Plus, are they good for you?
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As pumpkin carving season approaches, you may find yourself wondering: “Can you eat pumpkin seed shells?” Here’s what you need to know:

What Are Pumpkin Seeds?

Pepitas in heart Getty 8/31/20
Credit: Michelle Arnold / EyeEm/Getty Images

Michelle Arnold / EyeEm/Getty Images

Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are the small, greenish seeds found in a slightly larger white shell. You access them by carving the pumpkin, then pulling them out with the stringy orange flesh.

How many seeds are in a single pumpkin depends on how many sections, or ribs, the fruit has. The best way to estimate is to count the number of sections and multiply that number by 16. The average pumpkin will have between 300 and 500 seeds. There’s actually a really cute and interactive children’s book on this very subject—buy it here.

Can You Eat Pumpkin Seed Shells?

Roasted pumpkin seeds Getty 8/31/20
Credit: Slobodan Kovacevic / EyeEm/Getty Images

Slobodan Kovacevic / EyeEm/Getty Images

Yes! In fact, the shells are chock-full of fiber. They’re almost always eaten seasoned and roasted. While they technically can be eaten raw, most people opt to cook them.

Some people are averse to eating the shell because of its tough texture. We’re not gonna lie, it is pretty chewy—so if you prefer to hull the seeds before snacking, that’s totally cool too.


Are Pumpkin Seed Shells Safe?

Shelled pumpkin seeds Getty 8/31/20
Credit: Sanny11/Getty Images

Sanny11/Getty Images

Yes, with one caveat: People with digestive disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), should probably avoid pumpkin seed shells. The fiber-rich hull may be a bit rough on a sensitive gut.

Pumpkin Seeds vs. Pepitas

mr-Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Candied Pepitas
Credit: Caitlin Bensel Food Styling: Tina Stamos and Gordon Sawyer Prop Styling: Kay Clark

Pepitas are just shelled pumpkin seeds. You can find them at most grocery stores or you can buy them in bulk on Amazon.

Pumpkin Seed Nutrition: Shelled vs. Whole

Pepitas in bowl Getty 8/31/20
Credit: Michelle Arnold / EyeEm/Getty Images

Michelle Arnold / EyeEm/Getty Images

Pumpkin seeds are quite good for you with or without the shell. They’re extremely rich in fiber (which can support good digestion and heart health), as well as other beneficial vitamins and nutrients (like zinc, magnesium, and iron).

With that said, whole pumpkin seeds offer about double the fiber of shelled ones.

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Roasting pumpkin seeds Getty 8/31/20
Credit: Kelly Sillaste/Getty Images

Kelly Sillaste/Getty Images

You only need three things to roast perfect pumpkin seeds: pumpkins, cooking spray, and salt. Just scoop out the seeds, separate them from that gross, stringy pumpkin goo, then rinse them in a colander. Dry them thoroughly before spreading them on a prepared baking sheet and bake until slightly brown. When you’re done, season them with salt (and whatever other seasoning you like).

Here’s our foolproof recipe: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds