A few helpful tips and an easy technique yield the crispiest, most irresistible pumpkin seeds with the simplest of ingredients. The snack-worthy recipe is reason to carve a pumpkin, even if you don’t have kids!
I’d venture to say that the annual ritual of pumpkin carving is almost as much fun for a parent as it is for a child.
The part I never liked, however, was trying to separate the slimy, orange goop from the slippery seeds before roasting them.
Then it came to me. Why bother?
The fibrous strands add flavor to the seeds, and once cooked, can be easily plucked away.
But you might want to it taste first. The unwanted pulp becomes crisp, well seasoned, and I like it as much as the seeds.
If you’re lucky, you might even score a little cluster of crisp seeds held together by the dried-out pumpkin!
Whether you’re sold on the orange addition or not, a simple tip or two will ensure that the seeds are cooked to crispy perfection.
Allowing the seeds to dry before they are roasted is key. There’s an added convenience here, too. The seeds can sit for hours, even overnight or for several days, so the initial focus remains on the fun task of pumpkin carving.
If the seeds are completely dry and you’re still not ready to cook, simply place them in an airtight container or zip-top bag and refrigerate for another day or two. I’ve roasted seeds up to a week after they’ve been scooped out of the pumpkin with excellent results.
When ready to bake, I find low heat to be the most effective method of evenly crisping the seeds without burning them. I usually keep the seasonings to a minimum, adding just a sprinkle of salt, but there are many ways to add spice to the seeds if you prefer.
Of course, pumpkin season doesn’t end once the trick-or-treaters have come and gone. You can enjoy this savory, fiber-rich snack throughout autumn. We often use a few un-carved pumpkins for decoration and retrieve the seeds before the pumpkins pass their prime.
Other varieties of winter squash (like butternut, spaghetti, or acorn) yield fewer, smaller seeds, but the following method may absolutely be adjusted for use with them, too. Consider using those seeds as a crunchy topping for a smooth butternut squash soup or on almost any salad–green or grain-based–incorporating roasted squash, apples, and/or root vegetables.
For a lightly sweet variation, you may also enjoy Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds.
So, get your pumpkins ready–and don’t miss the Halloween fun below the recipe. 🎃
- 1½ cups raw pumpkin seeds*
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, melted coconut oil, or oil of choice
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon kosher salt**
- Optional: ¼ – ½ teaspoons spice of choice***
Prepare the seeds: Remove the big globs of pumpkin from the seeds. It’s ok to leave some of the stringy goop–it will actually add flavor. Spread the seeds out on a rimmed baking sheet.
Drying the seeds: Dry the seeds, which have been spread into an even layer, uncovered, in the refrigerator (or on the counter if you don’t have room in the fridge) for several hours. Stir occasionally and spread into an even layer again. For more thorough drying or if you simply prefer to cook the seeds later, you may let the seeds dry in the refrigerator, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for up to several days. Once the seeds feel completely dry to the touch, transfer them to an airtight container and bake within the week. As another option, place the seeds in an oven preheated to 250℉ for 60 to 90 minutes to dry out, stirring occasionally. Don’t want to wait? You may bake the seeds immediately after removing them from the pumpkin; they will simply take longer to evenly crisp, but they will.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 300℉. In a mixing bowl, toss the seeds with the oil, salt, and optional spice. Spread the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a clean baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or spray or oil the sheet).
Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. After 30 minutes, stir again, reduce the heat to 250℉, and continue to cook in 10-15 minute increments, stirring in between, until the seeds are crisp and dry. Total time will depend upon how dry your seeds were when you started cooking, size of seeds, etc. The last batch I cooked was semi-dry when I started baking, and it took 60-65 minutes.
*The stated measurement of seeds is roughly the amount of seeds you will remove from one medium-large pumpkin. Feel free to adjust the recipe based on the quantity of seeds you have, spreading over an additional baking sheet to maintain a single layer, if necessary.
**If you are a salty snack lover, you may want to use ½ teaspoon of salt. For a lower sodium option or milder flavor, reduce the amount to ¼ teaspoon. If using fine table salt instead of kosher salt, reduce these amounts by a pinch.
***The seeds are delicious as is, but you may certainly add spices of choice. Cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, curry, and cinnamon are all good options.
The scoop on the goop: Big chunks of goop will prevent the seeds from evenly drying out, but smaller pieces add flavor and are easy to remove once the seeds are cooked. That said, everyone in my house eats the seeds that have some of the crispy goop attached first!
The boys hard at work in 2013, when Christian was 11 and John was 14.
Did you know?
- The word “pumpkin” appeared for the first time in the fairy tale Cinderella.
- The average pumpkin has about 500 seeds.
- Pumpkins were once considered a remedy for freckles and snakebites.
- Pumpkins are grown on every continent except Antarctica.
For more Halloween food fun, you may also enjoy easy recipes for Spooky Spaghetti Stuffed Peppers, Spider Dogs (a pasta dish that kids and adults enjoy), Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds, and Clementine Jack-o’-lanterns.