Pumpkin Seed Sauce

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Pumpkin Seed 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 it comes together in only about 30 minutes. So flavorful and so wonderful in dishes such as Veracruz-Style Shrimp with Pipian Sauce.


If you’ve ever snacked on pumpkin seeds, you know how addictively delicious they are. So, naturally, they make a delicious sauce.

Most well stock specialty food markets, such as Whole Foods, will carry them. You can easily order them online, too. They are usually labelled as “pepitas.”

It all starts with amazing roasted green hulled pumpkin sees, called pepitas
It all starts with amazing roasted green hulled pumpkin sees, called pepitas

Next, you’ll need to pick up some tomatillos, chiles and epazote (found in Mexican food markets).

Epazote is very common in Mexican cooking and can be found in Mexican/Latin markets, or you can order it online.

EXPERT TIP:If you can’t find epazote, then use fresh cilantro. You’ll still get amazing flavor. One interesting note, epazote has a carminative effect, meaning it can help to prevent many of the effects that beans have on the digestive system, including intestinal gas. You will not get this benefit from cilantro.

Next you'll need serano chilis, tomatillos, white onion and epazote (on the right)


We use an old coffee grinder to pulverize the pumpkin seeds.

This can also be done in a food processor. Continue processing until you reach a fine powder.

Grind the seeds in batches in a coffee or spice grinder
Grind the seeds in batches in a coffee or spice grinder

Next you’ll puree the sauce in the blender to reach the smooth velvety consistency.

As you return the sauce to the stove, you’ll see little pockets of oil that may form. This is normal, it’s oil from the pumpkin seeds.

Puree in a blender
Puree in a blender

Cook until thick (small pools of pepitas oil is normal)
Cook until thick (small pools of pepitas oil is normal)

You now 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 (Pepita) Sauce

Roasted green hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas) in a glass bowl

Pumpkin Seed (Pepitas) Sauce

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.
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Course: Mexican
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Pepitas, Pumpkin Seed
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 196kcal


  • 1/2 lb raw green hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas) about 1 2/3 cups
  • 1 lb fresh tomatills
  • 1/2 cup white onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic minced
  • 2 to 3 fresh green serrano chiles coarsely chopped (including seeds), to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh epazote chopped*
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt or to taste
  • 1 cup cilantro chopped
  • 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup corn oil
  • *Found in Mexican/Latin Food Markets
  • You will need a coffee or spice grinder for this recipe


  • 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.
  • While seeds are cooling, discard husks from the tomatillos and rinse under warm water to remove any stickiness.
  • Coarsely chop tomatillos, then puree in a blender with onion, garlic, chiles (to taste), epazote, salt, 1/2 cup cilantro, and 1/2 cup water until very smooth.
  • Grind pumpkin seeds to a fine powder in small batches, then stir together with 2 cups water in a medium bowl.
  • 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.
  • Add tomatillo puree and simmer, stirring, 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the 1 1/2 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).
  • Just before using, puree remaining 1/2 cup cilantro with 1/2 cup water in blender until smooth and add to the sauce. If necessary, thin with a little more water and return to a simmer.


Calories: 196kcal
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