Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

Fall has arrived and with it, the pumpkin season. There are always plenty of pumpkins to carve up around Halloween time and a great way to make use of the seeds is eat them, salted and toasted. Our preference is with the shells on – if they are toasted properly they are wonderfully crunchy and easy to eat. It helps if you are going to eat them with the shells on if you use seeds from sugar pumpkins, somewhat smaller than the mega-sized carving pumpkins (not really pumpkins but large squash). The trick? Boil the seeds in salted water first, and then toast them in the oven.


How to Harvest Pumpkin Seeds

For flavorful roasted seeds, hand-pick your pumpkin fresh from the pumpkin patch if at all possible. Don’t waste the remainder of the pumpkin, have some fun and carve out a scary jack-o-lantern while extracting the seeds.

With that in mind, dig the seeds and pulp out of the pumpkin with a scoop or large spoon and place in a bowl. Dig out the individual seeds to prepare for roasting.

If you decide to wash them first, this will remove some of the natural flavor. It’s just a preference. You can let the seeds dry before you roast them, or put them directly in the oven. Keep in mind that dry seeds require less baking time.

Recipes and Roasting Methods

Roasted Pumpkin seeds are a delicious snack and deliver some substantial health benefits. The seeds are a good nutrition source for iron and zinc, in addition to unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, the most valuable of vegetable fats. Here are a few ways to prepare them:

  1. CRUNCHY PUMPKIN SEEDSAbout 20 minutes
    Serves: Depends on how big a pumpkin you have!

    Seeds from 1 Halloween Pumpkin
    1 tsp salt per 1 cup of seeds

    Preheat oven to 350 F.

    1. Have the kids help carve the Halloween pumpkin. When they scoop out the inside pulp that contains the seeds, reserve.
    1. Have kids stand at the sink (use a stool if they are too low). Put pulp in a colander. Have kids wash pulp and stringy matter off seeds under cold running water. Blot seeds dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
    1. Have kids spread pumpkin seeds out on a cookie sheet. The seeds should be in a single layer, and they shouldn’t touch each other!
    1. Sprinkle the seeds with just a little salt. An adult puts the tray in the oven.
    1. Check the seeds after 12 minutes. They are done when they are dry and light brown. How long this will take depends on how many there are, and how dry they are when they go in the oven.
    1. Let cool before eating!

    Nutrients per serving: 2 Tbsp

    Calories 148; Saturated Fat 2.3 g; Iron 4.2 mg; Protein 9 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Calcium 12 mg; Carbohydrate 4 g; Vitamin A 10 RE; Sodium 295 mg; Total Fat 12.0 g; Vitamin C 1 mg; Dietary Fiber 1 g

  2. TOASTED PUMPKIN SEEDSOne medium sized pumpkin
    Olive oil

    1 Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut open the pumpkin and use a strong metal spoon to scoop out the insides. Separate the seeds from the stringy core. Rinse the seeds.

    2 In a small saucepan, add the seeds to water, about 2 cups of water to every half cup of seeds. Add a tablespoon of salt for every cup of water. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

    3 Spread about a tablespoon of olive oil over the bottom of a cookie sheet. Spread the seeds out over the cookie sheet, all in one layer. Bake on the top rack for 20 minutes or until the seeds begin to brown. When browned to your satisfaction, remove from the oven and let the pan cool on a rack. Let the seeds cool all the way down before eating. Either crack to remove the inner seed (a lot of work and in my opinion, unnecessary) or eat whole.

  3.  ALTERNATE METHODSIngredients

    Pumpkin seeds
    Cooking spray or butter
    Salt or other seasoning such as cayenne, garlic, onion powder, etc. (optional)


    Method 1:
    Rinse seeds and separate all pulp and fiber from seeds. Let seeds dry. Spray cookie sheet with oil or coat seeds with melted butter. Spread seeds on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt or other seasoning if desired. Roast at 250 degrees F. for about an hour, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Watch so they don’t burn. (If the seeds are very dry, you can increase the temperature up to 300 F. and reduce the cooking time.) Let cool before eating. Seed shells are edible as well as the seed inside. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three months or in the refrigerator up to one year.

    Method 2:
    If you like them saltier, soak overnight in salted water. Let dry overnight. Then roast as per above.

    Microwave Method:
    Rinse 1 cup of seeds in water to remove some of the fibers, then pat seeds dry with paper towel. Place 2 tablespoons butter in a 2-quart rectangular dish and microwave on high 30 seconds. Stir in seeds to coat; spread evenly in dish. Microwave on high 7 to 8 minutes or until toasted, stirring every 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt or other seasonings. Cool before storing in an airtight container.

    Skillet Method:
    Toast pumpkin seeds by placing seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Move the skillet back and forth over the heat with one hand; stir the seeds using a wooden spoon with the other hand. This will toast the seeds evenly and prevent burning. When seeds begin to pop and give off a nutty aroma they are ready. Remove seeds from skillet and set aside.