Better Than Butternut: Roasted Delicata Squash Recipe

by | Nov 4, 2013
Roasted Delicata Squash

Roasted Delicata Squash

I have a confession to make: I should have posted this recipe a long time ago.

It has been over a year since I discovered delicata squash, and I instantly fell in love. But let me start at the beginning.

Like most people, I hadn’t heard of delicata squash before, but was a big fan of butternut. Butternut squash tastes rich and sweet, and has a wonderful texture. It’s also very filling, and is a fantastic substitute for more starchy carbohydrates.

But anyone who has tried to cook with butternut squash knows it isn’t easy to work with. Butternut squash are huge, have a tough outer skin and take longer than most vegetables to cook through.

Lazy people don’t cook butternut squash. And I came to accept the fact that I am one of those people.

But last winter everything changed. Somewhere around the blogosphere I heard that not all winter squash require peeling. To me the difficult (and sometimes painful) peeling is the hardest part of cooking winter squash, so I was instantly intrigued about the possibility of alternatives.

I was delighted to learn the beautiful green Japanese “pumpkin” kabocha squash don’t require peeling (woohoo!). I also discovered delicata.

Delicata Squash

Delicata Squash

Delicata are much smaller than most winter squash, making them substantially easier to get home from the market and more amenable to the needs of a small household. More important, delicata squash are a cinch to clean, cut and cook, making them any winter squash lover’s dream.

Did I mention their flavor is even richer and their texture more creamy than butternut?

I prefer to roast my delicata squash in a metal pan, allowing the outer edges to brown and caramelize. While a Pyrex or ceramic pan will also work, I’ve found that I get better browning when I use metal to cook in. Foil will likely give you the same effect, but I haven’t tried.

The caramelization creates an almost sweet potato like flavor. Fans call the recipe my “squash fries,” even though they are baked in the oven. Needless to say I make this recipe all the time.

Roasted Delicata Squash Recipe

Serves 2-4 as a side dish


  • 2-4 delicata squash, depending on size (~1.5 lbs)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Clean the delicata squash by running under warm water and scrubbing away dirt with your hands. If there are any hard spots on the squash, you can scrape them off with a butter knife.

With a sharp knife, cut delicata in half lengthwise. This should be easy and not require any crazy hacking. With a spoon scoop out the seeds and discard (you can save these and prepare them like pumpkin seeds if you wish). Cut each delicata half into 1/2 inch segments, creating moon-shaped pieces that have slight bumps around the curve.

Arrange the pieces in a single layer in a metal baking pan and coat in 2 tbsp olive oil. Too much oil can make the squash soggy. Salt gently. It’s okay if the pieces are a little crowded, but try to maximize the surface area of the squash touching the pan. The browning only occurs where the squash and pan meet.

Place in oven and roast 10 minutes. Using a spatula (I use tongs for most veggies, but delicata squash are easily squished and hold up better if you don’t pinch them) turn the squash in the pan so that the light sides are now touching the pan and the brown sides are facing upward.

Continue roasting, turning every 7-10 minutes until both sides of the squash pieces are golden brown and the texture is creamy to the teeth all the way through, about 25-30 minutes. Adjust salt.

Serve as a side dish with the rest of your dinner.

Originally published Sept 19, 2012.

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149 Responses to “Better Than Butternut: Roasted Delicata Squash Recipe”

  1. laura says:

    Perfect timing…just saw the delicata at Trader Joes today and was wondering what to do with them…problem solved and thank you for the inspiration!

    • Helen says:

      Agreed! I just picked some up from Trader Joe’s too. Sticker on the squash says to cook skin side down in water, but I love the flavor of roasted squash. Can’t wait to try this…thanks!

    • b says:

      This recipe was a flavorless waste of an otherwise lovely squash.

      • Rebecca says:

        I disagree! I just tried this recipe and have never prepared delicata before. It was so delicious.

  2. Heidi says:

    Thank you so much for being a continued motivator for me! I haven’t experimented with Delicata squash, but I have read about it a few times this season. As a result of your post, I picked one up yesterday from the store! I can’t wait to give it a try! My goal is to get my kids to eat it!

  3. Looks great- and seems simple too. Will have to give this a try! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  4. Chris says:

    Wow! Thank you, these are excellent! They do taste like french fries, but classy ones :)

  5. John says:

    I just got a Sweet Potato Squash in my weekly CSA box. sounds like a great dish for dinner tomorrow. Thank you.

  6. I love this recipe and cannot wait to try delicata squash. Thank you for posting. I am searching new recipes since I found that much of the food I eat doesn’t help my immune system. I have a lot of ideas about diseases at my blog [link removed] . I hope you can come visit.

  7. JeffDetroit says:

    I got 4 of these at Detroit Eastern Market last Saturday for $1 total.

  8. Bill Freese says:

    Due to odd circumstances, I did Thanksgiving alone this year. I received a delicata via a community garden at work. I never cook, but I managed to find a pan and gave this a try. Delicious! Much thanks.

  9. Juliet says:

    You are not kidding! This is the best squash I have ever tasted by far! I’m not a huge squash fan, and I found it hard to believe that just putting a little olive oil and salt could make it this good, but this recipe was amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing!

    • Darya Rose says:

      Awesome! And good for you for trying something you weren’t particularly fond of before. Most people wouldn’t do that and it really takes courage to step out of your comfort zone.

  10. Samantha says:

    is it your experience that delicata is only around for a brief period and then disappears? I was able to get it in abundance back in Sept/Oct at places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but now I can’t find it anywhere. Only butternut, acorn, and spaghetti. :( I live in the Chicago area.

  11. Serena says:

    Hi Darya,

    Thanks for the recipe! I notice that yours, unlike most, leaves the skin on. Could you share your reasons for this?

  12. I haven’t tried this squash but I will as soon as I can find some.
    Back to butternut squash – did you know you can prick the squash as you do a potato and bake it whole and unpeeled in the oven?
    Bake at 400 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes depending on the size of the squash. Remove and when cooled, just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and remove the squash from the shell. It has that wonderful sweet flavor of roasted vegetables.
    You can make an easy pureed squash apple soup in about 10 minutes without adding any seasonings except nutmeg or cinnamon.
    Just simmer together the roasted squash, 2 peeled apples and 2-3 cups of chicken stock and puree when everything is soft. Add more stock if needed. Add cream if desired.

  13. J. Rossi says:

    Back to other types of squash not mentioned here…try ButterCUP squash! Looks just like an acorn squash but has a little extra cup shape on the bottom with funny looking bumps.

    Buttercup is richer and nuttier (like chestnuts) than any other I have tasted. Just prick a few wholes in it, put it in a micro safe bowl and nuke for about 7 minutes. Turn over in the bowl and do it again maybe for 5 minutes. Repeat if needed til the whole squash feel collapsed and soft. Cut open, release the steam and scoop out the seeds. Eat the remaining squash (minus the skin). I love it and hope you do too.

  14. Joan says:

    I love Delicata squash as well, and agree that slicing and roasting it on a metal pan is the best way to appreciate it. In fall when I still have fresh Lemon Verbena in the garden, I like to chop some leaves and sprinkle it on the finished dish. I think you can use other fresh herbs for it as you like, but the verbena’s scent and delicate flavor is a great match for this.

  15. Tanoi says:

    Wow! I would never have tried this if it weren’t in my organic produce box, but after this recipe I’m glad I did. We weren’t sure if we should eat the skin, but we did and it was fine. My kids loved dipping them in ketchup, as they did taste like sweet potato fries…only better! Now I’m wishing this was in season longer since I prefer these. Glad I found this easy, delicious recipe!

  16. Linelle Lane says:

    I found Delicata squash for the first time at Trader Joe’s. I like the size and the fact that I didn’t have to peel it like with butternut. There’s a recipe on the label similar to yours but adds black pepper. It is divine! I was skeptical that the skin would be edible but it’s quite tender. I’m having dome leftovers for lunch. An excellent find!!!

  17. Ian says:

    My local council (here in Ireland) has a walled garden where they grown organic veg and sell it each week. I saw these squash today, liked the look of them, bought 3 for £1 (about $1.50) and found your suggestion for preparing them. So glad I did, they were delicious. We had them with haddock. I’ll be keeping an eye on your blog for other ideas. Thanks!

  18. Joanna says:

    Silly question: do you eat the skin/rind? or just munch around it and eat the soft part.


  19. Joanna says:

    Silly question: do you eat the skin/rind? or just munch around it and eat the soft part.

  20. Amanda says:

    Delicious! Your directions were easy to follow and spot-on, right down to mentioning using a spatula to flip the delicate pieces and not using too much oil. We’re not huge squash fans but we’re definitely making this again. I sprinkled a dash of cinnamon on some of my done pieces and it was just as good as with plain salt.

  21. Allie says:

    Just discovered this gemstone of a squash and WOW. Highly suggest tossing these roasted slices with rosemary, kale and cannellini beans (sautee some shallot with a balsamic/honey mix if you think you can handle the amazingness)

  22. Dariece says:

    Love delicata squash! Thank you for the recipe. I have found you can make quick and easy work of peeling a butternut squash if you have a good potato peeler. Peel it just like a potato before you cook it. The skin is actually very thin and peels off easily.

  23. beverly says:

    at the age of 58 yrs young, am just now cooking this type of squash, thanks for the tips.

  24. Mary says:

    Thanks for this recipe! I think I will try it for Thanksgiving this year. The only way I have made Delicata is slicing it in half, and baking with honey and butter. Now that we have a Trader Joe’s in town and they have it now, it’s easy to find.I can’t wait to try this!

  25. Marilyn says:

    These squash are also easy to grow in your own garden. Plant in late spring in modt areas. I am cooking one this week.

  26. cheryl Lynn says:

    Love this squash. Found it two years ago at a farmers’ market, saved the seeds, and planted them. They have come back two years now in exactly the same shape (oval) as the ones I bought. Easy to grow, as long as you have full sun and lots of room! I live in Illinois, and this year the plants came up as volunteers, so you don’t have to plant them indoors too early, or you can take a chance and put the seeds out as soon as the soil is warm enough.

  27. Dana Niteowlmom says:

    Oh I wanted to tell you I have discovered an easy way to cut & peel butternut and hubbard squash. If you poke a few holes in skin of squash put it in a hot oven 10-15mins you can cut it in half. Scoop seeds then coat inside cooking oil. Bake until soft then scoop out the squash for recipe. No need to peel. :)

  28. Jo says:

    Tonight was my first time ever trying delicata squash! I used your recipe and OMG it was SO good!!! Never thought I’d agree, but “Better than Butternut” is SPOT ON! I hope I can find these again! Thank you!

    • Jo says:

      Just wanted to add…I found them again, and this time I saved the seeds. Hopefully I’ll be able to grow my own next season!

  29. CHERYL says:

    Delish! Have you ever prepared a bunch and then frozen some to enjoy when out of season?

  30. Brickhorse says:

    I just cleaned up a delicata squash for lunch. Yum! They’re my favorite beacause of the delicate flavor and the ease of cooking. I buy them in bulk and eat them all fall and winter.

  31. John says:

    To be honest, I never eat delicata squash before, but the picture of the cooked squash looks yummy. I must look for it next time I go market with my wife and try to cook it : )

  32. Scooter says:

    It is tasty and easy to make. My children love it very much, thank you.

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