Recipe: Roasted Shell-On Sunflower Seeds 

The waning days of summer are the time to harvest sunflower seeds, which are simple to roast (and delicious to enjoy) with this easy-to-make recipe.

by Stephanie ThurowSeptember 29, 2023
PHOTO: Ievgen Skrypko/Adobe Stock

For the past three years, I’ve grown a sunflower called the Mongolian Giant Sunflower. The flower grows up to 14 feet tall and, once filled with mature sunflower seeds, the head can have up to an 18-inch diameter. The seeds produced are large and edible. 

The sunflower heads/seeds have consistently been ready for harvest by the autumn equinox, which has now become a favorite fall tradition of ours. Depending on how many seeds are fully mature, I either save them for regrowing (and sharing) the next year, or (if I have enough) I save some and roast a small batch. It depends on if the squirrels harvest the seeds before I do. 

This method of roasting sunflower seeds is similar to the way I roast pumpkin seeds. It’s pretty simple.  

This recipe begins after you’ve harvested your sunflower head, removed the flower heads on each seed (the disc florets), removed the seeds from the sunflower and rinsed your seeds. 

Yield: 1 cup 


  • 1 cup raw, fully matured sunflower seeds with the shell on 
  • Water, as needed (about 3 to 4 cups) 
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt (or more if desired) 


In a medium sized saucepan, add rinsed and prepared sunflower seeds. Fill with water to cover the seeds 2 inches. Any seeds that float to the top are likely empty seeds that did not mature and can be scooped out and discarded.  

Subscribe now

Stir salt into water. Once the salt is dissolved, sample it and see if it’s salty enough for your liking. Add more salt if needed. 

Bring the seeds to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. 

Strain seeds and allow them to sit in the strainer for 10 minutes to allow them to dry. You can also spread them out on a lint-free towel briefly to absorb excess moisture. 

Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

Spread out the sunflower seeds into a single layer on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. 

Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and stir them around with a spatula. Return them to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. If not done, return to the oven in 5-minute increments until they are lightly browned and dried.

They tend to quickly go from undercooked to overcooked, so set a timer. 


If you don’t want to salt the seeds, do not add salt to the water prior to simmering. 

Do not cook any seeds that are moldy. 

After you simmer and strain the seeds, feel free to add any seasonings you’d like before roasting. Garlic powder and Cajun seasoning are two of our favorites to add to roasted seeds.