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Searching for a sensational way to make winter squash? This air fryer kabocha squash is what dreams are made of. No need to keep rummaging through racks of recipes. Take one bite and you’re sure to fall in love.
If you’ve never tried this dark, squat, and starchy squash before, you’re in for a treat. These herby, crispy, and golden slices are simply delicious as a savory side. You’ll be blown away by their texture and satisfying flavor.
Don’t pay any attention to to those skeptical squash thoughts and let’s get air frying!
Kabocha squash, not as well known as its cousins butternut squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash, is a sadly unappreciated Japanese garden gourd. It has a fluffy inner flesh similar to chestnut with a dense, sweet flavor that tastes a bit like pumpkin mixed with sweet potato. If that description doesn’t make your taste buds tingle, here are more reasons why we love it:
High in fiber (both soluble and insoluble) and low in calories
Excellent source of vitamin A, beta-carotene and carotenoids
Low in sodium and has higher levels of vitamin C and some B vitamins compared to pumpkin
Can be stored long term (2-4 months) in a cool, dark place
As you can see, the kabocha squash nutrition benefits are pretty impressive and are sure to be a positive addition to your daily diet.
Why You Need To Make This Kabocha Recipe
When you’re all alone with a garden full of gourds, it’s a little intimidating to know what to do next. If you follow our lead and use the air fryer to bake these little beauties, your belly will soon be satisfied with many savory squash slices. Need more reasons why this recipe is awesome?
Tips for Serving Up Your Air Fryer Kabocha Squash Slices
Making and baking scrumptious squash is a cinch! After steaming, scooping, and slicing, you’re good to go. Though these wonderful wedges are enjoyable by themselves, switching things up is super fun, too. Give a try to these variations:
Spice It Up – Besides rosemary, you could also use fresh or dried thyme, parsley, mint, and even cayenne pepper. For a sweet version, try cinnamon, nutmeg, and a sprinkling of brown sugar. Simple salt and pepper is excellent, too.
Feel The Need To Make Roasted Kabocha Squash Seeds? – Don’t throw away or compost your seeds! Save the seeds, pick off the extra squash strings, rinse, boil in salted water for 10 minutes, drain, add a little oil and seasonings, and then bake at 400 degrees for around 10 minutes (depending on your oven) until golden brown and crispy. Make sure to give them a little stir halfway through. You’ll know they’re done when you hear them crackling and popping on the baking sheet. See our Sweet Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds recipe for more details.
Bean Burgers or Bust – Instead of air fryer potatoes or onion rings, why not have herbed squash sections as a side? You won’t believe how similar they are to french fries, with their starchy profile and seasoned crusty exterior. Serve with all the usual fixin’s and delightful dipping sauces. So good!
How To Cook Kabocha Squash With The Air Fryer
Sometimes the very idea of cooking squash scares people. That’s why we really wanted to create a recipe that was quick and comfortable for even a beginner cook. No need to wonder about how to cut kabocha squash, either. We’ll take you through it, step by step. If you can press a few buttons, use a knife safely, and add ingredients to an air fryer, you can make this recipe. Are you ready to give it a try?
Wash and dry the squash. Cut off the top.
Steam the squash in the microwave for 4-6 minutes. Cool before cutting.
Cut in half from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds. (Set aside if you want to roast them later.)
Cut the squash halves into ½” slices and place on a piece of parchment paper or plate.
Oil, season, and arrange in the air fryer basket. Cook for 9-10 minutes, gently flipping halfway through cooking.
When golden and crispy, take out of the air fryer and enjoy!
How to Cut Kabocha Squash
The following photos show how to cut your kabocha squash, de-seed it, and prepare it for air frying.
Equipment You’ll Need to Make This Vegan Air Fryer Recipe
Luckily, there’s not much that you need to make this air fryer squash recipe. As long as you can steam, cut, and cook your one-of-a-kind kabocha, you’re good to go. Scroll down to the FAQ section for alternatives to steaming and air frying.
This herbed air fryer squash is the easiest recipe ever! We love kabocha, so that's the star of the air frying show today. If you’ve never tried this dark, squat, and starchy squash before, you’re in for a treat. These herby, crispy, and golden slices are simply delicious as a savory side. You’ll be blown away by their texture and deep flavor.
½tablespoonvegetable oil or oil spray, or oil of your choice
1tablespoondried rosemary or 3 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves
½teaspoonsalt and pepper, or to taste
Wash the outside of the squash.
Cut the top off of the kabocha squash. Place the squash into the microwave and cook for 4-6 minutes on high (depends on the power of your microwave), stopping halfway to give it a check. The squash should be very slightly squishy, but not fully cooked.
Let the squash cool for at least 5 minutes before cutting. Once the squash is cool, use a sharp knife to cut the squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out all of the seeds and save for later (if you wish to make roasted seeds).
Preheat the air fryer at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.
Cut the squash into ½” slices so that you have large, semi-circle (smiley) shapes.
Lay the squash slices in a single layer onto a piece of parchment paper or a large plate.
Brush or spray the pieces on both sides with oil and season with rosemary, salt, and pepper.
Add the slices in a single layer to the basket and cook at 400 degrees for 9-10 minutes, gently flipping the slices over halfway and being careful to check that they are crisp (but not burnt) on the outside. It might take two rounds of cooking if you have a smaller air fryer.
Once done, use a spatula to remove the air fried squash slices from the air fryer basket. Serve with a large salad or steamed veggies along with your favorite whole grain or legume (such as quinoa, brown rice, or black beans). Enjoy!
Spice Suggestions – Besides rosemary, you could also use fresh or dried thyme, parsley, mint, and even cayenne pepper. For a sweet version, try cinnamon, nutmeg, and a sprinkling of brown sugar.
Oil-free Version – You can completely eliminate the oil if you wish or just give the bare minimum of oil spritzes onto the tray of squash slices. The squash won’t be quite as crispy when cooked, but it will still be delicious.
Oven Method – Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Follow directions 1-5. Lay the squash slices in a single layer onto a parchment lined baking sheet (or using a silicone liner). Brush or spray the pieces on both sides with oil and season with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the outside looks crisp and golden, gently flipping them over halfway through the cooking process.
Squash Substitutions – You can use other types of squash for this recipe. Delicata, acorn, and butternut all work well in this recipe. Steaming time may vary if the squash is less dense than the kabocha squash (like the delicata), so microwave for only 4 minutes if you have a smaller squash or for longer (add 1 minute extra intervals after 4) if your squash is larger or denser. You can also steam the squash in a double boiler or Instant Pot, instead of using the microwave.
If you try this air fryer herb kabocha squash recipe, let us know what you think by leaving a comment and rating below. Be sure to follow along on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for even more vegan recipe inspiration.
Frequently Asked Questions
Because this recipe is so simple, making substitutions or doing things a little differently aren’t a cause for worry. Even if you don’t have an air fryer, you can still give this recipe a try. Here are answers to some of the most asked questions:
Can I use a different type of squash in this recipe? I can’t find a kabocha squash.
Absolutely––you can use other types of squash for this recipe. Delicata, acorn, and butternut all work well in this recipe. Steaming time may vary if the squash is less dense than the kabocha squash (like the delicata), so microwave for only 3-4 minutes if you have a smaller squash or for longer (add 1 minute extra intervals after 4) if your squash is larger or denser. You can also steam the squash in a double boiler or Instant Pot, instead of using the microwave.
I don’t have an air fryer. Can I make the squash in the oven?
You sure can! Roasting kabocha squash is also simple and easy. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Follow directions 1-5. Lay the squash slices in a single layer onto a parchment lined baking sheet (or silicone liner). Brush or spray both sides of the slices with oil and season with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the outside looks crisp and golden, gently flipping them over halfway through the cooking process.
Yes, you can entirely eliminate the oil or just give the bare minimum of oil spritzes onto the tray of squash slices. The squash won’t be quite as crispy or golden when it’s cooked, but it will still be super yummy.
How long will the kabocha squash roasted (or air fried) last in the refrigerator? Can the leftovers be frozen?
Any leftover cooked squash will last about 3-5 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Also, concerning leftovers, you can freeze any remaining kabocha squash in a freezer-safe covered container or bag for up to 4-6 months.
This easy air fryer recipe for delicious Vegan Thanksgiving inspired kabocha squash was created by Gina House. Vegan food photography by JJ Steele. Edited by Amanda Meth. Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which supports our work at World of Vegan.
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