Severed Thumbs and Bloody Brains: Opener

Whether you have plans for an epic Halloween party or just feel like getting into the holiday spirit, this is the dish for you. Hot dogs cut to look like severed thumbs are the perfect gross and scary Halloween treat.

If you can draw a thumbnail, you can do this project. It’s super simple, but the visual impact is sure to impress. Add in some 3D printed zombies, small pumpkins, and decorative corn for a nice display. Cue the creepy music, lower the lights, and people are sure to give this dish a second look!


Project Steps


Gather all your materials and supplies.

Cut hotdogs in half

Cut out thumbnail

Using the tip of your knife, outline the shape of the nail with 1/8th inch deep cuts. Then shave off the skin of the hot dog inside the lines.

If you cut from the straight “cuticle” side down while carefully pressing down on the hot dog skin over the “nail,” then you can cut off the thumbnail in one slice.

We recommend a small knife for this — a paring knife would do — since it is easier to maneuver when cutting out the details.

Cut the distal interphalangeal joint skin folds

Using your own thumb as a placement guide, cut lines into the hot dog to give it the shape of the folds at your joints. These lines will become more defined once we grizzle them in the microwave.

Prepare pasta according to instructions

Add in a dash of pink food coloring if you want the pasta to resemble brains even closer. Once you’ve made the pasta, toss in some ketchup and/or Sriracha, or red sauce. We use the ketchup and Sriracha for the deep red blood color, but you can use any red sauce you want.

Microwave the thumbs

Place the shaped hot dogs in a circle on a microwave safe dish. Since the microwave emits waves unevenly you will need to experiment with a few hot dogs in different arrangements to see which positions grizzle the severed end of the hot dog finger more than the nail part. We found a circular arrangement with them pointing outwards was best.

Microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Boiling is not recommended. The microwave gives the thumbs a grizzled texture like bloody, rotting zombie thumbs. Boiling will make the hotdog swell and lose that realism.

Arrange on decorative platter

Make small, brain-sized piles of pasta in the middle of your platter and place the thumbs pointing outwards along the rim.

If you use a circular platter, you can pile all the pasta in the middle to resemble an extra large brain.

Apply ketchup to each thumb’s severed end. Serve alongside parmesan cheese and enjoy before the zombies get it all!