Tender cubes of butternut squash, lightly seasoned and served with feta cheese crumbles and toasted sage leaves, make an easy side dish! This post describes how to cook butternut squash in an air fryer perfectly every time.
When summer turns to autumn and squash ripen on their vines, it's time to think about cozy dinners and wholesome, nutritious side dishes. This recipe for butternut squash with feta and sage will definitely make you appreciate fall's arrival!
Wondering how to cook butternut squash in an air fryer? You've come to the right place.
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
- Adding feta cheese and toasted sage leaves is an easy way to add interest and lots of flavour to butternut squash.
- Butternut squash tossed with a hint of maple syrup, smoked paprika and topped with feta cheese gives us that sweet and salty contrast we love.
- It cooks quickly and evenly in your air fryer, resulting in tender squash with crispy caramelized edges.
- Using your air fryer for a side dish frees up your oven for other dinner recipes.
Before we get to the full recipe for butternut squash with feta cheese and sage, here are a few notes about some of the ingredients.
- butternut squash: One medium butternut squash will yield roughly 2 to 3 cups of cubed squash. You can also buy it peeled and cubed if you want to save time. I don't recommend using frozen butternut squash in this recipe as I think the extra moisture in it may prevent the cubes from becoming crispy and caramelized.
- maple syrup: Pure maple syrup adds a hint of sweetness to complement the squash and to contrast with the salty feta cheese. It also helps the squash cubes brown and caramelize.
- smoked paprika: This spice adds a gentle smoky flavour to this savoury squash side dish. It's the perfect complement to butternut squash! If you like a lot of heat, add a pinch or two of dried chili flakes as well, (or a pinch of cayenne pepper.)
- feta cheese: I like cow's milk feta, but you can use either cow's milk or goat's milk feta cheese.
- fresh sage leaves: You'll cook these in a little butter or oil in a skillet, then drain them on a paper towel. They'll become deliciously crispy!
The hardest part of this recipe is cutting the squash, and that's not hard at all! (And if you like, you can buy it in a package, peeled, cubed, and ready to cook.)
The first thing you'll want to do is remove thin slices from both the top (stem end) and the base of your squash. Removing these parts gives you a firm base to stand your butternut upright to make it easier to peel. Peel it in long strips from one end to the other using a vegetable peeler.
Next, cut through the "neck" of the squash, the point where it widens. (This one in the photo didn't have a noticeable neck.) Slice the neck in half from top to bottom, the slice into half-moons about ¾ inch thick.
Remove the seeds from the squash with a spoon, and slice this part into rounds in the same way.
To make cubes, slice the half-moons into strips about ¾ inch wide and then cross-wise into cubes. Obviously, you won't have perfect cubes, as the squash is round!
Next, transfer the squash cubes to a bowl and toss with olive oil, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and an optional pinch of chili flakes or ground cayenne pepper.
Use an oil mister (or a brush) to lightly coat the air fryer basket with oil. Air fry at 390°F. for 6 minutes, stopping partway through to shake the basket and redistribute the squash.
Meanwhile, heat a teaspoon or two of butter or oil in a skillet. Add fresh sage leaves and cook over medium heat until they start to discolour and turn brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
Once the squash is cooked to your liking, transfer it to a warm serving dish, sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and toasted sage leaves and enjoy!
👍🏼 Top Tips
Air frying times vary widely depending on the type of air fryer you use. I have a Ninja air fryer. It heats up very quickly and cooks food much faster than some recipes recommend. The beauty of an air fryer is you can easily pause it, check for doneness and add a few more minutes if necessary.
🍽 Serving suggestions
Butternut squash is a popular side dish not only for holiday meals but for any fall or winter dinner. It's easy to prepare and it's very nutritious. Using your air fryer when you're cooking a holiday dinner is handy as it frees up the oven for other dishes.
It's delicious as a side dish for Air Fryer Rolled StuffedTurkey Breasts. Cook the turkey breast rolls first and keep them warm while you air fry the squash.
How to store and reheat butternut squash
This butternut squash side dish will be best when served fresh and hot. If you have leftovers, cover and refrigerate promptly.
To reheat, spread out on an oiled or parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and heat in the oven at 375°F. for 10 - 15 minutes or until heated through and slightly crisp.
🗒 More side dish recipes
📖 Recipe Card
Air Fryer Butternut Squash with Feta and Sage
- 3 cups butternut squash cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, extra virgin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 18 medium fresh sage leaves
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Peel a medium butternut squash. Cut through to separate the neck of the squash from the rounded base. Slice the neck in half from top to bottom, then slice into half moons. Slice these half-moons in strips, then into cubes. Try to keep the cubes roughly the same size. Of course, they won't all be perfectly shaped cubes! Do the same with the rounded base after removing the seeds with a spoon.
- Combine olive oil, maple syrup, smoked paprika and honey in a medium bowl, whisking to combine. Add the squash cubes and toss to coat evenly.
- Use an oil mister or brush to coat the grill pan lightly. Preheat your air fryer to 390°F. for 3 minutes, then add the squash cubes in a single layer. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may have to fry the squash in batches.
- Air fry for 5 minutes, remove the grill pan, toss to redistribute, then air fry for 1 minute more or until squash is fork-tender and has crispy edges. Cooking time will depend on the type of air fryer you have. Add more time if necessary.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the fresh sage leaves and cook for a few minutes until almost crisp. Remove to a paper towel to drain.
- Transfer cooked squash to a serving bowl, top with crisp sage leaves and feta cheese crumbles and serve right away.