Here are the best recipes for using our favorite seeds—Pepitas or pumpkin seeds. This versatile, healthy seed adds crunch and flavor to everything from sauces, snacks, and salads.
Mexican cuisine uses an amazing variety of seeds and nuts in its recipes. They add depth to moles, creaminess to drinks, and as an abundant source of energy in Algería a kind of Mexican granola bar.
Seeds such as chia and amaranth have been an important part of the nutritious diet in this area since pre-Hispanic times. Used as a common offering to the Aztec emperor, these seeds were prized for their ability to prolong hydration and provide all essential amino acids.
Pumpkin or squash seeds have also been widely used since pre-Hispanic times and are still loved today. Thier mild nuttiness blends beautifully into sauces and roasted they are the perfect crunchy topping to so many dishes.
With the arrival of the Spanish came other seeds and nuts, like sesame seeds but pepitas have been enjoyed in Mexico for centuries. Here are 13 of our favorite ways to use this incredible seed.
What Are Pepitas?
Before we dive into the recipes, let’s dig into the squash of the matter (sorry, can’t help myself). Pepitas are pumpkin seeds but not all pumpkin seeds are pepitas.
For example, if you remove the hull of the seeds from your Halloween Jack-O Lantern you will not find a pepita inside.
No, pepitas are a compact, flat oval seed with an olive green hue. They are harvested from hulless pumpkin varieties known as Styrian pumpkins or Oilseed pumpkins. All other pumpkins produce seeds that are tougher and more fibrous with a hull or white outer shell.
Health Benefits of Pepitas
Pepitas may be small but they pack a punch when it comes to a healthy daily diet. According to Healthline they are:
- One of the best natural sources of magnesium (56% of the daily value) as well as full of valuable nutrients and antioxidants.
- High in minerals like zinc and iron and are a great substitute for peanuts or tree nuts.
- Pepitas are an excellent source of dietary fiber which is linked to reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
- 8.6 grams of protein per serving
- 160 calories per ounce
13 Amazing Recipes Using Pepitas
1. Vegan Pozole Verde
This vibrant green Vegan Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup made a bit healthier with all veggies! The base is a green salsa thickened with pepitas plus more totasted pepitas are sprinkled on top as a garnish.
2. Chicken Mole Verde
A vibrant green mole made with tomatillos, cilantro, jalapeños, and thickened with pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
3. Coconut Quinoa with Roasted Squash and Pepitas
This coconut quinoa makes an excellent hearty side or vegan main dish with fluffy quinoa, big flakes of coconut, toasted pumpkin seeds, and roasted squash.
4. Cilantro Pumpkin Seed Pesto
This pesto made with fresh cilantro, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepitas is super versatile; slather it on toast, toss it with pasta, stir it into risotto, or use it as a marinade for anything about to hit the grill.
5. Pumpkin Mole Sauce Recipe
A new spin on red mole sauce, this easy Pumpkin Mole is made with canned pumpkin, chiles, cinnamon, and pumpkin seeds. Serve with turkey, chicken, or pork!
6. Grilled Pumpkin Steaks with Black Beans and Jalapeño Pesto
Grilled pumpkin steaks are an excellent way to eat up that delicious Halloween Jack-O-Lantern but this also works with any kind of winter squash serve with creamy black beans and spicy jalapeño pesto sauce made with pumpkin seeds!
7. Chili-Lime Broiled Salmon Salad
A main-course salmon salad with roasted butternut squash, pepitas, crunchy Romaine lettuce, broiled chili-lime salmon and fresh garbanzo beans.
8. Pork Tamales with Mole Coloradito
Pepitas play an important role in the mole of these fluffy pork tamales. They add exceptional richness and silkiness, plus an undertone of sweet nuttiness that plays off the chiles. You can, of course, make the mole on its own.
9. Manchego Chipotle Cheese Ball
A glorious spicy ball of cheese studded with tiny cubes of tangy Manchego cheese and covered with toasted pepitas, chives, and poppy seeds.
10. Cilantro-Pumpkin Seed Chicken Tacos
Tossing tender shredded chicken with the pepitas-thickened garlicky cilantro sauce is what makes these tacos extra special.
11. Spicy Chorizo and Poblano Stuffing
Save this one for next Thanksgiving. This dairy-free stuffing is loaded up with thick pieces of bread, Mexican chorizo, roasted poblanos, and pepitas. It is anything but boring.
12. Coconut Pumpkin Seed Brittle
This recipe is a mash-up between my grandmother’s peanut brittle and traditional Mexican candy. This one is rich with coconut and pumpkin seeds and is easier to make than you might think. It breaks off into airy, crisp, devourable pieces.
13. Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie with Pepita-Gingersnap Crust
Creamy (but dairy-free) pumpkin pie sweetened with Mexican piloncillo, plus the added bonus of an incredible crust made from toasted pumpkin seeds and gingersnap cookies.
More Mexican Ingredients To Explore!
- The Perfect Mexican Cheeseboard
- 17 Canned Chipotle Pepper Recipes
- Inside A Mexican Pantry: The Ultimate Guide
- 25 Mexican Appetizers To Try
- What Are Flor de Jamaica? Plus 10 Recipes
- Our 12 Best Black Beans Recipes
- 11 Delicious Ways To Use Tajín
No Excuses Now
Grab a bag of pepitas and get cooking! Let me know which recipe you try by leaving me a comment below.
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