Learn how to cook delicata squash with this easy step-by-step guide! Delicata squash can be roasted in the oven, in an air fryer or quickly cooked in the microwave. This winter squash is delicious in several savory recipes. You can stuff it with lean meats, add it to a salad, puree it into soup, or simply season and serve it as a side dish.

whole delicata squash on marble serving tray

The perfect mix of savory and sweet, delicata squash should definitely be part of your fall and winter menus! Although many people think that delicata squash is a vegetable, it’s actually a type of fruit that is related to pumpkins, acorn squash and zucchini. 

The yellow striped skin on delicata squash is thin enough that you don’t have to peel it, and once roasted, you can eat the skin. This is actually how the squash received the name delicata squash, for it’s delicate, edible skin. The skin surrounds a beautiful yellow flesh inside that is filled with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium, making it a nutritious choice!

While not quite as sweet as butternut squash, delicata squash is known for it’s creamy, sweet flavor and how easy it is to cook. You can prepare it in the microwave, oven, or air fryer to be served as a side dish, or as part of a recipe. 

Dress it up with a variety of seasonings and toppings, blend it into soups, top salads, incorporate it into casseroles, or stuff it with lean ground meats. No matter how you serve it, you’re going to fall in love with this delicious variety of winter squash!

While delicata squash used to be difficult to find at grocery stores, it’s now common to see delicata squash, along with other winter squash varieties through the fall and winter months.

Preparing delicata squash for cooking

If cooking the delicata squash in the oven or an air fryer, follow these steps to prepare the squash before roasting. If cooking the squash in the microwave, you’ll want to keep it whole and follow the directions in the next section.

Each of these methods were tested using an average size squash, around 1 pound in size. If the squash you have is smaller or larger, you may have to adjust the cooking times either up or down.

  1. Cut the delicata squash in half from stem to root. The skin on delicata squash is very thin so it’s much easier to cut than other squash, like spaghetti squash, or butternut squash.
  2. Use a fork to remove the seeds from the middle of the squash.
  3. Brush the flesh of the squash with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Other seasonings can also be added at this time. More on that below.

How to cook it in the microwave

  1. Use a fork to poke holes all over the squash to release steam as it cooks in the microwave.
  2. Place the squash on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave for 3 minutes, use tongs or an oven mitt to flip the squash over on the plate. Microwave for an additional 3 minutes. 
  3. Remove from the microwave and slice in half from root to stem. Use a fork to remove the seeds from the middle of the squash. Season and dig in, or use in your favorite delicata squash recipe.

How to cook it in an air fryer

  1. After you’ve followed the steps above to prepare the squash, place the squash halves cut-side up in an air fryer.
  2. Cook at 400°F for 12 minutes, or until the flesh is fork-tender and golden brown around the edges.

How to roast it in the oven

  1. Follow the instructions above to prepare the squash, then place it cut side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  2. Roast in a preheated 400°F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the flesh is fork-tender.

You can also slice the squash into ½ inch thick slices and toss them with olive oil, salt and black pepper. The squash slices should be arranged in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the squash slices at 400°F for 20 minutes.

To cook the slices in an air fryer, cook at 400°F for 10 minutes, tossing halfway through the cooking time.

This is a great method if you’re adding the squash to a salad, or bowl. You can also serve the roasted squash slices, topped with a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs, as a side dish at the holidays.

What’s the best way to cook delicata squash

  • Fastest: the microwave only takes 6 minutes to cook a whole delicata squash, making it the fastest method. If you’re in a hurry, this is the method I’d recommend.
  • Best texture: it’s a tie, between the air fryer and oven. The texture of delicata squash cooked in both of these appliances is very similar. It’s tender, with a slightly crispy, caramelized texture on the top layer of squash.
  • Best overall: if you’re only cooking one delicata squash, I’d recommend the air fryer. It cooks in almost half the time as the oven and the taste and texture are almost identical to the squash cooked in the oven. If you’re roasting more than one squash, I would recommend the oven for the best texture and the ability to cook several squash at a time.

Pro tips

  • You’ll know when the squash is done when you can easily insert a fork in the flesh. You want it tender, yet not mushy. If the squash is already cut in half, you can easily test if it is done by sticking a fork in the flesh of the squash. If it’s fork-tender, it’s done cooking and ready to eat.
  • To avoid watery delicata squash, do not over cook it. Overcooked squash will become watery and mushy. Salting the squash before roasting it also helps to pull out some of the moisture to avoid watery squash.
  • You do not need to peel delicata squash before cooking, as the skin is so delicate, you can eat it after using any of the cooking methods above.
  • Use something sharp to deseed the squash. I like using a fork to scrape out the seeds, however a grapefruit spoon is another helpful tool.
  • If you are having trouble cutting the squash in half, try this trick. Use a sharp knife to carefully pop off the stem by wedging the tip of the knife under and prying it up, or simply slice off the top of the delicata squash. Once you remove the top of the squash, place the squash on a cutting board cut-side down. This allows you to push the knife through with more steadiness.
cooked delicata squash cut in half on plate with fork

Storing and freezing

Once you cook the squash, you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer for leftovers or meal prep.

  • Let the squash cool to room temperature.
  • Seal it in an airtight container.
  • Refrigerate for up to 7 days.
  • You can also freeze cooked delicata squash for up to 8 months.
    • It is best to vacuum seal to avoid freezer burn.
    • If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, simply place it in a freezer safe zip-top bag and squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing.
roasted delicata squash cut in half stuffed with ground chicken sausage and ricotta cheese on plate

Recipes to make with it

One of the great things about winter squash is that they are interchangeable in recipes. Use this roasted delicata squash, no matter the method, to make any of these delicious recipes. Simply sub out the butternut squash or acorn squash, for delicata squash.

How to season the squash

You can always keep things simple with salt and pepper, but it’s fun to get creative with the flavors. Try out a sprinkle of any of these seasoning options.

cooked delicata squash cut in half on plate with fork
sliced, roasted delicata squash in bowl
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How To Cook Delicata Squash

Learn how to cook delicata squash with this easy step-by-step guide! Delicata squash can be roasted in the oven, in an air fryer or quickly cooked in the microwave. This winter squash is delicious in several savory recipes. You can stuff it with lean meats, add it to a salad, puree it into soup or simply season and serve it as a side dish.

Ingredients

Instructions

Oven

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Cut the squash in half from stem to root.
  • Use a fork to scrape out the seeds from the inside of the squash.
  • Brush ½ teaspoon olive oil on the inside flesh of each half of delicata squash and season each half with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
  • Place the squash, flesh side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Air fryer

  • Cut the squash in half from stem to root.
  • Use a fork to scrape out the seeds from the inside of the squash.
  • Brush ½ teaspoon olive oil on the inside flesh of each half of delicata squash and season each half with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
  • Place the squash, cut side up, in an air fryer basket.
  • Cook at 400°F for 12 minutes.

Microwave

  • Leave the delicata squash whole. Use a fork to poke holes all over the squash to release steam as it cooks in the microwave.
  • Place the squash on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave for 3 minutes, use tongs or an oven mitt to flip the squash over on the plate. Microwave for an additional 3 minutes.
  • Remove from the microwave and slice in half from root to stem. Use a fork to remove the seeds from the middle of the squash. Season and dig in, or use in your favorite delicata squash recipe.

Notes

  • Each of these methods were tested using an average size squash, around 1 pound in size. If the squash you have is smaller or larger, you may have to adjust the cooking times either up or down. 
  • You’ll know when the squash is done when you can easily insert a fork in the flesh. You want it tender, yet not mushy. If the squash is already cut in half, you can easily test if it is done by sticking a fork in the flesh of the squash. If it’s fork-tender, it’s done cooking and ready to eat.
  • To avoid watery delicata squash, do not over cook it. Overcooked squash will become watery and mushy. Salting the squash before roasting it also helps to pull out some of the moisture to avoid watery squash.
  • You do not need to peel delicata squash before cooking, as the skin is so delicate, it can be eaten after using any of the cooking methods above.
  • When roasting the squash, you can also slice it into ½ inch thick slices. Toss the slices with olive oil, salt and black pepper, then arrange them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the squash slices at 400°F for 20 minutes.
  • To cook the slices in an air fryer, cook at 400°F for 10 minutes, tossing halfway through the cooking time.
  • Once the squash is cooked, you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer.  Seal it in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 7 days or freeze for up to 8 months.
  • For other ways to season the squash, or ways to use it in recipes, refer to the blog post above.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 189kcal (9%)Carbohydrates 39g (13%)Protein 4g (8%)Fat 5g (8%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 3gSodium 1181mg (49%)Potassium 1586mg (45%)Fiber 7g (28%)Sugar 10g (11%)Vitamin A 6193mg (124%)Vitamin C 56mg (68%)Calcium 128mg (13%)Iron 3mg (17%)
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