Crunchy and flavorful, Roasted Pepitas come from special pumpkins that produce seeds without hulls. Great for snacking or topping soups, salads and more.
Pumpkin seeds are like a surprise fall bonus–perhaps a reward for eating local so much! Carve a pumpkin, collect the seeds (free food!), roast and enjoy!
And that doesn’t even get into the fun of the pumpkin farm trip!
But if there’s one thing I never liked about pumpkin seeds, it’s their tough outer hull. Until I discovered Pepitas, that is. Pepitas are a type of pumpkin seed that that grows naturally without a hull. Tender but crunchy you don’t need to worry they’ll wear a year’s worth of enamel off your teeth.
Yup, count me in!
Roasted pepitas are tasty, salty and perfect for fall snacking. And because they’re more like standard nuts and seeds, they work well in a whole lot of recipes. Garnish a soup or salad. Scatter some atop a pumpkin loaf–and the cute index goes way up!
It’s my new fall must have!
What are Pepitas?
Pepitas are a type of pumpkin seed that lacks the tough outer hull found in regular pumpkin seeds. It’s a trait shared by a few specific pumpkin varieties like the Kakai pumpkin pictured below.
It’s a common misconception that Pepitas are simply shelled pumpkin seeds. And I truly feel fortunate that some evolved (naturally) without hulls because it’s a lot easier that way!
For more on the origin of hullless seeds see Grit.
Why You’ll Love This!
Fun. I always think that “foraged food” is especially fun to prepare and eat! And if you start with a trip to the pumpkin farm on a glorious fall day, it’s also a great family outing!
Tasty. Any kind of pumpkin seed is a tasty snack with its salty crunch and roasted flavor. And these don’t have hard to chew hulls that get stuck in your teeth!
Versatile. While roasted pepitas usually don’t make it beyond the snack stage at our house, they are delicious in recipes too. Top soups or salads or take a look at How to Serve below for more ideas!
Economical. If you were going to carve a pumpkin anyway (and your kids don’t mind the stripes), the seeds are free! Gotta love foraging!
What You’ll Need
- Pepitas. These are hull-less pumpkin seeds from special varieties of pumpkin. But you can use regular pumpkin seeds or even squash seeds with this recipe too.
- Oil. Use a heat tolerant oil—I like avocado oil.
- Salt. This adds flavor.
- (Optional) Lime juice, cumin, chili powder. You can also do a spicy version if you’d like (or both versions!). Details are in the recipe Notes.
- No special tools are needed.
Step by Step Directions
Toss clean raw pepita seeds with oil and salt. Instructions on extracting and cleaning them follow this.
Spread out seeds and roast on a pan that’s been sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with parchment.
How to Extract and Clean Pumpkin Seeds
If you plan to carve your pumpkin later (after you extract the seeds), you should cut out the standard round circle at the top and pull it off to expose the inside.
Inserting the knife again after it is cut through can help loosen the top from any stubborn strings of flesh.
Stick your hand in and pull out all of the stringy flesh with seeds attached. This will take multiple tries.
Separate (and compost) the larger pieces of flesh.
Place the remaining seeds and flesh in warm water and rub to separate the remaining bits of squash from the seeds.
Drain the seeds and (ideally) let them dry before roasting.
According to Mashed both Pepita and hulled pumpkin seeds are nutrient dense with healthy fats, antioxidants and a variety of nutrients like zinc and iron. There are sometimes even considered a superfood.
The one place they differ significantly is on fiber. While both are good, the tough hulls of classic pumpkin seeds knock the ball out of the park.
How to Serve
Roasted pepitas can be used many of the ways you’d use nuts. And since they practically shout “fall,” they’re ideal as a seasonal garnish on so many foods.
So go ahead and snack. Top yogurt, make pepita brittle, garnish soup (especially a nice pumpkin soup), top salads, cover a cheese ball, make pepita bark, top pumpkin bread and more! Whew! Yes, the sky’s the limit!
That is, of course, if you don’t eat them all up first!
While this recipe focuses on pepitas, it can also be used with standard pumpkin seeds. Just be aware that the roasting time may (or may not) vary.
And did you know that winter squash seeds are interchangeable with (regular) pumpkin seeds? They are smaller in size but they still taste great. I roasted some miniature Delicata squash seeds with my Pepitas and they disappeared as soon as I finished my photoshoot!
The plain salted and roasted pepitas are my favorite, but we also tested and enjoyed a spicy version. Amped up with cumin, chili powder and lime juice, it would be perfect for a football game. Some people also make a sweet cinnamon pepita, but I wasn’t fond of the recipe I tried (though they disappeared too).
Truthfully, Toasted Pepitas are so tasty, I’ve never had them last longer than a few hours. But I hear they’ll keep sealed for at least a couple weeks. This makes sense since they’re seeds–and seeds and nuts have good keeping properties.
Seal your roasted pepitas and store them at room temperature. And if they need a little crisping later on, pop them briefly into a hot oven or heat a minute or two in a hot skillet.
Tips & FAQs
I recommend roasting seeds that are dry if you can. Dry seeds don’t need to cook as long and can turn out slightly crunchier. I extracted and cleaned mine the day before and let them air dry on the counter overnight.
Sometimes it can be hard to find the right kind of pumpkin and I called a few different pumpkin farms before finding one that had them. But it was so worth the effort!
How many seeds do I get from a Kakai pumpkin? I cut up a few pumpkins and got about a cup of seeds each time. So if you’re feeding a crowd, you’ll need a lot of pumpkins!
After you remove the seeds, you are left with an empty pumpkin that you can carve if you’d like. That’s assuming you originally cut it jack-o-lantern style, with the shell intact.
If I decide not to carve it, can I eat the Kakai pumpkin flesh? You can eat it, but you may not want to—Kakai flesh is reported to be quite low on flavor. So perhaps pop the pumpkin remains into the compost and get yourself a nice butternut squash for eating.
And to really make your fall rock, check out some more great holiday sides below!
Welcome to Holiday Side Dish Week 2022 hosted by Heather from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks. This year we have over 45 side dishes to help you plan your holiday meals.
Wednesday Fall Holiday Side Dish Recipes:
- Air Fryer Brussel Sprouts with Bacon from Cheese Curd In Paradise
- Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts from An Affair from the Heart
- Apple and Chestnut Stuffing from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Homemade Rice Pilaf from Kathryn’s Kitchen Blog
- Instant Pot Mashed Cauliflower from The Spiffy Cookie
- Old-Fashioned Candied Yams from Palatable Pastime
- One Pot Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Orzo from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Pineapple Casserole from A Day in the Life on the Far
- Potato Gratin with Gruyére, Bacon, and Leeks from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Puff Pastry Wrapped Asparagus Bundles from Blogghetti
- Pumpkin Methi Luchi from Magical Ingredients
- Roasted Pepitas from Art of Natural Living
- Twice Baked Potato Casserole from Hostess At Heart
- 1 cup pepitas raw, dry, clean
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
See note for spicy seed option
- Preheat oven to 325 F. Toss clean, dry, raw pepita seeds with oil and salt.
- Spread out seeds and roast on a pan that’s been sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with parchment.
- Roast for about 20 minutes until they are crisp. (see note)
- Tomato Parmesan Soup
- Homemade Egg Noodles in Chicken Broth