These Air Fryer Butternut Squash halves are an effortless way to make an easy and flavorful side dish. It is roasted with an easy maple cinnamon glaze and cooks in about 30 minutes.
You will love this air fryer butternut squash recipe because it is an easy way to serve an impressive side dish for the holiday season. All you have to do is cut a squash in half and roast in your air fryer.
This is not only perfect for Thanksgiving dinner, like Yukon gold mashed potatoes, but also pairs perfectly well for weeknight meal along with shrimp, fish or chicken dishes. It is a fast and healthy way to cook your favorite vegetable.
Like the air fried acorn squash halves, roasting them in the air fryer elevates the natural sweetness, resulting in tender, succulent flesh that provides a versatile canvas for your preferred seasonings and flavors.
Why you'll love this recipe?
- It comes out very soft tender with a caramelized top.
- Flavored with cinnamon, maple syrup and olive oil, it compliments the sweet and nutty flavor of the roasted vegetable.
- There is no need to cut the hard vegetable into small chunks.
- Made healthy using maple syrup and olive oil.
Scroll down to the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and amounts.
- Butternut Squash - When shopping for butternut squash, look for one that feels heavy for it's size when picked up. The skin should have a matte finish and not be shiny. It should sound hollow if you give a tap and should have no green patches or blemishes.
- Oil - Use any neutral oil like olive, avocado, coconut oil.
- Maple syrup - It compliments the sweet flavor and helps in caramelization.
- Spices - Basic pantry spices such as ground cinnamon, black pepper, and salt.
- Use brown sugar or honey instead of maple syrup.
- Melted butter, instead of olive oil, will add more flavor and help with the browning.
- Replace ground cinnamon with pumpkin spice.
- Add a pinch of cayenne to the seasoning blend.
How to make?
You can find full printable recipe below, but here is a quick overview of the procedure along with step-by-step photos.
1 & 2. Make glaze - Mix maple syrup, salt, black pepper, cinnamon and ½ tablespoon olive oil together in a small bowl.
3 & 4. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise from stem to the bottom.
5. Scoop the seeds and pulp out of the cavity.
Tip: Don't toss the seeds. You can rinse and thoroughly dry them and toss the seeds with olive oil and seasonings. Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven until crisp and lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes. It makes a nutritious snack.
6. Brush some olive oil on the flesh side.
Tip: Brushing the flesh with a thin coating of oil aids in the browning and also helps the seasoning stick to the butternut squash.
7. Place the squash cut side down, in a preheated 380 degree air fryer and cook for 20 to 23 minutes, until tender.
8 & 9. Carefully turn the squash over with tongs.
10. Brush with the prepared glaze and cook at 400°F for 7 to 9 minutes or until the surface is golden and caramelized.
How to serve?
Air fryer butternut squash is a versatile and delicious side dish that can be served in various ways. Here are some serving suggestions:
- As a side dish: Slice the cooked halves and serve as a side dish for dinner along with air fryer chicken burger or lemon chicken pasta.
- In a salad: Slice and toss with leafy greens, nuts, seeds, cheese, and your favorite salad dressing for a satisfying meal.
- In a whole grain bowl: Top cooked grains like quinoa, farro, or brown rice, and top it with air fryer butternut squash, cooked chicken or chickpeas, baby spinach and a drizzle with your favorite dressing.
- Soup: Blend the flesh with some broth and seasonings. It is especially delicious, made like the Thai carrot soup, by replacing the carrots with squash.
- In Pasta: Toss with cooked pasta, browned butter, grated Parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs like sage or parsley.
- Stuffed: Air fryer butternut squash halves can be stuffed with various fillings such as whole grains, black beans, roasted vegetables, and cheese.
- Make tacos: Use as a filling for vegetarian tacos or burritos, along with black beans, salsa, and other toppings.
How to Store, Freeze, and Reheat
- Fridge - Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days.
- Freezer - Freezing is a convenient way to preserve the flavor and texture for future use. Slice them and freeze in a air tight container for about 2 to 3 months. When you're ready to use, simply take out the desired portion from the freezer and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator.
- Reheat - Air fry flesh side up in a pre heated 350 degree air fryer for 3 to 6 minutes, until warmed through.
- Air Fryer size - I used a 6-quart Instant vortex air fryer and could fit a 21/2 pound squash comfortably without overlapping. If using a large vegetable or a smaller air fryer, cook in batches.
- Cooking time - It depends on the size! A 21/2 pound butternut squash takes about 25 minutes to cook at 380 degrees and then a few more minutes at a higher temperature to brown. Adjust cooking time when using smaller or larger vegetables.
The skin of the cooked butternut squash becomes tender and adds additional nutrients when cooked. If you find the skin a bit tough or prefer a smoother texture, you can remove it after cooking. Just wash the squash thoroughly before cooking to remove dirt or debris.
No! Peeling is recommended only if you cut the squash into cubes or fries. However, when roasting or cooking it as halves, it's best to leave the skin intact, making the preparation much more easy. You can serve it as a half, slice it along with the skin, or scoop out the flesh for various presentation options.
If you find it intimidating to cut a butternut squash, you are not alone! However, there's no need to let its peculiar shape and tough exterior deter you from preparing it.
Using a sharp chef's knife, trim both the top stem end and the bottom. Alternatively, you can leave it whole for a striking presentation, as seen in the photos. To cut into halves, position the squash on its curved side on a cutting board and slice it in half down the center, yielding two equal halves.
Using a spoon, remove the seeds and any stringy portions from the interior of the curved side.
Preheating ensures that the butternut squash cooks evenly and consistently. It also reduces the cooking time because your vegetables start cooking immediately, allowing you to achieve a crispy and caramelized exterior.
More Thanksgiving side dishes
Air Fryer Butternut Squash
- 1 butternut squash 2 to 3 pounds
- 1 tablespoon + ½ tablespoon olive oil divided
- 1 tablespoon + ½ tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise from stem to the bottom. Scoop the seeds and pulp out of the cavity.
- Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil on the flesh side.
- Preheat air fryer to 380°F. When hot, place the squash cut side down and cook for 20 to 23 minutes, or until tender (a knife can easily pierce into the flesh).
- Carefully turn the hot squash over with tongs and brush with the glaze.
- Increase your air fryer temperature to 400°F and cook the squash for 7 to 9 minutes or until the surface is golden and caramelized.
- To make glaze - Mix maple syrup, salt, black pepper, cinnamon and remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil together in a small bowl.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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