Top 5 tasty things to do with pumpkin seeds

Don't throw them away!

Don't throw them away!

Public Domain Photos via flickr
Don't throw them away!
We know you usually just throw them on the compost heap, but wait... we've got some ideas about how to use all those pumpkin seeds that your October decorating scheme has left you with. And not to worry, we know that a "wild honey-hazelnut-pumpkin seed gâteau marjolaine" à la Lenny Russo or a slow-simmering pipian sauce might be a bit much to suggest whipping up before the weekend. We're talking about five reasonably doable preparations for the pepitas you scraped out of your jack-o'-lanterns in pursuit of the Halloween arts. Each average-sized pumpkin should give you about a cup to a cup and a half of the morsels.

So before you dump those lovely pumpkin seeds into your garbage bowl or disposal, read on to see what tasty things you can do with them.


1. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Some folks like their seeds with Worcestershire and others prefer plain salt, but there's no doubt that this is a fall favorite. The basic formula involves cleaning the seeds of any errant pumpkin flesh, adding butter, oil or another tasty fat source plus salt, and putting them in a low- to medium-heat oven on a baking sheet until they turn pleasantly brown. Here's the simplest of recipes for this old standby. Make it your own by adding a combo of your favorite flavors. Try lime zest, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, orange juice, garlic powder, soy sauce or other favorites from your spice rack and kitchen.  

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Rinsed and dried pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp. olive oil or melted butter per pumpkin used
Sea salt or coarsely ground Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the seeds in a bowl with the olive oil or butter, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Place the mixture in a foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10-20 minutes until light brown, flipping the seeds once during the process. Stay close to the oven, as the seeds can go quickly from brown to black.


DFL'er Phyllis Kahn also bakes

2. Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Biscotti
State representative Phyllis Kahn was a finalist in the 2008 Star Tribune holiday cookie contest with this recipe. These treats require two separate stays in the oven, but the results are prize-winning. And it uses hulled pumpkin seeds, so be sure to remove the white coating before you start. The easiest way is to completely dry the seeds first, then smash them with a rolling pin or heavy object. Dump the whole mess into a pot of water and stir vigorously. The hulls will rise to the top and the green inner seeds will sink to the bottom.

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Biscotti
Makes about 2 dozen.

4 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. slightly mashed fennel seeds
2 c. sugar
4 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
5 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Freshly grated zest of 2 oranges
2 c. dried cranberries
2 c. pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and fennel seeds and reserve. In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla extract and orange rind until thoroughly blended, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Stir in cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Divide dough into 4 equal parts and form each part into logs that are approximately 10 inches long and 2 inches wide. Transfer logs to prepared baking sheets and bake until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Transfer baked logs to a cutting board and cut logs diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices. Reduce oven to 325 degrees. Place slices cut-side up on parchment paper-lined baking sheets and bake for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, turn cookies over and bake an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely (from



Sophistimom via
Spiced pumpkin seed brittle

3. Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Whether you prefer Epicurious's white sugar and raw green seed variety or Martha Stewart's brown sugar and honey recipe, you are in good company making this fall treat. All the celeb and high-class foodie rags have their own version, from Alton Brown to Food and Wine to Gourmet. And, if you want to try this seasonal candy, making it at home might be your only chance. Sea Change sometimes offers it as part of their pumpkin ice cream sandwich dessert, but Town Talk Diner has recently removed it from its menu. We recommend this spicy version from blogger Sophistimom. Use parchment to make the process easier and be sure you have a candy thermometer.

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle

3 tbsp. butter
1 c. sugar, granulated or brown
1/2 c. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cardamom or ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. raw, hulled pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Butter a large cookie sheet. Melt butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan set over low heat. Stir in sugar, honey, spices and salt. Stir ingredients together until the sugar starts to dissolve. Raise heat to medium and let the sugar come to a boil. When it reaches 280 degrees on a candy thermometer, stir in pumpkin seeds. Bring the mixture up to 300 degrees (hard crack stage). Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet and allow to cool.  


The Duo Dishes via The Duo Dishes Blog
Pumpkin Seed Hummus

4. Pumpkin Seed Hummus
There are several variations on this theme that add some pumpkin seeds to the regular chickpea party, but our favorite version uses both the seeds and the flesh. LA foodbloggers The Duo Dishes came up with it as part of an entire pumpkin-centric meal. The dish uses toasted seeds that get pulverized in a food processor to form a powder before being mixed with the pumpkin puree and oils. They recommend serving the dip with a sweet brioche bread, and vegetables. We also liked it with crunchy, grainy crackers. You can substitute olive oil or sesame oil if you don't have grapeseed or pumpkin seed oil on hand.

Pumpkin Seed Hummus

1 1/2 c. raw hulled pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. tahini
1/2 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. Tabasco
1/8 c. grapeseed oil
1/8 c. pumpkin seed oil
Juice of 2 lemons
Kosher salt

Blend pumpkin seeds down in a food processor until they become a very fine powder. Add garlic, pumpkin purée, tahini, cumin, Tabasco and lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk together grapeseed oil and pumpkin seed oil. Slowly stream into the hummus while food processor churns until mixture has reached desired consistency. Salt to taste. Chill at least an hour or overnight. Recommend serving with baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and a sweet brioche bread.

Next year's harvest

5. Save them to plant next spring
Makes no matter if you have heirloom pumpkins from your local farmer or you picked up what was on the sidewalk outside the grocery store, as the seeds inside of either will likely grow in your garden. Make an investment in next year's art and deliciousness by saving them and planting them in the late spring. Rinse the seeds and let them dry for a few weeks in a cool dry place on a cookie sheet. Store them in an airtight bag with a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. Those pepitas will be ready to roll come late May/early June when you've prepped your garden, so long as you don't forget where you put them over the long winter.