This Air Fryer Butternut Squash is gorgeously browned on the outside and deliciously buttery on the inside. Paired with thyme and fresh sage, this makes the perfect fall side dish! Ready in just 30 minutes.
Nothing says fall quite like winter squash, and Butternut Squash is one of my favorites! But roasting it in the oven can take a while and uses up limited space. That's why I love this Air Fryer Butternut Squash Recipe! Not only does it save time, but I can use my oven for other dishes--or even forgo turning on the oven altogether.
Cooking Butternut Squash in the Air Fryer gives it a beautifully browned and slightly crispy exterior with that soft, buttery, and delicious inside. Biting into perfectly cooked air fryer butternut squash is a little like heaven. I especially love it paired with fall herbs like thyme and fresh sage.
- When is butternut squash in season?
- Can I use pre-cut butternut squash?
- Can I use frozen butternut squash?
- What kind of air fryer do you recommend?
- Tips for cooking butternut squash in the air fryer
- How to peel and cube butternut squash
- How to roast butternut squash in an air fryer
- How to serve
- Can I make it ahead?
- How to store & reheat
- Related recipes
- 📖 Recipe
You'll love this Air Fryer Butternut Squash Recipe because it's:
- Quick & Easy
- Vegan / Vegetarian
- Seasonal & Delicious
- A Perfect Healthy Side Dish
- Easy to make Oil-Free / WFPB
- Perfect for cool Autumn days
When is butternut squash in season?
Butternut Squash is part of the winter squash family, which also includes pumpkin, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash. Despite the name, these are typically in season in the fall (but could traditionally last through the winter in a cold cellar). However, these days you can find butternut squash at most US grocery stores year-round.
Can I use pre-cut butternut squash?
Sure! I find that most bagged pre-cut butternut squash is about 4 servings, or maybe half the amount of a full butternut squash. The cubes also tend to run a little smaller. Therefore, you should check the squash more frequently. It might take as little as 12 minutes to cook.
Can I use frozen butternut squash?
I have never used frozen butternut squash for this recipe, and it isn't sold at our grocery store so, unfortunately, I can't test it. However, my guess is that it will work. You just might need to adjust the cooking time somewhat. If you do try it please let me know in the comments!
What kind of air fryer do you recommend?
The air fryer you choose should be the one that best meets your needs for budget, capacity, and storage space. Some air fryers have other functions, so this could also affect your choice.
I use the Ninja Foodi Grill 4-in-1 (Which is a grill, air fryer, dehydrator, and baker in one). For me, the best feature is the large capacity, so there's more space to feed my family of four. It's on the pricier side, but I bought it on sale as a Christmas gift for myself. If you're looking for more options, check out this list of the best air fryers of 2021.
Tips for cooking butternut squash in the air fryer
- Since butternut squash is denser than something like summer squash, it will take longer to cook all the way through. In order to cook it through without burning the outside, I prefer to cook it on a slighlty lower temperature (375F or 190C).
- If your butternut squash is fully cooked on the inside but you still want to get it a little crispier on the outside, you can turn the heat up to the highest setting and cook it for 2 to 3 minutes longer.
- Butternut squash comes in a variety of sizes. I prefer a smaller or medium-sized squash because I find them easier to cut. Using a smaller squash will also make the air fryer basket less crowded, and promote more even cooking.
- 1 butternut squash: I usually go for a small or medium sized butternut squash because they are easier to cut. The one in the photo above is just over 3 pounds. You could also use pre-cut butternut squash, but you might need to adjust the cooking time due to smaller cuts or less butternut squash.
- extra virgin olive oil or aquafaba: This will help the seasonings stick to the squash. Feel free to use broth or water as a replacement.
- dried thyme: I find that there isn't much of a flavor difference between dry thyme and fresh. For this recipe, I think dried works better because it sticks to the squash and doesn't fall through the basket.
- granulated garlic
- fresh cracked pepper
- fresh sage: I don't love the taste of dried sage, so I decided to use fresh. To keep it from falling through the basket, I place the whole sage leaves on top of the squash. As they cook (and when you stir the squash) they will break into smaller peices.
- You can use a variety of seasonings for butternut squash. I think it also tastes really great with curry powder or other Indian spices like garam masala.
- If you don't have aquafaba and want to keep it oil-free, use a little veggie broth or water. This will just help the seasonings to stick.
- This recipe would also work with pumpkin, acorn squash, or other types of winter squash.
How to peel and cube butternut squash
- Start by washing the butternut squash. Then cut off the top and bottem.
- Cut the squash in half, seperating the thinner neck from the fatter/rounder gourd. You will need a sharp chef's knife for this. Don't try this will a small, dull knife: you will risk cutting yourself.
- Next, peel or cut off the exterior skin. I actually prefer to use a chef's knife to remove the skin from the thinner neck (It's a simple, straight cut.) And I prefer to use a vegetable peeler on the rounded section. You can choose whichever method you prefer.
- After the skin is removed, cut both the top and bottom parts in half from top to bottom.
- Use a soup spoon to scoop out the seeds and insides of the squash.
- To cube the squash, I like to first cut the top cylynder in half, then cut those in strips lengthwise and then into cubes.
- To cube the bottom part of the squash, I cut the round part from top to bottom into quarters. Then I cut those quarters into lengthwise strips. Finally I cut those strips into cubes.
- And that's it! If this is your first time cutting a butternut squash, just know that the process gets easier and less daunting after a few times.
How to roast butternut squash in an air fryer
- Preheat the air fryer to 375F or 190C.
- Trim, peel and cube the butternut squash. (For tips, see above.)
- Add the cubed butternut squash to a mixing bowl with oilive oil or aquafaba. Mix to coat the cubes. Then sprinkle the thyme, garlic, and salt over the top and add some fresh cracked pepper. Stir until all of the seasonings are evenly distributed.
- Wash the sage leaves and trim off the stems.
- Add the butternut squash to the air fryer. Place the sage leave on the top. (The sage leaves will cook and break up on thier own. Keeping them whole keeps them from falling through the air fryer basket.)
- Cook for about 20 minutes, stopping at 10 and 15 minutes to shake the basket or stir the cubes around a bit. (The cubes on the exterior will brown faster than those on the interior, so moving them will help will more even cooking.)
- When the squash is cooked all the way through and nicely browned it's done. Taste to adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve and enjoy right away!
- Why did my butternut squash burn? If you have less squash in the basket or the cubes are on the smaller side, they might cook faster. Be sure to check the squash at 10 and 15 minutes to see if you should lessen the cooking time. If you find that the exterior is brown but the inside is still hard, then you need to lower the cooking temperature and lengthen the time.
- Why didn't my butternut squash cook all the way through? If you have a very large squash or if your cubes are on the larger side, they might take a little longer to cook through. Add more time and check at 2 to 3 minute intervals to make sure the squash doesn't burn.
- Why didn't my butternut squash brown on the outside? If your squash is fully cooked but the outside isn't browning you can try turning the temperature up to the highest setting and cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes. Alternatively, your basket could be too full. Remove half of the squash from the basket and cook in two batches. The more exposed the squash cubes are to the hot air in the air fryer, the better they will brown.
How to serve
- I like to serve this as a side dish. It goes perfectly with a main dish like Lentil Shepherd's Pie, Vegan Baked Feta Pasta, or Chick-fil-A style Tofu Nuggets.
- You could also make a meal of seasonal sides. I think this would be delicious with roasted brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce.
- Roasted butternut squash is also perfect for topping a fall salad (cold or warm). I would pair it with this Creamy Balsamic Dressing.
- Add this air fried butternut squash to a creamy curry dish!
- Leftovers can be pureed to add to a soup or use as a subsititute in this Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese.
- Butternut squash is a perfect side dish for a holiday meal like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah.
Can I make it ahead?
You can. Although I prefer to eat this butternut squash fresh out of the air fryer, it could be made ahead and reheated or served cold.
How to store & reheat
- Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Reheat in the microwave, oven or skillet.
- Leftovers would make a perfect addition to a butternut squash soup or salad. Or you can blend it and use it as a ravioli filling.
Want more vegan air fryer side dishes? Check out some of my favorites below, or head over to this collection of the Best Vegan Air Fryer Recipes!
- Air Fryer Broccoli
- Air Fryer Summer Squash
- Air Fryer Asparagus
- Air Fryer Green Beans
- Air Fryer Pasta Chips
Air Fryer Butternut Squash
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or aquafaba
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- fresh cracked pepper (to taste, about ¼ teaspoon)
- 8 leaves fresh sage
- Preheat the air fryer to 375F or 190C.
- Cut, peel, and cube the butternut squash. (See tips and instructions above if you've never done it before.)
- Add the butternut squash cubes to a mixing bowl. Drizzle olive oil or aquafaba over the top and mix until the cubes are coated.
- Sprinkle the dried thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper over the top. Mix again until the seasonings are evenly distributed.
- Wash the sage leaves and trim off the ends. Set aside. (Do not cut the sage!)
- Add the butternut squash to the air fryer. Place the sage leaves on top of the butternut squash.
- Cook the butternut squash for 18-22 minutes, stopping about halfway and then ¾ of the way to shake the basket and stir everything around.
- When the squash is fully cooked and nicely browned it's ready to serve. Taste to adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve and enjoy right away!
- You can use pre-cut butternut squash. 1 bag will serve about 4. Since the cuts are sometimes smaller and thinner, you might need to cut the cooking time. Be sure to watch it very closely and check at the 10-minute mark to see how fast it's cooking.
- The amount of squash and the size of the chunks will affect the cooking time somewhat. Be sure to check the squash and adjust accordingly so that it doesn't burn.
- I used a butternut squash that was a little over 3 pounds. This made about 6 to 8 servings.
- Nutritional information is an estimate based on 6 servings.
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