Pumpkin seeds after shelling, roasting, and salting
Dried pumpkin seeds in husks

A pumpkin seed, also known in North America as a pepita (from the Mexican Spanish: pepita de calabaza, 'little seed of squash'), is the edible seed of a pumpkin or certain other cultivars of squash. The seeds are typically flat and oval with one axis of symmetry, have a white outer husk, and are light green in color after the husk is removed. Some pumpkin cultivars are huskless, and are grown only for their edible seed.[1] The seeds are nutrient- and calorie-rich, with an especially high content of fat (particularly linoleic acid and oleic acid), protein, dietary fiber, and numerous micronutrients. Pumpkin seed can refer either to the hulled kernel or unhulled whole seed, and most commonly refers to the roasted end product used as a snack.


Unhulled vs. hulled pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine and are also roasted and served as a snack.[2] Marinated and roasted, they are an autumn seasonal snack in the United States, as well as a commercially produced and distributed packaged snack, like sunflower seeds, available year-round. Pepitas are known in the US by their Spanish name (usually shortened), and typically salted and sometimes spiced after roasting. They are also available as a packaged product in Mexico and other Latin American countries, in the American Southwest, and in specialty and Mexican food stores.

The earliest known evidence of the domestication of Cucurbita dates back 8,000–10,000 years ago, predating the domestication of other crops such as maize and common beans in the region by about 4,000 years. Changes in fruit shape and color indicate intentional breeding of C. pepo occurred by no later than 8,000 years ago.[3][4] The process to develop the agricultural knowledge of crop domestication took place over 5,000–6,500 years in Mesoamerica. Squash was domesticated first, with maize second, followed by beans, all becoming part of the Three Sisters agricultural system.[5][6]

Hulled pumpkin seeds

As an ingredient in mole dishes, they are known in Mexican Spanish as pipián. A salsa made of pumpkin seeds and known as sikil pak is a traditional dish of the Yucatán.[7][8] A Mexican snack using pepitas in an artisan fashion[clarification needed] is referred to as pepitoría. Lightly roasted, salted, unhulled pumpkin seeds are popular in Greece with the descriptive name πασατέμπο, pasatémbo, from Italian: passatempo, lit.'pastime'.

The pressed oil of the roasted seeds of a Cucurbita pepo subsp. pepo var. 'styriaca' is also used in Central and Eastern Europe cuisine.[9][10] Pumpkin seeds can also be made into a nut butter. Pumpkin seeds can also be steeped in neutral alcohol, which is then distilled to produce an eau de vie.[11]


Pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted, with salt added
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy2,401 kJ (574 kcal)
14.71 g
Sugars1.29 g
Dietary fiber6.5 g
49.05 g
Saturated8.544 g
29.84 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.07 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.15 mg
Niacin (B3)
4.43 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.57 mg
Vitamin B6
0.1 mg
Folate (B9)
57 μg
Vitamin C
6.5 mg
Vitamin E
0.56 mg
Vitamin K
4.5 μg
52 mg
8.07 mg
550 mg
4.49 mg
1174 mg
788 mg
256 mg
7.64 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water2.0 g

Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults.[12]

Dried, roasted pumpkin seeds are 2% water, 49% fat, 15% carbohydrates, and 30% protein (table). In a 100 gram reference serving, the seeds are calorie-dense (574 kcal), and a rich source (20% of the Daily Value, DV, or higher) of protein, dietary fiber, niacin, iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus (table).[13] The seeds are a moderate source (10–19% DV) of riboflavin, folate, pantothenic acid, sodium, and potassium (table). Major fatty acids in pumpkin seeds are linoleic acid and oleic acid, with palmitic acid and stearic acid in lesser amounts.[13]


Pumpkin seed oil, a culinary specialty in and important export commodity of Central Europe, is used in cuisine as a salad and cooking oil.

The following are ranges of fatty acid content in C. maxima pepitas:[14]

n:unsat Fatty acid name Percentage range
(14:0) Myristic acid 0.003–0.056
(16:0) Palmitic acid 1.6–8.0
(16:1) Palmitoleic acid 0.02–0.10
(18:0) Stearic acid 0.81–3.21
(18:1) Oleic acid 3.4–19.4
(18:2) Linoleic acid 5.1–20.4
(18:3) Linolenic acid 0.06–0.22
(20:0) Arachidic acid 0.06–0.21
(20:1) Gadoleic acid 0–0.035
(22:0) Behenic acid 0.02–0.12

The total unsaturated fatty acid concentration ranged from 9% to 21% of the pepita.[14] The total fat content ranged from 11% to 52%. Based on the quantity of alpha-tocopherol extracted in the oil, the vitamin E content of twelve C. maxima cultivar seeds ranged from 4 to 19 mg/100 g of pepita.[14]

Traditional medicine

Pumpkin seeds were once used as an anthelmintic in traditional medicine to expel tapeworms parasites, such as Taenia tapeworms.[15] This led to the seeds being listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia as an antiparasitic from 1863 until 1936.[16]


Due to their versatility as a food product ingredient or snack, pumpkin seeds are projected to grow in sales by 13% annually and reach $631 million from 2020 to 2024.[17]

See also


  1. ^ Song, Y.; Li, J.; Hu, X.; Ni, Y.; Li, Q. (2011). "Structural characterization of a polysaccharide isolated from Lady Godiva pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo lady godiva)". Macromolecular Research. 19 (11): 1172–1178. doi:10.1007/s13233-011-1102-7. S2CID 94061331.
  2. ^ "Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)". GourmetSleuth.com. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  3. ^ Smith, Bruce D. (May 1997). "The Initial Domestication of Cucurbita pepo in the Americas 10,000 Years Ago". Science. 276 (5314): 932–934. doi:10.1126/science.276.5314.932.
  4. ^ "Cucurbitaceae—Fruits for Peons, Pilgrims, and Pharaohs". University of California at Los Angeles. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  5. ^ Landon, Amanda J. (2008). "The "How" of the Three Sisters: The Origins of Agriculture in Mesoamerica and the Human Niche". Nebraska Anthropologist: 110–124.
  6. ^ Bushnell, G. H. S. (1976). "The Beginning and Growth of Agriculture in Mexico". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. 275 (936): 117–120. Bibcode:1976RSPTB.275..117B. doi:10.1098/rstb.1976.0074.
  7. ^ Wyrick, Jason (2016-11-01). Vegan Mexico: Soul-Satisfying Regional Recipes from Tamales to Tostadas. Andrews Mcmeel+ORM. ISBN 978-1-941252-22-2.
  8. ^ Stupak, Alex; Rothman, Jordana (2015-10-20). Tacos: Recipes and Provocations: A Cookbook. Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed. ISBN 978-0-553-44730-9.
  9. ^ Fürnkranz, Michael; Lukesch, Birgit; Müller, Henry; Huss, Herbert; Grube, Martin; Berg, Gabriele (2012). "Microbial Diversity Inside Pumpkins: Microhabitat-Specific Communities Display a High Antagonistic Potential Against Phytopathogens". Microbial Ecology. 63 (2): 418–428. doi:10.1007/s00248-011-9942-4. JSTOR 41412429. PMID 21947430. S2CID 16454305.
  10. ^ Košťálová, Zuzana; Hromádková, Zdenka; Ebringerová, Anna (August 2009). "Chemical Evaluation of Seeded Fruit Biomass of Oil Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L. var. Styriaca)". Chemical Papers. 63 (4): 406–413. doi:10.2478/s11696-009-0035-5. S2CID 97993637.
  11. ^ "Beim Schnapsbrenner in Spalt: Destillierte Heimat" [At the Schnaps Maker in Spalt: Distilled Homeland]. Bayerischer Rundfunk (in German). 2 March 2019. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  12. ^ United States Food and Drug Administration (2024). "Daily Value on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels". Retrieved 2024-03-28.
  13. ^ a b "Nutrition Facts, "Seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted, without salt (pepitas)"". Nutritiondata.com; Conde Nast using the USDA National Nutrient Database, version SR-21. 2018. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  14. ^ a b c Stevenson, David G.; Eller, Fred J.; Wang, Liping; Jane, Jay-Lin; Wang, Tong; Inglett, George E. (2007). "Oil and Tocopherol Content and Composition of Pumpkin Seed Oil in 12 Cultivars". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 55 (10): 4005–13. doi:10.1021/jf0706979. PMID 17439238. The data are found in Tables 1–3 on pp. 4006–4010 of this USDA reference Archived 2011-08-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Zhang, H; Liu, C; Zheng, Q (December 2019). "Development and application of anthelminthic drugs in China". Acta Tropica. 200: 105181. doi:10.1016/j.actatropica.2019.105181. PMID 31542370. S2CID 202730706.
  16. ^ Lim, Tong Kwee (2012). "Cucurbita moschata". Edible Medicinal and Non-medicinal Plants. Vol. 2. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer Science+Business Media. p. 277. ISBN 978-90-481-8660-0.
  17. ^ Oller, Samantha (2021-01-28). "Pumpkin seeds shift beyond seasonal as their functional qualities shine". Food Dive. Industry Dive. Retrieved 2021-02-01.