These air fryer butternut squash cubes are incredibly tender on the inside and crispy on the outside with a sweet cinnamon maple flavor – they’re a perfect fall vegetable side dish.
Just a few simple ingredients and a fall-fresh butternut squash (hello farmers market!!) are needed to make this air fryer butternut squash recipe!
- Butternut squash: Butternut squash thrives in the fall. Deliciously sweet but slightly more mild than sweet potato. A medium butternut squash is great for this recipe.
- Spices: A combination of cinnamon and nutmeg makes for a warm, sweet combination.
- Maple syrup: A drizzle of golden pure maple syrup really drives home the sweet flavor and adds beautiful caramelization. You can use brown sugar if you prefer.
- Oil: Spray oil or a drizzle of oil are both fine. I like olive oil or avocado oil.
Step by step instructions
I love an easy air fryer recipe and this is just that, perfect to enjoy during squash season and the holiday season (looks great on a Thanksgiving and/or Christmas table!).
Toss your cubed squash in oil and spices. Air fry at 375F for 10 minutes, toss in maple syrup, air fry another 10 minutes.
1. Cut the butternut squash. Prep the butternut squash by cutting it into 1-inch cubes.
2. Toss in oil and spices. In a large bowl, toss together the cubed butternut squash with the 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg.
3. Air fry. Preheat the air fryer to 375F. Add the butternut squash to the air fryer basket in a single layer and fry for 10 minutes. At the 10-minute mark, open the air fryer, add the maple syrup and give it a toss. Fry for another 10 minutes until tender and caramelized (for a total cook time of about 20 minutes).
This recipe takes a sweet flavor approach to butternut squash, but you could go the savory route as well! A few suggestions on how to do that are below:
- Spices: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne
- Herbs: thyme, sage, rosemary, chives
- Misc: browned butter
- Nuts/seeds: crush up some nuts and seeds to sprinkle on top – pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc!
You can also use other winter squashes! I haven't recipe tested other squashes so cooking time may vary (just keep an eye on it!), but some other squashes this would be delicious with are: acorn, delicata, and pumpkin!
How to cube a butternut squash
Butternut squash is a bit trickier to cut because of its odd bulbed shape and thick skin, but with the right method it’s easy and can be done quick! Here’s a few methods:
- Vegetable peeler: cut the top and bottom off of the butternut squash. Then peel the skin off with a sharp vegetable peeler until you get through the outer layer and the white part. Then cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Then chop into slabs and then cubes.
- Slicing: cut the top and bottom off of the butternut squash, then cut in half to separate the top cylinder from the bottom bulbous part. Stand each piece up and using a sharp knife slice off the skin. Cut the bulbous part in half, scoop out the seeds, then cut it all into slabs then cubes.
How to pick a ripe butternut squash
Okay so you're in the grocery store, there's a pile of butternut squash in front of you. Which do you pick?! A few things to look out for:
- Smooth, even color – you're looking for a beige/golden color with no green spots
- Brown stem – they are green before they're ripe, and turn more brown when they are ready
- Firm – the butternut squash should be firm to the touch
Tips and tricks
- Use a sharp knife – this is important with butternut squash as it's a hard squash to cut through, so a sharp knife is safest
- Use pre-cut squash – if you don't want to cut the squash yourself grab pre-cut from the store! Just cut them down to 1-inch in size or increase the time they cook in the air fryer
- Make a double batch – make more at once and save some to purée into soup, ravioli filling, cheese sauces, etc.
- Air fry in a single layer – this will help make sure all the squash gets nice and crispy on the outside.
To store, allow the butternut squash to cool completely. Then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave for a few minutes, or back in the air fryer at 350F for 5ish minutes until warmed through.
How to serve
So many dishes go with the delicious fall flavors of butternut squash and because it's a relatively healthy side dish the pairing possibilities are truly endless. Some ideas are below:
- Roasted chicken
- Lamb chops
- Pot roast
- Short ribs
- Add the butternut squash to buddha bowls/vegetable and quinoa bowls (or with chicken breasts for some protein if you're not vegetarian)
- Stick to the orange vegetable theme with roasted carrots
- Add it to some lentil soup
How to make butternut squash in the oven
If you don't want to go the air frying route, you can totally make roasted butternut squash in the oven. Start by preheating your oven to 400F. Follow all the same steps, but bake for 25 minutes, then add the maple and give it all a toss, then back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until tender. Cook times may vary depending on your oven so keep an eye on it. It's ready to go when fork tender.
Butternut squash skin is edible so you don’t have to, but I prefer to as it's pretty thick and tough.
Sure! Then just reheat as instructed above. Or you can prep the squash and store in the fridge then air fry day-of.
Yes – preheat air fryer to 400F, spray non-stick spray, then air fry for 10 minutes shaking and adding the spices and maple half way through.
Yes! That's one of my favorites in the fall. After you air fry it, blend it together with some vegetable stock and swirl in heavy cream or crème fraîche to serve.
I have a ninja foodi 5-in-1 which I love.
Sure can, here's a great recipe to reference.
More butternut squash recipes
Air Fryer Butternut Squash Cubes
- 1 medium butternut squash cubed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Prep the butternut squash by cutting it into 1-inch cubes.
- In a large bowl, toss together the cubed butternut squash with the 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375F. Add the butternut squash to the air fryer basket in a single layer and fry for 10 minutes. At the 10-minute mark, open the air fryer, add the maple syrup and give it a toss. Fry for another 10 minutes until tender and caramelized (for a total cook time of about 20 minutes).