Pumpkin Seed (Pepitas) Sauce

This Pumpkin Seed (Pepitas)Sauce, also known as Pipian Sauce, is popular throughout Central Mexico and we just love it.   Roasting the pumpkin seed (pepitas) brings out such a beautiful, nutty flavor.  And then combined with the tomatillos, chiles and epazote (found in Mexican food markets), you have a versatile and classic Mexican sauce that is great with chicken, enchiladas, roasted veggies, rice, and more.   This recipe is adapted from one of the greatest Mexican cuisine chefs of all time, Ricardo Munoz Zurita.   Muy Bien! 

Pumpkin Seed (Pepitas) Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This Pumpkin Seed (Pepitas) Sauce is a classic Central Mexican sauce that is so versatile. We love it with chicken, pork, and of course...Veracruz Shrimp Enchiladas. Really, really amazing. Find epazote at your local Mexican/Latin food market. NOTE: This sauce can be made (without adding the pureed cilantro) 1 day ahead. Add cilantro puree just before serving.
Recipe type: Mexican
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4 - 6
  • ½ lb raw green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas) about 1⅔ cups
  • 1 lb fresh tomatills
  • ½ cup white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2 to 3 fresh green serrano chiles, coarsely chopped (including seeds), to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh epazote, chopped*
  • 1 tablespoons Kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 4½ to 5½ cups water
  • ⅓ cup corn oil
  • *Found in Mexican/Latin Food Markets
  • You will need a coffee or spice grinder for this recipe
  1. Heat a wide 4 - 5 quart heavy pot over medium heat until hot, about 5 minutes, then toast the pumpkin seeds, stirring constantly, until slightly puffed and beginning to pop, 3 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
  2. While seeds are cooling, discard husks from the tomatillos and rinse under warm water to remove any stickiness.
  3. Coarsely chop tomatillos, then puree in a blender with onion, garlic, chiles (to taste), epazote, salt, ½ cup cilantro, and ½ cup water until very smooth.
  4. Grind pumpkin seeds to a fine powder in small batches, then stir together with 2 cups water in a medium bowl.
  5. Heat oil in cleaned pot over medium heat until hot but not smoking, then cook pumpkin seeds mixture, stirring constantly, until thickened to a thick consistency that will pull away from the side of the pot, 10 to 15 minutes, careful to not brown, or start to burn.
  6. Add tomatillo puree and simmer, stirring, 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in the 1½ cups water, and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes (large streaks or pools of green oil from the pumpkin seeds will appear on the surface).
  8. Just before using, puree remaining ½ cup cilantro with ½ cup water in blender until smooth and add to the sauce. If necessary, thin with a little more water and return to a simmer.
  9. Enjoy!


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