Gardening Recipes

Can You Eat Watermelon Seeds?

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Yes, watermelon seeds are edible — in some cultures they’re even more valued than the fruit! Here’s how to grow and eat your own watermelon seeds.


When I was a kid, I remember my grandmother telling me that if I ate watermelon seeds, they’d sprout in my stomach and grow out of my ears. Although this sounded a bit terrifying, my curiosity got the better of me: I ate watermelon seeds every time I got the chance.

Mmm. Nothing beats homegrown organic watermelon on a hot summer day! Make sure to save those watermelon seeds for cooking and for growing watermelon in future years.

Mmm. Nothing beats homegrown organic watermelon on a hot summer day! Make sure to save those watermelon seeds for cooking and for growing watermelon in future years.

Despite my grandmother’s warnings (and much to my disappointment), I was never able to successfully grow watermelons out of my ears. However, this memory of my grandma sprouts up every time I accidentally munch on a fresh watermelon seed while eating the sweet summer fruit. (Yes, I know that watermelons are technically berries, botanically speaking.) Maybe that was grandma’s goal all along: plant a seed in my brain that sparked a fond memory of her each time I ate watermelon.

Sailing to New Culinary Shores: The Edible Watermelon Seed

Navajo Red Seeded watermelon seeds.

Navajo Red Seeded watermelon seeds.

The Tyrant and I are food explorers. We love discovering new heirloom seed varieties and unusual edible plants to grow in our garden. We also enjoy exploring cuisines from other cultures.

A few years ago, we were in a Middle Eastern grocery store seeing what unusual foods we could get our hands on when we spied bags of roasted seeds that looked oddly familiar. There wasn’t a single English word on the label, but our suspicions were confirmed when we asked the shopkeeper what they were. “Roasted watermelon seeds,” he said. “Very good.

Our first reaction: “Woah. Watermelon seeds are considered a good food?

Personal-sized Navajo red-seeded watermelons, an drought-tolerant heirloom bred by the Navajo people in the deserts of the southwestern US.

Personal-sized Navajo red-seeded watermelons, an drought-tolerant heirloom bred by the Navajo people in the deserts of the southwestern US.

Watermelons are native to Africa, but have been spread around the world by traders and merchants for hundreds or even thousands of years. As it turns out, plenty of other cultures don’t just view the fruit as a delicacy, they also enjoy roasting and eating watermelon seeds.

How To Eat Watermelon Seeds

Raw watermelon seeds straight out of the melon aren’t that great to eat. They’re crunchy, fibrous, and slightly bitter.

This is due to the thick seed coat that’s protecting the endosperm and other goodies hidden inside—and the hidden part of the seed offers the best flavor and nutrition.

Edible watermelon seed diagram

Watermelon seeds are typically roasted or cooked in a wok and eaten similarly to the way we eat sunflower seeds in America. We like to use the watermelon seed recipe at the bottom of this article and eat the whole watermelon seed, coating and all.    

Watermelon Seeds’ Nutritional Value

Want another good reason to eat watermelon seeds? Like other seeds and nuts, watermelon seeds are REALLY good for you.

Watermelon seeds are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and have lots of good fats. Also, watermelon seeds have an exceptionally high protein content. How high?

That’s right, watermelon seeds pack more protein per ounce than both sunflower seeds and almonds!

Organically grown heirloom watermelons

The best tasting watermelons we’ve ever eaten are the ones we’ve grown ourselves. As food adventurers, we love the wide range of colors, sizes, shapes, and flavors that come from heirloom seeds (watermelons included).

A few interesting heirloom watermelon varieties we grew this summer: (left) Blacktail Mountain - an early variety that grows well in northern climates; (bottom) the exceptionally drought-tolerant Navajo Red-Seeded; (top right) Ali Baba from Iraq - one of the sweetest melons we've ever tasted. Edible water melon seeds

A few interesting heirloom watermelon varieties we grew this summer: (left) Blacktail Mountain – an early variety that grows well in northern climates; (bottom) the exceptionally drought-tolerant Navajo Red-Seeded; (top right) Ali Baba from Iraq – one of the sweetest melons we’ve ever tasted.

We grow our watermelons using organic and permaculture methods. Doing so ensures they’re growing in living soil that’s teeming with microbial life. Those microbes team up with the roots of the plants to provide disease and pathogen protection plus optimal water and nutrient uptake.

The result: the most flavorful, nutrient-dense watermelons and watermelon seeds possible.The seeds we don’t save to grow in future years become a healthy and delicious snack. Oh, and you can also pickle or candy the watermelon rinds so that no part of the plant goes into your compost bin. We’ll try to get a watermelon rind recipe up soon.

Until then, enjoy your edible watermelon seeds using the watermelon seed recipe below! 

Mmm! Fresh wok-roasted, salted watermelon seeds.

Mmm! Fresh wok-roasted watermelon seeds.

Edible watermelon seeds. Watermelon seed recipe
Print

Crunchy pan-roasted watermelon seeds

Course: Side Dish, Snack
Keyword: watermelon, watermelon seeds
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Author: Aaron von Frank

A simple and surprisingly tasty way to prepare watermelon seeds. In other parts of the world, watermelon seeds are a favorite snack - sometimes even more popular than actual watermelon! 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup watermelon seeds
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon coconut or grape seed oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. When eating watermelons, separate the seeds and put them in a colander. Only save the hard, mature watermelon seeds for roasting—not the undeveloped white seeds. 

  2. Rinse the fresh seeds thoroughly, removing any sticky film on the seeds and small chunks of watermelon. If you're not going to eat them immediately, spread them out on a flat surface to dry for long-term storage. You can use fresh or dried watermelon seeds for this recipe. 

  3. Heat a skillet or wok on medium high heat (wok preferred). Add *all ingredients. (*If you'd prefer to have flaked salt on your seeds, add it after cooking rather than while cooking.)

  4. Continue to cook until the water boils off. Once water boils off, you'll want to continuously stir the watermelon seeds to ensure they don't stick to the wok or burn. Continue cooking until the seeds are browned to the desired level of doneness. 

  5. Allow to cool before eating. Depending on the size of the seed used, you can crack open the shell like you would a sunflower seed, and eat the tasty goodness on the inside. You can also eat the whole seed if you’d prefer (that's what we do). They taste just like roasted pumpkin seeds but they have a thick, crunchy seed coating that some people might not like.     

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Food waste is an interesting topic that’s near and dear to our hearts. In America, 50% of all the food grown (often in environmentally destructive ways) ends up in the trash can in our homes (going into landfills, not home compost systems). In our opinion, one of the reasons EVERYONE should grow some of their own food–in school or at home–is that doing so makes you appreciate where food comes from and all the work that goes into producing it. That experiential knowledge translates into less food going in the garbage. Another aspect of food waste is taking full advantage of all the edible parts of the produce you buy or grow. For instance, most people know that almonds and sunflower seeds are healthy, high protein foods (6 grams of protein, good fat & fiber, etc). What they might not know is they’re likely growing something just as healthy in their own garden: watermelon and squash seeds. Watermelon seeds have a whopping 10 grams of protein per 1 ounce serving, and most squash seeds have over 5 grams protein/serving. Both seeds are also packed full of healthy fats, complex carbs, and fiber. This photo shows our favorite way to eat squash/watermelon seeds: take 1 cup of seeds, 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, and put it all into a wok or small pan on medium high heat. Once the water boils out, toss the seeds with a spoon until they start to brown. Serve warm and they’re tender, crunchy and delicious. If we truly want to “feed the world,” a big part of that task is reducing the food we waste so that 50% of the farmland we’re currently using is growing actual food, not trash. #feedtheworld #foodwaste #recipes #permaculture #GrowJourney

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According to many grandmothers, cooking watermelon seeds also ensures that they won’t germinate in your stomach and sprout out of your ears.

Enjoy! 

 

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Tacita Wallace
    May 24, 2018 at 10:57 am

    As it is now watermelon season and both myself and my 2yr old are loving them – what are the thinner white pip like seeds in the watermelon. Are they of any risk?

    The large black seeds i can pick out, but these smaller ones are a lot harder

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      May 29, 2018 at 10:50 am

      The small white seeds are just immature seeds that never fully developed before the fruit ripened. Perfectly safe to eat them as well although they’re flavorless.

  • Reply
    Lucia Giesler
    November 2, 2017 at 4:10 am

    Hi Aaron, I’m inspired by your writing about watermelon seeds and keen to sprout my own, but find no guidance on how to do it. Can you help me please?

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      November 2, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      Hi Lucia! Are you interested in sprouting watermelon seeds to grow mature plants or sprouting them to eat as sprouts? Assuming you’re interested in growing watermelons as plants in your garden, they’re actually really easy to start and grow. As with other large seeds in the cucurbit family (summer squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, etc) we recommend direct-sowing them in the ground about 1″ below the soil surface.

      • Reply
        Lucia Giesler
        November 3, 2017 at 2:24 am

        Nope, I want to sprout them for eating….

        • Aaron von Frank
          November 14, 2017 at 5:27 pm

          Hmm, I’ve never heard of anyone eating watermelon sprouts. There probably aren’t any compounds in the young plants that would cause averse and/or allergic reactions, but you may want to take it slow at first by only eating a few sprouts your first time to see how your body responds. I’d just follow basic sprouting instructions for other large seeds, such as sunflower seeds, that are sometimes grown for edible sprouts.

  • Reply
    cielo
    August 5, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Hi. Is it ok if I ate a watermelon with the seed inside it? no chewing them.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      August 8, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      Sure! There’s absolutely no risk in eating watermelon seeds. They’re quite healthy: high in protein and fiber. And they will not sprout out of your ears if you eat them.

  • Reply
    Aaron von Frank
    September 17, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Below is an interesting comment that was shared with us via email by Alan Morse. Alan gave us permission to share:

    “Had to pass this on: Have a daughter and multiple friends from China. Of course, watermelon seeds are often served as a “dessert” course after meals in China. One friend recalled fond memories of going out to farms with her family during watermelon harvesting season. The farmers would let anyone eat his/her fill of melon at no charge…on one condition. They had to leave all the seeds behind. The seeds were the cash crop, and the families feasting on watermelon helped separate the seeds. (No seed spitting contests there!)

    One more comment: Don’t be tempted to look on this as a “Chinese” cultural practice. It’s a huge geographically and culturally diverse country of 1.3 billion people, and this was a practice among only one small piece of that vast multitude of people.”

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