Spicy Sweet Pumpkin Seeds ♥

Spicy Sweet Pumpkin Seeds
This time of year, when we're cutting open and roasting pumpkins, inside are those seeds and we wonder, Can you roast pumpkin seeds? You sure can! Here's how.

~recipe & photo updated 2011~
~more recently updated recipes~

2007 ORIGINAL POST Yesterday an e-mail arrived from Ralph, a most careful reader of yesterday's recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash with Maple Glaze. No good! he objected to a detail. "One of the most nutritious and yummy things is the seeds. Don't discard." And good luck, this time I didn't. What do you do with pumpkin seeds? Any tips to share?

So -- what to do with pumpkin seeds, you know, the gunky ones scooped from Halloween jack o' lanterns and pie pumpkins and yes, even other winter squash?

This is the third year I've tried to create a good recipe for pumpkin seeds. I've got it! The taste is a combination of spicy and sweet - with a little bite that yumm, just works. It's an easy concept recipe: just toss raw seeds briefly into a hot simple syrup, then toss in a spice rub, then with big crystals of demerara sugar.

  • HOW to CLEAN PUMPKIN SEEDS After scooping the seeds out of the pumpkin, put them in a colander and run water through them, working the seeds with your hands to remove the bits of flesh still attached. This takes a few minutes but makes for pumpkin seeds worth eating.
  • HOW to DRY PUMPKIN SEEDS Don't let paper towels come within a yard of pumpkin seeds! The pumpkin seeds stick to the paper just don't want to come off. Instead use parchment or foil.
  • DO YOU EAT the WHOLE PUMPKIN SEED? The pumpkin 'seed' itself is actually housed inside a hull, a fibrous shell. To some palates, the hull is decidedly unpalatable. But for me, whole pumpkin seeds are edible, in fact, chewy delicious and easy to enjoy one or two at a time rather than by the handful.

2011 UPDATE This is one of those sleeper recipes, one that jumps up and surprises you. The spicy-sugary combination is slightly addictive, especially after the pumpkin seeds have dried well over a couple of days. Make a double batch, you'll be glad you did!


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours
Makes about 1 cup

Seeds from a pumpkin or winter squash, washed well (dried in a single layer on parchment or foil if done ahead of time)

1 cup water
1 cup sugar

SPICE RUB (good on pork, too!)
1/2 tablespoon Spanish paprika (also called pimentón, it's smoky goodness)
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (I used a coarse ground)

Still-wet seeds
Spice rub
Demerara or large-crystal sugar (turbinado, raw sugar) or cane sugar

SIMPLE SYRUP Bring water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Drop seeds into hot liquid and let cook for 4 - 5 minutes. Drain seeds in a colander.

SPICE RUB Mix ingredients in a small bowl.

ASSEMBLE Place still-wet seeds on a piece of parchment. Toss with the spice rub to lightly coat. Toss with just enough sugar to coat. Separate into individual seeds or small clumps to dry. Let dry thoroughly. Best after drying for a day or two.

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~ more pumpkin recipes ~
last week's delicious and easy
~ Pumpkin Bars ~
my long-time favorite
~ Autumn Pumpkin Bread ~

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© Copyright 2007

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. That sounds grand, Alanna! I've roasted pumpkin seeds before, with plain salt, and liked them a lot that way. I don't eat the husks, however. You're a brave woman :)

  2. I'd be willing to try this but I can't stand that outer shell.

    It would be interesting to make some sort of paste with the inner seed - it could be something sweet or savoury. Perhaps a pumpkin seed butter!

  3. What a great idea, I have always just cooked them with a bit of salt. That sounds grand though.

    I too enjoy the outer shell!

  4. So you're not roasting the seeds? I guess you are 'cooking' them, in the boiling syrup. Is this boiling step what leads to the sort of moist pumpkin seeds in convenience stores, as opposed to the hard and crunchy ones I get when roasting at home? Or do they just roast for a shorter time?

  5. I just threw out the seeds from a butternut squash I roasted last week, and I caught myself thinking that I should save them. Next time, I will, and I'll cook them this way; I love the sound of that spice mix.

  6. I really enjoy pumpkin seeds and this looks scrumptious.

    I just subscribed to your blog--your recipes look DELICIOUS!

    I also sent you an e-mail because I am having a Halloween recipe carnival (just in case the e-mail gets stuck in your junk mail)...hope to see you there!

  7. My mom used to make the effort to make pumpkin seed recipes...not me though...I'm too lazy. But your post is inspiring me to do just that next time :)

  8. I've roasted squash seeds before, but I've never tried them this way. I think maybe I'll do them side by side, and see which has the most flavor.

  9. My husband likes to roast sunflower seeds in the shell, tossed with BBQ sauce. Then when he cracks them he gets the taste of the sauce. Maybe that technique would work for the people who don't want to eat the outer shells. This technique with the syrup is brilliant! I have had commercial pumpkin seed butter -- it's green...and those commercial shell-less pumpkin seeds (used to, at least) come from a variety called Lady Godiva.

  10. I'm quite excited by this! My squash seeds always go straight into the composter. No more!

  11. Thanks Alanna: my seeds always turn out a bit too chewy. I will give these a try!

  12. Pille ~ One vote for no husks!

    Cynthia ~ Make that two! I love your idea of the seed butter but honestly, cannot IMAGINE ever hulling pumpkin seeds. I have seen them hulled, however, in my nearby international grocery.

    Cedar ~ One for shells.

    Tricia ~ Interesting, I'll have to look for the pumpkin seeds you're talking about. But I wouldn't call these seeds 'moist', they definitely have crunch.

    Jennifer ~ Ah yes, me too. That said, this is a novelty, just something to play with.

    Mama Luxe ~ Thanks, hope you enjoy the vegetable recipes!

    Nabeela ~ (Your mom and) I love to inspire!

    Deborah ~ Side by side, perfect, let me know how it goes!

    Susan ~ BBQ sauce, love that idea! And what your husband is doing, cracking the shell but getting a taste, is what happens with my recipe too.

    Wendy ~ Making squash seeds does have a thrifty feel, for sure!

    Janelle ~ Too chewy? Hmm, well, these are chewy too, they just taste good while you're chewing.

  13. Like you, we enjoy the whole seed, husk and all. We roast them with various combinations of spices, but I like the sound of your sweet-spicy combination and will give it a try this year. Thanks!

  14. I cheated on this recipe since I didn't have the right sugar on hand. I just made a soaking element consisting of sugar and salt and let it sit while I made my butternut squash soup. After a while I put them in the oven to roast with sea salt. They turned out amazing!

    -Oh and I also used the seeds from my butternut squash I was cooking. I'm now addicted to butternut squash!

  15. Sarah ~ That's just great, that's way simpler than doing an ahem, 'simple syrup'. And especially great news re the butternut squash, THAT's no novelty!

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna