What Are Hemp Seeds?

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

Hemp seeds
Hemp Seeds

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Hemp seeds contain a ton of protein, enough to help anyone living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle get their daily dose. Toss them in a bowl of granola, bake them into a crumble, or toast the seeds and sprinkle over roasted vegetables for a nutritional boost.

What are Hemp Seeds?

Hemp seeds come from the hemp plant, which is a hardy, easy-to-cultivate plant that's been grown for thousands of years. Shell the seeds to get to the nutrient-dense hearts, which have a pleasant nutty flavor and can be incorporated into a number of sweet and savory dishes. Hemp seeds can be pressed to make hemp oil, a flavorful and versatile cooking and finishing oil that's delicious on salads and vegetable dishes.

Hemp seeds
Unshelled hemp seeds. AlasdairJames/Getty Images 
Hemp seed
Hemp seed hearts, or the shelled seed. Getty Images 
Hemp seed
Hemp seed milk. Getty Images 
Hemp seed
Hemp seed cookies. Getty Images 
Hemp Seeds
Use hemp seeds for everything. Getty Images 
Hemp seeds
A salad topped with hemp seeds. Getty Images 

What to Do With Hemp Seeds

Use hemp seeds like you would any kind of seed. Hemp seeds are firm and crunchy and can be soaked to soften, roasted to add even more deep richness and snap, and snacked on raw. Though it can be difficult to find, it's also possible to make a version of soy-free tofu with hemp seeds.

Hemp seeds are also used to make hemp milk, a dairy substitute, using a technique similar to creating nut milks. Try using them to crust tofu, blend into a sauce for a naturally creamy texture, or stir into a bowl of steel-cut oats.

What Do Hemp Seeds Taste Like?

Hemp seeds taste similar to sunflower seeds and pine nuts, and have a similar texture. The three can be used interchangeably in cooking and baking recipes.

Hemp Seed Recipes

From sauces to dessert to snacks, there's a place for hemp seeds in a wide range of cuisines.

Where to Buy Hemp Seeds

Specialty food markets and health food stores carry hemp seeds in a variety of forms, including foods like granola and protein bars made with hemp seeds or hemp oil, hemp seed flour, and bags of hulled seeds.


Store hemp seed hearts, flour, and oil in the refrigerator in airtight containers. Anything made with seeds will spoil faster than milled grain, so keep that in mind when using.

Nutrition and Benefits

Hemp seeds pack in the protein — twice as much as flax and chia seeds — and are rich in potassium and essential fatty acids. They also contain iron, fiber, magnesium, thiamin, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, and Vitamin E, making them a nutritional powerhouse.


Although hemp seeds do become the same plant marijuana comes from, they won't get you high no matter how many you eat. This is because they do not contain the compound THC (which produces euphoric feelings).