How to Use Sunflower Seeds in Cooking


Delicious for snacking, sunflower seeds also add a nutritional boost to your recipes. While you can find shelled sunflower kernels in stores, using seeds from your garden will require you to remove the shells before adding them to your recipes. Optionally, roast the seeds before shelling them. You can readily use the raw kernels in your cooking. While you may have seen sunflower seed breads, you many not have thought about using the ground sunflower seeds as a wheat free alternative to flour in coating foods for frying. You can still get the nutrition from the kernels when you use them in your cooking and baking.

Step 1

Pour a handful of sunflower seeds into a food processor.

Step 2

Press the pulse button on the food processor in several short bursts to crack the shells of the sunflower seeds without pulverizing the kernels. Breaking a few kernels will not affect your recipes as they will be mixed into your recipes.

Step 3

Transfer the contents from the food processor to a clean bowl filled with cold water to separate the shells from the seeds. Watch for the cracked shells to float to the top of the cold water while the edible kernels sink to the bottom of the bowl.

Step 4

Remove the sunflower seed shells from the top of the water with a slotted spoon.

Step 5

Strain the water away from the kernels in the bottom of the bowl.

Step 6

Sprinkle your sunflower kernels over salads, cereals or desserts to add crunch and a slightly nutty flavor.

Step 7

Add the seeds to muffin, cake, bread batters or doughs before baking for added nutrition to your baked goods. Scatter 2 to 3 tablespoons over the top of breads, muffins, cakes or cookies during the last five minutes of cooking to toast the sunflower seeds, bringing out their nutty flavor and adding a crunchy texture to your recipe.

Step 8

In a coffee grinder or spice grinder, grind the sunflower kernels into a fine powder and use as a substitute for an equal amount of flour when breading fried foods such as chicken or fish. Use this method when you want to add the nutrition of the sunflower seeds without changing the texture of the finished recipe. Replace up to one fourth of the flour in baked goods recipes with ground sunflower seeds to keep the texture the same as the original recipe but benefit from the nutrition of the sunflower seeds.

Things You'll Need

  • Raw or roasted sunflower seeds in shell
  • Food processor
  • Bowl of cold water
  • Slotted spoon
  • Strainer
  • Coffee grinder or spice grinder


  • World's Healthiest Foods: Sunflower Seeds
  • BBC: Get Cooking Guide--Seeds
  • World's Healthiest Foods: Cooking Healthy with Sunflower Seeds

Who Can Help

  • National Sunflower Association: Recipes Using Sunflower Seeds
  • National Sunflower Association: In-Shell Roasted Sunflower Seeds Recipe
Keywords: sunflower seeds, kernel, cook with seeds

About this Author

Athena Hessong began her freelance writing career in 2004. She draws upon experiences and knowledge gained from teaching all high school subjects for seven years. Hessong earned a Bachelor's in Arts in history from the University of Houston and is a current member of the Society of Professional Journalists.