Roasted Delicata Squash with three different flavor options - brown sugar cinnamon, rosemary maple, or coconut curry - makes the most delicious side dish for a holiday meal or just dinner at home.
Learn how to cook Delicata squash in the oven so that it comes out perfectly tender and caramelized every time. From how to pick it, prep it, and three different flavor ideas, we've got you covered when it comes to this delicious winter squash.
If you love squash but hate the prep and hassle of preparing it, delicata squash is for you.
This is the easiest of all winter squash to cook. It has a thin and edible skin, a sweet flavor, and endless recipe options. Plus now that Trader Joe's offers organic pre-sliced delicata squash in the produce section - it's a no-brainer.
Why You'll Fall in Love with Delicata Squash
- Easier prep: The skin on the delicata squash is thin and edible! That means you can make this squash without peeling it.
- Cooks quickly: Unlike some other winter squash, delicata squash cooks in just 20-25 minutes making it ideal for busy weeknights.
- Crispy, sweet flavor: As it roasts, the sugar in the squash caramelizes making it crispy and sweet. Add some kosher salt and you have the perfect sweet and salty combination.
- Beautiful: If you are making a holiday meal, this squash is beautiful. Add some tangy goat cheese, dried cranberries, pomegranate arils, or fresh herbs for a beautiful presentation.
The other amazing thing about this squash is that when it is roasted in the oven, it gets caramelized and the thin pieces will get almost crispy. We always fight over the super thin, almost burnt pieces of delicata squash that taste almost like chips. They are so so good.
No matter how you make it, this winter squash should become part of all your fall menus. It's quick, easy, full of nutritional benefits, and super tasty. Love winter squash? Don't miss this Roasted Acorn Squash, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Butternut Squash Soup, and Butternut Squash Tacos.
Ingredients and Easy Swaps
- Delicata squash: Wash and dry the squash and then cut it into rings that are between 1/2-1 inch thick.
- Olive oil: Different fats create different flavors when roasting squash. For a richer flavor, use melted butter instead. For a nutty flavor, try unrefined coconut oil.
- Brown sugar: This is completely optional and can be left out for if you want a sugar-free dish. You could also use honey or maple syrup.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon is great for fall flavors but any spice will work with this squash. Use dried herbs, try taco seasoning, and keep things classic with salt and pepper.
- Salt and pepper: Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper provide the best flavor options.
What does delicata squash taste like?
Delicata squash tastes like a milder, slightly less sweet butternut squash and almost tastes like a mix between butternut squash and corn.
Some people also say the flavor reminds them of a mix between sweet potato and corn, which is why it is sometimes called the sweet potato squash.
The flesh inside the squash is yellow to orange and the seeds taste similar to pumpkin seeds when roasted.
How to know if a delicata squash is ripe?
When choosing this squash, it should be firm and feel heavy for its size. It should also be without any major blemishes or soft spots, and the skin should be free of any large wrinkles. When delicata squash is ripe and ready to eat, they are yellow in color and have green stripes. Unripe squash will have a greenish tint on the entire squash.
If you don't plan on using the squash right away, keep it in a cool and dark place until you are ready to use it. It will keep for a couple of weeks.
How to Prep Delicata Squash
Start by washing the skin of the squash well and removing any dirt. Since the skin will remain on the squash (it's edible!), you want to make sure it is nice and clean. Then cut both ends off the squash. This will make it more stable when you are slicing it.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and any stringy membrane. You can save the seeds for roasting or simply throw them away. If you are stuffing the squash or roasting it whole, you can stop here.
Place the squash, cut side down, on the cutting board. Slice into half moons, anywhere from 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick. The most important thing is to make sure that all the slices are around the same thickness so they cook uniformly. It can also be cut into chunks, I am just partial to the beautiful rings.
Is the skin on a delicata squash edible?
One of the best parts of using delicata squash is that the skin is edible and you don't have to peel the squash. This makes it the easiest of all the winter squash when it comes to preparation. Compared to other squash, the skin of the delicata squash is super thin, which is why it can be eaten. It also isn't bitter like some other vegetable skin. However, if you don't like the flavor or texture, you can peel the squash and roast it with the skin.
With its mild sweetness and somewhat earthy flavor, delicata squash works with almost any flavor combination and spices. You can go the simple route with olive oil, salt, and pepper or really kick things up with fresh herbs, Cajun seasoning, curry, and more.
Here are my three favorite ways to prepare squash.
- Brown sugar and cinnamon: This classic combination is a favorite for kids and adults alike and is great for the holidays. The brown sugar brings out the sweetness of the squash and cinnamon adds the perfect amount of warm spiciness. For each delicata squash (about 1.5 lbs), you will want to use 2 teaspoons of olive oil, one tablespoon of brown sugar, and 1/4-1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Toss the squash with the oil, sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper to balance the sweetness.
- Rosemary maple: Maple syrup is another natural fit for delicata squash since it brings out the natural sweetness and rosemary provides a nice counterpoint to that. To make it, you'll need to combine 2 teaspoons of olive oil with 1 tablespoon of real maple syrup and 2 teaspoons of fresh minced rosemary or 1/2-1 teaspoon dried rosemary for every delicata squash you are preparing.
- Coconut curry: Pairing curry powder with sweeter vegetables like squash and sweet potatoes just makes sense. It creates that delicious sweet and spicy combination that is so good. For this, toss the delicata squash slices with 2 teaspoons of coconut oil, 1-2 teaspoons of curry powder, and one tablespoon of brown sugar.
Recipe Ideas for Leftovers
If you are lucky enough to end up with leftovers, here are some delicious things to make with it.
- Salads: This squash is delicious in a salad. We love it paired with kale, arugula, and baby spinach. Add fall flavors with dried cranberries, apples, pears, or pomegranates.
- Squash tacos: Chop the leftovers into bite sized pieces and add them to warm corn tortillas with black bean, chipotle salsa, and cilantro for a tasty vegetarian meal.
- Grain bowls: Pair the leftover squash with cooked protein, rice or quinoa, and greens. Drizzle your favorite salad dressing on top.
- Pasta: Throw this into a big bowl of pasta with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and sundried tomatoes. Add pesto for even more flavor.
- Pancakes and waffles: Peel the roasted squash and mash it to use in pancakes or waffles. It works just like canned pumpkin.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about learning how to roast delicata squash.
The skin, flesh, and seeds of the delicata squash are edible! The skin is thin and is completely edible once it is roasted and softens a bit. The seeds can be roasted, just like pumpkin seeds. The only part that is technically edible, but not very delicious is the stringy flesh around the seeds. Most people discard that, but it could be cooked and pureed into a soup.
Squash is very hearty and you can actually chop it up 5 days in advance and just keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. This is great when you are prepping a holiday meal, since peeling and chopping squash can be time-consuming.
Roasted Delicata Squash
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
Delicata squash can also be roasted in cubes or in halves. Cubes will roast in 18-22 minutes. Roasting the squash halves will take 25-30 minutes.
For a non-sweet preparation, leave out the brown sugar and cinnamon. Add dried herbs or your favorite spice mix instead. We love it with garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.
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