Carving pumpkins in one of the greatest activities of fall. Culinarily speaking, however, the best part comes right after you create your jack o’lantern: making roasted pumpkin seeds. From a food-loving grown-up perspective, the entire pumpkin carving ordeal may just be an excuse to pull out the pumpkin seed seasoning.
How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are a true culinary treasure. To make roasted pumpkin seeds at home, the first thing you’ll need is a pumpkin. It doesn’t need to be a small sugar pumpkin. A large carving pumpkin will work perfectly.
To get at the seeds and preserve the shell for carving, you’ll want to cut a lid. With a sharp knife, cut around the stem in a circle or shape of your choosing. Angle the tip of the knife slightly towards the stem, that way you’ll create a wedge-shaped lid that will sit snuggly in your pumpkin without falling through.
Now it’s time to scoop out all those gooey pumpkin seeds. Each pumpkin holds a different quantity of seeds, so don’t bank on having a pumpkin seed feast until you’re sure you’ve got plenty. If you want a guarantee, invite friends over for a carving (and eating) party. Scrape the inside of the pumpking with a large spoon to clean out the seeds. It’s ok if things get a little messy.
Before you roast, you want to rinse the seeds in a big bowl of water to remove the orange slime. Then, the take seeds and place them on a dish towel on the counter. Pat them dry with a towel. You’re now ready to roast and season pumpkin seeds.
Basic Pumpkin Seed Seasoning
This simple roasted pumpkin seed seasoning is the classic. Preheat the oven to 300°F, then arrange your seeds in one layer on a baking sheet and with a bit of olive oil and a good pinch of salt. Roast for about 30 minutes, until they’re dry and browned. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a little more salt if you like, and you’re done.
Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seed Seasoning
The flavors of pumpkin pie obviously pair well with roasted pumpkin seeds. The trick is in getting the nutmeg and cinnamon to stick to slimy seeds. The glue? Egg white. To make a batch of these, you’ll need at least 3 cups of washed, dried seeds from two to three large pumpkins. Start by whisking together one egg white with a teaspoon of water until foamy. Add 1/3 cup of brown sugar and big pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg (throw in ginger and cloves, too, if you have them). Whisk in a pinch of salt, then add the seeds. Use a wooden spoon to help you coat the seeds, then scoop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in a 300°F oven for about 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes, until the seeds are dry.
Spicy Pumpkin Seed Seasoning
Getting spice to stick to your seeds requires the same cooking know-how you acquired in the sweet take, above. Again, start with at least 3 cups of seeds, then whip up an egg white until thick and foamy with a teaspoon of water and add just 2 tablespoons of sugar. Throw in big pinches of your favorite hot spices: we combined smoky chipotle chili powder, peppery ancho chili powder, and cayenne for pure heat. Get some salt in there too, to make the flavors pop. If you’re not a spicy food lover, opt for smoked paprika instead. Same deal for roasting: throw the seeds in one layer on a parchment-lined sheet, then roast until dry in a 300°F oven, tossing every 10 minutes, for about 30 minutes.
In the mood for more pumpkin? Try these festive twists on pumpkin pie.