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How to Roast Sunflower Seeds

Roasted sunflower seeds are a great addition to all sorts of dishes, and they taste delicious all by themselves, too! Luckily, roasting sunflower seeds is super easy, so you can make them whenever you want a quick snack or tasty ingredient.

Keep reading to learn how to roast sunflower seeds in a few easy steps.

A pan of roasted sunflower seeds.

Step One: Wash Your Seeds

Whether or not you plan to take the shells off your seeds, it’s always a good idea to give them a quick wash, especially if they just came from your garden! Washing your seeds will ensure that they’re clean and ready to prep.

Give them a quick rinse under the faucet, ideally in a colander or bowl that drains easily when you’re finished washing.

Once you’re done rinsing, be sure to dry the seeds off with a paper towel. If they remain wet for too long, especially before soaking or boiling them, the seeds may become waterlogged.

Seeds that contain too much water won’t roast as effectively or evenly, and nobody wants that!


Step Two: Prepare Your Seeds

There are multiple ways to roast sunflower seeds. The big difference in preparation methods is whether or not you want to roast your sunflower seeds with the shells on or off.

When deciding how to roast sunflower seeds, you have to decide if the shells will be on or off the seeds.

Shelling

If you’re roasting sunflower seeds without shells, give this easy shelling process a try!

  1. Pour your seeds into a large plastic bag and lay them flat inside the bag so that there’s only one layer of seeds.
  2. Take a rolling pin and roll it over the bag of seeds, applying only a little bit of pressure.
  3. Make sure the bag is completely sealed because you don’t want any seeds to escape!
  4. Fill up a bowl with water and transfer the seeds to this bowl. Eventually, the shells of each sunflower seed will float to the top of the water so that you can skim them off the top.

After the shells are removed, empty the bowl, being to sure to catch all the seeds as you drain the water out of the bowl!

Soaking

Soaking the seeds is the most time-intensive option for prepping your sunflower seeds for roasting, so you’ll need some extra time for this method.

  1. Fill a large pot with water.
  2. Stir approximately one-fourth cup of salt into your pot of water. If you’d rather have unsalted roasted sunflower seeds, just soak your seeds in water and leave out the salt.
  3. Once your salt and water are stirred together, add your sunflower seeds to the mixture.
  4. Now your seeds are ready to hang out overnight for at least 12 hours.
  5. For maximum flavor, soak the seeds in the pot for up to 24 hours.
  6. After the soaking is done, run the seeds through a colander and then pour them onto a paper towel.

After they’re arranged on the paper towel, leave the seeds out to dry for a few hours.

Boiling

For a quick way to prep some sunflower seeds with their shells still on, consider boiling them!

  1. Fill a medium saucepan with water.
  2. Add two tablespoons of table salt and one cup of sunflower seeds with their shells still on.
  3. As with the soaking method, feel free to skip adding the salt if you’d rather eat unsalted sunflower seeds instead!
  4. Bring the water, salt, and seeds to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

After the boiling is done, dry off your seeds with a towel, and then they’re good to go!


Step Three: Roasting Sunflower Seeds

Just as in prepping your seeds, there are multiple different roasting methods for sunflower seeds you can utilize.

The roasting method you choose depends on your own cooking preferences or on the equipment you have available in your kitchen.

Keep in mind that you can modify the recipe instructions, too. Specifically, you can adjust the required temperature or the cooking time depending on how your stovetop or oven works.

To figure out any changes needed in temperature or time, sample one or two of your seeds throughout the roasting process! The flavor will let you know how much more time or heat the seeds need.

Stovetop Roasting

Roasting sunflower seeds in a skillet.

One option for roasting sunflower seeds is to do it on a stovetop!

  • Take a medium-sized skillet and warm it up over medium heat.
  • Add your sunflower seeds and occasionally stir over the heat for five to ten minutes. Make sure they don’t burn!
  • The seeds should be done once they’re a nice brown color.

Oven Roasting

Roasting sunflower seeds in the oven is another option if you don’t want to use your stovetop!

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spread out your sunflower seeds in a roasting pan so the seeds are only one layer thick.
  • Put your pan into the oven for seven to ten minutes.
  • While the seeds roast, open the oven occasionally and give your seeds a quick stir to keep them from burning.

When the seeds are browned, they’re ready to take out of the oven!


Step Four: Store Your Seeds

While it’s not a step in the actual process of roasting sunflower seeds, how you store your sunflower seeds determines how long you can use them after roasting.

Sunflower seeds with shells will last four to five months in a pantry, compared to three to four months of pantry storage for sunflower seeds without shells. Both will keep for a year if stored in a freezer.


Ways to Use Roasted Sunflower Seeds

While roasted sunflower seeds are delicious to eat on their own or thrown into some trail mix, there are so many other ways to enjoy them!

Here are some examples that will give your seeds a fun, new purpose in a recipe.

Use as a Soup or Salad Topping

Roasted sunflower seeds are the perfect soup or salad topping all year round! Their texture adds a unique crunch, especially on top of a soup, and their nuttiness will improve the flavor of any salad.

Make Sunflower Butter

If you want to get really creative, try making your own sunflower butter! Once you’ve roasted your seeds, you’ll need to put them into a food processor and blend until the mixture becomes creamy.

To add a little extra flavor, consider stirring in a pinch of salt or a spoonful of coconut oil right at the end of the blending process.

If you want your butter to be super sweet, you can even add a teaspoon of vanilla extract or a pinch of brown sugar.

While turning your seeds into butter takes a few extra steps, it’ll create a delicious product that’s definitely worth the wait!

Create Sunflower-Seed Pesto

Similar to making sunflower butter, you can also put your roasted sunflower seeds into a food processor and instead whip up some pesto!

All you need to do is replace the pine nuts in your favorite pesto recipe with an equal amount of sunflower seeds. Puree your seeds with some olive oil, garlic, butter, Parmesan cheese, and basil, and you’ve got a delicious pesto!


Learning How to Roast Sunflower Seeds

Roasting sunflower seeds is a great way to make use of extra seeds after growing your own sunflowers. It’s also an inexpensive alternative to buying pre-roasted seeds from the grocery store! Now that you know how to roast sunflower seeds, you’ve got a great condiment option to use in all kinds of ways.

If you’ve never grown your own sunflowers before but want to learn how so that you have some seeds of your own to roast, check out our page on Sunflowers to learn more.

Getting started on your seed growing journey? Use my seed starting guide to find care guides, helpful tips, product suggestions, and more!