How To Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Here's your ultimate guide to cleaning, seasoning and roasting pumpkin seeds for an easy fall snack.

It's the fall routine you remember as a kid: After picking the perfect pumpkins at a local farm, you'd spread crinkly newspapers on the kitchen table. Scraping the pumpkin seeds (and separating out the goop) led to the perfect jack-o'-lantern... and the perfect supply for making roasted pumpkin seeds.

Prepping this classic fall snack isn't hard. Here's how to roast pumpkin seeds:

Step 1: Pick the Right Pumpkin (or Seeds)

scooping seeds out of pumpkin

The seeds from either a carving pumpkin or a pie pumpkin work best; avoid seeds from decorative white pumpkins often sold during the Halloween season.

Short on time? You don't actually have to carve a pumpkin to make homemade roasted pumpkin seeds. Just look for pumpkin seeds still in the shell (yes, you can eat pumpkin seed shells!) in the snack mix or nut aisle of your local grocery store or look for them online. Then skip ahead to Step 3 to prep these tasty treats.

What Are Pepitas?

You might spot green-colored pumpkin seeds, called pepitas, in the snack aisle too. Pepitas are shell-less and come from certain pumpkin types that produce them naturally. (Take note: do not go to the trouble of shelling the white pumpkin seeds from your carving pumpkin; it's laborious!) Pepitas, like their shells-on pumpkin seed cousins, are absolutely delicious. To toast pepitas for snacking or a great salad topper, place them in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

Step 2: Clean Pumpkin Seeds

cleaning pumpkin seeds

After carving a pumpkin and collecting all the goopy seeds, you may be wondering how you're going to clean those pumpkin seeds. Although there are multiple different ways to go about cleaning pumpkin seeds, the best way to clean the seeds makes the process super easy. After pulling as much goop off the pumpkin seeds as you can by hand, put all the seeds into a large pot of water. Since the seeds float and the goop doesn't, this makes it much easier to clean them. Lift out the goop-free seeds with a slotted spoon and drain them on a paper towel; pat dry.

Step 3: Add Seasoning

Pumpkin Seeds with Everything Bagel Seasoning

Pictured Recipe: Pumpkin Seeds with Everything Bagel Seasoning

Plain salted pumpkin seeds are perfectly delicious. But there are many spice combinations that make for the perfect roasted pumpkin seed seasoning—for a unique variation try 1 teaspoon fennel seed, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper and 1/8 teaspoon pepper along with the oil for roasting. Or go for one of these other combinations for oh-so-tasty pumpkin seed seasonings:

Step 4: Roast Pumpkin Seeds

pouring pumpkin seeds on a roasting pan

Roasted pumpkin seeds are not only delicious but they're super easy to prepare! The EatingWell Test Kitchen cooks recommend preheating your oven to 350°F. Spread some parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet, coat the seeds with 1 teaspoon canola oil and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt (or other seasoning of you chose) and then spread them in a single layer on the pan. Be sure to stir the seeds a few times as they bake. It takes about 20 minutes for them to get golden brown, but don't trust your timer!

In fact, EatingWell food stylist Patsy Jamieson has a great trick for telling when pumpkin seeds are perfectly cooked: "Most people don't think to use their nose when cooking," she says. "I can always tell when my pumpkin seeds are about done because they smell done."

This might seem a bit simplistic, but it really works. When the seeds take on a rich, woody scent, they're ready to come out. If you stick close to your stove and trust your sense of smell, you should be able to get perfectly roasted pumpkin seeds every time. And now that know how to roast pumpkin seeds, here is everything else you need to know about the delicious snack!

Pumpkin Seed Benefits

There's no denying that roasted pumpkin seeds are a delicious snack to have on hand during the fall, but are pumpkin seeds good for you? Short answer: yes!

The health benefits of pumpkin seeds make these little guys an *even more* perfect snack. Not only are they hearty and filling—1/4 cup of roasted pumpkin seeds provides 70 calories, 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber—but they deliver zinc, which supports your immune system, and magnesium, a mineral that helps keep your heart healthy.

Bonus: Pumpkin seeds are good sources of alpha-linolenic acid, a plant form of omega-3 fatty acids that can help fight inflammation. Though not as potent as fish-based omega-3s, they are still good for your heart.

Pumpkin Seed Storage Tips

salt and vinegar pumpkin seeds

Pictured Recipe: Salt & Vinegar Pumpkin Seeds

Plan a day of pumpkin prep, then store your seeds, puree and diced pumpkin chunks for all-fall-long snacking. Store roasted pumpkin seeds in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Homemade pumpkin puree is good in your fridge for up to 1 week (note that the liquid will start to separate, but a quick stir will have everyone playing nicely again). In an airtight container in your freezer, puree is good for up to 6 months. Diced pumpkin has just a few days of life in your fridge or up to 6 months in your freezer.

What to Do with the Pumpkin

Roasted Stuffed Pumpkin with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Make a jack-o'-lantern, of course! But if you're not planning to carve a grinning gourd from your pumpkin, cook up a pumpkin feast. Here are some ideas:

Stuff It: Stuff then roast your pumpkin for a show-stopping meal.

Puree It: Make pureed pumpkin to use in recipes like Glazed Chocolate-Pumpkin Bundt Cake.

Cook It: Roast pumpkin for a delicious side. Or turn chunks of pumpkin into recipes like Cinnamon Baked Pumpkin or Four-Bean & Pumpkin Chili.

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