Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

When I was sixteen, my brother bought me a subscription to Martha Stewart Living magazine because I liked cooking so much. This recipe for Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Seeds was one of the very first recipes of hers that I tried, and I’ve made one variation or another of these while pumpkin carving ever since. 


  • 2 large pumpkins, for carving
  • 10 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Various fall beverages (e.g. apple cider, mulled wine, etc.)


Invite a friend over to carve a pumpkin because it is finally starting to feel like fall. Cover work surface with newspaper or brown craft paper (aka: packaging paper).

Purchase or print pumpkin stencils appropriate for your given still level, and crack open a seasonal beverage while carefully using a large, serrated knife to cut a hole around your pumpkin’s crown. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.


DIY Stencils
Take a wild guess which stencil was mine…


Gently lift the crown and use the knife to trim any dangling pumpkin bits from the bottom.  Set aside. Then, use a large metal spoon to scrape the inside of the pumpkin, loosening the seeds and flesh. Once your arm is tired and the inside of the pumpkin is relatively clean, dump the pumpkin guts into a large bowl and separate the seeds from the flesh.

Two large pumpkins should yield roughly 2-3 cups of seeds, which is why I tend to double-down on the spices in Martha’s original recipe. Once you’ve separated the seeds from the flesh, spread them out in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Bake until dry, stirring occasionally, for about an hour. Let cool while you finish carving your masterpiece.




Once the seeds have cooled, combine 6 tablespoons of sugar, salt, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne in a large metal or glass bowl. Measure remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar into a small bowl and set aside. Heat canola oil on high heat in a large, non-stick skillet.

Once the oil is hot and shimmering in the pan, add the pumpkin seeds and 4 tablespoons of sugar. Cook until the sugar melts and the seeds begin to caramelize – roughly 45-60 seconds.* Using a slotted spoon, transfer the seeds to the bowl with sugar and spices, and toss well to coat. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to cool, and store in an airtight container.

*Note: the seeds can go from “delightfully brown” to “disgustingly burned” in a matter of seconds, so err on the side of caution.



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