Toasted pumpkin seeds are the tiny, edible trophies you get for carving pumpkins. That’s just how it needs to be. Don’t carve a pumpkin (or any winter squash for that matter), without toasting or roasting the seeds. The question is, what’s the best technique? There is some debate about the best approach, but I’ve settled on a foolproof method over the years. It’s super easy, and I’m going to share it here. Take note, there are a couple points of departure you’ll see in my technique (compared to most). First! Some people boil the pumpkin seeds prior to toasting. No need. Second, I now season and spice the pumpkin seeds after baking, and I’ll talk more about why.
Different pumpkins, different seeds: Pumpkins aren’t the only winter squash with seeds. And seeds from different squashes have different sizes, shapes and textures. Play around with white “ghost” pumpkins, blue Hokkaido, butternut squash, and all the other beautiful winter squash varietals out there for a range of seeds. Also, if you’re going to roast the squash as well, they’re often much better tasting versus carving pumpkins.
Different sizes of seeds: Smaller seeds roast more quickly, so adjust your baking time (less). Aside from that, treat them the same as you would regular “carving” pumpkin seeds. Pictured below (top to bottom): delicata squash seeds, butternut squash seeds, carving pumpkin seeds
How to Clean & Make Pumpkin Seeds: Place a colander (or strainer) in a bowl filled with water. The seeds float, so this set-up makes separating the seeds from any stubborn pumpkin flesh much easier. Scoop the seeds from your pumpkin and transfer to the colander. Separate the seeds from any pumpkin flesh and pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth.
The best technique: Bake the seeds after a good rinse, after drying well, and get as much water off the seeds as possible. I’m convinced the seeds steam less using this method, and crisp more.
When to season? I used to heavily season the pumpkin seeds prior to baking, but I find that if you bake with lots of spice coating the seeds, the spices tend to over bake or even burn. I do much or all of my spice addition post-bake now.