Homemade pumpkin seed butter is an incredibly creamy, nut-free alternative spread you’ll love. With subtle hints of vanilla and honey, this healthy, allergy-friendly recipe will quickly become a favorite.
I’ve long loved pepitas, but over the last two years since really focusing on nutrient density in my meals, there literally isn’t a single morning I don’t eat them.
In fact, they’re part of what I refer to (in my head at least, not out loud until now) as my “fab five” which consists of flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp hearts, sunflower seeds and pepitas.
I use about a tablespoon of each and all five of those ingredients either get incorporated into or on top of my breakfast depending on what I’m having that day.
It’s an easy way of covering my bases for healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.
Having made lots of nut butters over the years from gingerbread peanut butter to maple roasted vanilla almond cashew butter to spicy chocolate walnut butter and everything in between, I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me sooner to make butter out of pumpkin seeds.
While I love using pepitas as a crunchy topping, I think it’s fair to say as a creamy, spreadable faux nut-butter, they’re even more delicious.
WHAT ARE PEPITAS?
Before we get into making pumpkin seed butter, let’s talk about pepitas.
Many refer to them as just “pumpkin seeds” but if you’ve ever carved a pumpkin, you know this is not what the seeds inside look like.
And that’s because it’s a little more complicated than defining pepitas as just pumpkin seeds.
Pepitas are technically the seed from a specific type of pumpkin. Usually a variety called oilseed or Styrian pumpkins. (source)
In these varieties of pumpkins, the seeds grow hull-less and look like the green pepitas you’re familiar with not the bigger white seeds from your run of the mill carving pumpkin.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO MAKE HOMEMADE PUMPKIN SEED BUTTER
Now that we have our definitions out of the way (I didn’t want you trying to save and hull seeds from this season’s front porch decorations!), let’s talk about how easy it is to make your own pumpkin seed butter.
For this creamy seed butter, you simply need:
- pepitas (raw and unsalted)
- coarse sea salt
- avocado oil
- vanilla extract
To be honest, if you wanted to keep it even simpler, you just really need the pepitas and the salt.
The avocado oil, vanilla and honey are all optional.
And while they don’t have a dramatic effect on the texture or flavor of the pumpkin seed butter, they make a lovely subtle impact for the better and I do highly recommend incorporating them.
HOW TO MAKE CREAMY PUMPKIN SEED BUTTER!
If you’ve made nut butter at home before, you know it’s really just a game of patience.
There’s nothing different about making pumpkin seed butter either. Whether you’re dealing with nuts or seeds, the process is pretty much the same.
There are three simple steps to this homemade pumpkin seed butter: roasting, processing and then incorporating the add-ins.
The first step is to roast the pepitas to bring out their “nutty” flavor. Funny to call the flavor of a seed “nutty” but that’s truly what it is.
Spread two cups of raw and unsalted pepitas out onto a large baking sheet. Roast at 350°F for about 10 minutes. Once they start to turn golden brown, remove the seeds from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes.
Transfer the seeds to a food processor. They’ll still be a bit warm after 5 minutes and that’s ok! The residual heat from roasting the seeds actually helps break them down quicker in the food processor as the oils release more readily.
Next, affix the lid on the food processor and processor for about 1 minute. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides. After 1 minute, the texture of the pepitas will resemble a nut flour.
Place the lid back on and process another minute. At this point, it’ll be more of a coarse meal in texture and start to clump up. Scrape down the sides once again.
Process again, this time for about 2 minutes until the mixture starts to come together in a form of a ball of dough.
Continue processing for another 2 minutes until the pepitas have now become a spreadable consistency.
You may be tempted to stop at this point because it does have the appearance and texture of a spreadable seed butter but resist the temptation and keep going!
Add the salt, avocado oil, honey and vanilla at this point and process once more for another 3-5 minutes until the pumpkin seed butter has a silky smooth creamy texture.
This is when the seed butter is finished and ready to transfer into an air-tight jar or container for storage.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
While you can use a blender like a
You’ll have a simpler time with a food processor scraping down the sides throughout the processing steps and will be able to get out every last bit of pumpkin seed butter once it’s finished (something that can’t be said for the blender).
That said, a professional grade food processor is a must.
Don’t attempt this with any mini food processors. You’ll burn out the motor very quickly!
If you don’t have either of these appliances, I’d suggest trying macadamia nut butter as they’re the softest nut and breakdown the easiest.
TIPS & SUBSTITUTIONS
- For plain pumpkin seed butter – If you don’t want to use any add-ins simply process the roasted pepitas alone until the second to last stage. At that point, add the salt and continue processing until creamy.
- Is the avocado oil is necessary? – It isn’t but just a 1/2 teaspoon as called for in this recipe helps the seed butter become super creamy and really levels up the texture of the final product. I highly recommend its use! If you don’t have avocado oil, another neutral flavored oil can be substituted.
- Play around with spices! – Adding spices like cinnamon or using maple syrup instead of honey is a great way to change up the flavor profile of the pumpkin seed butter. I’ve always loved this maple cinnamon almond butter and those ingredients work well with the pepitas too.
- Did the butter seize up? – If the butter seized up a bit once you incorporated the add-ins, don’t worry! Just continue processing until the 10 minute mark (or a tad bit longer if needed) and it will relax again into a creamy consistency.
IS PUMPKIN SEED BUTTER GOOD FOR YOU?
Pepitas are an incredibly healthy seed! It’s the main reason I incorporate them into my diet daily.
They’re one of the highest plant based sources of magnesium and zinc and also contain a good dose of iron.
High in antioxidants such as carotenoids and vitamin E, they’re both anti-inflammatory and help to fight free radicals in the body.
Pumpkin seeds have also been linked to helping reduce certain types of cancers as well as improving prostate and bladder health.
And of course, they’re filled with fiber and heart healthy polyunsaturated fats.
All those impressive facts considered, pumpkin seed butter is an incredibly healthy and nutritious spread to incorporate into your diet!
WHAT DOES PUMPKIN SEED BUTTER TASTE LIKE?
If you’ve eaten roasted pumpkin seeds before, you’ll be familiar with the taste of pumpkin seed butter. It’s a slightly nutty and earthy flavor that balances perfectly between the savory and sweet world.
The small additions of vanilla, honey and salt tip the scale just slightly towards sweet but really in the most subtle of ways.
I find pepita butter to be much more palatable and neutral than sunflower seed butter and prefer it as my allergy-friendly nut-butter alternative.
Feel free to play with the amounts of the vanilla, salt and honey to your desired taste. Start with the amounts in this recipe and adjust from there, it can easily be made more sweet or vanilla flavored.
CAN I USE FRESH PUMPKIN SEEDS TO MAKE PUMPKIN SEED BUTTER?
No, save the fresh pumpkin seeds for roasting (tis the season for roasted squash seeds!) and make sure to use actual green pepitas for this seed butter recipe.
CAN I USE OTHER SEEDS?
Sure! But using other types of seeds will result in different types of seed butter.
Sunflower seeds can also be roasted and butterized into sunflower seed butter.
When sesame seeds are processed like this, they become tahini!
USES FOR PUMPKIN SEED BUTTER
Ah the best part – using the creamy pumpkin seed butter you just made!
You can use seed butter in any of the same ways you’d use a nut butter.
From slathering on toast (it’s great on this easy oat bread recipe) to drizzling on top of smoothie bowls to using in snacks like pumpkin spice chocolate chip bites in place of almond butter, it’s just a great all around addition to your pantry.
The uses are endless. Even just dipping a piece of dark chocolate into the pumpkin seed butter for dessert is top notch!
Furthermore, pumpkin seed butter is also school-friendly and perfect for those instances when you need to send in a nut-free meal with your kid.
Use it in place of peanut butter for a pumpkin seed butter and jelly sandwich!
WHY HOMEMADE VS. STORE BOUGHT?
Two reasons: price and control over ingredients.
Price – making your own nut and seed butters at home is much more cost effective than buying store bought.
Chances are, you won’t even easily find pumpkin seed butter in a store. While sunflower seed butter is popular, pumpkin seed butter hasn’t quite caught on as much. And if you do, I guarantee you’ll pay upwards of $10 (probably more) a jar.
Buying pepitas in bulk, I spent $5 for almost 3 cups. I used 2 cups in this recipe. So for $3 and change I was able to make my own seed butter and control the ingredients.
Ingredient control – this is a huge benefit when it comes to nut and seed butters. One of my biggest pet peeves is added unhealthy oils (sometimes even hydrogenated!) and sugar in store bought butters.
Making your own gives you full control over what goes into the recipe and in this case it’s healthy, nutritious and wholesome ingredients!
HOW TO STORE THIS HOMEMADE PUMPKIN SEED BUTTER RECIPE
After processing, transfer the seed butter to a glass jar or other air-tight container. Store the butter at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
I guarantee it won’t last that long anyway!
If you don’t think you’ll eat it fast enough, just keep in the refrigerator instead. It’ll last a few weeks longer in there than in the pantry.
I love these cute glass jars for storing small amounts of nut butters, jams, pickled vegetables, etc.
As we roll into pumpkin season, I hope this pepita butter recipe makes its way into your life.
I know you’ll become addicted the minute you taste your first spoonful and finding every kind of use for it possible!
If you find yourself with leftover pepitas once you start making this seed butter, try this pumpkin seed nut bread or this pumpkin herb cheese ball – both great recipes for fall and an abundance of pumpkin seeds!
MORE SPREADS TO TRY:
Pumpkin Seed Butter
- 2 cups pepitas, raw, unsalted
- 1/2 teaspoon avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon flaky coarse sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread pepitas out on a baking sheet and roast for 8-10 minutes until just starting to turn golden brown.
- Remove baking sheet from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes then transfer the roasted pepitas to a food processor. Process the the seeds for 1 minute. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides.
- Replace the lid and process the seeds for another minute then stop to scrape down sides again.
- Continue to process the mixture which should be the texture of coarse meal until it starts to form a dough ball, about another 2-3 minutes.
- At this point, it should take about another 2 minutes of processing until the mixture becomes more "butter-like" and spreadable. When this happens, remove the lid and add the avocado oil, honey, vanilla and salt.
- Replace the lid one final time and process for another 3-5 minutes until super creamy. Transfer to a jar or air-tight container and store at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.