Looking for an easy way to use winter squash? Then, look no further! We’re cooking acorn squash, butternut squash, and delicata squash in the air fryer and oven for a nutritious side dish that’s full of flavor and super easy with step-by-step tutorials, cooking tips, recipes, and more! Make them all or pick your favorite for tasty meals all season long.
Oh my GOURD!
Did you know that squash is actually a part of the gourd family? Yep, it’s true! Gourds, squash, and pumpkins all belong to the Cucurbitaceae family and come in 4 main varieties including ornamental gourds, bottle gourds, sponge gourds, and snake gourds. Coming from the Algonquian language, squash means “eaten raw or uncooked,” and was traditionally eaten raw. However, today most squash is fully cooked before being consumed. Commonly thought of as vegetables, squash are actually fruit, producing blossoms and even containing seeds! However, that doesn’t make them any less delicious or nutritious, and every variety has its own unique qualities!
As its name suggests, acorn squash has an acorn-like shape and ridged skin that varies in color but is most commonly a dark green color and often has a patch of bright orange towards the top of the squash.
Taste: Fairly mild in flavor and fibrous in texture, acorn squash has a sweet and nutty flavor
Nutrition: Low in calories and high in nutrients, acorn squash is especially rich in vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, and magnesium.
Light orange and bell-shaped, butternut squash is easily recognized by its thin neck and bulbous bottom.
Taste: Sweeter than other squash varieties, many people claim that butternut squash has a caramel-like flavor. Soft in texture once cooked, butternut squash has a nutty flavor similar to that of a sweet potato.
Nutrition: Containing a long list of vitamins and minerals, butternut squash has the highest amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium. In fact, one serving will provide more than 450 % of the recommended daily intake for vitamin A!
Also known as peanut squash, Bohemian squash, and sweet potato squash, delicata squash is arguably the most unique in appearance. Easily recognized, it has a cylindrical shape and has cream-colored skin with green and orange stripes.
Taste: As its nickname, sweet potato squash might suggest, delicata squash has a taste similar to that of sweet potatoes. Known to have a brown sugar-like flavor, it is often described as tasting like a cross between corn and pumpkin pie.
Nutrition: Containing nearly 6 grams of fiber per serving, delicata squash is also a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C.
Fun Fact: Delicata squash is technically a summer fruit but is typically classified as a winter food because it is harvested late in the season.
Scrumptious Squash 3 Ways!
No matter which squash variation you choose to make, the process remains the same! The best part is that air fryer squash is super easy and always delicious. Just pick your squash, slice it into cubes or rings, and follow the directions below.
- Preheat. To start, preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine and Brush. In a small bowl, combine the oil, cinnamon, and sea salt. Then, place the squash pieces on a baking sheet, brush them with the cinnamon sauce, and add a sprinkle of salt on top.
- Cook. Once the squash has been coated, spray the air fryer rack with a cooking spray, and spread it in even layers on the prepared rack. Let it cook for 10 minutes, flip it over, and air fryer for another 10-15 minutes or until it is soft.
Note: Each air fryer will cook differently, and each squash will require different cooking times. For instance, the delicata squash will cook the fastest. So, be sure to check it after 10 minutes!
4. Serve. Once cooked, remove the squash from the air fryer, place it on a serving dish or baking sheet, and sprinkle it with extra salt and cinnamon if desired.
No air fryer? No problem! Air fryer squash works perfectly in the oven, too! Just follow the same steps, preheating the oven to 400 degrees and coating the squash in the cinnamon and oil mixture. Then, place it on a baking sheet, and let it cook for 20 minutes before flipping the squash over with a wooden spoon or spatula and putting it back in the oven for 10-25 minutes or until the squash is tender. Once cooked, sprinkle additional salt and cinnamon to taste, and serve warm!
Storage Tips for Roasted Squash
Think you can’t make air fryer squash ahead of time? Think again!
Refrigerator: Once cooked, air fryer squash can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freezer: Roasted squash can be stored in the freezer for 10-12 months. Just be sure to remove the skin first!
Reheat: For the best results, reheat your air fryer squash in the skillet, oven, or air fryer for a minute or two until it has heated through. I don’t recommend microwaving leftovers as it can cause the texture to become rubbery.
Can I Eat the Skin of Roasted Squash?
Technically, the skin of squash is edible, but it’s not super tasty. Acorn and delicata squash varieties will have a softer, more palatable skin. However, butternut squash has a tough skin that proves fairly difficult to chew through.
Nutrition Tip: If you want to enhance the nutritional benefits of squash, pair it with cinnamon to enhance its anti-inflammatory properties no matter how you cook it!
I love all 3 of these squash so much, I can’t decide which one is my favorite? Can you? Let us know what your favorite squash is down in the comments below!