Get the most out of your pumpkin and learn how to roast pumpkin seeds correctly – including the right way to season the seeds. Plus, get six different seasoning recipes to impress your friends and guests.
In preparation for the ultimate autumnal activity, a trip to the pumpkin patch, we’ve been covering everything pumpkin this week. So far we’ve talked about everything from how to buy & store a pumpkin, to four ways to cook pumpkin, to how to purée. Today we’re going to wrap up by talking about how to roast pumpkin seeds. There is a lot of really good (and really surprising) information coming at you, so pull up a pumpkin and get ready to enjoy the best autumn snack out there!
Just like how there are pumpkins for decoration and pumpkins for consumption? The same goes for the seeds. Carving pumpkins are not bred to be tasty – therefore, neither are their seeds. However, a good pie pumpkin can give you great seeds for roasting.
Are Pumpkin Seeds and Pepitas The Same?
When learning about how to roast pumpkin seeds, this is one of the most common questions I get. When you scoop out the seeds from a pumpkin the seeds are white, but at the store you almost exclusively find ones that are green and referred to as “pepitas”. So, are pumpkin seeds and pepitas the same thing? The answer is yes…and no.
Similar to a wheat kernel, a pumpkin seed is made of three parts.
- Hull. The hull is the outer whitish shell that we’re all familiar with as we get our hands sticky trying to get the seeds out of the pumpkin. While completely edible, the chewy and flaky texture of the hull is unappetizing to some people.
- Pepita. Next is the inner, greenish part of the seed, commonly known as the pepita. Pepitas are oval(ish) in shape and nutty in flavor. When you are working with a recipe that calls for pumpkin seeds, this is what they want you to buy because the flavor and texture are more ideal than when the seeds still have the hull intact.
- Germ. Inside of the pepita is the germ, which is what cultivates new pumpkins. The germ holds most of the essential fatty acids from the seed, which means that just like with a whole wheat kernel, pumpkin seeds are capable of going rancid. Make sure to use them in a timely fashion to prevent this. These same essential fatty acids in the germ are necessary in the making of pumpkin seed oil.
Because of the high fat content of the pumpkin seed’s germ, the inside is prone to burning before the outside hull is done. Prevent this by going low and slow on your temperature; I like about 300°F.
Just because the pepita is the more desirable part doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the snack that you pull out of your pumpkin. If you don’t like the texture of the hull, after you have roasted the seeds, you can crack them with your teeth and remove the pepita just like you would with a sunflower seed.
What is Pumpkin Seed Oil?
Pumpkin seed oil is complete utilization at its finest! Pumpkin seed oil is pressed out of the hulled and roasted pumpkin seed – the pepita. It can range in color from light to dark, green to orangish, and is extremely popular for salad dressings due to it’s strong nutty flavor. In order to retain the best nutrients possible, it is not recommended that you use pumpkin seed oil as a cooking oil because heating the oil can destroy the essential fatty acids. Most pumpkin seed oils come in small bottles, because just like the seed goes rancid from the essential fatty acids, the oil is just as capable of doing the same. Adhere to the guidelines for when to throw the oil out – it is there for a reason!
How To Salt Pumpkin Seeds
Believe it or not, salting pumpkin seeds is more complicated than just putting salt on the outside. Because of the multiple layers of the seed, you want to get salt on the inside near the pepita as well as on the hull. There are two methods for this:
- Boiling. Bring a pot of water with two cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil. Boil the cleaned seeds for 10 minutes and then strain.
- Brining. Combine two cups of hot tap water with 1 Tablespoon of fine salt; the hot water should mostly dissolve the salt. Pour into an airtight container with the pumpkin seeds and let them soak overnight.
Get the Pale Ale Spiced Pumpkin Seeds recipe HERE. (coming soon!)
In my experience, neither of these methods works better than the other, so choose whichever one works best for you. One of the benefits to brining however, is that you can also infuse other flavors, like garlic, orange, or ginger into the seeds by steeping the ingredients with the water.
How To Roast Pumpkin Seeds
While winging it won’t give you inedible pumpkin seeds, following the method below will give you the best success.
- Remove Seeds. The easiest way to do this is to cut a large circle around the stem and pull off the top; this will take most of the seeds and fibrous strands with it. If you are roasting a pie pumpkin and choose to split it down the middle first, you can simply scoop out the seeds with a sharp spoon, ice cream scoop or other tool.
- Clean. In my opinion, the easiest way to do this is to submerge the guts in water, stir them around a bit, and give them a few minutes to rest; most of the seeds float to the top while the fibrous strands sink to the bottom.
- Salt. Choose whichever method works best for you based on the recommendations in the previous section.
- Dry. Your seeds don’t need to be dry as the desert, but you do want to pat away most of the moisture because oil and water hinder browning when roasting.
- Season. Even if you don’t want to put a seasoning mix on your seeds, make sure to toss them with a little bit of olive oil to help them crisp up.
- Bake. Place all of your pumpkin seeds on a sheet pan lined with a silicone liner or parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes in a preheated 300°F oven. Stir them and cook for another 5 minutes or until the seeds are lightly browned, checking every 5 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on how large your seeds are.
- Cool & Serve. Remove your seeds from the oven and let them cool before serving. I recommend tossing them with an additional sprinkle of fine salt (like popcorn salt) before serving.
Practice Makes Perfect: Roasted Pumpkin Seed Recipes
Let’s be honest, pumpkin seeds rarely last long enough to be stored. If, however, you’re preparing ahead for a party or event and need to keep your roasted pumpkin seeds fresh, they can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days.
Now that you know how to roast pumpkin seeds, it’s time to put that information into action with some excellent seasoning recipes. All next week I will be updating my instagram with a new seasoning recipe every day. Make sure to go follow me to keep up to date and get some great ideas. I am also posting a recipe here on the blog that is a little more involved, but worth every effort!
- Sweet Thai Chili Pumpkin Seeds (coming soon!)
- Cinnamon & Molasses Pumpkin Seeds (coming soon!)
- Soy & Sesame Pumpkin Seeds (coming soon!)
- Maple Chipotle Pumpkin Seeds (coming soon!)
Thanks for stopping by!
Did you know that so much went into how to roast pumpkin seeds? What’s your favorite seasoning? Tell me in the comments or show me on social media – @foodabovegold. Make sure to tag any of your pumpkin seeds with #CallMeMichelin and #foodabovegold for everyone to see!
Happy Cooking! 🙂