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Air Fryer Acorn Squash

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Don’t sleep on acorn squash! With its sweet, nutty flavor and smooth, creamy texture once cooked, air fryer acorn squash elevates any fall or winter meal. Forget about the basics like butternut and spaghetti squash – acorn squash is the side you didn’t know you needed.

The best part is that it is easy to make in the air fryer. All you have to do is slice it up, add some seasoning, and you’ll get crispy, caramelized squash that’s tender on the inside – perfect alongside tandoori turkey to complete your Thanksgiving meal. 

More Air Fryer Vegetable Recipes:

What is Acorn Squash?

Although you can find it in stores throughout the year, you can harvest the mild, buttery-tasting winter squash in the fall and winter. They are known for their small acorn-like shape with a thick, green outer layer, beautiful ridges, and bright orange flesh. This tasty vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin A (thank you, beta-carotene), vitamin C, and riboflavin.

What You Need to Make This Recipe

Two whole acorns on the table.
  • Acorn Squash: Look for a 2-3 pound squash and check out our tips for choosing the best squash in the section below.
  • Olive Oil: Brush the squash with olive oil or use melted butter.
  • Spices: Complete our air fryer acorn squash recipe by seasoning it with kosher salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cayenne.
  • Sweetener: Adding brown sugar to the spice mixture creates nice caramelization.

Additions and Substitutions

I love the versatility of acorn squash. You can serve it sweet by tossing it with ingredients like ras el hanoutgaram masala, maple syrup, honey, fresh apples, or cranberries. And if you’re more of a savory person, the squash tastes delicious with our Slap Ya Mama Seasoning recipe, ground sausage, bacon, parmesan, or asiago cheese.

Reserve the vegetable as a side dish, or make it a complete meal by creating a bowl with the acorn squash, mixed vegetables, protein, and quinoa or rice.

How to Cut Acorn Squash

Step 1: Cut it in half. Cut the squash in two from the stem to the bottom using a sharp knife. To make it easier, cut the stem, and cut it in half. You can also turn the squash over and cut from the other side.

Two halves of the inside of an acorn with seeds.

Step 2: Remove the Seeds. Scoop the insides out and discard, or you can set the seeds aside to roast, like pumpkin seeds.

Scooping the seeds out of the acorn squash.

Step 3: Cut the acorn squash halves into slices and air fry them that way.

An acorn squash cut in half and cut into strips on a cutting board.

Step 4: Or cut them into 1-inch cubes.

Acorn squash cut into 1 inch cubes.

How to Make Air Fryer Acorn Squash

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Preheat the air fryer to 400°F (176°C). Toss the acorn squash with olive oil and season with salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, and brown sugar.

Acorn squash pieces tossed with sugar and spices in a mixing bowl.

Step 2: Transfer the squash to the air fryer basket and cook for 18-20 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through.

Acorn squash cooking in the air fryer basket.

Can I Make This in the Oven?

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (176°C). Pierce the outside with a fork and place it onto a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place the squash face down on the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Flip, and cook for another 20 minutes. Then, remove the squash from the oven and let it cool before serving.

Expert Tips

  • For perfectly evenly-cooked air fried acorn squash, remember to shake the basket halfway. Many air fryers, including mine, provide a helpful notification to remind me when it’s time to shake.
Air fryer acorn squash on a plate with chicken sausage and mixed greens.

How to Choose the Right Squash

  • Select an acorn squash with light green skin and some orange coloring; this lets you know the squash is ready to cook. Too much orange indicates the squash is overripe.
  • Choose a heavier squash, between 2-3 pounds – lighter squash suggests it has less moisture.
  • The acorn squash should be firm and free of soft spots.

How to Use Acorn Squash

Using the air fryer to cook acorn squash results in a fork-tender vegetable that’s ready to be served with your favorite toppings or added to another dish.

  • Casserole: Combine the squash with other ingredients in a casserole dish and bake. You can make a savory casserole like acorn squash au gratin or go the sweeter route and flavor the squash with pecans and more brown sugar.
  • Mashed Acorn Squash: Mash the cooked squash and add it to a serving dish with a few tabs of butter. Taste and season with salt and serve the vegetable as an alternative to mashed potatoes.
  • Soup: Add the cooked acorn squash to a stew, or puree it with other ingredients to make acorn squash soup.
  • Salad: Roasted squash is a beautiful addition to salad, especially if it has bright, leafy greens and roasted pumpkin seeds. Speaking of, try it with our fall kale salad!
  • Pasta: Eat it with pasta and homemade sauce like sugo al pomodoro or pesto.

Serving Suggestions

You can serve cooked squash with just about anything, but with this flavor, I pair it with meals like bison steak, pork chops, tandoori turkey, roasted chicken, and boneless leg of lamb. And acorn squash in the air fryer is the perfect topping for fall kale salad.

Storage

  • Uncooked – Store acorn squash in a cool and dry space, like a pantry, for up to one month.
  • Refrigerate  Keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days, making it perfect for meal prep. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you peel the acorn squash before cooking?

There is no need to peel the squash; it will become tender as it cooks. Now, you may be asking – is it okay to eat the skin? As a matter of fact- yes, it is (plus, it means more fiber and nutrients). But if the texture is a problem, the skin peels easily once the squash cooks in the air fryer.

Can I cook whole acorn squash in the air fryer?

Follow my tips and tricks for how to cook whole acorn squash in the oven, microwave, Instant Pot, and air fryer.

How long to cook acorn squash in air fryer?

I find that whether you’re preparing a whole acorn squash or cutting it into pieces, cooking it in the air fryer for 20 minutes at 400°F (176°C) is the way to go.

What does acorn squash taste like?

It is mild in flavor with a hint of nuttiness. Buttery and sweet, this delicious side deserves a place on the table.

More Squash Recipes:

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Air fryer acorn squash on a plate.

Air Fryer Acorn Squash

Tressa Jamil
Air fryer acorn squash cooks faster than the oven for caramelized, tender squash that's ready in 30 minutes; pair the tasty side with any meal.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 133 kcal
Ingredients
  
  • 2 pound acorn squash
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Instructions
 
  • Preheat the air fryer to 400°F (176°C). Toss the acorn squash with olive oil and season with salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, and brown sugar.
  • Transfer the squash to the air fryer basket and cook for 18-20 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through.
Notes
Expert Tips: 
  • For perfectly evenly-cooked air fried acorn squash, remember to shake the basket halfway. Many air fryers, including mine, provide a helpful notification to remind me when it’s time to shake.
How to Choose the Right Squash: 
  • Select an acorn squash with light green skin and some orange coloring; this lets you know the squash is ready to cook. Too much orange indicates the squash is overripe.
  • Choose a heavier squash, between 2-3 pounds – lighter squash suggests it has less moisture.
  • The acorn squash should be firm and free of soft spots.
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Nutrition
Serving: 1 Serving | Calories: 133 kcal | Carbohydrates: 24 g | Protein: 2 g | Fat: 5 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3 g | Sodium: 326 mg | Potassium: 671 mg | Fiber: 7 g | Sugar: 2 g | Vitamin A: 17 IU | Vitamin C: 28 mg | Calcium: 7 mg | Iron: 8 mg
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
Recipe Rating




Sarah L.

Monday 13th of February 2023

I made this air fryer acorn squash recipe for dinner last night and it was amazing! So easy and quick to make and the result was perfectly crispy and caramelized. I will definitely be making this again.

Tori

Saturday 15th of October 2022

I have always cooked acorn squash in the air fryer whole, but I love how they turned out!

Tressa Jamil

Saturday 15th of October 2022

I love them either way, but the crispy pieces are pretty tasty!