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How to Toast Pumpkin Seeds

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

The first time that I had toasted pumpkin seeds was in elementary school. I specifically remember my 1st grade teacher having us bring in seeds and toasting them – by which I mean watching her toast them – in the school’s kitchen. I don’t remember how they turned out, but it sure was fun. These days, I’m not even sure if you’re allowed to celebrated Halloween in some schools, let alone eat toasted pumpkin seeds. It’s unfortunate, but at least it doesn’t take away the opportunity to make them at home.

The most difficult part of toasting pumpkin seeds, in my opinion, is getting them out of the pumpkin. This step requires that you carve the pumpkin, scrape out the pulp and separate all the seeds. It’s messy and it can take quite a while, depending on the makeup of your pumpkin. The toasting part itself is very easy and there are two ways to do it. The first is to do a long, slow roast with the oven at a low temperature. The second is to quickly cook them at a higher temperature. Some people swear by the first method, but I like the second (Elise uses a high-temp method, too). It is at least as effective – if not moreso – as a slow cook and you get to eat much sooner.

Cooking time will vary from batch to batch because pumpkins can have very differently sized seeds. I like to use sugar pumpkins, which are small and contain a relatively smaller number of seeds, but if you have a lot you might want to bake a test batch to get the timing perfect.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
pumpkin seeds
vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss clean, dry pumpkin seeds in a bowl with a small amount of vegetable oil, just enough to coat, and toss with salt. Arrange in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden.
Cool on a wire rack or by stirring in a mesh sieve.

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  • mamaloo
    October 11, 2007

    Are pumpkin the only edible squash seeds?

  • Kalyn
    October 11, 2007

    Nic, sad but true, we would never be allowed to do that in school now. In my district teachers are not allowed to prepare food for students at all. Of course I still do, but only because I’m close to retiring and don’t care if they fire me!

  • Nicole
    October 11, 2007

    Mamaloo – Good question! As far as I know, all winter squash seeds are edible, and you should be able to use this technique with all of them. For smaller seeds, just shorten the baking time a bit.

  • Alanna
    October 12, 2007

    If you’re not doing the jack ‘o lanterns anyway, you can actually roast a whole pumpkin (no piercing, no cutting) until it’s soft, then easily extract the seeds.

  • Rebecca
    October 12, 2007

    I always used to make them like this until somewhere I read about doing them on the stovetop, and now I saute them in a bit of peanut oil until nicely browned, salting them with kosher salt as I toss. They seem to turn out crispier that way.

  • Deborah
    October 12, 2007

    I love to roast pumpkin seeds!!! I usually do the oven method, but have done Rebecca’s stove top method before as well. Now I can’t wait until we carve pumpkins!

  • Kevin
    October 12, 2007

    Perfect timing. I was just thinking that I should toast the seeds of the pumpkin that I will be opening this weekend.

  • moonablaze
    October 12, 2007

    yes, you can eat any kind of winter squash seeds. in the middle east squash seeds are popular snack.

  • Linda
    November 12, 2007

    I learned the stove top method in school from my Kindergarten teacher. I make them every year it is part of our Halloween tradition. We use them as snacks and garnish on soups like tomato. My daughter is a sophmore in high school and they all wore their costumes to school on the 31st.

  • Jenn
    October 22, 2009

    This is one of my favorite parts of Fall! Every time I cut open a squash I save the seeds for this! I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting lately with different seasonings to toast them with – thanks for reminding me to make this again!

  • Alex
    October 31, 2009

    Hello! This recipe is fabulous! I’m off at college and carved a pumpkin with some of my dormmates and we were left with alot of pumpkin seeds! Remembering how much I loved toasted pumpkin seeds back at home, I decided to make them here, and this recipe is perfect for the broke college girl ^_^ Thank you for posting this!

  • Tari
    October 27, 2010

    I teach kindergarten and all of 8 of us had Pumpkin Day yesterday, when we weighed, measured circumference & height, and predicted if it would float or sink (of course the students estimated before we actually measured)! My pumpkin had 528 seeds in it (which the students counted) and then we carved a silly face on it and proudly displayed it in the hallway! Today we are roasting the seeds. It can still be done; it just takes some creativity! We call this math and science and we read books about the life cycle of pumpkins….it was a very educational and FUN day which we hope our kindergarteners will never forget!

  • […] prepare them. I tried three different recipes: sugar and spice; cinnamon and sugar and just plain salt.  My favorite was the sugar and spice mixture featured […]

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