Discover the tender seasonal taste of Air Fryer Butternut squash cubes, a delightful autumn indulgence. Our cubes of butternut squash kissed with vegan butter, soy sauce, maple syrup, smoked paprika, and ground cinnamon, create a savory-sweet symphony of flavors. In a little over 30 minutes you’ll have the perfect seasonal side dish in every bite!
This recipe was directly inspired by air fryer butternut squash fries AND smoky maple-glazed air fryer Brussels sprouts. I thought what if…WHAT IF I combined the slightly nutty creamy texture of air-fried butternut squash with the smoky sweet seasonings used with the Brussels sprouts recipe? It was a veggie marriage made in heaven!
Butternut squash is a culinary gem thanks to its natural sweetness, which caramelizes beautifully when roasted, and its velvety texture that melts in your mouth. Its ability to absorb and enhance the flavors of accompanying ingredients makes it a versatile and delicious addition to a variety of dishes.
This winter squash is so very versitle too! From creamy smooth butternut squash soup with rosemary and thyme to roasted butternut squash and chickpea curry, you are sure to find a favorite butternut squash dish for everyone.
These air fryer butternut squash cubes make the perfect side dish for your special dinner event. They are tender and full of flavor – a little sweet from the maple syrup…and a little salty from the soy sauce…complimented by the smoky paprika with a hint of cinnamon. You can’t go wrong!
Ingredients needed to make air-fried butternut squash cubes
- Butternut Squash cubes – You can either peel and cube a butternut squash on your own OR just purchase the butternut squash already peeled and cubed in your grocer’s produce section. That’s MY option for sure! You will need a 20-ounce package for four cups.
- melted vegan butter – If you aren’t vegan then use any butter of your choice. Do select salted butter though because this recipe was developed using salted vegan butter.
- soy sauce – I use low-sodium soy sauce. If you use regular salty soy sauce then omit the salt from the ingredients. You can always salt later to taste.
- maple syrup – Use real maple syrup, not pancake syrup.
- smoked paprika – For the smoky taste you’ve got to use smoked paprika, not sweet paprika.
- salt and pepper
- ground cinnamon – This recipe calls for only a tiny amount (1/8th teaspoon) of ground cinnamon. This gives a subtle undertone of flavor but you won’t get even a hint of cinnamon flavor. If you want your butternut squash cubes to taste more cinnamony then you’ll need to add more cinnamon. I’d actually wait until they are cooked and then give a little taste and sprinkle extra on top.
- You’ll need an air fryer (of course). See the blog post below or the recipe notes if you’d like to cook this recipe in the oven. You will also need air fryer basket liners. Make sure you get the right size and shape for your air fryer. It is not one size fits all.
How to make sweet and smoky butternut squash cubes in the air fryer
The exact ingredients with measurements can be found in the recipe card below along with more concise abbreviated instructions. Read on for more details, tips, and tricks so that you will feel confident making this recipe.
Step 1: the butternut squash cubes
If you didn’t purchase your butternut squash already peeled and cubed, time to do it now. Cut into cubes no larger than one-inch cubes. You will need to add more time to the prep time listed in the recipe card. If you’ve never faced the daunting task of peeling and cubing your own butternut squash, read this handy guide. It will help!
Steps 2 and 3: The saucy ingredients
Melt the vegan butter in the microwave (or use any other method) before adding the other ingredients.
Whisk the soy sauce, maple syrup, smoked paprika, maple syrup, salt, and pepper together in a medium bowl along with the melted butter.
Add the cubed butternut squash. Toss until evenly coated. (If the butternut squash is cold going into the ingredients, the butter will harden into small bits. That’s fine because as soon as you put the ingredients in the air fryer, the butter will melt again. You will be stirring every five minutes so all pieces will be well covered.
Steps 4 and 5: Air Frying the Butternut Squash
It’s been my experience that every air fryer is different. I have three different air fryers and they all cook a little differently and preheat a little differently. It’s really important that you follow your manufacturer’s direction for preheating AND that you consider the first time you make any recipe in a particular air fryer that you really pay attention to the doneness. The cooking times may need to be adjusted up or down.
So….Following your manufacturer’s directions, preheat the air fryer to 375℉. It’s best to wait to put the basket liner in until after the air fryer is preheated. Some air fryers preheat fast and hot and I’ve burned the basket liner in preheating before.
Speaking of which…I strongly recommend using an air fryer basket liner for this recipe because you are tossing the butternut squash cubes in so many added liquids! It’s going to be messy and it’s best if those yummy liquids stay on the butternut squash cubes rather than fall through the basket to the bottom.
Make sure that you purchase the correct size and shape of air fryer basket liner for your particular air fryer. It is not a one-size-fits-all proposition!
Add the coated butternut squash cubes to the air fryer basket with liner. Air fry at 375℉ for 20 minutes, removing the basket to stir and turn the butternut squash cubes every 5 minutes.
You’ll know that the butternut squash is done when the edges have caramelized and the butternut squash is fork-tender. This is not a “crispy” air fryer butternut squash recipe, but a fork-tender butternut squash recipe. Sometimes we use an air fryer for the crisp texture of the cooked foods and other times we use an air fryer to save time and oven space.
Can I cook my butternut squash cubes in the oven instead of in the air fryer?
Yes you can, but…
You can not spread the saucy butternut squash cubes on a baking sheet and cook in the oven. I have tried that a few times and the maple syrup ends up burning before the squash is cooked completely fork-tender!
If you want to cook the butternut squash cubes in the oven, It’s best to put your prepared butternut squash along with the sauce in a small casserole dish. Cover it with foil and cook it in a 375°F oven for an hour and fifteen minutes. After the first 30 minutes remove the foil and stir around, spooning the syrup onto the top of the squash cubes. Leave the foil off but every fifteen minutes, baste the squash in the syrup until it is tender and done.
Serving and saving
This air-fried butternut squash dish is best served the day it’s made. If you need to save extras then cover tightly and put in the fridge for up to three days.
The printable recipe card
Did you love this recipe?
Want to share the love? It would be great if you could leave five ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ stars and even a comment. Did you know that this will help Google to find this recipe when others are looking for something similar? Thanks, Cindy
Tender Air Fryer Butternut Squash Cubes, Smoky and Sweet (Vegan)
- air fryer
- air fryer basket liner
- 4 cups Butternut Squash cubed, see notes
- 2 Tablespoons vegan butter melted
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce low sodium
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon see notes
- If you didn't purchase your butternut squash already peeled and cubed, do so now. Cut into cubes no larger than one-inch cubes. You will need to add more time to the prep time listed above.
- Melt the vegan butter in the microwave (or use any other method) before adding the other ingredients.
- Whisk the soy sauce, maple syrup, smoked paprika, maple syrup, salt, and pepper together in a medium bowl along with the melted butter. Add the cubed butternut squash. Toss until evenly coated. (If the butternut squash is cold going into the ingredients, the butter will harden into small bits. That's fine because as soon as you put the ingredients in the air fryer, the butter will melt again. You will be stirring every five minutes so all pieces will be well covered.2 Tablespoons vegan butter, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, 2 Tablespoons maple syrup, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper, ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- Following your manufacturer's directions, preheat the air fryer to 375℉I strongly recommend using an air fryer basket liner for this recipe because of the added liquids. It's going to be messy and it's best if the liquids stay on the butternut squash cubes rather than fall through the basket to the bottom. If your manufacturer's directions say to with to add the liner until preheated, then wait to add the liner until the preheating has been accomplished. Or it might burn. (Preheating is sometimes very hot!)
- Add the coated butternut squash cubes to the air fryer basket with liner. Air fry at 375℉ for 20 minutes, removing the basket to stir and turn the butternut squash cubes every 5 minutes. Serve immediately.