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- Roasted pumpkin seeds are a nutritious, tasty, and crunchy snack.
- It’s essential to dry seeds thoroughly before roasting them in the oven.
- Keep a close watch on your seeds, as cook time will vary depending on your oven and the size of seeds.
When carving up a pumpkin for Halloween, don’t throw away those seeds. These nutritious seeds have a mild flavor and become satisfyingly crunchy when you roast them.
Theresa Mazza, a former sous chef who does recipe development for dieticians, calls pumpkin seeds “incredible” for a number of reasons:
- They’re highly nutritious. “They are an amazing source of heart-healthy fats, vitamin K, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper,” says Mazza. Learn more about the health benefits of pumpkin seeds.
- They’re great on the go. She recommends packing the small, nutritious seeds as a snack or lunch. Throw them in your lunch bag or purse, so you have something to munch on when you get hungry during a busy day.
- They work well with so many flavor profiles. Mazza explains that you can go sweet or savory because the mild flavor of pumpkin seeds pairs well with all types of seasoning.
- They make a great topping. You can eat the seeds as is or add them to salads, soups, tacos, and ice cream, says Mazza. You can even add them to pesto if you don’t have pine nuts on hand.
Pumpkins and other squash allowed people to survive harsh winters, as far back as thousands of years ago, according to Mazza. That’s thanks to their thick rinds and ability to keep for long periods. And both the flesh and seeds of a pumpkin are edible.
And roasting pumpkin seeds only improves them, giving them a light toasting that imparts a slight crunch and a great flavor.
How to remove, clean, and dry pumpkin seeds
“Removing pumpkin seeds from a pumpkin is supposed to be messy! That is the fun part about it,” says Mazza. To mitigate the mess, use newspapers or a plastic tablecloth that you can toss after prepping your seeds.
Mazza recommends starting by cutting a hole at the top of the pumpkin. Cut in a circular motion around the stem, making sure the hole is big enough to fit your hand inside.
Use your hands or a metal spoon to scoop out the seeds into a bowl of water. Once you’ve removed all the seeds, start gently removing the pulp from the seeds while they’re still in the bowl of water. Next, rinse the seeds in a colander.
As a final step, “lay pumpkin seeds out onto a large kitchen towel and let dry completely before roasting,” Mazza says. Drying the pumpkin seeds ensures they will crisp up and not steam in the oven.
What you need
- Knife or pumpkin carving knife
- Baking sheet
- Kitchen towel
- 1 to 2 medium-sized pumpkins
- Olive oil
- Spices of your choice (optional)
Quick tip: When it comes to spices, experiment with different flavor profiles. To turn the seeds sweet, top them off with cinnamon and sugar. To give them a spicy kick, dust on some garlic salt and chili flakes. Make them even more savory and sprinkle on some cumin, coriander, and mustard seed.
How to roast pumpkin seeds
- Carve the pumpkin and scoop out and wash the seeds. Carve the pumpkin and scoop and separate the pulp from the seeds with your fingers. Wash the seeds in a colander.
- Boil the pumpkin seeds (optional). If you’re short on time, you can skip this step. But Mazza recommends boiling seeds in salt water for 10 minutes to help ensure they roast evenly and thoroughly.
- Dry the pumpkin seeds. Place the seeds on a kitchen towel, pat them dry, and then let them air-dry completely. Drying could take a few hours, depending on the humidity levels in your kitchen.
- Preheat your oven. Set your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Season the seeds. Add the dried pumpkin seeds to a baking sheet and toss with a little bit of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a few teaspoons of your seasonings of choice. Some of Mazza’s favorite seasonings include pumpkin spice, chai, ranch, turmeric and black pepper, and chili powder.
- Spread seeds out on a baking sheet. Spread the seeds in an even layer on your baking sheet to ensure they cook evenly.
- Roast until toasty brown. “Roasting can take anywhere from 5-18 minutes depending on the size of the seed,” says Mazza. Keep a close eye on pumpkin seeds while they roast. Remove them from the oven when they turn a light golden brown color. Perfectly roasted pumpkin seeds should be slightly crunchy.
How to eat pumpkin seeds
You can eat pumpkin seeds whole or take the time to shell them, says Mazza. While shelling requires more effort, some people prefer to remove the outer shell because they don’t enjoy its fibrous texture.
Storing pumpkin seeds
“Roasted pumpkin seeds can be kept in an airtight container or zip-top bag for a few days. Anything longer, think about the refrigerator or freezer,” offers Mazza.
In a sealed container on the counter, seeds will keep for up to 3 days. In the fridge, they’ll keep up to a week and up to 6 months in the freezer.
You can maximize the use of your pumpkin by roasting its seeds. Roasted pumpkin seeds have a delicious toasted, nutty flavor profile with a slight crunch. Be sure to watch the oven while roasting, because cook times vary significantly depending on your oven and the size of the seeds. You can eat roasted pumpkin seeds as a snack or add them to dishes for some extra texture.