This Air Fryer Acorn Squash recipe makes a perfect fall side dish! Hints of cinnamon and maple syrup enhance the natural sweetness of acorn squash. Using an air fryer ensures a crispy exterior and tender interior, making a delicious blend of flavors in every bite! An ideal recipe for fall or winter dinners.
Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any fall or winter dinner, these air fryer acorn squash slices will make a welcome addition to your dinner table.
When I'm cooking a holiday meal, I often find my oven is full! The main dish, stuffing, and sheet pans of roasted vegetables take up all the space. Air fryer and Instant Pot to the rescue! Making Garlic Mashed Potatoes in my Instant Pot frees up space on the stovetop, too.
While I love butternut squash, acorn squash is also a favorite with my family. I often make this recipe for Garlic Parmesan-Crusted Roasted Acorn Squash and this one for Honey Balsamic Roasted Acorn Squash.
This week, I opted for sweet and spicy instead, and I made a simple side dish of acorn squash slices brushed with hints of cinnamon, maple syrup, and sea salt.
That sweet and salty contrast makes this recipe a definite winner!
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
- a short list of ingredients
- a sweet, salty, and slightly cinnamon-spicy flavor!
- easy to make
- squash is low in calories, high in fiber, and a good source of Vitamin C.
- an ideal side for the fall and winter months!
A handful of ingredients that you probably have in your pantry is all you need to make this acorn squash recipe. You'll find a list with quantities in the recipe card below.
- acorn squash: Choose a medium-sized squash that has smooth skin with no soft spots or cracks. The skin should be almost all dark green. For more tips, see "What do I look for when choosing an acorn squash?" in this post How to Cut an Acorn Squash Safely.
- olive oil: You'll brush this on the squash slices to help it brown nicely.
- cinnamon: You'll combine this with olive oil and salt and pepper to baste and flavor the squash.
- sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: Don't leave out the salt! It enhances the natural sweetness of the squash slices.
- maple syrup: You'll brush this on the slices to create a sweet and salty glaze during the last few minutes of cooking time.
Wash the squash thoroughly, removing any traces of dirt or debris.
Using a very sharp knife and a sturdy cutting board, slice off the ends of the squash.
Slice the squash in half from the stem to the tip, then remove the seeds and membrane with a metal spoon.
Turn the halves flesh side down, then cut the squash crosswise into slices about ¾ inch thick.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, cinnamon, sea salt, and pepper.
Preheat the air fryer to 390°F. for 3 minutes.
Using a paper liner or a silicone liner, arrange the squash slices in a single layer in the basket. Using a pastry brush, brush all over with the olive oil mixture.
Air fry for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the type of air fryer you have. Cook times vary between different models.
Once the slices are fork-tender and golden brown, baste them lightly with maple syrup. Air fry for another minute or two.
Arrange on a serving dish. Taste and add a little more sea salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Serve hot. You can garnish the dish with fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary if you'd like.
- Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds and membrane.
2. Cut the halves into slices.
3. Brush with a mixture of olive oil, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Air fry.
4. Brush with maple syrup for the last minute or two of cooking time.
Hint: Make sure to leave spaces between the slices so the hot air can circulate. If you crowd the air fryer basket, the squash will cook in its own steam and it won't develop a slightly crispy exterior. You may have to cook it in batches, depending on the size of your air fryer.
🔁 Substitutions and Variations
This recipe is naturally gluten-free and vegan as written. Feel free to make substitutions as follows:
- Maple syrup: You can use liquid honey to brush on the slices instead. For a spicy treat with a little heat, make Hot Honey Acorn Squash. Brush hot honey on the slices during the last minute or two of cooking time.
- Olive oil: Use melted butter instead of olive oil.
- Spices: You can add a tiny pinch of nutmeg if you'd like, or change the flavor profile completely by adding a pinch or two of dried red pepper flakes.
This acorn squash recipe was tested in a Ninja air fryer. (affiliate link) Cooking times vary considerably from one brand of air fryer to another. Check for doneness at intervals. The squash should be tender when pierced with a fork.
One of the best things about an air fryer is that you can open the basket, check, and reset the time for a few minutes more if needed.
Refrigerate leftover squash promptly in an airtight container.
To reheat, use your air fryer! Use the reheat function or heat at 350°F. for 4 to 5 minutes or until heated through.
If you'd like to freeze acorn squash, I'd suggest removing the skin after cooking, then mash or cube the leftovers to use in a soup or stew at another time.
❓ Recipe FAQ's
Acorn squash is very firm and can be tricky to cut. It's important to have a sharp knife, preferably a chef's knife with an 8-inch blade, and a sturdy cutting board. Follow my step-by-step directions for all the different ways to cut acorn squash in this post, How to Cut An Acorn Squash Safely.
It's not necessary to peel acorn squash as it is for butternut squash. The skin is edible and it can be very tender once it has been baked or air-fried, especially if the squash is fresh and young.
If you don't want to eat the skin, it is easy to remove once it's cooked. Leaving it on helps to keep the slices intact and makes a pretty presentation.
If you prefer to roast this in the oven, you can follow the recipe directions to prepare it. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat, then roast at 400°F. in the oven for about 20 minutes or until fork-tender. Brush the slices with the maple syrup, then return it to the oven to roast for a few more minutes.
🗒 More popular side dish recipes
Looking for other recipes like this? You'll find more ideas in this collection of 30 Holiday Side Dish Recipes.
These are a few of my favorite dishes to serve with acorn squash.
Did you make this acorn squash recipe?
When you make this air-fried acorn squash, please leave a comment and a star rating below. I love hearing how my recipes turn out for you!
Air Fryer Acorn Squash with Maple and Cinnamon
- 1 medium acorn squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin
- ½ to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon sea salt or Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- Wash the squash thoroughly, removing any traces of dirt or debris.Using a very sharp knife and a sturdy cutting board, slice off the ends of the squash.Slice the squash in half from the stem to the tip, then remove the seeds and membrane with a metal spoon.
- Turn the halves flesh side down, then cut the squash crosswise into slices about ¾ inch thick.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, cinnamon, sea salt, and pepper.Preheat the air fryer to 390°F. for 3 minutes.
- Using a paper liner or a silicone liner, arrange the squash slices in a single layer in the basket. Using a pastry brush, brush all over with the olive oil mixture.Air fry for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the type of air fryer you have. Cook times vary between different models.
- Once the slices are fork tender and golden brown, baste them lightly with maple syrup. Air fry for another minute or two.
- Arrange on a serving dish. Taste and add a little more sea salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Serve hot. You can garnish the dish with fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary if you'd like.