Fall is in the air, my favorite time of year — when everything pumpkin spice explodes onto the food scene. Now, I’m pro-pumpkin in and on almost everything, but it doesn’t get any better than the actual pumpkin — pumpkin seeds to be precise.
The tradition of picking out a pumpkin to carve and then roasting the seeds has been something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. I have continued to do so, both as an adult and with my two boys. It’s the thrill of seeing how many seeds we gather from a single pumpkin (which may or may not include bragging rights that year), the elaborate design I always end up carving, and then brainstorming a new spice or seasoning we want to try each year.
Throughout my carving days, I’ve learned some tips and tricks to make your pumpkin seed-roasting journey a little easier. Whether you are a well-seasoned (Get it? Ha!) or a first-time pumpkin seed harvester, this article is for you!
The first bombshell I need to drop on you is that pumpkins are actually a fruit and their seeds vary depending on the variety of pumpkin. Most pie pumpkins and traditional Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins have seeds with a white hard hull/shell on the outside which is edible (and delicious when roasted). Some other pumpkins have pepitas, which are hull-less/shell-less seeds. We will mainly be focusing on the traditional pumpkin seed type with a shell.
Preparing Your Pumpkin Seeds
After cutting open the pumpkin, you can use a pasta fork/server to break up the pumpkin flesh and guts. Using a large spoon, move the seeds directly to either a colander or a big bowl. Then you can soak them with water to remove as much of the stringy pulp as possible while being sure to drain any excess water. Some recommend you need to boil or soak the seeds in water overnight, but it doesn’t make much of a difference from my experience.
The biggest tip is to make sure the seeds are nice and dry before roasting. This will help get them nice and crispy without burning or being chewy. I usually put the seeds in a paper bag with a tea towel or paper towels and give them a good shake — this will help them dry quickly.
Toss the prepped seeds in olive oil or melted butter and add a seasoning of your choice. You can keep it simple with just plain salt or add in a variety of flavors. You can also make small batches to try more than one seasoning — which is what I usually do, making one savory and one sweet version.
Seasonings to Try
1 Tablespoon of any of the following savory seasoning spices:
- Old Bay
- Everything But the Bagel Seasoning
- BBQ Rub
- Soy Sauce
Or go the sweet route with 1 Tablespoon of one or a combination of the below ingredients:
- Brown Sugar
- Pumpkin Pie Spice
- Maple Syrup
Pro-tip: when going a sweet route, make sure to watch your cooking times and oven temperatures more closely as these can burn quickly due to the sugars.
Roasting the Seeds
I usually go the low-and-slow route and set my oven to around 300 degrees. I put the seeds in for 25-30 minutes while making sure to stir the seeds every 10 minutes for an even cook. You can increase the oven temperature to 350 for the last 5 minutes or so to get a good color.
When they first come out of the oven, they can be chewy while still warm, but they will crisp up as they cool. If they are still chewy once cooled, you can pop them back into the oven for a few more minutes.
Storing Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
They can be stored in an air-tight container for 2-4 weeks, or up to a few months in the fridge. Pumpkin seeds are a perfect snack as is. They also make a great salad or soup topper and can be included with granola or trail mixes.
Pumpkin seeds are a renowned superfood, loaded with high levels of vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of:
- Heart Healthy Fats
They are also linked to helping aid with better sleep, improving digestive health, and boosting the immune system. Roasted pumpkin seeds are paleo, vegan, and gluten-free all while being healthy, satiating, and a delicious addition to any meal or snack.
So now that it is officially fall, grab a Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew, carve up a Jack-O-Lantern, roast some pumpkin seeds, and settle in for the spooky season.