It’s that time of year…everyone I know is cracking open pumpkins and carving them into spooky visages. This was a favorite ritual of mine as a kid, and one of the best parts about carving a pumpkin is the gorgeous seeds that are harvested from the innards. I remember trying to roast the seeds once or twice as a kid; I didn’t really know the best way to go about it and I ended up with burned, salty, unpleasantly chewy bits. But I didn’t know better so I ate them anyways.
I forgot all about roasted pumpkin seeds until last year when I went to make a vegan pumpkin pie. I got a fresh pie pumpkin from the farmers market, and pulled out the seeds. I hate to throw anything away, so I did a little research on the best way to roast the seeds. Of course I had to give it my own twist and up the ante with a little kick.
These are the perfect pumpkin seeds. They are crisp and crunchy, and the spices really make them something special. My husband actually thinks they taste a little like bacon bits, but neither of us has had bacon in years, so I think he is saying that because of the combination of salt and crunch.
One of my favorite things about this recipe is listening to the crackling of the pumpkin seeds as they’re cooling; for some reason it is a very satisfying sound.
TIP: If you don’t have fresh pumpkin on hand, you can always buy your pumpkin seeds online.
Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
- 4 cups pumpkin seeds, washed and squeaky clean
- 4 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- cooking spray
- spice mixture (see below)
Preheat your oven to 400°F, and adjust your oven racks to accommodate 2 cookie sheets.
Put a large pot of water on to boil (around 4 quarts water). Put the salt into the water.
When the water is at a rolling boil, add pumpkin seeds and boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, brush a tablespoon of oil onto each of your cookie sheets.
When time is up, drain pumpkin seeds and transfer to your lubed cookie sheets. Give them a stir to coat them with some of the oil, then spread them out into a single layer on each sheet. Pop the cookie sheets into your hot oven for 20 minutes. When time is up, pull the cookie sheets out one at a time, stir the seeds, and redistribute into a single layer. Rotate cookie sheets, and cook for another 20 minutes. The seeds will start to crack and pop and jump in the oven. Enjoy the show.
When time is up, remove cookie sheets from oven, turn off the oven heat, but close the door to keep as much heat in the oven as possible. Working quickly, spray each sheet with cooking spray, and then dust generously with the spice mixture. Stir the seeds, repeat one more time with cooking spray and seasoning, and then spread them back out into a single layer on each sheet. Return to the hot oven for 5 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and let cool completely before eating.
Note: If the oven is still roaring hot, the spices that are left on the pan may produce a little smoke; but if so, don’t worry about it, that will actually add to the flavor.
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (or table salt)
Combine all ingredients in a small jar, an empty spice jar would be ideal. Shake to combine.
Here is where you can really get creative with this. Add some turmeric, play around with the heat by adjusting the cayenne, reduce the cumin, or add some crushed thyme or oregano. It’s up to you! Make it the way you like it.