Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: Three Ways

Toasted pumpkin seeds are the tiny, edible trophies you get for carving pumpkins. There are a couple of tricks to roasting perfect pumpkin seeds.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: Three Ways

Toasted pumpkin seeds are the tiny, edible trophies you get for carving pumpkins. Don't carve a pumpkin (or any winter squash for that matter), without toasting or roasting the seeds. That's just how it needs to be. The question is, what's the best technique? There is some debate about the best approach, but I've settled on a foolproof method over the years. It's super easy, and I'm going to share it here.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Take note, there are a couple points of departure you'll see in my technique (compared to most). First! Some people boil the pumpkin seeds prior to toasting. No need. Second, I now season and spice the pumpkin seeds after baking, and I'll talk more about why.

Different pumpkins, Different seeds

Pumpkins aren't the only winter squash with seeds. And seeds from different squashes have different sizes, shapes and textures. Have fun experimenting! Play around with white "ghost" pumpkins, blue Hokkaido, butternut squash, and all the other beautiful winter squash varietals out there for a range of seeds. Also, if you're going to roast the squash as well, they're often much better tasting versus carving pumpkins.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Different Sized Seeds

Smaller seeds roast more quickly, so adjust your baking time (less). Aside from that, treat them the same as you would regular "carving" pumpkin seeds. Pictured above (top to bottom): delicata squash seeds, butternut squash seeds, carving pumpkin seeds.

Nutritional Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

I just want to mention, another reason I love pumpkin seeds is because they're tiny nutritional powerhouses. Pumpkin seeds are a great snack, and experts sing the praises of their numerous science-based health benefits. They’re known to be a good source of magnesium, fiber, zinc, iron and a whole host of other nutrients and antioxidants. In short, a handful of them is a great way to boost your snack game.Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

How to Clean & Make Pumpkin Seeds

Place a colander (or strainer) in a bowl filled with water. The seeds float, so this set-up makes separating the seeds from any stubborn pumpkin flesh much easier. Scoop the seeds from your pumpkin and transfer to the colander. Separate the seeds from any pumpkin flesh and pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth.

How to Get the Strings off Pumpkin Seeds

Using the water-method I outline above will do the trick and make cleaning the goop-y fibers off your pumpkin seeds. You'll be able to clean the majority off this way. I've found that vigorously rubbing the seeds dry with a clean towel afterward tends to remove any remaining strands.

The Best Baking Technique

Bake the pumpkin seeds after a good rinse. The key? You need to dry them well. Get as much water off the seeds as possible. I'm convinced the seeds steam less using this method, and crisp more.

When to Season?

I used to heavily season seeds prior to baking, but I find that if you bake with lots of spice coating the seeds, the spices tend to over bake or even burn. I do most or all of my spice additions post-bake now.

Flavor Variations Beyond Classic Pumpkin Seeds

The directions you can go related to seasoning you seeds are endless. That said, I'm going to include three of my favorite variations down below.

  • Meyer Lemon Zest, Cayenne, and Olive Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sweet Curry Pumpkin Seeds
  • Garlic Chive Pumpkin Seeds

And, because I can't resist. If you don't mind stained fingertips, tossing the hot seeds with a dusting of turmeric, minced garlic, and cayenne or black pepper is also really great. Wasabi paste or powder is a great flavoring option, as is ponzu sauce. And nutritional yeast with crushed, toasted nori is another favorite. Have fun & play around!

Other Ways to Enjoy Them

Pumpkin seeds are great anytime you are looking to add a bit of crunch to a dish. That said, you can also blend them into dips, smoothies, and sauces. They're incredibly versatile. This Yucatecan salsa (Sikil P'ak) is one of my all-time favorite ways to use them. Note the difference in flavor between raw pumpkin seeds and toasted - it's quite dramatic. Start with whatever your preference is and go from there when you're thinking about incorporating more pumpkin seeds into your food and cooking. Other ideas:

  • Blend pumpkin seeds into a smoothie or chia bowl.
  • Make Pumpkin Seed Butter: With a high-speed blender you can puree pumpkin seeds into a pumpkin seed butter. Similar to how you make almond or peanut butter.
  • Add them to your favorite breakfast porridge, congee, or savory oatmeal.
  • Toss a handful onto your salad, grain, or pasta bowl.
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Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: Three Ways

4.24 from 55 votes

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds, well-cleaned, well-dried
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • fine grain sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, toss the pumpkin seeds with the olive oil and sea salt. 

  2. Transfer the pumpkin seeds to the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15-30 minutes, or until the seeds are deeply golden. A zap under a broiler is a nice finishing tough, but not necessary. 

  3. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a minute or two, and enjoy plain, or stir in any of the following for some favorite variations.

Notes

Meyer Lemon Zest, Cayenne, and Olive Pumpkin Seeds: Toss the toasted seeds with the zest of one lemon, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 8 finely chopped olives.

Sweet Curry Pumpkin Seeds: Toss toasted seeds with 2 teaspoons of your favorite curry powder and 2 teaspoons brown sugar. Re-salt to taste.

Garlic Chive Pumpkin Seeds: Toss toasted seeds with 2 cloves of garlic that have been grated on a microplane grater. Add a small handful of minced chives, and toss again.

Serves
6
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 
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Comments

I did not know there were pumpkin seed recipes out there until just now and have done this on my own for many, many years. I use a rimmed baking pan and use extra olive oil that can be retained better in a rimmed baking pan. I recommend added olive oil use. This is essential, gets absorbed as the seeds are browning giving them added tenderness and crispness. Added olive oil use keeps the seeds from drying out in the oven, improves the seed browning plus improves seeds nuttiness flavor. The extra olive oil also helps the seeds hold onto the seasoned spice you are adding. I do like your spices and use most of them. I find that when I use garlic powder as a base ingredient the flavoring improves all the spices added. My added suggestion is to add Worcester Sauce for a tangy seasoning. Old Bay seasoning is another seasoning to consider. I use Lawry’s seasoned salt as well for most of my seed baking but being careful not to over salt. Old Bay has salt as a part of its ingredients. Be careful with Old Bay to keep the seeds from being too salty. Lawry’s seasoned salt is not needed when using Old Bay seasoning spice. Also, everyone is preoccupied with washing clean the seeds from the orange pumpkin matter. I do use water as a way of dislodging the pumpkin matter but the fastidious concern of clean seeds is really not important in the overall process of baking pumpkin seeds. Hope my thoughts are of some help! Best to you, Fred Lang Perrysburg, Ohio

Fred Lang

    Thanks Fred!

    Heidi Swanson

These pumpkin recipes sound so amazing, I can’t wait to make them!!!5 stars

Nancy

Wow, what subtleties are there in such a seemingly simple matter as baking pumpkin seeds. To begin with, I never thought of baking them at all! Usually, I threw them out as unnecessary, when I cooked something from a pumpkin, or maximally cleared the remains of a pumpkin and left them to dry on a windowsill, and then ate them raw, because that is how they are very useful. I’ll take note of this article, thank you very much!5 stars

Ann

Wow! I adore pumpkin seeds! Sweet curry pumpkin seeds turned out good. I like them fresh out of the oven. Thank you for the post!5 stars

Joshua Howard

Thank you for the tips! Both the baking and seasoning tips. I’ve been struggling with getting it to stick to the seeds and I am excited to try your method 5 stars

VeyaWolf

I always save my pumpkin, squash and melon seeds for eating or making pepians and Indian melonseed sauces. Watermelon seeds are eaten and made into many different sauces in N Indian cuisine (typ. Maharaja cuisine) Pan frying the unwashed seeds makes for a different treat. Leave the small goopy orange stuff and stickies on the seeds and pull away the long strings. Salt and then pan fry in as much oil as you think is needed. The seeds are done when the orange stickies have turned light brown and crisped up. I was in fourth grade when a science teacher had us cut up pumpkins and save the seeds for sprouting. She brought an electric skillet to school and we dropped big handfulls of unwashed pumpkin seeds into the hot oil to crisp up and float all toasted to the surface. She let then drip on paper towels and then salted them for use to eat. Most of the kids really liked them and I have done this when prepping large amounts of seeds from the garden. It is fast but makes a mess. Tamari soy sauce is a classic pumpkinseed seasoning but it does burn easily so keep the heat down for soy sauced pumpkinseeds. Mexico and Central America values the seeds for food higher than the flesh of the squash. They are very nutritous and a great sourceof some scarce minerals in our diet.5 stars

David

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