Pumpkin seeds (and all winter squash seeds) are hidden gems, so tasty and nutritious. You just need to know how to harvest them, and how to make the most of them in your recipes. Today I’m sharing lots of creative ideas!
Pumpkin spice is great, but don’t forget the seeds!
I think we can all agree that pumpkin is one of the joys of fall. I’m deep into my annual pumpkin recipe testing, so you can be sure they’ll be streaming into the blog soon. But what about all those seeds? Pumpkin and other winter squash seeds are delicious, nutritious, and fun to use in the kitchen, here’s what you need to know~
how to gather pumpkin seeds
Yes, you can find pumpkin seeds in the bulk bins of most grocery stores, but it’s so easy to harvest them yourself from actual pumpkins. The same method applies to all winter squash, they’re all edible, and their seeds are all delicious.
- Open up the pumpkin however you like. You can cut around the stem if you’re making a jack-o-lantern, or just cut the squash in half if you’ll be cooking it.
- Use your hands or a large metal spoon to scoop out the seeds (and pulp!) It will be a sticky gooey mess.
- I like to first put the mass into a metal colander and rinse away as much of the pulp as I can.
- Then soak the lot in a big bowl of water and separate the seeds from the goo as best you can. The pulp is perfectly edible, so don’t worry if some of it sticks to your seeds.
- Dry your seeds on a clean kitchen towel (paper towels can stick.)
how to roast pumpkin seeds
All winter squash seeds are edible, and while they can be eaten raw, they’re tastiest when you roast them. You can read about roasting different types of squash seeds in my post here. Pumpkin are the most common, but other varieties can be even more delicious (I reveal my favorite in the post.) Roasting brings out the flavor in seeds, and also crisps them up, making them irresistibly snack-able.
Tips for roasting pumpkin seeds
- Choose a small pumpkin, the smaller and younger the pumpkin, the more tasty and delicate the seeds will be. This is a good rule of thumb if you want to use the flesh, too. Smaller is better when it comes to pumpkins.
- After rinsing the seeds to remove any clinging pumpkin goo, lay the seeds out to dry on a clean kitchen towel. You want the seeds completely dry before roasting, otherwise they’ll steam, not crisp, in the oven.
- Toss them with a little oil to coat. The oil does three things: it flavors the seeds, it allows any spices you’ll be using to cling to the seeds, and it helps the seeds crisp up in the oven.
- Don’t forget the spice, even if it’s just sea salt and pepper. Pumpkin seeds don’t have much flavor themselves, so you’ll want to add it. Think of it like popcorn, and get creative.
- Spread out your seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 350F, stirring occasionally, for as long as it takes to get them super crisp and golden. This will vary depending on your seeds, but it could be anywhere from 10-20 minutes. Don’t under bake, but watch out for burning.
add pumpkin seeds to your morning cereal
When I use pumpkin seeds in recipes I usually use pepitas. That’s the Spanish name for the green inner kernel of the pumpkin seed, without the tough outer husk. You’ll find them in the nuts and seeds section of most supermarkets.
- One of the benefits of pepitas is that they’re easy to add to so many foods.
- Pepitas are tender enough so they don’t need roasting, just use them as is in recipes.
- I just sprinkle them on my oat bran cereal, below. I love to add them to muesli (uncooked oat cereal) as well.
- And there’s absolutely no reason you can’t boost your morning Cheerios with a sprinkle of pepitas!
use winter squash seeds in homemade crisps and crackers
Pepitas are perfect additions to homemade seeded crackers and crisps. They add color, texture, and nutrition. I use them when I make homemade versions of the super expensive crisps and crackers you see in the cheese section of the supermarket, like my multi seeded crisps, above, or my Raincoast Crisp copycats, below.
Are pumpkin seeds healthy?
- Pumpkin seeds are full of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals like magnesium and zinc.
- They’re high in antioxidants (that means they fight inflammation and diseases like arthritis and cancer.)
- They’re a natural source of tryptophan, which can help you fall asleep.
- Studies are finding evidence that pumpkin seed oil may help control blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.
- pumpkin seeds have been shown to help maintain prostate health.
- a 1-oz (28-gram) serving contains:
- Fiber: 1.7 grams.
- Carbs: 5 grams.
- Protein: 7 grams.
- Fat: 13 grams (6 of which are omega-6s).
- Vitamin K: 18 percent of the RDI.
- Phosphorous: 33 percent of the RDI.
- Manganese: 42 percent of the RDI.
- Magnesium: 37 percent of the RDI.
- Iron: 23 percent of the RDI.
- Zinc: 14 percent of the RDI.
- Copper: 19 percent of the RDI.
use pepitas in stuffings
Pepitas are a no brainer in this epic stuffed pumpkin. Once again they add that gorgeous pop of green that I love. Pepitas are a great addition to all kinds of stuffings, and pilafs. Along with nuts they add nice textural contrast, too.
Can you eat too many pumpkin seeds?
Yes, like all seeds and nuts they’re high in calories. They’re also very high in fiber, so too much could cause bloating or constipation. A handful a day is plenty.
bake with pumpkin seeds
Pepitas can be baked right into healthy breads and muffins like my paleo fruit and nut bread. They’re part of a beautiful, nutritious mosaic of fruit, nuts, and seeds, where every slice is unique. Talk about stepping up your morning toast! I also bake them into my healthy breakfast cookies, below.
Another way to bake with these seeds is to top your favorite pumpkin bread or pumpkin muffins. or pumpkin rolls. Just scatter them across the top of the breads and muffins before baking. The color combo is so nice.
Sprinkle pepitas in salads
Seeds are wonderful in salads of all kinds, both green and grain based. You can use them in place of, or in addition to nuts for that all important crunch factor. They’re especially appropriate in fall salads; I could have easily added them to my farro salad, above, or the classic wild rice salad, below.
use pepitas as a fun garnish
Pepitas can be used purely decoratively, if you like. Sure they add crunch, color, and nutrition, but they’re also just pretty! I added them to the top of my healthy papaya breakfast boats just because I thought they could use a pop of green 🙂
Are pumpkin seeds low carb?
Yes, they’re low in carbs and so perfect for keto diets.