How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds (and Other Squash Seeds, Too!)
As cooler weather makes its arrival, you'll probably pick up a pumpkin to adorn your house for decoration or make a fresh pumpkin pie. Or maybe you have a butternut squash ready to make soup. To make the most of your winter squash, don't toss those seeds! When roasted, pumpkin seeds are a nutritious snack that utilizes even more of your seasonal gourds. And baking pumpkin seeds is as easy as it is fun to make. All you need for a roasted pumpkin seed recipe is oil, salt, and harvested raw pumpkin seeds.
How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds
Before you begin preparing pumpkin seeds, you'll need to choose a pumpkin that suits the number of seeds you want to munch on. 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.
Step 1: Remove and Wash the Pumpkin 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 ($12, Target) or your hands to remove seeds from the pumpkin or squash. Rinse the seeds in water using a colander ($12, Crate & Barrel) until the pulp and strings wash off; drain.
Step 2: Oven-Dry the Pumpkin Seeds
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 decrease the baking time to about 30 minutes or until toasted, stirring twice.
Step 3: Season and Bake the Pumpkin Seeds
Remove the parchment paper; stir in 2 tsp. cooking oil and ½ teaspoon salt. If desired, also add ½ tsp. ground cumin or another favorite seasoning. Bake the seeds, uncovered, in the 325°F oven 10 to 15 minutes more or until toasted, stirring once. Transfer the seeds to paper towels to cool. Store your roasted pumpkin seeds, in a covered container ($10, Target), 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.
How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds in the Air Fryer
Yes, you can use your trusty air fryer ($70, Target) to make "roasted" pumpkin seeds, too. We like the crunch (and convenience) of toasting pepitas (more on these next) in a bit of oil and salt. If you want to air-fry pumpkin seeds from a fresh pumpkin, just make sure to dry the seeds completely using the methods above before air frying them. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you might need to roast the seeds in batches to give them room to cook evenly.
Pepitas Vs. Pumpkin Seeds
Once the white shells are removed from pumpkin seeds, green oval seeds are revealed. This shelled version (pictured above) 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 (an 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.