Sunflower seeds are nutritious gray-green seeds harvested from the flower head of the sunflower plant. Although sunflower seeds can be eaten raw, roasting the seeds enhances their flavor and removes any harmful bacteria that is sometimes found on raw seeds.
To roast sunflower seeds, boil the seeds in a pot of salty water for 20 minutes, then spread the seeds on a sheet pan and roast in the oven, without oil, until the seeds are dry and easy to bite open. Roasting sunflower seeds takes 10–15 minutes.
|Difficulty Level||Prep Time||Cook Time||Total Time||Serving Size||Course||Easy||2 minutes||Up to 35 minutes (including boiling)||Up to 37 minutes||¼ cup or 4 tablespoons||Snack or topping|
Ingredients & Equipment – Serves 4
You need the following ingredients and equipment for roasting sunflower seeds:
- 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1 quart water
- 2 tablespoons table salt
- Oven and stove
- Medium saucepan
- Sheet pan or baking tray
The oven-roasting method can be used for roasting shelled and unshelled sunflower seeds. However, sunflower seed shells are indigestible and fibrous, and can damage the digestive tract. Roasting and eating unshelled sunflower seeds is much safer than roasting shelled sunflower seeds.
Instructions for Roasting Sunflower Seeds
Here’s how to roast sunflower seeds:
1. Measure Out the Seeds
Measure 1 cup of raw sunflower seeds. Double or half the recipe if you want to roast twice or half the amount of seeds.
2. Boil the Seeds
Place a medium pan on the stove and add one quart of water. Bring the water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of table salt. Reduce the heat and allow the seeds to simmer for up to 20 minutes.
Boiling sunflower seeds is an important first step of the roasting process and shouldn’t be omitted. Boiling the seeds in salty water gives a pleasant, salty flavor.
Boiling also softens the insides of the seeds, giving a desirable texture after roasting. Additionally, boiling the seeds kills harmful bacteria that can contaminate fresh seeds during sprouting.
3. Prepare the Seeds for Roasting
After boiling the seeds, remove the pot from the heat and carefully drain the water. Use a fine mesh colander if you have one to catch the seeds.
Pat the seeds dry with a paper towel, then arrange the seeds on a sheet pan in a single layer. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
4. Roast the Seeds
Place the sheet pan on the top rack of the oven and roast for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove the tray from the oven and, using a fork, transfer one sunflower seed onto a plate. The seed should cool within seconds.
Taste-test the seed. The seed should have a soft, airy inside and a crispy outside. If the seed is perfectly roasted, switch off the oven. Otherwise, return the sheet pan to the top rack of the oven and cook for another 2 minutes, then taste-test a sunflower seed again.
5. Eat or Store the Seeds
Allow the roasted sunflower seeds to cool slightly before using them to top salads, soups, and other savory dishes. Roasted sunflower seeds are best enjoyed straight away when the seeds are warmest and crispiest.
You can store roasted sunflower seeds in the pantry, refrigerator, or another cool, dark location to prolong the shelf-life of the seeds. When stored inconsistently cool temperatures, roasted sunflower seeds can last up to 4 months in the pantry or refrigerator, and up to 1 year in the freezer.
Roasted Sunflower Seeds Tips (& Alternative Methods)
It’s difficult to go wrong when roasting sunflower seeds. However, these tips will ensure you get the best results from the roasting process:
Season the Sunflower Seeds
Salted sunflower seeds are tasty, but there are many more adventurous flavor variations to try. Sprinkle the seasonings onto the seeds before putting the seeds into the oven. Paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, nutritional yeast, and cinnamon are good spices and seasonings for sunflower seeds.
Roast the Seeds on a Single Layer
Roasting a pile of sunflower seeds won’t yield even results. The seeds on the top of the pile will become crispy or burned, while the seeds at the bottom will still be raw. Use two separate trays to roast your seeds, or roast the seeds in batches if needed.
Check Up on the Seeds
Whatever method you’re using to roast sunflower seeds, remove the seeds once or twice during the cooking process and do a sight test. Once the seeds are burned, the cooking process can’t be undone. Checking the crispiness of the seeds frequently will prevent overcooking.
Sift or Shake the Cooking Surface
The best way to roast sunflower seeds evenly is to allow all parts of the seeds to be exposed to the heat. When you check up on the seeds, sift or shake the cooking surface to flip the seeds and allow for even cooking.
Roast Sunflower Seeds Using Non-oven Methods
The oven isn’t the only kitchen appliance that can be used to roast sunflower seeds. You can also roast sunflower seeds in:
A frying pan: Frying sunflower seeds releases the flavors and gives the seeds a similar crispy texture as does roasting them. Place a medium skillet on high heat and add the seeds in a single layer. Fry the seeds until fragrant and lightly browned, stirring occasionally to make sure all seeds are evenly fried.
A microwave: Toasting sunflower seeds in the microwave isn’t as healthy as roasting sunflower seeds in the oven because microwaving requires oil to achieve a crispy texture. Spread the sunflower seeds on a microwave-safe dish and drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil or melted butter onto the seeds. Stir the seeds to make sure they’re all coated with oil, then microwave the seeds, uncovered, for 1 minute. Remove the seeds, stir, then cook for another minute. Continue to cook the seeds in 1-minute increments until the seeds are evenly toasted.
An air fryer: Roasting sunflower seeds in an air fryer is easy and achieves the desired crispy texture. After boiling the sunflower seeds, preheat the air fryer to 350°F/180°C. Place the seeds in a single layer in an air fryer basket and spray the seeds with a light coating of olive oil. Cook for up to 25 minutes. Check on the seeds every 10 minutes and shake the basket to ensure all the seeds are evenly cooked.