This Paleo Air Fryer Acorn Squash recipe is roasted to perfection with buttery ghee, sweet maple syrup, and nutty, crunchy hazelnuts. It’s the perfect Vegetarian, Paleo, and Gluten Free friendly side dish for a holiday celebration or a weeknight dinner!
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Air Fryer Acorn Squash
And then there are the Big Cooking Days. You know what days I mean, right? Parties, get togethers, holidays.
The days you spend so much time prepping and planning for in advance. The days that oven space is at such a premium you half wonder if you should rent the AirBnb down the road just to have a second kitchen to cook in.
With Thanksgiving approaching, I’ve been scheming ways to make things easier. Enter my trusty air fryer!
When you make acorn squash in the air fryer, it only takes about 1/3 of the time it would take to cook in the oven, plus you get to keep the oven space for the turkey. Score!
And this maple syrup and ghee roasted acorn squash is unbelievable. It’s w fantastic sweet and savory side dish. The first time I made it, my husband took one bite and said, “Oh man, this is like candy!”
So here’s what you need to make this perfectly sweet and savory recipe in your own home.
- Acorn Squash: The star of the show!
- Hazelnuts: Chopped hazelnuts bring out the nutty notes in the acorn squash and add a nice crunch.
- 100% Maple Syrup: This adds deep, sweet flavor. Alternately, use sugar free maple syrup for a lower carb option.
- Ghee: Ghee is made by removing the milk solids from butter, so it’s Paleo compliant. You can substitute an equal amount of butter if that works for you. I like Tin Star ghee. For added flavor, you could use an herby compound ghee.
- Salt & Pepper
Making the Recipe
First things first, you need to preheat your air fryer. Turn it to 400F.
Meanwhile, cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Acorn squash are notoriously difficult to cut through, but to make it a bit easier: Microwave the squash for 1-2 minutes, then allow it to cool. This softens the skin just enough to make it easier for your knife to cut through smoothly.
Once the squash are cut in half, scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Set inside your preheated air fryer, leaving a little space between each.
Spoon ghee inside each squash, and rub it gently onto the sides and cut side of the squash. Pour in the maple syrup and season gently with salt and pepper. Close the air fryer and cook for 14-16 minutes, depending on the size of your air fryer.
Last, transfer the squash to a plate or platter and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. I like to toast the hazelnuts first to bring out their nutty flavor, but that’s an optional step you can skip if you’d like.
*Important Note: If your air fryer baskets are deep and adding ghee and maple syrup in a preheated air fryer is a hand burn risk, prep the squash separately BEFORE you transfer them to the hot air fryer. I prefer to add the ghee and maple syrup once the squash is set in the air fryer to avoid the squash tipping and spilling over during transfer, but risk of a burn is not worth it.
You can definitely make this recipe using a traditional oven if that works better for you! Either way will be absolutely wonderful. To cook in the oven:
Preheat your oven to 400F. Lay the squash halves on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spoon the ghee into each squash half and use the back of the spoon to rub the ghee onto the sides and flesh. Add the maple syrup and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, depending on the size of your squash, until cooked through and tender.
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And I’d love to hear about your experience making it. Tag me on Instagram or leave a comment here!
Air Fryer Acorn Squash with Maple Syrup & Hazelnuts
- 2 medium acorn squash
- 2 Tbsp ghee
- 2 Tbsp 100% maple syrup or swap sugar free maple syrup for a lower carb option.
- 1 Tbsp chopped hazelnuts
- pinch cinnamon optional
- Preheat your air fryer to 400F.
- Meanwhile, cut each squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Carefully add the squash to your air fryer basket.
- Spoon 1/2 Tbsp of ghee inside each squash half, and use the back of the spoon to rub a little ghee onto the sides and cut side of the squash.
- Pour 1/2 Tbsp of maple syrup into each squash half.
- Season lightly with salt and pepper and close the air fryer. Cook for 16-18 minutes, until softened and crispy on the edges. Test by poking through the flesh with a paring knife. If it slides smoothly, it's done!
- Carefully remove the squash from the air fryer and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and cinnamon, if using. Serve immediately.