How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds (and Other Squash Seeds, Too!)
Harvest the seeds from your pumpkin to make tasty, roasted pumpkin seeds for snacking or topping salads and casseroles.
As winter weather makes its arrival, we're making the most of our winter squash as the holiday lights go up. Whether your pumpkins were for decoration or a fresh pumpkin pie, don't throw out those seeds! When roasted, pumpkin seeds are a nutritious snack to make even more of your seasonal gourds. And baking pumpkin seeds is easy—all you need for a roasted pumpkin seed recipe is oil, salt, and harvested pumpkin seeds.
Step 1: Choose a Pumpkin
You can use the seeds from either a carving pumpkin or smaller pie pumpkins. For 1 cup of seeds, purchase a 10- to 14-pound pumpkin.
Test Kitchen Tip: You can also use this method to roast seeds from winter squashes, such as butternut squash or acorn squash.
Step 2: Remove the Seeds
Cut a large hole in the top (stem end) of the pumpkin, and remove the top using the stem as a handle. For smaller pumpkins, you can cut the pumpkin in half from top to bottom instead. Use a long-handle metal spoon (Stainless Steel Spoon, $16.96, Sur La Table) or your hands to remove 1 cup seeds from the pumpkin or squash. Rinse the seeds in water until the pulp and strings wash off; drain.
Step 3: Oven-Dry the Seeds
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread 1 cup pumpkin seeds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet (Wilton Bake It Better Medium Cookie Sheet, $5.97, Walmart). Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour. This allows the pumpkin seeds to dry out.
Test Kitchen Tip: You can also dry the seeds at room temperature. Leave the rinsed and drained pumpkin seeds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, uncovered, at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours, stirring occasionally until dry. Remove parchment; season and bake as directed below, except increase the baking time to about 30 minutes or until toasted, stirring twice.
Step 4: Bake the Seeds
Remove the parchment paper; stir in 2 teaspoons cooking oil and ½ teaspoon salt. If desired, also add ½ teaspoon ground cumin. Bake the seeds, uncovered, in the 325°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes more or until toasted, stirring once. Transfer the seeds to paper towels to cool. You will end up with 1 cup seeds. Store the toasted seeds, covered, at room temperature for up to a week.
Test Kitchen Tip: You can easily double or triple the seeds, oil, and salt, if you find yourself with an abundance of pumpkin seeds. Just make sure to use a larger pan to spread out the seeds.
Pumpkin Seeds Versus Pepitas
Once the white shells are removed from pumpkin seeds, green oval seeds are revealed. This shelled version is available at health food and Mexican markets, both raw and already toasted and salted or seasoned. Commonly called pepitas, shelled pumpkin seeds are popular in Mexico, both as an ingredient in cooking and as a snack. Try them in our Quinoa-Pumpkin Seed Granola to see what we mean.
Pumpkin seeds are an easy way to make sure you don't let your winter squash go to waste, plus they're full of nutrients. According to the American Heart Association, eating pumpkin seeds is great for adding fiber, magnesium (which can lower blood pressure), and zinc (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent) to your diet. Making a batch on your own instead of grabbing a bag in the store is also beneficial in limiting the amount of salt used to roast them up. Eat these little seeds out of hand as a snack, add them to your favorite trail mix or a bowl of popcorn, or use them to garnish soups, salads, or casseroles.