Updated September 17, 2018
When dealing with a pumpkin, it’s easy to overlook the amazing stuff that you scoop out en route to jack-o-lantern status. The goopy pulp and seeds just seem like they belong in the garbage can. But trust us — you’ll never toss out those seeds again once you roast them up into a crunchy seasonal snack. Roasted pumpkin seeds are a great source of potassium, and high in protein — in addition to being super delicious.
How to Clean + Prepare Pumpkin Seeds
Start with the pumpkin! Any pumpkin you can get your hands on will do the trick. Pie Pumpkins, also called Sugar Pumpkins, will have more flesh if you’re planning to eat the pumpkin too. (Of course you are.) Some say they have crisper seeds than carving pumpkins, but we enjoy both equally.
Harvesting the seeds may be the only complicated part of the whole process, and it’s not that bad (promise!).
- a sharp knife
- an ice cream scoop (a large, sturdy spoon will work too)
- a colander or strainer
- a towel
If you’ll be carving your pumpkin for Halloween, cut a hole about 6 inches in diameter in the top of your pumpkin. Use the ice cream scoop or your hands to scrape out the pumpkin guts. Try to separate the flesh from the seeds as much as possible before collecting the seeds in your strainer. It’s a messy job, but it’s worth it.
If you’re planning to roast your pumpkin, simply cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds from the flesh with a sturdy serving spoon or ice cream scoop.
Thoroughly rinse your seeds under cold running water. You can even set your colander in a bowl of water and most of the seeds will float to the top. Either way, you’ll need to get your hands in there to further separate rest of the pumpkin bits. Spread the clean seeds on a towel and pat dry.
Do you need to pre-boil pumpkin seeds?
Some people do a quick boil in salt water before roasting for extra crispiness, but we don’t always have time for that so our recipe takes the seeds straight to the oven.
What’s the difference between a pepita and a pumpkin seed from a “regular” pumpkin?
Pepita is the Spanish word for pumpkin seed, and you’ll see pepitas on just about every chef-driven restaurant menu these days. It’s a pretty trendy ingredient, to say the least. However, if you’ve ever had one of those delicious little pepitas, you’ll know that they are very different from what comes out of your jack-o-lantern. They’re tender, greenish and don’t have hard white shells like regular pumpkin seeds do. And you can’t just remove the shells off of a pumpkin seed and get a pepita — they actually come from certain types of pumpkins (thin-skinned Styrian or oilseed pumpkins) that have shell-free seeds. (Tip: Love pepitas? Try our Gluten-Free Sweet chili and Pepita Cereal Bars or these Individual Apricot and Cream Cheese Flatbreads.
How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin Seed Microwave Hack
If you’re really in a rush, you can “roast” your pumpkin seeds in the microwave. Place them in a single layer in a glass pie plate. Microwave them for about 2 minutes and then stir. Microwave again for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring after each minute, until the seeds are dry and crunchy.
How to Season Pumpkin Seeds
A simple sprinkle of salt and drizzle of olive oil or melted butter always do the trick, but there are so many seasonings that bring out the best in pumpkin seeds. You can keep it basic, go sweet or even spicy. Try a couple of our favorites twists on your next batch before you toss them in the oven!
For each cup of raw seeds, evenly coat with…
- Italian: 2 tablespoon melted butter + ¼ cup grated Parmesan + ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Sweet: 2 tablespoons melted butter + 1 tablespoon brown sugar + ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Savory: 2 tablespoons melted butter + 1 teaspoon seasoned salt + 1 teaspoon white vinegar (Note: Add the vinegar after roasting.)
- Spicy: 2 tablespoons olive oil + ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning + ½ teaspoon fresh lime zest (Note: Add the zest after roasting.)
How to Serve Pumpkin Seeds
You can eat pumpkin seeds on salads, soups, in desserts or (most likely) straight from the roasting pan into your mouth.
Can you eat pumpkin seed shells?
Yep! You eat the whole shebang. Once cooked, the outer hull is just as edible as the seed inside — and is a good source of zinc.
Need some ideas for the actual pumpkin? We’ve got so many great options.