Confession: For years, I threw away the seeds after carving pumpkins. Roasting them just didn’t seem worth the trouble (why mess with all that stringy, slimy pumpkin flesh?).
Then a few years ago, after learning more about food waste and vowing to make the most of every ingredient, I decided not to toss the seeds. Instead, I roasted them, and guess what? Those crispy, crunchy seeds were super easy to make! Their nutty flavor was seriously addictive—they didn’t even make it to the pantry. My family gobbled them all up, risking burned fingers, straight from the sheet tray.
The best part? The snack is incredibly healthy. Pumpkin seeds are high in protein and fiber, and they’re a good source of minerals like zinc and iron. So save those seeds and join our Test Kitchen experts as we share how easy it is to roast them.
How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds
Yield: 2 cups
2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds, or whatever you scoop from one pumpkin
3 tablespoons butter, melted, or an equal amount of the cooking oil of your choice
1 teaspoon salt and/or other seasonings
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, optional
A sheet pan, a colander and bowls
Fun Fact: Contrary to popular belief, pepitas aren’t hulled pumpkin seeds. Don’t try to pry open the seeds from your carving pumpkins! Pepitas are a hulless pumpkin seed harvested from Styrian or oil seed pumpkins. You simply roast seeds as they come from the pumpkin. Roasted pumpkin seeds are more fibrous and less tender, but they can be substituted for pepitas in any recipe that calls for them as a garnish.
Step 1: Preheat the Oven
Preheat oven to 250°. Line a large sheet pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease it with butter or oil. This reduces cleanup later…trust me on this.
Test Kitchen tip: Why preheat? Preheating the oven ensures that the seeds heat evenly. The result: perfectly roasted, crispy pumpkin seeds.
Step 2: Scoop Out the Seeds (If You Haven’t Yet)
Most of us are pretty familiar with this part from a lifetime of pumpkin carving. Using a sharp, sturdy knife, cut around the top of the pumpkin and remove the “lid.” Using a large spoon, scrape the sides of the pumpkin to remove the seeds and pulp. Place everything—pulp and all—in a large bowl.
Step 3: Separate the Gunk From the Seeds
This used to be the part I dreaded (that slimy, stringy pumpkin flesh!), but it’s actually much easier than I thought. Just use your fingertips to pull the seeds free. Leave the large pieces of pumpkin pulp in the bowl as you transfer the seeds to a colander. They’ll still look pretty goopy—don’t worry.
The fibrous strands can be challenging to remove, but we have a trick for that: Rinse the seeds in the colander under cold running water. The water will loosen the strands and make it easier to pull them off.
Test Kitchen tip: Don’t worry if you have some pumpkin pulp clinging to the seeds. It’s really hard to remove every last bit! During testing, we found that extra strands didn’t make a huge difference once the seeds were roasted.
Step 4: Rinse and Drain
Now that you removed most of the pulpy pieces, it’s time to get the seeds ready for seasoning. Some people swear by boiling or soaking the seeds in salt water to make them extra crispy after baking. We didn’t find this extra step made much difference—a simple rinse under cold running water did the trick. Pat the seeds dry with a towel.
Test Kitchen tip: Patting the seeds dry is an important step. Excess water can create steam in the oven, which prevents the seeds from crisping. The seasonings we use in the next step also adhere better to dry seeds.
(Psst: Here are recipe instructions that aren’t really necessary.)
Step 5: Combine the Seeds with the Seasonings
It’s time to season! We like salt and Worcestershire sauce, but you can use any spices you wish. Try pumpkin spice seasoning, go spicy with cumin and cayenne, or just douse with salt and pepper. You can even go over-the-top with candied or mocha variations.
Whichever flavors you choose, combine the seasonings with the butter or oil in a small bowl. Then drizzle the mix over the dry seeds in a medium-sized bowl. Stir the mixture to make sure each seed is coated.
Step 6: Bake, Stirring Occasionally
We’re ready to bake! Spread the seeds evenly in a single layer on your prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, making sure to stir and toss the seeds occasionally.
Test Kitchen tip: Most ovens have hot spots, which can lead to burnt seeds. Our experts found that stirring the seeds from time to time promotes even browning.
Step 7: Finish Baking On High Heat
Cooking in a 200° oven helps the seeds cook evenly inside and out, so they don’t burn before they’re cooked through. But we won’t settle for evenly cooked seeds—we want crispy seeds!
The solution: Increase the oven temperature to 325° after the 45 minutes. Then continue baking until the seeds are lightly browned and dry, about 5 minutes more.
Step 8: Serve, Store and Enjoy!
The seeds can be served warm (I always risk burned fingertips to snatch a snack right off the sheet pan), or you can cool them and enjoy at room temperature. If you’re storing them for later use, set the pan on a cooling rack until the seeds are fully cooled, then place in an airtight container.
This recipe yields approximately 2 cups of seeds, so you’ll have enough to snack on and use in some fun recipes. The nut-like flavor makes the seeds a great substitute for nuts in granola. They also make excellent garnishes for soups, salads or polenta.
Looking for more pumpkin inspiration? We love these recipes that use up the canned stuff.