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

Ingredients:

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

  1. 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 : )

  2. Scooter says:

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

  3. Tara says:

    Simple, easy, and delicious! I appreciated how the recipe brings out the natural flavor of this yummy vegetable.

  4. Carri says:

    Just discovered your website. I got Delicata Squash in my organic food delivery so I looked up how to use it and found you. I roast many vegetables including butternut squash. I didn’t care for the delicata squash, at least roasted as I do most other veg. I guess it’s because the flavor was fairly bland and dry. So I’ll pass on this recipe and choose butternut instead.

  5. Lisa says:

    I loved it! Super easy to make and appreciated the simple ingredients list, especially compared to the other recipes for delicata squash out there. I had the first serving in the same bowl I’d just finished a salad with oil & balsamic with and the flavor melded nicely with the little bit of dressing in the bowl. I had the next serving with a little honey mixed in – also great!

  6. Lisa Corcoran says:

    Question — I tried this recipe with some delicata squash I found at Trader Joe’s and it was delicious. Then today I used a different (slightly larger) delicata squash from another location, and while the inside was just as soft and tasty as before, the skin was still a bit tough. What happened, and how can I discern which will be good to use and which — not so much? Thanks.

    • Darya Rose says:

      That has happened to me only once, and I’m not sure what the reason. Maybe it was an older squash and the skin had toughened and thickened? I try to find the more orange/yellow squash as opposed to light yellow/green ones for best results, and avoid those with external growths (kinda like barnacles). Hope this helps.

  7. steph says:

    Love the look of this, I have never tried it so can’t wait to! Thanks.

  8. Andrea B says:

    If you have a Vitamix, any squash is easy–cook whole as long as needed for it to get tender–remove the stem and any hard parts (the end button). Toss it in the Vitamix skin, seeds, and all, process until smooth. Then do what you like (freeze, dehydrate into leather, etc.)

  9. Lorey says:

    You can cook. Utter it aquash without peeling. Wash it well then lay on it’s side. Start at the top with a strong sharp knife. Trim the stem, then slice the entire squash in 3/4 to 1 inch slices. Scrape away the seeds. Chop the slices in both directions to get small chunks. Now drop them into a pot of aduki beans and let them cook together. The peel will be as soft as the pulp, plus you’re getting more nutrients. You can also drop then into a pot of soup. I never peel butternut squash anymore.

  10. Lil says:

    I just went to the farm and picked up 5 different squashes will enyoy making them On the delicata I like to roast pears and dried cherries or cranberries with the squash
    I like to use apples cinnamon and nuts to stuff the acorn squash

  11. Ellie says:

    Simple and absolutely delicious! My new favorite! Thank you 🙂

  12. Annie says:

    I tried delicata squash for the first time this past Sunday using your recipe. It was so delicious! It tasted like shortbread cookies. Even my husband, who is leery of trying new vegetables, liked it. I liked it so much I am making a cake with it for Thanksgiving.

    • Kim says:

      Wow! I’d love to hear how you make a cake with it! That sounds like a great idea!

      • Annie says:

        I found a recipe online for a butternut squash bundt cake and used the delicata in place of it. I added a bit of water to the squash as I was pureeing it in the blender since it was a bit dry. The cake was delicious!

  13. Kim says:

    Some tips for peeling: My boyfriend has a peeler that’s Y-shaped, with the blade between the ‘v’ of the Y. That thing makes super quick work of any squash or pumpkin, the skin of which you want to remove. It also removes very little actual flesh, so as a tool for squash it’s really efficient from a time and waste perspective. I’ve also discovered that the fastest way to get the seeds out of a raw squash is to use a melon baller. I eat a lot of spaghetti squash and I can clean that thing with a melon baller in about 30 seconds flat…easier on the hands too instead of using a spoon. Those two kitchen tools are indispensable, making peeling and seeding a non-event. I’m trying to eat more seasonal veg and I’ve fallen in love with squash, so I’m always looking for ways to make it easier to prepare.

  14. Erin says:

    I have made this recipe a few times now, and it’s delicious. The only thing I added was fresh ground black pepper. I used a foil covered metal pan for easy clean up, and the squash browned nicely for me.

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I had never tried delicata squash before I found it.

  15. MeL says:

    I love the recipe; agree with earlier posters that spears are easier to manipulate than rounds (ran out of squash before I tried cooking whole halves…better luck next year).

  16. Steve says:

    Big fan of butternut squash, which is how I found your recipe. Now after reading this I will have to try this delicata squash which looks quite amazing (very pleasing shape as well).

  17. Kelley says:

    My husband introduced me to “sweet potato” squash when we first married 8 1/2 years ago. (His family always called delicata squash that because it tastes like sweet potato.) We cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and coat it with coconut oil. When it is cooked, we flavor with butter, maple syrup, sea salt, and cayenne pepper. DELISH! I definitely want to try this recipe, though, because eating the skin sounds like such a healthy idea. But I’ll be coating mine in coconut oil, sea salt, and cayenne – and dipping in maple syrup!

  18. Bonnie says:

    Oh So Good! I had never even heard of these before. I ate all three of them that I roasted. Oops! That felt so wrong. Feelings lie! Definitely easier than butternut squash. It’s great to have a new vegetable. Thank you so much.

  19. Jenn says:

    just roasted these with coconut oil and some salt & pepper. delicious!!

  20. Sally LePla says:

    These are totally delicious! Like very delicate French fries! Perfect recipe.

  21. Bob says:

    Try sprinkling with dry dill weed. It is delicious.

  22. Very good! says:

    This comes out delicious! My daughter eats it straight from the pan, it hardly ever makes it to the table. When she sees a delicata in the house, she asks when am I making it 🙂
    I don’t spread the pieces on the pan but rather arrange them in so they fit. It doesn’t come out crunchy, but it comes out soft and tasty.

  23. Faye says:

    I was given one from an Italian grower in the Kootenay area of British Columbia and I saved the seed. Threw these on my compost pile where I grow all my squash and low and behold they grew and are started to produce. He said they are by far the best and his most favorite of all the squash. I picked my first one tonight approx 9 x 4 inches. Haven’t got to cook it yet but looking forward to trying it. Thanks for the cooking tips

  24. Beth says:

    Just pulled three out of my garden and can’t wait to try this! Thank you!

  25. Elaine says:

    for those having trouble cooking butternut squash, there is an *easy* way to do it! Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash the outside of the butternut squash, use a sharp knife to poke a couple holes in the bulb end so steam can release during cooking. Pop the whole squash into the oven but make sure it’s on aluminum foil to catch any drips. Bake for approx. 1 hour or until outside gives a little when you press with your (gloved) finger. Remove from oven, cut in half, easily scoop out seeds and fibrous material. Then scoop out the delicious flesh. Easy peasy. You’re welcome. 😉

  26. Kim says:

    This is how I made mine and they were delicious!! I also sprinkled cinnamon on mine.

  27. Brenda says:

    I made it with the suggestion at the very top of this message board.
    The squash with onion and peppers. I added a bit of apple pieces as well.
    Figured with the maple syrup it work.
    WELL>>>hubby is NOT a big squash person and he kept going back for more.
    Also, sprinkled a touch of brown sugar as well.
    WILL make this again.

    PS.. I also got this squash as part of my CSA box.

    THanks for the hints.

  28. Valerie says:

    I tried these and then just made for my vegan daughter. We scarfed them up!
    We use the oil and spicy cajan seasoning, and/or nutritional yeast. Yum!
    The idea of a pie sounds great-also stuffed also….Next T-day. I just got the last organic ones from the farmer’s market in NYC. Season about done here.

  29. Valerie says:

    PS Bragg’s Liquid Aminos on top also yummy!

  30. Faye says:

    I love delicata squash and it is also my preference when available (summer/fall only here in Canada)

    Butternut squash doesn’t need to be peeled either though.
    And I’m surprised you use olive oil to bake at 425. Isn’t that above the smoke point, at which the oil breaks down?

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