Holiday Giving: Pumpkin Seed Brittle

December 24, 2011(updated on October 18, 2023)
pumpkin seed brittle

I realize it’s Christmas Eve. Chances are, the holiday baking is done and you’ve already hung up your candy making apron for the season. Still, I couldn’t resist sharing one last recipe for pumpkin seed brittle.

It’s a recipe I first made four years ago and it’s slowly become part of our Christmas tradition. When I landed in Portland a week ago, one of my dad’s first questions for me was, “Are you going to make that brittle again this year? Anything I can do to help?”

It’s a recipe I tweaked from Smitten Kitchen, who found her original inspiration from The Wednesday Chef. Luisa adapted her batch from Karen DeMasco. That there’s good recipe bones, I say.

pumpkin seed brittle

You start by toasting 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds until they crackle and pop. Set them aside and let them cool. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper and set it near the stove. In a roomy, heavy bottomed pot, melt one stick of butter. When it’s just liquid, add 2 cups granulated white sugar, 1/3 cup corn syrup and 1 1/4 cups water. Stir to combine.

Cook the toffee over medium-high heat until it turns golden brown. On my mom’s stove in her ancient Revere Ware pots, this takes about 25 minutes. Times will vary depending on the width of your pot, their ability to retain heat and the strength of your stove. One way to test it is to drop small bits onto your parchment covered pan. Once they’re cool, taste them and see if they’ve achieved the proper brittle consistency. If not, keep cooking.

When the toffee is a deep golden color, remove the pot from the heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 2 generous teaspoons sea salt. It will foam madly. Keep stirring. Once both are well-integrated, stir in the toasted pumpkin seeds. Pour mixture out onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet and spread using a rubber or silicone scrapper. While it’s still warm, score the brittle into squares using a pizza cutter. When it’s entirely cool (I found that the cold cement floor of my parents’ garage sped the cooling nicely), break into pieces and enjoy.

Just one word of warning here. Don’t use unrefined cane sugar in this recipe. Stick to pure white sugar. If you use sugars with a darker hue, it is VERY hard to tell when the toffee is done cooking. A couple of years ago, I did this and ended up with soggy caramel in place of the brittle. It still tasted good but when it came to texture it was QUITE disappointing.

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8 thoughts on "Holiday Giving: Pumpkin Seed Brittle"

  • One of my favorites, although I now add sunflower and sesame seeds for my version of “Seedy Crack.” I *do* use organic, unrefined sugar: simply cook sugar to 285 degrees F on an accurate thermometer, then add the baking soda & salt. Easy peasy and so good.

    Merry Christmas, Marisa!

    1. Kaela, your version sounds wonderful! And thanks for the tip on how to make it work with the unrefined sugar. Sadly, my mother’s kitchen doesn’t run to things like candy thermometers, so I’ve always just eye-balled it. But maybe I need to buy an instant read thermometer to keep here.

  • Totally love this. I can imagine the buttery-crunch of the pumpkin seeds with the sweet toffee. I haven’t really seen this before and think it’s so cool. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Merry Christmas!

  • Apron hung up, are you kidding? I see four more recipes on my mom’s to do list… it’s not Christmas Eve unless we are up too late with cookie dough and peanut butter under our nails. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  • Merry Christmas, Marisa! We’ve been busy all day prepping for our feast tomorrow, which will include various pickled veggies and tomato jam paired with stinky cheese to munch on before the main event. I wish I had the energy to make this brittle, but I’m tuckered out now — next year, though, I will make this. Thanks again for all of the inspiration and help you provided us this year as we canned in earnest for the first time — we really couldn’t have done it without you!

    1. You can’t use the seeds directly from the pumpkin because they still have their papery outer coating. You want just the green seeds without the outer coating.