Acorn squash is one of those vegetables that most people make only once a year, at most. I'm here to change and show you how EASY it is to cook acorn squash in an air fryer!
It's so much FASTER than roasting it. This recipe gives you two delicious ways to season the acorn squash, plus easy instructions for Air Fryer Acorn Squash.
Why I love air fryer acorn squash
Acorn squash has such a wonderful nutty taste that pairs well with sweet or with salty/savory seasonings. Before getting my air fryer (got an Instant Pot Vortex on Amazon!!), I've only roasted acorn squash in the oven (see my sausage stuffed acorn squash, and my honey roasted acorn squash).
Roasting acorn squash is delicious, but it takes SO LONG!
Here's why I love cooking squash in the air fryer:
- It's so much FASTER than roasting (20 minutes versus 45 minutes + preheating)
- It needs minimal prep
- It doesn't heat the whole house up
- It gets nice and roasted on top—so tasty!
- The skin peels away so easily, it practically peels itself once cooked
- It's a great way to get dinner on the table fast
More winter squash recipes: Butternut Squash Spinach Skillet
Acorn squash seasonings
In this recipe, I share a really easy, tasty savory seasoning for acorn squash. It's a little spicy, a little smoky, a little sweet, and a little salty. The perfect balance of flavors.
Should you choose to forego the savory seasonings, you can use a simple mixture of melted butter and maple syrup to brush over the acorn squash before air frying. Or use olive oil and honey. You can also add a pinch of cinnamon to highlight the sweetness. It's up to you!
- 1 acorn squash
- ½ tablespoon butter, melted (or olive oil)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
- ½ teaspoon onion powder (this ingredient and the ingredients below are optional, skip if you don't want a savory/spicy acorn squash)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1-2 pinches cayenne pepper, to taste (omit for no spice)
- ½ - 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
More winter squash recipes: Gochujang Roasted Butternut Squash
More winter squash recipes to try: Butternut Squash Chickpea Casserole
Step 1: Cut the acorn squash in half length-wise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. I like to dig the spoon into the flesh a little to make sure the seeds come out all in one scoop. Decision time! You can air fry the two acorn squash halves, or slice each half into ¾-inch wide strips. See recipe notes and tips below the instructions to help you decide, depending on the size of your air fryer.
Step 2: Decision time! Decide whether you want a sweet acorn squash or a sweet-n-savory slightly spicy acorn squash. If sweet, combine the melted butter with maple syrup and mix well with a fork until totally combined. If you want a sweet-n-savory version, combine all the ingredients and the spices in a small bowl and mix well.
Step 3: Place the acorn squash on the air fryer inner basket or tray. Brush with the melted butter mixture.
Step 4: If your air fryer requires preheating, preheat it to 350F. Air fry at 350F for 18-25 minutes, or until the acorn squash can be easily pierced with a fork. Serve hot.
The actual air frying time will depend on a few things: the size and thickness of your acorn squash, your air fryer, and how well you like your acorn squash. If you like a little bite to it, check on it after 18 minutes. If you like it softer or are planning on using it for mashed acorn squash, you might need to cook it for longer.
Air frying acorn squash tips
→ Slicing an acorn squash can be hard. Cut it in half length-wise by CAREFULLY using a sharp knife and slicing in one of the grooves. Your knife probably won't be able to go through the stem, but the stem should snap off, or it can stay on and it will be easy to cut off after air frying.
→ Do not peel the acorn squash! The skin is too hard to peel. It softens as it cooks and becomes much easier to peel off. If you cook the squash long enough, the skin actually separates from the rest of the acorn squash pretty easily!
→ Choose your acorn squash shape: The acorn squash is easier to eat when it's in 2 halves, but it looks pretty and can be divided into more portions if you slice it into half-moon shapes. If you're cooking acorn squash to stuff it with something, leave it in 2 halves. If you're cooking acorn squash to make mashed acorn squash, leave it in 2 halves because it will be easier to peel. If you want to serve a few pieces on a plate, slice it into half-moon shapes.
→ Choose your seasoning: Acorn squash tastes AMAZING by itself, brushed with a little melted butter or olive oil. Adding maple syrup or honey adds a nice sweetness. You can also add ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon if choosing to make sweet acorn squash. Acorn squash is also really good served savory (and a little spicy!). The seasonings I use give it a nice smoky-spicy-savory flavor.
→ How long to air fry acorn squash: The exact cooking time you need will depend on your air fryer model (they all cook a little differently!), the size, shape, and thickness of your acorn squash, and how cooked you like your acorn squash. Start checking on it after 18 minutes (pierce it with a fork, if it goes through easily, it's done!), but it might take as long as 25 minutes for it to be done to your liking.
What to serve with acorn squash
Acorn squash makes a great vegetable side dish for Fall, or year round. Whether you make sweet or savory acorn squash, you can serve it alongside these maple glazed pork chops and a side salad or rice. It's great with some grilled chicken or sausage and cheesy scalloped potatoes. Try this sausage stuffed acorn squash, where you air fry the acorn squash instead of roasting it.
Whatever you choose to serve it with, I hope it becomes a regular veggie on your dinner table!
If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!
Air Fryer Acorn Squash
- 1 acorn squash
- ½ tablespoon butter melted
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
- Cut the acorn squash in half length-wise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
- Decision time! You can air fry the two acorn squash halves, or slice each half into ¾-inch wide strips, or do half and half. See recipe notes below the instructions to help you decide.
- Decision time! Decide whether you want a sweet acorn squash or a sweet-n-savory slightly spicy acorn squash. If sweet, combine the melted butter with maple syrup and mix well with a fork until totally combined. If you want a sweet-n-savory version, combine all the ingredients and the spices in a small bowl and mix well.
- Place the acorn squash on the air fryer inner basket or tray. Brush with the melted butter mixture.
- If your air fryer requires preheating, preheat it to 350F. Air fry at 350F for 18-25 minutes (see notes below for cooking time tips), or until the acorn squash can be easily pierced with a fork. Serve hot, or cool to peel and mash.
- plan to stuff it with something
- want to make mashed acorn squash
- have a small air fryer that won't fit all the sliced half moon shapes in one batch