Pumpkin

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds for a Crunchy-Salty Snack

This easy-to-make treat is hiding in all those fall pumpkins and winter squash.

August 14, 2019

You probably already know that there are tasty pumpkin seeds hiding in your Halloween Jack-o-lanterns and more, but do you know the best method for roasting them to toasty, crunchy perfection? Here's how to roast any type of squash seeds in the oven—without burning them.

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds on Food52

More: A classic Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, but in half the time.

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If you're carving or roasting any pumpkins this fall, you'll have some guts to deal with (and here are a few ideas for what to do with them). From the depths of your gourd you'll scrape out a tangle of orange pulp dotted with small white seeds, and if you're smart, you'll do something with it all. Here's how to de-goo and roast pumpkin seeds (or any winter squash seeds) to perfection.

Take a few minutes to separate seeds from slime, and you'll have a free snack to enjoy while you carve or roast. Roasted pumpkin seeds are the ultimate "buy one, get one free" of autumnal treats. 

The best part: You don't need a recipe to do this, but you will need to pay attention to your technique. These seeds are tiny, and negligence will lead to burning. Follow these five steps and you'll end up with crispy, crunchy, salty seeds—aka the most perfect fall snack. Then start experimenting with flavors and other squash seeds: butternut, acorn, and delicata are all fair game. 

Watch: More Pumpkiny Goodness

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds (or Any Squash Seeds) without a Recipe

What You'll Need: Pumpkin or squash seeds, of course! But also a sheet pan, plus olive oil and salt for roasting and seasoning. You can also mix things up with different spices, as well as coconut oil (more on that below). 

Step 1: Separate your seeds from their flesh. Start by squeezing the big pieces of flesh right at the seam where the seeds attach, and they'll fall off in clumps. Pick out any remaining stringy stuff and either use them in another dish, or compost them. Prepare for your hands to get a little orange and a lot slimy. Keep a towel nearby for periodic wiping.

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds on Food52

 

Step 2: Rinse, then boil your seeds. Why boil? The tricky thing about roasting pumpkin seeds is that their insides tend to cook faster than their outsides, so when they look done they're actually black waaayyy overcooked inside. As we learned from Angela Liddon, boiling pumpkin seeds before roasting ensures that everything cooks evenly. So after you've cleaned the muck off of your seeds, boil them in salted water for ten minutes. 

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds on Food52

More: Once you're done with your seedy snack, make one of our best fall side dishes.

 

Step 3: Dry thoroughly. You're about to toss these puppies in oil to coat them completely—and you want the oil to stick. So dab the seeds with a clean kitchen towel in a colander until they're completely, totally, bone-dry. Pluck off any straggler seeds that cling to your towel.

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

 

Step 4: Toss with olive oil, salt, and spices. Here, we used a mix of paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Try curry powder with melted coconut oil, za'atar with fruity extra-virgin olive oil, or pumpkin pie spices with walnut oil for a salty-sweet autumnal snack. 

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds on Food52

 

Step 5: Lay the pumpkin seeds out on a half-sheet pan, making sure they're all flat and in one even layer. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes at 325°F, stirring well or shaking the pan to flip the seeds halfway through (no need to be super exact about this, but try your best). Your seeds are done when they're crispy on the outside and golden on the inside. Add more salt to taste, give the seeds a good toss, and serve them once they're cool enough to eat. You can also store them in an airtight container and use them throughout the week as a topping for sides, salads, oatmeal, or yogurt; in spreads and sauces of many kinds, and especially as the pièce de résistance of this cake

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds on Food52

A few last points: You may be wondering what the difference is between these light-colored pumpkin seeds and the smooth green ones, aka pepitas. The full answer is explained in this article, but here's the TL;DR: Pepitas are pumpkin seeds from very specific types of pumpkins (oilseed or Styrian pumpkins, to be exact), which have very thin skins and don't need to be shelled. Toast and spice them exactly the same way as described above. 

Photos by James Ransom

What's your favorite way to eat pumpkin seeds? Let us know in the comments. 

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Marian Bull

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24 Comments

J November 11, 2016
First time boiling the seeds prior to roasting and it works perfectly. I let them dry on a dishcloth after they had been boiled for about an hour, then roasted them at 350 for roughly 45 min (checked every 8 min to mix around on the baking sheet). Used EVO+s&p+a pinch of garlic powder.
 
Marcus S. December 3, 2015
I am so addicted to roasted pumpkin seeds! I make sure that everyone I know who carves pumpkins but tosses the seeds, set them aside and I will make my rounds, collect all said bags and then it's on. I have never heard of parboiling the seedage until I found this web page and I am very thankful and excited. Me and my twin brother grew up eating my mom's roasted seeds, shell and all. I have never known any other way. Who the F would sit there for hours on end, separating seed from shell? I would end up murdering someone ;-) my go to recipe is XtraVirginalOliveOyl, garlic pow, pepper and a shitload of salt. I have over cooked too many batches in the past so now I usually cook the seeds at low temps for hours, stirring every half hour. This parboiling techniques couldn't have come at a better time because stirring seeds every half hour for hours on end is tedious and time consuming. I'm about to try my first batch of butternut squash seeds. Did anyone has tips or suggestions please respond and wish me luck!
 
Katharina November 9, 2015
With hokkaido seeds, I've had the same experience as marcellem, it takes about 25 minutes. The butternut squash seeds didn't need more than 12 minutes.
 
marcellem November 1, 2015
So 12 minutes at 325 is really optimistic. I'm going on 30 minutes now.
 
Dale S. October 25, 2015
I tried this method and roasting them without parboiling. In both cases the seed sticks to the shell. What went wrong?
 
Lauren K. November 1, 2015
I just eat the shell—problem solved!
 
QueDelish October 25, 2014
my first attempt at roasting a kabocha squash and so glad I found this!
 
Susie M. October 11, 2014
I loved this method of pre-boiling. I've always found the shells a bit tough, and this time the end result was light and crisp. I used butternut seeds and our local Martha's Vineyard Sea Salt (yum)--had to roast a few minutes longer to get to golden brown, but no big deal. Thank you!
 
alan January 19, 2014
This IS a recipe. I still don't know how to do them without one.
 
SunBunny November 15, 2013
I hated pumpkin seeds before I read this. My honey love love loves them and asked me to make him some. I told him about your method and melody to making them and he said, " Please don't do it that way." He prescribed not washing them. Yes, don't wash them. It's takes out the natural oils that help the seed gain crunchiness when cooked. Just roast at -350 with some light salt, a few turns and their perfect. I'm putting them on everything now. Simple - Easy.
 
JackFrost October 30, 2013
My nuts are on tin foil roasting over an open fire
 
Barbara R. October 29, 2013
I use Dawn because it also gets grease stains off of clothes if you use it as a pre-wash. You may need a combination of dish soap, baking soda, and (I also swear by) Barkeepers Friend-which helps get the "bluing" off my stainless pans, and a "scrubbie". Maybe even soak with dish soap and baking soda, hot water beforehand.
 
Neomi October 29, 2013
I have a random totally unrelated question--I have the same pans as the photo and I was wondering how people clean them. Mine look awful now with burned oil baked into them. I've tried baking soda but it hasn't helped much. And then once I used a much harsher cleaner/degreaser and that was worse, it rubbed off some of the finish.
 
phi T. October 29, 2013
I'm lazy so I usually line them with parchment paper which reduces cleaning to almost nothing...
 
Rema October 24, 2013
Forgive my naivete, but do you eat the shells, too? I've always roasted (without the pre-boil) and then eaten them like sunflower seeds...insides only. Enlighten me!
 
phi T. October 24, 2013
I was in your boat before my roommate started taking my seeds and roasting them, but he didn't boil them. Then, I some googling and found out, thankfully, that the shells are much easier to chew when pre-boiled.
 
Barbara R. October 24, 2013
We've never removed the shells-we always ate the whole thing. They're not indigestible-they're great! Just make sure they're cooked to the color in the picture-but if I overcook them I eat them anyway. I'm almost 60 and I've enjoyed them this way ever since I was little.
 
Rema October 29, 2013
Thanks, Phi and Barbara! Pumpkin carving commences tonight so I'll look forward to seed snacks shortly thereafter :)
 
maila October 23, 2013
I pre-boil mine in generously salted water, then drain and pour onto a backing sheet. After roasting, the seeds are salty and don't have any added fat from the oil.
 
Beehive A. October 22, 2013
I do the boiling when I roast... I add water to my roasting pan together with water, salt and other spices.
 
phi T. October 22, 2013
The boiling is key! I only recently tried it and it has made such a big difference... However, I had a heavy handed cayenne batch bc I got excited.
 
Barbara R. October 21, 2013
We grew up roasting pumpkin seeds with butter, salt and pepper. A few years ago I was making a version of Dorie Greenspan's stuffed pumpkin. I had overfilled it and some chicken stock, buttery goodness had escaped onto the pan that held the pumpkin, so I scattered my pumpkin seeds around the pan in the juices. The best pumpkin seeds I've made so far.
 
Carey N. October 21, 2013
With a pile of kabocha seeds in my kitchen and a previous lack of knowledge of the pre-roast boil, this could could not have come at a better time!
 
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Marian B. October 21, 2013
Oh I'm so happy! I tried to carve pumpkins last night just so I could roast seeds, but my local store was all out.