the cake with a layer of crushed sandwich cookies (Oreos or Joe-Joe’s).
  5. Break some of the Dunkers in half and nestle them into the “dirt” to look like tombstones.
  6. Place the gummy candies around the tombstones and dirt.

I know, I know.

Kitschy? Yes, totally!

But it’s Halloween, people!

My 4 year old absolutely loved helping me make this cake a few weeks ago. And she was ecstatic to see how I decorated it with the tombstones and gummy bats and cats after she lost interest in helping me make it.

We completely flipped over this dirt cake recipe and being the pudding lovers that we are, this dessert was right up our alley.

The cookies definitely need hours – and I do mean HOURS – to soften. So be sure to give yourself plenty of time before you plan to serve the dirt cake. You’ll need a good 18 to 24 hours for the cookies to soften.

If you have less time, feel free to use graham crackers or chocolate wafer cookies instead (either store-bought or these incredible homemade wafers would be perfect here). You can serve the dirt cake about 10 to 12 hours after making it, but the longer you chill it for, the better it will be!

Halloween Dirt Cake with cookie tombstones and gummy cats and gummy bats in a glass baking dish.

Halloween Dirt Cake

Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 20 minutes

Dirt cake is an easy Halloween dessert that's also a great way to get the kids involved in helping with party prep. We made ours with all Trader Joe's ingredients (including a delish pre-made chocolate pudding!) but feel free to swap them out as needed.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz heavy cream or heavy whipping cream (see Note below)
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 12 sandwich cookies like Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's or Oreos
  • ½ package of Trader Joe's Dunkers
  • 1 (16 oz) package of Trader Joe's Belgian Chocolate Pudding
  • Gummy candies for decorating

Instructions

  1. Whip the cream and sugar together in a cold bowl with a hand mixture or in the bowl of a stand mixer until medium-soft peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to use.
  2. Grind the sandwich cookies in a food processor until crumbly and dirt-like in appearance. Set aside.
  3. Add a layer of the Dunkers cookies to the bottom of an 8x8-inch square casserole dish, breaking them into smaller pieces to fill in the holes. Spread half of the pudding over the top of the cookies. Spread half of the whipped cream over the pudding.
  4. Repeat the layers one more time.
  5. Sprinkle the crushed cookie crumbs over the top layer of whipped cream.
  6. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
  7. Just before serving, break the remaining Dunkers in half and press them into the cookie crumbs to resemble tombstones. Arrange the gummy candies around the tombstones.

Notes

You can also 8 oz of Cool Whip or another whipped topping. Non-dairy whipped toppings will work for this recipe too. If you choose to do this, omit the granulated sugar from the recipe.

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