It’s that time of year again — shorter days, falling leaves and…pumpkins! Carving jack-o’-lanterns is such a fun tradition, and the resulting glowing eyes and spooky smiles delight young and old.
There’s one part of carving pumpkins that’s not so delightful, however: scooping out the stringy, slimy innards and slippery pumpkin seeds. But the good news is there’s a better way to use those seeds than just throwing them in the trash. You can roast the pumpkin seeds for a satisfying snack that’s a whole lot healthier than trick-or-treating candy. Here’s how to do it, along with some ideas for dressing them up with fun flavors.
Roasting Pumpkin Seeds, Step by Step
When it comes to roasting pumpkin seeds, there are different schools of thought on the best method. In general, though, if you have an oven, a sheet pan, butter or oil, and kosher or sea salt, you’ve got everything you’ll need. The seeds from a medium-sized pumpkin are best as the seeds from large pumpkins tend to be tougher.
- Scrape out the insides of a pumpkin. Place pulp and seeds in a colander.
- Preheat the oven to 300F.
- Rinse off the seeds to remove most of the pulp, using the sink sprayer or your hands while running water over the seeds. (Note: Don’t worry about getting every last bit of pulp off the seeds.) Discard or compost the pulp, or use it to make a cooking stock.
- Dry the seeds well by placing them on a clean towel. Let the seeds dry completely, at least one hour; otherwise, they’ll steam and won’t crisp up. Optional: Some recipes call for boiling the seeds for 10 minutes in salted water before drying them. This may be advisable for people who can’t easily digest seeds.
- Once dry, place the seeds on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Toss with a few tablespoons of olive oil or melted butter (more or less, depending on how many seeds you have). Make sure they’re all well coated.
- Sprinkle with salt to taste. Add additional herbs or spices, if desired (see below for suggestions). Stir/toss well again to make sure all seeds are coated.
- Spread seeds in a single layer to ensure even browning. Roast seeds until just lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Watch carefully. All ovens are different, so your seeds might be ready sooner or may need more time. Stir the seeds or shake the pan halfway through roasting (or more often) to check for doneness, making sure they’re still in a single layer.
- Allow to cool. Pumpkin seeds will get crispier as they cool.
Store pumpkin seeds in a jar or other tightly covered container for up to a week, or refrigerate and eat within 2 months.
How to Season Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted pumpkin seeds can be seasoned with sweet, savory or spicy ingredients. It’s fun to experiment and find your favorites. Just add your seasonings along with salt before roasting. Here are some tasty flavor combos to get you started:
- Chili powder, paprika, garlic powder and black pepper.
- Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil and garlic powder.
- Garlic powder, dill and black pepper.
- Cinnamon and brown sugar.
- Brown sugar, cayenne and black pepper.
- Garam masala, chili powder and turmeric.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Nutrition Facts
One doesn’t normally associate Halloween with healthy eating. But by roasting the seeds from your jack-o’-lanterns, you can add to the fun and sneak in some serious nutrients, plus healthy fiber. Pumpkin seeds are full of magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium and protein. They even contain tryptophan, a natural chemical that can help promote good sleep. And on Halloween night, many little ones could use some help settling down.
Of course, roasted pumpkin seeds aren’t just for Halloween. You can make them any time pumpkins are available. Or if you can’t find a pumpkin, you can roast the seeds from winter squashes such as acorn, butternut, delicata or kabocha by following the directions above for pumpkin seeds.
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