This easy recipe for sautéed delicata squash uses a simple and fast cooking method that lets the sweet, nutty flavor of the squash shine. Olive oil and butter, plus a light sprinkle of cinnamon and salt is all you need to enjoy this popular winter squash.
Delicata is a variety of winter squash that is especially easy-to-make. The skin is edible, which means you don't need to waste time peeling. Delicata also cooks quickly when thinly sliced and sautéed, which means you can have wholesome squash for dinner even when you're short on time.
Sautéed delicata squash has a creamy, soft texture and sweet, buttery flavor. The thin rind has a pleasantly chewy texture and very mild taste.
Roasted Delicata squash is delicious too, but roasting can take close to 45 minutes in the oven. Sautéing delicata squash is much faster. It's also easier during a holiday like Thanksgiving, because you don't have to take up oven space that you need for turkey and stuffing.
Looking for more winter squash recipes? Try spaghetti squash chicken parmesan.
You might also love Instant Pot sweet potatoes or Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes with maple-dijon dressing.
What is Delicata squash?
Delicata squash is a variety of winter squash. The season for winter squash runs from late summer through winter. Other popular varieties of winter squash include butternut, acorn, spaghetti and kabocha.
Delicata has an oblong shape and is pale yellow or cream with green stripes. Delicata does not need to be peeled because the skin is thin and edible. The texture of the cooked squash is soft and creamy with a mild, sweet flavor. There are several cooking methods that can be used for winter squash, such as roasting, baking, steaming or sautéing.
This recipe has just 5-simple ingredients: Delicata squash, butter, oil, cinnamon and salt.
Butter & Oil: You can use either vegetable oil or olive oil. If you like the flavor of coconut, then go ahead and use coconut oil. Butter gives the dish a rich, buttery flavor that is delicious. However, you can choose to skip the butter for a lighter version that is still really flavorful.
Cinnamon & Other Spices: This recipe sticks with a simple sprinkle of cinnamon, which is really good with the sweet flavor of the squash.
However, any combination of warm autumn spices like nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, cloves or ginger can be used.
You can also choose to skip the cinnamon. If you want to give the dish more savory flavors, consider using spices like cumin, smoked paprika or curry powder instead.
You can also skip the spices and simply garnish the cooked squash with fresh parsley and grated parmesan cheese.
Ingredient Variations & Additions
Rosemary: This fresh herb is a popular pairing with squash and gives the dish a woodsy pine flavor. You can add a sprig to the pan while you cook the squash or finely chop fresh rosemary and sprinkle it on top.
Parmesan: If you're craving savory flavor to offset the sweet squash, then skip the sprinkle of cinnamon and cover the cooked squash with finely grated or shave parmesan cheese.
Brown sugar: To up the sweet flavor, add a tablespoon of brown sugar to the pan when the butter is melting.
Maple syrup: Maple is a delicious flavor with squash. You only need a little bit drizzled over the cooked squash to add maple flavor.
Cayenne: Spice things up and add some heat with just a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Pomegranate: The seeds of a pomegranate (also called arils) are a really pretty topping for roasted squash. You can also drizzle pomegranate molasses over cooked winter squash. Pomegranate molasses has a tangy, tart flavor.
Chopped nuts: Chopped almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts all add crunchy nutty flavor. Sprinkle the nuts over the cooked squash before serving.
How to Cut Delicata Squash
For the best results, slice the squash thinly into ¼-inch thick slices. This is easy enough to do with a knife. I prefer a serrated knife because it grips the squash and is less likely to slip. For very thin, uniformly sliced pieces a mandoline can be used to slice squash.
Step 1: Slice the squash open. The squash is less likely to roll and slip if you cut the squash in half crosswise. Or, you can cut the squash open lengthwise, into longer halves.
Step 2: The next step is to scoop out the seeds with a spoon. You can discard the squash seeds or roast them in the oven for a snack.
Step 3: If you cut the squash in half crosswise, you can slice it into rings. Or, you can make a lengthwise cut in each half and then slice half moons.
Step 4: If you cut the squash in half lengthwise, you can then slice each half into half moons.
How to Make Sautéed Delicata Squash
Step 1: Cut the squash open and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into ¼-inch slices.
Step 2: Sauté the sliced squash in oil for 2 to 3 minutes on one side, until the squash is nicely browned. Don't crowd the pan.
Step 3: Flip the slices and sauté the second side for another 2 to 3 minutes, until both sides are nicely browned.
Step 4: Pour 2 tablespoons of water into the saute pan. Immediately put a lid over the skillet and turn the heat down to low. Steam the squash for 3 minutes, which will finish cooking the flesh and make it soft and tender.
Step 5: Melt a pat of butter and cook for 1 minutes more.
Step 6: Sprinkle the squash with cinnamon before serving.
For detailed instructions and measurements see the recipe card below.
Use a serrated knife to cut winter squash: I like using a serrated bread knife instead of a chef's knife to cut squash. A serrated knife grips the squash better and is less likely to slip. The teeth of the knife poke into the skin, holding the squash steady and preventing it from rolling or slipping while you slice.
Cut thin, uniform slices: If you are sautéing squash, the slices need to be thin but not too thin. Very thin slices that are ⅛-inch or less will burn easily. However, thicker slices (½-inch wide or more) take too long to cook in a sauté pan and are better roasted. The best width for sautéing is ¼-inch thick.
Briefly steam the squash: Briefly steaming the slices in the pan after browning the delicata squash ensures that the texture of the squash is soft, tender and creamy. To do this, add 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet and cover with a lid. Keep the heat on low and steam the squash for 2 to 3 minutes.
Sautéed delicata squash is a wholesome side dish that can be served throughout the fall and winter. It's also a fantastic side dish for Thanksgiving and other winter holidays. You can serve delicata with these side dishes and main courses.
Brioche stuffing: Any type of holiday stuffing pairs well with winter squash, especially buttery brioche stuffing.
Turkey or chicken: A roasted turkey or whole roasted chicken are a good choice for a main course. The sweet flavor of winter squash also pairs well with the spices in Mediterranean chicken. Ground turkey and ground chicken are also easy proteins to serve with squash.
Kale: On the lighter side, the bitter flavor of kale can balance out the sweet flavors of winter squash really well. Try serving squash with kale apple slaw.
Quinoa: The earthy, chewy texture of quinoa makes it the perfect grain to pair with Delicata squash. You could add this sauteed squash to a quinoa salad, such as this arugula quinoa salad with lemon vinaigrette.
The cooked squash will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to five days. You'll need to reheat leftovers before eating, either in a saute pan over medium-low heat or in the microwave, so that the flavor and texture taste the best.
Yes. To roast delicata squash, cut slightly thicker slices (about ½-inch thick). Toss lightly in oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425F until the squash is tender and lightly browned, about 30 to 40 minutes.
It can be found in the produce department of most grocery stores during the fall and winter months. It can also be found at farmer's markets. You can also grow delicata squash in your own garden.
No, you can use a chef's knife or serrated knife to thinly slice the squash. The benefit of a mandoline is that the slices will be very thin and even.
Yes, the skin is thin and edible and does not need to be peeled.
Yes, for this recipe the delicata squash seeds should be scooped out. You can discard the seeds or roast the seeds as a snack.
To roast delicata squash seeds, rinse the seeds and pat them dry. Toss the squash seeds in olive oil and salt and roast at 325F for about 25 minutes.
Yes, you could saute the Delicata squash slices and then add the slices to a stir-fry or curry with other vegetables.
If you can find Honeynut squash, it's a good substitute because it is also a smaller squash that doesn't need to be peeled. Acorn squash also has a similar flavor to Delicata and you can leave the skin on, although the skin tends to be chewier when the squash is sauteed.
The skin of winter squash is edible, just like the peel of most fruits and vegetables. However edible and tasty are two different things! The skin on many types of winter squash is tough and chewy and the flavor can be bitter or unpleasantly earthy. If you want to enjoy winter squash with the skin, then stick to Delicata, Honeynut and Acorn squash
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5-Ingredient Sautéed Delicata Squash Recipe
This easy recipe for sautéed delicata squash uses a simple and fast cooking method that lets the sweet, nutty flavor of the squash shine. A little olive oil and butter, plus a light sprinkle of cinnamon and salt is all you need.
You can easily double this recipe to serve more people. Just make sure to sauté the squash in batches. Don't crowd the sauté pan, or the slices won't brown and cook evenly.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 small servings 1x
- Category: Side Dishes
- Method: Saute
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 1 Delicata squash, about 7 inches long
- 4 teaspoons vegetable oil or olive oil, divided
- ½ tablespoon salted butter
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- Salt, to taste
Slice and Seed the Squash
For detailed instructions and photos, see the blog section above, “How to Cut Delicata Squash”
- Cut the squash lengthwise down the middle.
- Use a spoon to scoop the seeds out of each half.
- Cut the squash into ¼-inch half moons.
Sauté the Squash
- Use a wide non-stick skillet (at least 12-inches). The skillet should have a lid.
- You’ll need to sauté the slices in two batches so that the squash cooks evenly and browns properly. If you pile too much into the skillet at once, the squash won’t brown or cook all of the way through.
- For the first batch, heat 2 teaspoons of oil in the skillet over medium-high heat.
- When the oil is hot, add an even layer of sliced squash. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes on one side, until the squash is nicely browned.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Flip the slices and sauté the second side for another 2 to 3 minutes, until both sides are nicely browned. If the pan seems dry while the squash cooks, add a drizzle of oil.
- Transfer the cooked squash to a plate. Warm the remaining 2 teaspoon of oil in the pan. Add the remaining slices of raw squash and saute for 2 to 3 minute on each side until nicely browned.
- Add the first batch of squash back to the skillet.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of water into the saute pan with all of the squash (be careful, the water might spit and splatter from the heat). Immediately put a lid over the skillet. Turn the heat down to low. Steam the squash for 3 minutes, which will finish cooking the flesh and make it soft and tender.
- Take off the lid. If there is any water left in the skillet, let it cook off.
- Add the butter to the skillet. While it melts, gently stir the slices. Cook for about 1 minute more. Note: Adding butter at this point is optional, but adds really nice flavor.
- Sprinkle cinnamon over the sautéed Delicata squash. Lightly sprinkle with salt to taste.
Slices that are ¼-inch thick will cook evenly. If the slices are thinner (⅛-inch thick) they tend to burn easily. If the slices are thicker (½-inch thick), they take too long to become soft.
You can use either vegetable oil or olive oil. If you like the flavor of coconut, then go ahead and use coconut oil. Butter gives the dish a rich, buttery flavor that is delicious. However, you can choose to skip the butter for a lighter version that is still really flavorful.
For a savory version of this recipe, skip the cinnamon and instead sprinkle grated or shaved parmesan over the cooked squash. You can also add fresh herbs (rosemary, cilantro, parsley or chives) and/or spices (cumin, cayenne, curry powder).
Additional toppings for sautéed Delicata squash include pomegranate seeds and nuts, like pistachios, walnuts, pecans or almonds.
Keywords: Sautéed Delicata Squash Recipe, Sauteed Delicata Squash, delicata squash