With the chillier days starting to roll in, I’m all about the cozy fall meals right now. This air fryer squash has been on the menu a lot lately. The acorn squash is roasted to perfection in the air fryer, topped with a little brown sugar and warm spices like cinnamon and cloves.
Using an air fryer
I bought my mom an air fryer two years ago for Christmas, and she has been obsessed with it ever since. I get texts from her weekly about the various dishes she’s whipped up in there. And not even joking, she keeps an air fryer in her office and will randomly cook up lunch in there at work.
This year, she got me one as a gift. I had been putting off experimenting with it, but lately I’ve been playing around with quite a bit – and I can see why she loves it! It’s so easy to cook things quickly and very versatile as far as what you can cook in it.
I’m assuming you probably have an air fryer if you’re scoping out this recipe, but if you’re not familiar with it – essentially, it’s an appliance that pumps hot air into the cooking chamber. Almost like a mini convection oven.
The idea is that the forced air can help cook foods more quickly, and in certain cases, “fry” them with less oil. We’re not frying any squash in this recipe, but you can “roast” the squash in the air fryer far more quickly than using a standard oven.
Here’s a few recommended models if you’re looking to purchase an air fryer (disclosure – amazon affiliate links; I earn a commission on qualifying purchases):
(Note – the quart size indicates how big the food basket is; think about whether you’re generally making food for the entire family or just for you, as well as counter space. We have a large 7 quart one and I love it.).
How to make air fryer acorn squash
Alright, let’s put that air fryer to good use! You only need a few ingredients to make this simple side dish:
- Acorn squash
- Olive oil
- Brown sugar
- Ground cloves
- Chopped pecans (optional)
You’ll first chop the acorn squash in half and remove the seeds. Then drizzle a little olive oil on each half.
Next, sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves on. If you’d like, sprinkle on the (optional) chopped pecans).
Now just pop them in your air fryer and cook ‘em for about 20-25 minutes, and you’ve got the most tender and delicious air fryer acorn squash!
So easy, right?!
One thing to note – we have a large 7-quart air fryer at home so I have no problem fitting both halves in the air fryer at once. If you have a smaller one, you might need to divide them up and do one half at a time.
Tips for choosing and storing acorn squash
If you’ve never cooked with acorn squash before, they generally look like the photo below – a small round, relatively small squash (in comparison to larger ones like butternut or spaghetti squash). They’re usually green on the outside with twinges of orange.
But there’s also a variety called golden acorn squash, which is what you can see in this next photo. These have a complete orange skin instead.
It’s important to keep in mind that these are two different varieties of acorn squash. If you’re buying acorn squash at the grocery store, often they will only have the traditional variety. In that case you want to look for that firm, greener skin (streaks/twinges of orange are fine). When regular acorn squash has a fully orange skin, they risk being overripe (which can be dry and stringy).
This is different than a golden acorn squash or a Thelma acorn squash, which can be fully orange and perfectly ripe.
Once you’ve purchased your acorn squash, I recommend leaving it in a cool, dry place – like a cool pantry or storage area – until you’re ready to use it. It actually tends to last longer when stored around 50-55 degrees compared to when stored in the refrigerator.
Nutrition benefits of acorn squash
One of the reasons I love this air fryer squash as a side dish is because it’s a great source of healthy carbohydrates for active women. Those carbs help fuel our muscles, but we want them to come packed with other nutrients too – which is exactly how acorn squash works.
For example, a serving of this recipe (half the squash with toppings) contains:
- 8 grams of fiber, key for gut health and something 90+% of Americans don’t get enough of!
- 28% of your Vitamin C needs to support immune health
- 10% of your daily iron needs, key for transporting oxygen in the blood to your muscles
- 21% of your daily potassium needs, an electrolyte lost in sweat that’s involved in many roles in the body
Not bad for an easy side dish to add to your meal – am I right?!
I hope you enjoy this air fryer acorn squash as much as my family does. If you get a chance to try it, be sure to leave a recipe rating or comment below.
This air fryer acorn squash is the ultimate cozy fall side dish! It's roasted to perfection in the air fryer with a sweet sugar, spice, and pecan topping.
- 1 medium acorn squash
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tbsp chopped pecans (optional)
- Cut acorn squash in half lengthwise and spread olive oil on flesh side.
Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and (optional) pecans together. Sprinkle on the squash.
- Place the halves cut side up in the fryer basket. Cook for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees.
- This recipe makes 2-4 servings, depending on if you're eating half the squash or a quarter of the squash.
- If using a smaller air fryer, you may need to do only one half at a time. You may need to adjust the cooking time down to 15-20 minutes per half.
Nutrition analysis (approximate for half a squash):
210 calories, 9.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 10 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 2.5 g fiber, Vitamin A: 13%, Vitamin C: 28%, Calcium: 9%, Iron: 10%