How to Cook Sunflower Seeds


Protein-rich sunflower seeds make healthy, irresistible snacks. To harvest the seeds from your own garden, cut the entire sunflower head down and set it to dry on a flat surface in a dry, dark place. Once the flower heads turn crispy brown, lightly rub them on the seed side of the flower to release the seeds from the flower. You'll also find sunflower seeds at the grocery or health food stores in either shelled or unshelled forms. Cook either form of sunflower seeds for a fine snack.

Cooking Shelled Sunflower Seeds

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Step 2

Spread the sunflower seeds on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Use two or more sheets for big batches, and switch oven positions midway through roasting.

Step 3

Look over the seeds and remove any stones, shells or debris.

Step 4

Place the sheet in the oven and set the timer to 30 minutes.

Step 5

Stir the seeds a few times during the cooking process with a wooden spoon or plastic spatula.

Step 6

Check the seeds after 30 minutes. If they don't look golden-brown and crispy, set the timer for an additional 10 minutes.

Step 7

Remove from oven.

Step 8

Pour 1 to 2 tsp. per cupful of seeds of olive oil, sunflower oil or melted margarine over the seeds. This step should only be followed for seeds which will be eaten within a day or two. Otherwise, the seeds may go rancid in storage.

Step 9

Season the sunflower seeds with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, taco seasoning or the dried herbs and spices of your choice.

Step 10

Stir to evenly coat the seeds with oil and seasoning.

Step 11

Place the seeds on wax paper and allow to cool.

Step 12

Eat immediately, or put the seeds in an airtight container and store in a cabinet or the freezer.

Cooking Unshelled Sunflower Seeds

Step 1

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.

Step 2

Add 1/4 to ½ cup salt.

Step 3

Add the sunflower seeds and turn the heat to low.

Step 4

Simmer the seeds for two hours.

Step 5

Drain the seeds and spread to dry on paper towels.

Step 6

Follow Steps 1 to 12 above to finish preparing the sunflower seeds.

Things You'll Need

  • Sunflower seeds, shelled or unshelled
  • Cookie sheet
  • Olive oil, sunflower oil or margarine (optional)
  • Dried herbs and spices (optionall)


  • National Sunflower Association: Health and Nutrition
  • University of Missouri Extension: Drying and Roasting Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds
  • University if Illinois Extension: Harvesting and Handling Sunflowers
Keywords: cooking sunflower seeds, roast seeds, shelled sunlower seeds

About this Author

Melissa Jordan-Reilly has been a writer for 20 years, both as a newspaper reporter and as an editor of nonprofit newsletters. Among the publications in which she has published are, "The Winsted Journal," "Taconic" and "Compass Magazine." A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Jordan-Reilly also pursues sustainable agriculture techniques and tends a market garden at her Northwestern Connecticut home.