Are you looking for a quick and easy side dish that will impress your guests? Look no further than this 20-minute, 1-bowl air fryer butternut squash recipe! With its perfect balance of crispy and caramelized exterior and tender, buttery interior, this dish is sure to become a favorite. Infused with warm and aromatic spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and thyme, it's a must-try for the holiday season. In this article, we'll provide you with a detailed guide on how to make air fryer butternut squash, along with some serving suggestions and variations to suit your taste.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Few ingredients: With just 5 ingredients and an air fryer, you're well on your way to a delicious roasted butternut squash side dish.
- Quick: No more waiting for your oven to preheat! The air fryer significantly reduces the cooking time.
- Crispy yet tender: The beauty of using an air fryer is achieving that impeccable balance of crispy exterior and soft, tender inside.
- Healthy: Butternut squash is not only visually appealing but also packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It's a wholesome addition to your meal.
Air Fryer Butternut Squash
If you're looking for a fuss-free side dish that can be whipped up in under 20 minutes, this air fryer butternut squash recipe is the answer! It requires less oil than traditional roasting recipes and comes together in just one bowl. Plus, you only need five ingredients (plus salt and pepper) to create this flavorful dish.
The buttery texture and slightly nutty flavor of butternut squash pair exceptionally well with warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and thyme. This dish is the missing piece on your Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner table!
Most air fryer butternut squash recipes cook at a high temperature for a shorter period, but the trick here is to slightly lower the heat and cook for a few more minutes. This technique results in expert-level caramelized butternut squash cubes with a tender interior.
Ingredients & Substitutions
To make air fryer butternut squash, you'll need the following ingredients:
- Butternut squash: Provides a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, amplified by roasting. If you can't find butternut squash, acorn or kabocha squash work well as substitutes.
- Olive oil: Helps in crisping the exterior of the squash cubes while keeping the insides tender. You can also use avocado, grapeseed, canola, or sunflower oil as alternatives.
- Ground cinnamon: Adds warmth and depth to the dish. For a flavor twist, you can try using allspice or pumpkin pie spice.
- Ground nutmeg: Imparts a slightly sweet and nutty aroma that complements the natural flavors of the squash. If you don't have nutmeg, ground mace can be used as a substitute.
- Dried thyme: Brings an earthy and slightly minty taste. If you prefer a more robust flavor, rosemary makes a good substitute.
- Salt & pepper: Enhance the natural flavors of the squash and the spices. Adjust the amount according to your taste preference.
For the complete ingredient list and a step-by-step guide, please refer to the recipe card below.
How to Make Air Fryer Butternut Squash
Now let's dive into the step-by-step process of making air fryer butternut squash:
Step 1: Prep the Squash Start by peeling your butternut squash and carefully removing the seeds with a spoon. Once peeled, cube the squash into even ½-inch pieces. Using a sharp, sturdy knife will make this process easier.
Step 2: Season the Squash In a large bowl, toss the squash cubes with olive oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, salt, and pepper until well combined. The addition of a touch of oil helps the spices adhere better to the squash.
Step 3: Air-Fry the Squash Transfer the seasoned butternut squash cubes into the air fryer basket, spreading them out in a single layer. Avoid overcrowding the basket to prevent the squash from steaming. Set your air fryer to 370°F and cook the cubes for about 18-20 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through. Keep an eye on them during the final minutes to avoid overcooking!
Step 4: Serve and Enjoy Serve the air-fried butternut squash immediately with fresh herbs on top. The crispy exterior and tender interior make this dish a delightful addition to any meal.
This air fryer butternut squash pairs well with a variety of mains, such as:
- Cauliflower steaks
- Vegan fried chicken
- Pan-Fried Tofu
- Vegan Spam
- Vegan chicken
Storage & Reheating
If you have any leftover air-fried butternut squash, here are some guidelines for storing and reheating:
- Fridge: Let the butternut squash cubes cool, then store them in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
- Freezer: While it's best to consume this dish fresh for the best texture, you can freeze cooked butternut squash in a sealed container or bag for up to a month.
- Reheating: To reheat the squash, place it in the air fryer at 350°F for about 5 minutes or until warmed through. This method helps revive some of its crispy exterior. Alternatively, you can use a microwave, but the texture will be softer.
Here are some variations you can try to add a twist to your air fryer butternut squash:
- Spicy: Add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes for some heat.
- Herbs: Mix in dried rosemary or sage to add an aromatic and extra festive twist.
- Garlic: Incorporate garlic powder into the seasoning mix to impart a more savory note.
- Sweet: Drizzle the butternut squash cubes with maple syrup or agave after cooking to enhance the sweet, caramelized flavors of the recipe.
To ensure the best results when making air fryer butternut squash, keep these tips in mind:
- Cut the squash evenly: Make sure the butternut squash is cut into small, uniform pieces for even cooking.
- Preheat the air fryer: While not completely necessary, preheating the air fryer for 3-5 minutes helps achieve a crispy exterior right from the start.
- Avoid overcrowding: Give the squash cubes enough space in the air fryer basket for optimal crispiness. Overcrowding can result in a steamed texture.
- Shake halfway: Toss the squash halfway through cooking to ensure all sides brown evenly.
- Cook in batches: If you have a smaller air fryer, it's best to cook the squash in batches to avoid overcrowding.
In conclusion, this 20-minute air fryer butternut squash recipe is a game-changer when it comes to quick and delicious side dishes. With its crispy and caramelized exterior and tender, buttery interior, it's a crowd-pleaser that will elevate any meal. Whether you're hosting a holiday gathering or simply looking for a flavorful addition to your dinner table, this recipe is a must-try. So grab your air fryer, gather the ingredients, and get ready to enjoy this delectable dish!