Air Fryer Butternut Squash

Air Fryer Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is a versatile and delicious winter squash, and an excellent addition to fall and winter meals. You can mash, purée, steam, or roast it, and you can serve it as a side dish or add it to soups, salads, pasta dishes, roasted vegetable medleys, and sauces.

Roasting butternut squash in the oven can take up to 45 minutes, but the air fryer yields crispy-edged, perfectly cooked squash in as little as 15 minutes! If you need a shortcut, you can prepare the squash a day in advance or use pre-cubed squash.

Air fryer butternut squash makes a fabulous side dish for an everyday meal or special occasion, and it’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner. Serve air fryer squash alongside meat, poultry, or fish, or add the cubes to a salad or soup. Butternut squash also pairs well with pasta—toss the cubes in a pot of cacio e pepe or carbonara, or add them to fettuccine with Alfredo sauce.

“This is a quick and delicious way to cook butternut squash. The cinnamon brings out the flavor of the squash and the balsamic glaze cuts through any extra sweetness. I had to fry my squash in two batches, so I kept the first batch warm in a very low oven while cooking the second.” —Julia Hartbeck

Air Fryer Butternut Squash/Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Squash

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds butternut squash

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, more to taste

  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the Balsamic Glaze

  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1 medium cinnamon stick, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make air fryer butternut squash

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  2. Peel the squash. Scrape out and discard the seeds or roast them as you would pumpkin seeds.

    peeled butternut squash on a cutting board

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  3. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to cut the squash into 1-inch cubes

    cubed butternut squash

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  4. In a large bowl, toss the squash cubes with the cinnamon, salt, pepper, and oil.

    cubed butternut squash in a bowl

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  5. If your air fryer manual recommends preheating, preheat it to 390 F. Brush the air fryer basket with some oil and add the squash. If you have more than 3 or 4 cups of cubes or your air fryer is small, you may need to cook the squash in 2 batches.

    cubed butternut squash in an airfryer

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  6. Cook the squash at 390 F for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring the squash or shaking the air fryer basket every 5 to 7 minutes.

    cubed butternut squash in an airfryer

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  7. Meanwhile, make the balsamic glaze.

    Turn on an exhaust fan and open a window if you can. Combine the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and cinnamon stick, if using, in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

    balsamic glaze ooking in a pot

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  8. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook until the mixture is reduced and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. You should have 2/3 to 3/4 cup of glaze. Discard the cinnamon stick.

    balsamic glaze cooking in a pot

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  9. Transfer the hot butternut squash to a serving dish and drizzle with some of the balsamic glaze to taste.

    air fryer butternut squash with balsamic glaze

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

Tips

  • A y-peeler makes peeling butternut squash fast and easy.
  • The squash doesn’t have to be in a single layer, but avoid filling the air fryer basket more than one-third full, and be sure to toss it every 5 minutes to ensure it cooks and browns evenly.
  • For the vegetable oil, use one that can stand up to a high temperature, such as avocado oil, peanut oil, or grapeseed oil.
  • If your balsamic glaze is too thick, thin it with extra balsamic vinegar or water. Rewarm until it is liquid enough to drizzle.

Recipe Variations

  • For savory air fryer butternut squash, replace the cinnamon with 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried rubbed sage. Omit the balsamic glaze and serve the squash with brown butter or sage brown butter, or serve it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Adjust the seasonings as needed.
  • Replace the brown sugar in the glaze with an equal amount of maple syrup or honey.

How to Store Leftover Butternut Squash

  • Refrigerate leftover air fried butternut squash in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • Cooked cubed butternut squash may be frozen as well. Transfer the cooled squash cubes to a labeled zip-close freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost the squash in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
  • To reheat, transfer the leftover butternut squash to the lightly oiled air fryer basket and cook at 390 F for 5 to 7 minutes, until hot all the way through.

Can you use cooking oil spray in an air fryer?

Some cooking oil sprays can cause the air fryer basket's nonstick finish to chip. Use a spray or mister with no propellants or use a pastry brush or paper towel to apply the oil.

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