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 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, 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.
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.
Of course, pumpkin season doesn’t end once the trick-or-treaters have come and gone. You can enjoy this protein-packed snack for quite some time. We often use a few un-carved pumpkins for decoration and retrieve the seeds before they pass their prime.
Other varieties of winter squash (like butternut, spaghetti, or acorn) tend to yield fewer, smaller seeds, but the following recipe may absolutely be adjusted for use with them, too. Consider using those seeds as a crunchy topping for a creamy butternut squash soup or on almost any salad—green or grain-based–incorporating roasted squash, apples, and/or root vegetables.
Yields approximately 5 (1/4 cup) servings.
- 1 1/4 cups raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, melted coconut oil, or oil of choice
- 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Optional: spices of choice (1/4-1/2 teaspoon, as desired; see recipe notes for suggestions)
Remove the big globs of pumpkin from the seeds, but leave much of the stringy goop. Spread the seeds out on a baking sheet and allow to dry for several hours, stirring occasionally and spreading into an even layer again. You may also let them sit overnight. As another option, place the seeds in an oven preheated to 250 degrees F. for an hour to an hour and a half to dry out. Finally, you can bake the seeds immediately after removing from the pumpkin; they will simply take more time to dry out and evenly cook. It’s also easier to remove the goop once the seeds are mostly dry. (But I highly recommend baking the seeds with some of the goop for extra flavor!)
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, toss the seeds with the oil, salt, and optional spice. Spread the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. After 30 minutes, stir again, reduce the heat to 250 degrees F, 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 moist 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 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 1/2 teaspoon of salt. For a lower sodium option or milder flavor, reduce the amount to 1/4 teaspoon.
- 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.
Did you know? The merits of pumpkin seeds don’t stop at great taste. The tiny seeds are considered nutritional powerhouses, providing a wealth of nutrients including iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, copper, protein, and zinc. The seeds are also high in fiber, anti-oxidants, and mono-unsaturated fats.