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Simple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Crunchy, delicious, some would even say healthy! Pumpkin seeds are where it's at for a savoury fall treat.

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Simple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

by Razwick

So making pumpkin seeds is really, really easy, it just takes a bit of preparation, and the unfortunate bit is that you don't get a huge amount of seeds per pumpkin, even the big ones, so it's best to make them if you're already gutting several pumpkins for either baking or carving. The more the merrier!

For this I liberated the seeds from 6 sugar pumpkins that I grew in my garden this year (growing your own ingredients feels kind of awesome). The benefit to using sugar pumpkins over your typical, grocery store carving pumpkins is that a) they're smaller but have a similar amount of seeds and b) the seeds are a slightly different flavour and tend to come out crispier. They've also got a thinner outer layer, or as my father put it these ones are 'less like wood'. I've roasted the seeds from both kinds of pumpkins, and they both turn out great, but I did find that I preferred the ones from the sugar pumpkins, they were snappier and required less chewing to get down.

These are great for distracting guests with crunchy treats when they come over for Thanksgiving, by the way.

Alright, so to get started, cut the stem section of the pumpkin out so that you can get at all of the guts. I split my pumpkins in half after I cut out the stems because I was baking them for pumpkin mash, you obviously wouldn't do that if you were carving them, but then you just have to deal with getting elbow-deep in some slimy orange gunk as opposed to wrist-deep. Side note about the gunk, I didn't have a problem this year, but try and rinse/wash your hands fairly often when you're doing this. Pumpkin guts are mildly acidic and can dry out/irritate your skin if the juices soak into your hands for too long.

Now, here's the deal, most people just take a big ol' spoon or whatever, and just dump all the innards into a bowl, and then they rinse and strain and rinse and strain and pick the seeds out and pull of strands of orange goop, and it's just a gigantic, time consuming mess. If you're doing this with a carving pumpkin, you may still have to do that, but if you've split the pumpkins in half, I'd recommend taking a bit of extra time at this stage to pick the seeds out without taking any of the goop with them. You can pinch off any particularly stubborn strands if needed, but for the most part you can just gently pop the seeds out and they'll come out clean. Notice how my bowl of seeds is almost entirely goop-free, and I haven't rinsed them yet at this point. Trust me, as someone who's done this in a variety of ways over the years, picking off the goo now is much easier to do than when they're floating around in a bowl of water and trying to escape from your fingers.

Just pinch the orange bits with two fingers and press with a third to pop the seeds off.

Once you're done picking out the seeds, you can finish scraping out the rest of the goop to prep the pumpkin for whatever you're using it for after. I won't cover/picture that here, it'll be in another post for the actual pie.

Once you've got all the seeds separated, put them in a bowl and add some water. Stir them around for a while, rinsing any problematic ones and picking out any goop or under developed seeds. They actually float pretty well, so if you stir it around a few times, pausing in between, you should be able to catch all of the runty seeds. Drain these however you feel is easiest, I just held my hand to the rim of the bowl, but I lost a few seeds that way, and generally it's best to retain as many as you can.

Now comes the really important part. You're going to need to dry them. If you don't, they'll steam and get really chewy, and not in a good way. You're going to want to let them dry for at least 2-4 hours, but I'd recommend leaving them laid out (as in not in a bowl or pile) over night.

Do not leave them out to dry overnight on a paper towel!

I spread mine out on a flat, square plate and then pat/rub them down with a paper towel before leaving them to sit and dry. Wet pumpkin seeds are kind of slick and sticky. If you leave them on the paper towel over night, that slickness will dry, and you will end up with seeds glued to that paper. You can salvage these seeds if it happens, but you have to wash them off (or get the paper towel wet before you pull them off) and end up having to let them dry more. Alternatively, you're going to end up with paper in your pumpkin seeds, and no one wants that.

Yes, I know all of this from experience, so if this seems obvious to you, congrats, you thought this through way more than I did the first time I did it!

Now, unfortunately I didn't get pictures of the rest of the process, but it is super, duper simple from here on out. Once you've got your dried out seeds, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place the seeds in a mixing bowl.

You are welcome to try whatever seasonings you'd like on them, pretty much anything works, you can make sweet pumpkin seeds, savory ones, spicy ones, anything you want. However, if you just want a super simple, salty snack, you can do what I do.

Pour a couple teaspoons of olive oil into the mixing bowl with the seeds and stir them (I use my hands) until all the seeds are coated in oil. Now, add seasoning salt to the bowl (not much, you'll use more in a minute) and mix again.

Next, spread the seeds as evenly as you can over a baking sheet, which is slightly more challenging now that they're sticking to each other because they dried that way and the oil is making them cling, so don't worry about it too much.

Once they're mostly flat on the sheet, sprinkle a little bit more salt over them. I do this here as well because I find that the amount you put into the bowl earlier ends up more on your fingers than it does on the seeds, but you get a more full coverage that way.

Pop the tray into the oven for 8-10 minutes, until the seeds start to brown slightly, you may hear some popping when the shells crack, a little isn't a problem, but if you hear a lot, they may be over cooking. And there you have it, the perfect afternoon snack!

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