You’ve made your Jack O’Lantern and have a huge pile of pumpkin seeds. Do not throw them away. Let me repeat that – Do NOT throw those seeds away! It’s time to toss them with some seasoning and roast them! But is there a “best” way to make dry roasted pumpkin seeds? If you read a lot of blogs or cookbooks everyone claims to have found the “best” method. But really, how much does method matter?
Well, it turns out, a little bit. I tried 3 different methods for making dry roasted pumpkin seeds and here’s what I found:
Method 1 – Semi-Dry Roasting
The first method is what I’ve called “the semi-dry roasting method”. I removed all the seeds from the pumpkin, removed all the “slime” and laid them flat on a sheet pan, and let them sit and dry for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, I tossed them with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika, and a 1/8 tsp. of salt and then “roasted” them at 325 F for 20 minutes – just until they started to brown and crisp. You could hear a few of them “popping” as I removed them from the oven – a good sign I thought. The bowl at the top right of the image above is the one holding these “semi-dry roasted” seeds.
Method 2 – Low and Slow
This is the “low and slow method”. For these pumpkin seeds, I followed the same procedure as above but I left them on the sheet pan to dry overnight. In the morning I tossed them with 2 tsp. of olive oil and my smoked paprika and salt mixture. I placed them in a preheated 300F oven and roasted them for 40 minutes. Once they started to brown I removed them from the oven and let them cool on the sheet pan. No “popping” with this method! That probably should have told me something. These seeds are the bowl on the left, in the middle. A little crunchy but lacking in flavor.
Method 3 – Soak, Boil, and Roast
This method is what I call the “soak, boil, and roast” method. I soaked the seeds in cold water for 30 minutes. Removed all the “slime” and placed them in a saucepan with 4 cups of salted water. I used 1 Tbsp. kosher salt to 4 cups of water and had 2 cups of pumpkin seeds. I brought the water to a boil and then boiled them for 10 minutes. Then I drained them well and tossed them with olive oil and my smoked paprika and salt mixture. I roasted these at 325 F for 40 minutes, until slightly browned, popping, and crispy. Take a look at the bottom right of the picture. They are plumper and a little more browned than the second method.
The verdict? Method 3, while the most labor-intensive, produced the best flavored and crispiest pumpkin seeds. They did have a saltier flavor – I’m sure boiling them in saltwater helped with that!
I kept the seasoning the same in all three methods and used the same amount of olive oil and seasoning on top so that it wouldn’t influence the decision, but you can season these with any spice you want. I wanted them to be smokey to go with the pumpkin soup I’m making tonight, but go with what you are in the mood for. Sweet, with cinnamon and honey or sugar, spicy with red pepper, southwestern with cumin and lime juice. Whatever mood strikes you, but I would boil with saltwater before roasting them – the flavor is just so much better and they are crispy and really “pop” in your mouth!
But you tell me! What is your favorite pumpkin seed seasoning? I’m always looking for new ideas! And if you try any of these roasting methods, let me know what you think. Is it worth the extra effort to boil and then roast or just pop them in the oven and get them going?