Antipasto Dia de Los Muertos, 5 Great Ways to Celebrate [Video Recipe]

Antipasto Dia de Los Muertos, 5 Great Ways to Celebrate [Recipe] Latin Business Today

Keeping our Ancestors’ Memories Alive

Dia de los Muertos goes back thousands of years to the Aztec and Nahua peoples, and it has long been celebrated in Mexican and Latin American culture. This holiday takes place between October 31 and November 2. It’s a celebration of life and death, honoring the departed with joy and remembrance.

El Dia de los Muertos is a cultural celebration. It’s not a Halloween party and shouldn’t be used out of context. Celebrate it in your own way honoring the Latin traditions that mean something to you.

Here are 5 Great Ways to Celebrate Dia de los Muertos:

1. Make & Decorate an Ofrenda

The ofrenda (altar) is at the center of any Dia de los Muertos celebration. They’re made to honor those cherished loved ones who have departed the earthly world, making them comfortable for their journey back to the living on this holiday.

Ofrendas are typically lit with candles and have multiple levels to place photos and items to remember your loves ones by. Other levels have food and drink offerings to welcome them back  including pan de muerto. Marigolds (cempasúchil) are the symbolic flower for this holiday and usually adorn the ofrendas too.

Candles, marigolds, and sugar skulls adorn this ofrenda

2. Bake Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead)

This sweet bread (pan dulce) topped with sugar crystals represents an offering to departed loved ones to “nourish” them for their return from the dead. The traditional shape is a round loaf topped decorated with “bones” criss-crossing the top in the shape of a cross and a small ball in the center.

It’s not very difficult to make. You can try my recipe that adds a colorful twist to the sugar crystal topping.

Colorful sugar crystals adorn this pan dulce for the holiday.

3. Honor Departed Loved Ones

This is the time to remember your loved ones’ favorite things like foods, interests, songs, treasured belongings, etc. Include your family and friends to share stories about the departed and maybe sing some of their favorite songs.

Leave some of their favorite foods and drinks at their ofrenda. Passing down the stories of our loves ones keeps them alive for generations to come.

4. Dress for the Holiday

This holiday is filled with vibrant colors from the foods, flowers and décor so it makes sense that the traditional dress of this holiday would be just as bold. Women typically wear the beautiful embroidered styles known as Puebla. Floral headpieces are also very traditional. Many people also paint their faces in traditional skull-like designs.

Taking the time to apply a traditional Dia de los Muertos face is a fun way to celebrate the holiday.

5. Serve a feast for Dia de los Muertos.

Although providing food and sustenance for the dead is the key theme, you can also enjoy some great food with your family during this holiday. Traditional foods like posole, tamales, and mole are nice and hearty during this autumnal celebrations. Sweet treats like sugar skulls (calaveras), pumpkin empanadas and hot cocoa are wonderful desserts. For a simple appetizer that everyone will love, I’m making an easy skull antipasto dish.

Busy at work making my Antipasto Skull appetizer.

Antipasto de los Muertos


  • 1 ball mozzarella
  • ½ red onion sliced thin and halved
  • 2 to 3 packages of various cured meats (sopresatta, chorizo, calabrese, salami, pepperoni)
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 heads of red leaf lettuce rinsed
  • 1 jar marinated artichokes, quartered
  • ½ cup sliced pepperoncini
  • ½ cup black olives
  • 1 cup bottled Italian dressing
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

To make the highlight of this simple & fun dish, the mozzarella skulls, slice the ball of mozzarella into approximately 6 to 7 slices depending on how large the ball is. Using a sharp paring knife, cut the shape of a skull. You can also purchase a skull cookie cutter if that’s easier for you. Next, use a wide straw or apple corer to push out the 2 eye sockets. Lastly cut a triangle wedge for the nose.

For the marinade to let the skulls sit in, whisk up the Italian dressing, balsamic vinegar and dried oregano in a bowl and then transfer to a dish and add the sliced red onions. Set the mozzarella skulls into layers in the dish allowing them to marinate for a few hours or even overnight.

Prepare the cured meats into rose shapes by rolling the slices. You may need to roll a 2nd slice to make the rose shape to the desired size.

To make tomato flowers, cut a X-shape at the top of each cherry tomato down to about 2/3 of the way into the cherry and pull apart the “petals”

The last and most fun part is the assembly! Use a large festive platter and lay some of the red leaf lettuce at the bottom for presentation. Place the marinated skulls evenly on the lettuce bed. Now place some of the meat roses around each skull, mixing the different types of meats. Fill in the rest of the spaces with the tomato roses and artichoke quarters. Add clusters of the sliced pepperoncini throughout. Remove the marinated red onions and arrange the rings on the platter too.

The final fun touch is the black olives. Of course you can just add these to the platter for an extra touch, but I’m slicing mine in half lengthwise creating a spider body and then slicing the circles into strips to create the daddy long legs. I’ll tuck these in and around the dish.

This is such a fun and colorful appetizer that is the perfect addition to any Dia de los Muertos celebration. Enjoy!

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