25+ Ideas for Pumpkin Seeds Besides Just Roasting Them

Pumpkins and winter squash signal that autumn is here; when butternut and delicata squash arrive at the farmers’ market, we know fall festivities are just around the corner.

There are many ways to use pumpkin seeds, but more often than not, as we bake pumpkin muffins, roast squash or carve jack-o-lanterns, they just get tossed into the trash. This year, we challenge you to save them, because guess what? Squash and pumpkin seeds are all edible! Rinse ‘em, roast ‘em and reduce your food waste by using them in one of these delicious ways.

Preparation

Although all pumpkin and squash seeds are edible, some have thick, woody casings that make them tough to eat. Here’s how to clean and remove the hulls before using them:

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How to Separate Pumpkin and Squash Seeds from Pulp

Firstly, you don’t have to do this step. Instead, you could take this pro tip from Martha Stewart: Simply remove the seeds and pulp from the pumpkin, toss both with oil and seasoning and slow roast the entire mixture (they suggest roasting about 60 minutes at 300F, stirring every 15 minutes). After roasting, pull the seeds away from the caramelized pulp.

Not convinced? If you’d like clean seeds before roasting, here’s the best method: rinse the seeds to remove large pieces of pulp, then boil them in lightly salted water for 10 minutes. An added bonus: boiling helps them cook more evenly, since the insides cook faster than the outsides, and it gives them a crisper texture.

How to Shell Pumpkin and Squash Seeds

While the seeds of carving pumpkins usually have thin hulls that toast into a crunchy snack, some squash, such as delicata, have a much thicker shell that’s not pleasant to eat. To remove the hull, rinse the seeds to remove most of the pulp, then lay them on a flat surface and press a rolling pin over them gently to lightly crack the shells. Boil the seeds, as described above, and the shells will separate from the seeds.

Removing the hull will reveal the actual seed, or pepita. If a recipe requires more seeds than your pumpkin or squash provides, you can find shelled pumpkin seeds sold as pepitas in many grocers and specialty markets.

Ideas for Pumpkin Seeds

How to Roast

Roasting pumpkin seeds is a great way to use up the seeds from pumpkin carving or pie making. Here’s the best method for roasting pumpkin seeds: boil seeds as described above. Towel dry, then toss with oil (1 tablespoon for every 1 cup of seeds) and your desired seasonings and transfer to a lined rimmed sheet tray. Roast at 325F until crispy and golden; depending on the seed type, the timing could be anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour, so check frequently to avoid burning. Some spice variations to try: pumpkin pie spices with cocoa powder for a sweet snack; curry powder and coconut oil; lemon zest and smoked paprika.

Pumpkin and Squash Seed Flour

Shelled and roasted seeds can be turned into a meal by grinding them in a food processor or spice grinder. Use in recipes for baked goods instead of almond flour.

Seed Butter

Keep the food processor going and that pumpkin seed meal will turn into butter as the blades continue to grind the oil from the seeds. Add a pinch of salt and use as a substitute for peanut butter.

Seed Baked Goods

Pumpkin seeds are a delicious addition to baked goods, particularly those that use warm spices such as cinnamon and cloves. Add them to cornbread, cookies, muffins, pumpkin bread, banana bread, granola, waffles or pancake batter and more. This gluten-free loaf is made entirely of seeds and nuts, and pumpkin seeds give it a rich, earthy flavor.

Seed Desserts

Pumpkin seeds can be used in a variety of desserts, which are especially popular in the autumn months. Try using them in brittle, chocolate bark, caramels, pumpkin seed chocolate cups and more. These treats are perfect for Halloween or Thanksgiving parties!

Seed Savory Dishes

Roasted and spiced seeds make great garnishes for all sorts of lunch and dinner entrees. Keep a jar at your desk or a bowl on your dinner table, and use them to top salads, rice, soup, enchiladas, tacos and other meals. Pumpkin and squash seeds can also be baked into casseroles and breads and tossed into pasta.

Seed Sauces

Pumpkin seeds make a fine substitute for pine nuts or other nuts in pesto recipes. Or use them in mole, a traditional Mexican sauce (see below), to top grilled meats or vegetables.

Recipe: Pumpkin Seed and Ancho Chile Mole

Sherri Brooks Vinton

Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce that can be made with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, spices, nuts, seeds and other flavorings and is commonly used as a base for stewed meats. Depending on the ingredients, mole sauce can be found in various colors including black, red, yellow and green. Spoon this sauce over grilled meat or vegetables, use it as a simmer sauce for long-cooking cuts, brush it on burritos or drizzle it on your morning eggs.

Ingredients

1 ancho chile
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 (16-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the chile, then set aside to rehydrate.
  2. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a large saucepan over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Transfer seeds to a plate and set aside to cool.
  3. Wipe out skillet. Cook oil, onions and a pinch of salt over medium until onions are translucent, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add garlic to pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Stir in cumin and cocoa powder, then add tomatoes and combine.
  5. Remove chile from the water, reserving liquid. Slit the chile lengthwise and discard the stem and seeds. Add prepared chile and soaking liquid to the tomato pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Remove skillet from heat. Transfer mixture to a blender or use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Store sauce, covered and chilled, for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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