Roasted pumpkin seeds are the tiny edible trophies you get for carving pumpkins. Don't carve a pumpkin (or winter squash) without roasting or roasting the seeds. It has to be. The question is what is the best technique? There is some debate about the best approach, but I've opted for a foolproof method over the years. It's super easy and I'll share it here.
Note that there are some starting points in my technique (as compared to most of the others). First! Some people cook the pumpkin seeds before toasting them. No need. Second, I now season and season the pumpkin seeds after baking and I'll talk more about why.
Different pumpkins, different seeds
Pumpkins aren't the only winter squash with seeds. And seeds from different pumpkins have different sizes, shapes, and textures. Have fun experimenting! Play with white "ghost" pumpkins, blue hokkaido, butternut squash, and all those other lovely winter squash to get a range of seeds. If you roast the pumpkin too, they often taste much better than pumpkins.
Seeds of different sizes
Smaller seeds fry faster, so adjust your baking time (less). Also, treat them as you would "carve" normal pumpkin seeds. Pictured above (top to bottom): Delicata pumpkin seeds, butternut pumpkin seeds, carving pumpkin seeds.
How to clean and make pumpkin seeds
Place a colander (or colander) in a bowl filled with water. The seeds float, so this arrangement makes separating the seeds from stubborn pumpkin flesh a lot easier. Scoop the seeds off your pumpkin and place them in the colander. Separate the seeds from the pumpkin flesh and pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
The best technology
Bake the pumpkin seeds after a good rinse. You need to dry them well. Get as much water out of the seeds as possible. I am convinced that with this method, the seeds will become less steaming and more crispy.
When to season
I used to use heavily seasoning seeds before baking, but I find if you bake with a lot of seasoning that coats the seeds, the spices tend to over-bake or even burn. I now make most or all of my seasoning additives after baking.
Flavor variations beyond classic pumpkin seeds
The directions that you can go to flavor your seeds are endless. That said, I'll include three of my favorite variations below.
- Meyer lemon peel, cayenne and olive pumpkin seeds
- Sweet curry pumpkin seeds
- Garlic Chives Pumpkin Seeds
And because I can't resist. If you don't mind having stained fingertips, dusting the hot seeds with turmeric, chopped garlic, and cayenne or black pepper is also great. Wasabi paste or powder is a great flavor option, as is ponzu sauce. Have fun and play around!