Ingredient Intelligence

What’s the Difference Between Pepitas and Pumpkin Seeds?

updated Oct 16, 2023
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Diptych of green pepitas on left and roasted pumpkin seeds on right.
Credit: Left to Right: Getty Images/ Javier Zayas Photography; Right:Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni

Pepitas and pumpkin seeds are frequently used interchangeably, but are they really the same thing? Well, not exactly. With a crunchy bite and a nutty, slightly sweet flavor, pepitas and pumpkin seeds do indeed share some similarities, but they are not the same thing. Read on to learn more about what exactly makes pepitas different from pumpkin seeds and when it matters most!

Quick Overview

What’s the Difference Between Pepitas and Pumpkin Seeds?

The main difference between pepitas and pumpkin seeds has to do with where they come from. While both pepitas and pumpkin seeds come from pumpkins, pepitas are dark green in appearance and come from a specific variety hull-less pumpkins. Pumpkin seeds, like the ones you often scoop out when carving pumpkins for Halloween, are examples of pumpkin seeds, which are white and have hulls.

Credit: Getty Images/ Javier Zayas Photography

What Are Pepitas?

A common misconception is that pepitas are what you’re left with after the outer shell, or hull, of the pumpkin seed is removed. That’s not actually the case. Pepitas (which translates to “little seeds of squash” in Spanish) are a type of pumpkin seed, and they’re only found in a couple varieties of pumpkin. Pepitas are naturally hull-free and are only found in oilseed or Styrian pumpkins.

Unlike most pumpkin seeds, which need to be prepped and roasted before eating, green-hued pepitas have a thin skin, delicate crunch, and are delicious eaten raw or roasted. They’re wonderful enjoyed as a snack, and are also great for cooking. Pepitas can be added to everything from granola and muesli to pesto to salads to snack bars, and so much more.

Try Pepitas in These Recipes

Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni

What Are Pumpkin Seeds?

Remember the last time you carved a pumpkin, and removed the top to find a ton of creamy-colored, flat seeds inside? Well, those are pumpkin seeds! Unlike pepitas, pumpkin seeds have hulls (that’s the white-ish outer cover), aren’t as tender, and can’t always be used the same way.

You won’t want to eat pumpkin seeds raw — they’re far too chewy and tough. Clean and roast pumpkin seeds, however, and well, that’s an entirely different story. Roasted pumpkin seeds are crunchy, delicious, and perfect for snacking, or even as a garnish on salads and soups, and topper for quick bread and muffins.

Try These Recipes with Pumpkin Seeds

Can You Substitute Pepitas for Pumpkin Seeds and Vice Versa?

Here’s what you want to remember: Pepitas are pumpkin seeds but not all pumpkin seeds are pepitas. So with that in mind, if a recipe calls for pumpkin seeds, you can always use pepitas instead, but the swap doesn’t work the other way around.