How to Cook Kabocha Squash

Kabocha squash is delicious and good for you—and much easier to cook than it looks!

Sometimes I stare at the bin of different types of squash at the grocery store, marveling over how beautiful each individual squash is. Then, I choose one at random to try. My recent discovery was kabocha squash, also known as a Japanese pumpkin.

What Is a Kabocha Squash?

It’s shaped like a lumpy, dark green pumpkin and has bright yellow-orange flesh on the inside. The flavor is similar to pumpkin or butternut squash but is slightly sweeter. You can use kabocha squash much like butternut in soups and stews, baked goods and breakfast items. If the squash you have is green but looks more like an acorn squash, it may be a buttercup squash.

To pick a good kabocha squash at the store, look for one that is firm and has a deep-colored green rind. Choosing one with faint stripes, bumps or blemishes is fine. You’ll also want to find one that’s heavy for its size, about 2-4 pounds.

The Health Benefits of Kabocha Squash

The flesh is loaded with beta carotene, vitamins and iron so it really is good for you! Plus, the skin of kabocha squash is quite thin and actually edible. (This will save you a full step of having to peel the squash before baking.) The skin is also full of fiber.

How to Cut a Kabocha Squash

This is the hard part! They are large and round, which means you need to be careful to avoid your knife slipping and cutting yourself. Here are some of my tips for cutting the kabocha:

  • Microwave the squash for 4-5 minutes and then cut the squash into wedges and roast. Cooking it slightly in the microwave will soften the flesh and allow a knife to easily slice through.
  • Bake the squash for 10-15 minutes then remove it from the oven, cut and roast.
  • Being very careful, use a cleaver and rock it back and forth in the squash to cut it in half and then into wedges.

Don’t miss our guide on how to cut winter squash safely.

How to Cook Kabocha Squash

How to Roast Kabocha Squash

To roast the kabocha squash, preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with foil and cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and stringy insides and then cut each half into three wedges, making sure that each slice is uniform. Toss the squash in olive oil or coconut oil, season lightly with salt and then sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until fork-tender and lightly browned.

How to Steam Kabocha Squash

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin from the squash. Trim the top and bottom off of the squash, then cut in half. Using a spoon, scoop the seeds out.

Dice the squash into 1-inch cubes. Fill a Dutch oven with about an inch of water, then place a steamer basket in the pot. Add the squash. Cover, then cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, keep covered and steam for an extra 5 minutes. The squash is ready when it can be pierced with a fork.

How to Cook Kabocha Squash on the Stove

Cut the squash in half. Then, flip the halves over and place them on your cutting board, cut-side down. Cut each half in half again and then peel the quartered squash with a sharp knife or vegetable peeler. Then, cut the squash into 1-inch cubes and boil in a pot of water until tender.

Cooked squash will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can use the roasted kabocha as a topping on salads, puree it for soup or serve as a side dish. Try kabocha squash instead of butternut in this easy squash bisque recipe.

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April Preisler
April is a food and travel lover, wine enthusiast, ice cream obsessed and the vision behind the blog, Food n' Focus. Her favorite cuisine is Italian and loves to cook international recipes.