Top 10 Pumpkin Seed Recipes: Don't Waste Any Part of Your Jack-O-Lantern!

Don't throw away the seeds after carving pumpkins; cook with them.
Don't throw away the seeds after carving pumpkins; cook with them.
Photo by shawncampbell

Millions of people carve pumpkins every year as Halloween nears. While it is loads of fun to create an image, design or simple Jack-O-Lantern face on the front of a pumpkin, the best part is often discarded and forgotten about; I'm talking about the seeds.

I always thought the stringy flesh of a pumpkin was nasty, slimy and needed to get off of my hands as quickly as possible. It wasn't until one of my college roommates collected the seeds from our pumpkins and said she was going to roast them for snacks that I realized the "disgusting" inside portion of the pumpkin was not so bad after all.

So that you can use as much of the pumpkin as possible -- even after the Jack-O-Lantern develops mold and you're forced to throw it away -- we offer these ten ways to cook with pumpkin seeds.

First, you have to clean the seeds before you can use them. It will take a while, but there's no way to get around it. Remove all of the pulp from the seeds by rubbing them between your fingers, then rinse them in a colander to wash off the rest of the flesh. To make sure the enzyme inhibitors in the seeds don't irritate your stomach, soak them in salt water for at least six hours, or as long as 48 hours. Try using 1/4 cup of salt to 2 cups of water to begin, and adjust as desired. Dry the seeds by laying them flat on a towel.

Now we can begin with the ten best ways to cook with pumpkin seeds.

After you clean the seeds, roast them in the oven with a simple seasoning of salt and olive oil.
After you clean the seeds, roast them in the oven with a simple seasoning of salt and olive oil.
Photo by Jaxzin

10. Plainly Roasted

The most simple and common recipe for cooking with pumpkin seeds is to roast them. Roast them as they are to eat as a simple snack, sprinkle on top a salad or add to bread, muffins, pancakes, etc. You can also season the seeds with olive oil or butter, and evenly coat them in salt. Put them in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so. Cool before eating.

9. Granola Bars

Bring out the flavors of the season by combining pumpkin purée with oats, cinnamon, brown sugar, a touch of honey and pumpkin seeds. Add a variety of dried fruits, such as cranberries or raisins, and other ingredients, including almonds, chocolate or white chocolate chips, and a hint of vanilla extract. Flatten the granola mixture onto a baking sheet, then bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the granola is held together firmly. Cool, then cut into bars, circles or any shape you desire.

8. Pumpkin Seed Butter

Rather than sticking with plain almond butter or peanut butter this fall, add pumpkin seeds to a food processor, and grind them into a butter, just as this blogger does. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a 350-degree oven until they are golden brown (10 minutes or so), then place in a food processor and pulse until the seeds are puréed. Add extra spices and ingredients, such as cinnamon and honey, as well as other nuts, like almonds, to the pumpkin seeds, and purée in the food processor to create a sweet nut-and-seed butter.

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