I’m always looking for ways to make healthy, homemade snacks and one of my favorites was figuring out how to to roast pumpkin seeds and winter squash seeds with six different flavor variations. Roasted pumpkin and winter squash seeds are a healthy snack my kids love and they’re easy to pack along on our outdoor adventures. Plus, roasted seeds are so easy to make and saves money on our grocery bill by not having to buy snacks at the store!
Growing up, we always roasted the pumpkin seeds we scooped out of our pumpkins before carving them every fall. My mom always made roasted, salted pumpkin seeds and they were so delicious!
As I got older and began to expand my palate beyond the “meat and potatoes” farm country meals I grew up with, I started to experiment with other seasonings on my pumpkin seeds. I’ve tried all sorts of variations over the years. One of my all time favorite has a spicy kick to it but that’s definitely not one my kids like!
We grow pumpkins and winter squash every year to make and preserve pumpkin puree to eat throughout the year (here’s how we make and preserve pumpkin puree) and some we put in cool storage with our other cold storage vegetables.
This means that we have access to fresh pumpkin and winter squash seeds throughout most of the year, or as long as our pumpkins last in cold storage. Last year we had a pumpkin in cold storage that lasted all the way to May, a whopping nine months after it was harvested from our garden!!
This year we used our last homegrown storage pumpkin in April so we could make our favorite homemade pumpkin pie for Easter dinner.
I’m thrilled that we are able to have fresh pumpkin seeds to eat so many months throughout the year and don’t have to just enjoy this delicious, healthy snack only in the fall season.
What Makes Roasted Pumpkin and Winter Squash Seeds a Great Snack?
There are so many things I love about roasted pumpkin and winter squash seeds. They are delicious, healthy, and kid friendly so that right there is a win-win for me!
Roasted pumpkin seeds are also really easy to pack along when we go for a hike, camping, or kayaking in our creek in the summer.
Roasted Pumpkin and winter squash seeds aren’t fragile and breakable like our other favorite healthy snack, homemade crispy kale chips. Kale chips are a nightmare to pack on a hike! If I put them in a container, they get a little soggy. If I don’t put them in a container, they get crumbled to smithereens!
Not the pumpkin and winter squash seeds though. These things are sturdy and durable. I can put them in one of the little baggies we reuse for snacks and throw them in my backpack or my pocket and not worry about them getting smashed.
Roasted pumpkin seeds also contain more protein than kale chips so they fuel our bodies longer which is what we’re looking for when we are going out adventuring on a hike, foraging for wild edibles, kayaking or even spending the day working in the garden.
Have I mentioned roasted pumpkin seeds are kid friendly? It is so hard to find kid friendly, healthy snacks these days that don’t include oodles of sugar or other sweeteners.
When we make a batch of roasted pumpkin seeds, I put them in a bowl on the dining table and the kids and I snack on them throughout the day. They are so yummy and healthy!
What types of seeds can I roast?
Pumpkins are only one type of seed that can be roasted. There are other winter squash in the same family as pumpkin that have seeds inside that can be roasted. Roasted winter squash seeds taste just as delicious as roasted pumpkin seeds!
There is a wide variety of winter squash to grow in the garden or buy at the farmer’s market and store over winter in cold storage. We’ve grown all of these varieties of winter squash over the years and eaten the seeds we scooped out of the inside:
Health Benefits of Roasted Pumpkin and Winter Squash Seeds
Pumpkin and other winter squash seeds have a lot of health benefits and a long history of being used to improve health and even several folk remedies using pumpkin seeds.
-High in fiber
-High in protein
-High in Magnesium
-Great source of Manganese, Vitamin K, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, and copper
All of these wonderful things make roasted pumpkin and winter squash seeds a delicious, nutritious, heart healthy snack our whole family loves!
How to Prepare Pumpkin Seeds for Eating
Before you can get to the fun part of seasoning and roasting pumpkin and winter squash seeds, you need to prep them first. Here’s how to clean and prepare pumpkin seeds to eat:
Step 1: Carefully cut the pumpkin in half from top to bottom.
Step 2: Use a large spoon and scoop out the pumpkin seeds from the cavity of the pumpkin. Place the pumpkin seeds in a bowl. Try to separate the seeds from the stringy pumpkin pulp the best you can. The pumpkin pulp makes a tasty treat for the chickens and our vermicomposting compost worms.
Step 3: Pour water into the bowl with the pumpkin seeds, enough to cover the seeds. Swish the seeds around to help loosen up any remaining sticky pumpkin pulp.
You can let the pumpkin seeds soak in salt water for 12-14 hours to help break down the membrane on the outside of the pumpkin seed which makes them easier to digest. If you want to learn more, here’s an article from Wellness Mama on the importance of soaking nuts and seeds.
If you don’t want to soak the seeds that long, that’s fine since they are edible and delicious without a long soak. It’ a personal preference, just like soaking grains before using them. We’ve eaten pumpkin seeds soaked for hours and seeds that were only soaked for 15 minutes to help loosen up some of the sticky pumpkin pulp.
Step 4: Strain the water off the pumpkin seeds.
Step 5: Spread the pumpkin seeds out on a kitchen towel or paper towel and pat dry.
Do you have to let pumpkin seeds dry before roasting?
For the best roasted pumpkin seeds, it’s worth it to take the time to dry the pumpkin seeds off before roasting. Why? It takes a lot longer to roast wet or damp pumpkin seeds.
The moisture damp pumpkin seeds give off in the oven makes a moist baking environment so the seeds will take longer to roast. If you taste test a pumpkin or winter squash seed to see if they are done roasting, they should be crunchy. If the seeds are chewy, they need to be roasted longer.
Pumpkin and Winter Squash Roasting Recipe
This is such an easy recipe! I’ll start with the most basic recipe which seasons the roasted pumpkin seeds with salt. This is the most common, traditional way to roast pumpkin seeds and they are salty and delicious! The flavor variations are listed at the end of the basic recipe.
This recipe can easily be adjusted for quantities based on the amount of pumpkin seeds you have since every pumpkin will produce a different amount of seeds.
Ingredients for Roasted Pumpkin and Winter Squash Seeds:
-1/2 cup Pumpkin or Winter Squash seeds
-1 teaspoon Olive oil
-1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
Directions for Roasted Pumpkin and Winter Squash Seeds:
Step 1: Place the seeds in a bowl. Pour the olive oil over the pumpkin seeds and toss to coat all the seeds well.
Step 2: Sprinkle the salt over the oiled pumpkin seeds and stir to evenly coat the seeds.
Step 3: Spread the pumpkin seeds out on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the pumpkin seeds in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, turning half way through. The pumpkin seeds are done when they are a golden brown color. The seeds should be crispy and crunchy, not chewy, when they are done.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Seasoning Variations
While the traditional roasted, salted pumpkin seeds are delicious, there are so many other variations you can make too!
Here are a six roasted pumpkin and winter squash seed variations to try. Each recipe below starts with the base recipe of the oiled and salted seeds then add the specific spices for flavor variations:
1. Black Pepper Pumpkin Seeds
Add 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper to the salted and oiled pumpkin seeds then roast for a delicious peppery snack.
2. Spicy Cayenne Pumpkin Seeds
To add a bit of spicy kick to your pumpkin seeds, sprinkle the salted and oiled pumpkin seeds with cayenne powder then roast. With cayenne powder, a little bit goes a long way with the spice level so keep this in mind. I like a light spice so sprinkle about 1/8 of a teaspoon. If your spice preference is higher than that, add more to your liking!
3. Garlic powder and Paprika Pumpkin Seeds
Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon paprika on the salted and oiled seeds. Stir to cover evenly. I actually add a little cayenne powder to this mix too. Yum!
4. Cumin and Chili Powder Pumpkin Seeds
Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or you can even use taco seasoning.
5. Curry Flavored Pumpkin Seeds
For those of you fellow curry lovers, sprinkle in 1 teaspoon curry powder to the salted and oiled pumpkin seeds. Roast for a delicious batch of curried pumpkin seeds.
6. Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 Tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Roast the salted and oiled pumpkin seeds in the basic recipe. When the pumpkin seeds are almost finished roasting, with about five minutes left, stir in the cinnamon sugar mixture and then finish roasting.