In honor of autumn, here are some of our favorite ways to use pumpkin seeds.
Maybe you carved a pumpkin and don’t want to waste all those seeds you gutted out. Or you purchased a big pumpkin to roast (bless you), and you want to do something seedy (ahem) and fun. Then, there’s always that time you spotted the little pepitas at the grocery store, cooed over how cute they were, and bought a bunch on a whim.
It’s so easy to get swept up in general fall fever. However you came by them, though, the question remains: what to do with them, exactly? Well, here are several answers, and they’re all quite appetizing. See, not every one of your spur-of-the-moment decisions ends in tragedy.
You can buy raw or roasted pumpkin seeds at many grocery stores. If not your store, you’ll find them at health food stores or Whole Foods.
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Fresh and unsalted so you can use them any way you please.
Also, you may have noticed that pumpkin seeds are white while pepitas are green and wondered if it’s just a matter of one being shelled. In fact, they come from different varieties of gourds, but you can use store-bought pepitas and the seeds you scoop out of a squash or pumpkin in all the same ways.
For the best crunch, you’ll want to roast your seeds.
How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds
1. Rinse seeds in a strainer to remove the pulp. Agitate them with your fingers if need be; you want all those slimy veggie guts gone.
2. Thoroughly pat them dry.
3. Toss with a little oil and salt and/or other seasoning if you like. Depending on how you want to use the seeds, you may want to add sweet or savory spices when toasting them; see our favorite pumpkin seed seasoning ideas for inspiration.
4. Spread in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes . Stir the seeds every now and then so they don’t brown unevenly or burn in spots.
5. Allow to cool. Use them right away, or store in an air-tight container at room temperature.
Home-harvested squash and pumpkin seeds may take a few minutes longer to toast than raw store-bought seeds, depending on how fresh they are.
What to Do with Pumpkin Seeds
There’s a lot you can do with your seeds beside snack on them as-is. Use pumpkin seeds to coat a ball of soft cheese for an autumnal appetizer, and sprinkle some on soup or salad to garnish—pasta, too.
Bake them into chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies, or a hearty loaf of seeded apple bread.
Scatter them over your morning oatmeal, or mix them into a fall granola.
Here are a few more of our favorite ways to play with pumpkin seeds:
Pepitas are used in Mexican cuisine to thicken and add flavor to moles, salsas, and other sauces. Their nuttiness plays well off of the raisiny flavor of pasilla chiles in this particular salsa. Get our Papalote-Inspired Salsa recipe.
You’ll need 1/3 cup of roasted, salted pumpkin seeds for this pretty salad of squash slices, spinach, and ricotta salata, a semi-hard Italian cheese. Get our Roasted Delicata Squash Salad recipe.
Pesto pasta transitions into fall thanks to pumpkin seeds. For an even greener (and healthier) bite, add kale to the mix. If you prefer parsley, you can also use pumpkin seeds to make chimichurri, and you can use any of these sauces on lots of things, from sandwiches to roasted veggies. Get the Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta recipe.
Mexican mole usually triggers thoughts of deep, dark, spicy, chocolate-inflected sauce, but there are actually seven traditional types of mole, and this lighter green version with fresh herbs and pumpkin seeds is one of them. Use it over any kind of meat, fish, or veggies, or over enchiladas, of course. Get the Pumpkin Seed Mole recipe.
The recipe here says pumpkin seeds are an optional garnish for the soup, but no. A seedless soup is not an option for you. You must get our Roasted Butternut Squash Soup recipe. And follow the directions to the fullest extent of the letter—but if you want to tweak it a little bit, try our Savory Pumpkin Seed Granola recipe on top instead of plain pumpkin seeds.
Could this be the next oat milk? Maybe not, but it’s worth a try at least once, when you have a surplus of pumpkin seeds. Sweetened with a little vanilla, it’s just the thing for a pumpkin pie smoothie. Get the Pumpkin Seed Milk recipe.
Don’t think we forgot about dessert—which you can make with an entire pumpkin if you’re so inclined (well, except for the stem). But here’s one of the coolest things about this bark, besides the presence of both chocolate and toffee: it can be made almost as quickly as it’s devoured. This one has a little bit of a kick too. Get our Chocolate-Toffee-Pumpkin-Seed Bark recipe.
A reliable candy thermometer is a necessity for this sweet snack—as are a whole lotta nuts and seeds, like almonds, pumpkin, and sunflower. These are truly honey-roasted treats. Get our Honey-Nut Brittle recipe.
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Line your baking sheets with these and you can make your brittle mess-free.
Check out all the best of pumpkins on Chowhound.
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.