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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193 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!

      • Karen says:

        I also bought mine from Trader Joe. I noticed a lady telling another lady how good they were. Needing to try new vegetables for health reasons, I proceeded to ask this sweet lady how she cooks them. She almost drooled when telling me, “Oh honey I just cut them in half and roast them flesh side down. When they are done in about 30 minutes I turn them over and put butter on them and sprinkle with a little bit of brown sugar.” I thanked her and put some in my cart. A marriage took place that day! I was wed to delicate squash. :)

    • 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.

      • foody says:

        I too disagree!!!! Delicious!! It may be that you generally over season your food.

      • Martie says:

        These were great. All I did was toss in two capfuls of olive oil a little salt and pepper and baked till golden brown. I haven’t had a french fry in 3 months cause I’m on a diet. This tasted like french fries 99 percent. i put extra salt and ketchup on mine just like my frys. Thank thank you thank you. My wife loved them also with ketchup and no salt. What a carb substitute!!!!

      • Jane says:

        Not worth the effort–have to pick up the squash pieces with your fingers to suck out the flesh. All that cutting and oil, just cut in half, deseed, bake and season. Much easier.

      • Cathy Meyer says:

        I just took this easy delicata squash recipe to our block party this weekend:
        Slice 3 squash in half lengthwise & scoop out seeds.
        Slice into half moons about 1/4 inch thick
        Slice 2 peppers (I used red ones) into strips
        Slice 2 onions into rings
        Mix 3 T olive oil, 2 T maple syrup, 1 T dijon mustard, salt & pepper; pour mixture over vegetables in a bowl
        Put vegetables on cookie sheet in single layer
        Roast at about 400-425 for 30 min, stirring halfway through. Done!

      • ReaderRita says:

        @Jane: you know you can eat the skin, right? It’s all crispy and wonderful when cooked like this…

  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.

    • Jan says:

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    • jan says:

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  7. JeffDetroit says:

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

    • Dottie says:

      Have you ever made a pie with it

      • Kelley says:

        Haven’t tried delicata in a pie, but I bet it would work. A couple years ago for Thanksgiving, I wanted to make the traditional family sweet potato pie. I didn’t have any sweet potatoes or yams, but I DID have a sweet meat/Hubbard squash, and I used my Aunt Trusie’s sweet potato pie recipe, replacing sweet potatoes with Hubbard squash (adjusting a little for the slightly different texture – I think I added a little flour), and it was divine!

      • Victoria says:

        We bought a couple of Delicata squash to try mostly because the young man selling them said he had made pumpkin pie using them instead of pumpkin, and everyone thought it was the best “pumpkin” pie they had ever tasted.

  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.

    • Darya Rose says:

      It’s definitely seasonal and does start disappearing this time of year. :/

      • Laura Sperry says:

        It may be disappearing this time of year but my cold storage pantry ..just a shelf in a cold room. . Is full of them from my garden. Easy to grow, easy to keep and delicious to eat!

    • Elaine says:

      Unlike most winter squashes, Delicatas don’t store well. You gotta eat ’em while they’re available and then wait for next year’s crop. (They also don’t take to freezing, like most squashes, so we’re out of luck once they no longer appear.

      I prefer to bake the halves and then eat them with an iced tea spoon (scooping out the lovely ‘meat’)…just a dab of butter and maybe some honey or agave (which really isn’t necessary.) They have great flavor, and this way you don’t have to keep taking them out and turning them.

      • Morgan says:

        I disagree, I just cooked one that I got in my CSA box back in September, and it was still wonderful! Had just been sitting on my butcher block this whole time. My kitchen is very cool though as I don’t have duct heat.

      • Laura Sperry says:

        They do store will if you know how to store them. Don’t keep them in the refrigerator Wal them and spray them with a light solution. .like 10 to 1 .. if bleach water dry in open and store in a dark cool place. They will last for month, same as other winter squash and pumpkin.

  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?

    • Darya Rose says:

      Because it’s easier and tastier :)

    • Kim says:

      Because the skin is thin enough to eat; peeling simply isn’t necessary. Plus they look so much more beautiful this way too. And think of the extra fiber you probably get from the skin. Then again, I’m someone who will scrub the fuzz off of kiwifruit and eat them whole (skin and all).

  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.

    • Sarai says:

      Thank you so much on the tips for a different way–hopefuly easier! to make butternut squash which I also love!!!Thank you!!!!!

      • Tanya says:

        For quick and easy Butternut, just poke a few holes in it, make sure you go all the way through to the center. Then pop it in the microwave and cook until it starts to fall. Let it cool, cut and scoop out the seeds. I make it this way on weeknights

  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.

    Thanks!

  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.

  33. Tara says:

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

  34. 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.

  35. 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!

  36. 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.

  37. steph says:

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

  38. 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.)

  39. 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.

  40. 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

  41. Ellie says:

    Simple and absolutely delicious! My new favorite! Thank you :-)

  42. 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!

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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).

  46. 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).

  47. 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!

  48. 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.

  49. Jenn says:

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

  50. Sally LePla says:

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

  51. Bob says:

    Try sprinkling with dry dill weed. It is delicious.

  52. 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.

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