Sweet and spicy roasted kabocha squash


I hesitated to put this recipe up, because it's not the prettiest thing in the world. But it's so tasty, dead easy to make, and of this season - so, here it is. As a bonus it's full of fibre and is relatively low-calorie, low-sugar etc for people who want a bit of something sweet without going on a massive guilt trip.

Most recipes out there for using winter squash seem to involve pureeing them, but I rather like them when they are in chunks or slices. This roasted squash has a sweet, spicy and salty glaze of sorts on them, which brings out the dense sweetness of the fruit. Cut into fairly thin slices like this, it makes interesting finger food. You can vary the sugar and spice to your taste, though too much of either may overwhelm it.

You do need to use kabocha-type squash for this ideally, though butternut should work too. You will need a dense, starchy and sweet squash. Don't use regular pumpkin, which is too watery and lacks sweetness. (Rouge d'etampes pumpkin may work, but I've found their sweetness to vary quite a bit.)

Sweet and spicy roasted kabocha squash

  • 1/2 small to medium sized kabocha squash
  • 3 Tbs light brown, natural cane, or muscovado sugar, plus a bit more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper or hot chili powder, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • Oil for drizzling - pumpkin seed oil is preferred, or use toasted sesame oil, argan oil, or walnut oil (see notes)

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F. Line a baking sheet or two with silicon baking liner or parchment paper.

De-seed and cut the squash into slices about 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch thick. (Use a sturdy knife for cutting squash or pumpkin, on a stable surface, and be careful!)

Combine all the dry ingredients. Toss the squash slices in this until coated thoroughly. Add the soy sauce and toss well again.

Spread the slices in a singler layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle over them with the oil, and optionally sprinkle more sugar on them. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn over, drizzle with more oil and sprinkle more sugar, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Serve hot or at room temperature.


Toasted pumpkin seed oil (Kürbiskernöl) is a mainly Austrian speciality, though they make it here in Switzerland too. It's very nutty and dark, and is terrific in dressings and marinades. Toasted sesame seed oil or walnut oil can be substituted, or even expensive argan oil.

Instead of cinnamon, nutmeg and cumin, you can use a 'pumpkin pie seasoning' mix (or if you are in the Germanic parts of the world, a Lebkuchen mix would do too.)

Filed under:  japanese fall vegetarian sweet vegan

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The recipe sounds very tasty but can you buy kabotcha in switzerland?! I totally fell in love with it living in tokyo but only see the hokkaido squash here in basel. the asian stores sell something similar but it's not quite the same as a proper kabotcha.

Try the markets! I've seen kabocha-like squash at three markets in Zürich. The hokkaido squash (Knirps) would be fine for this recipe though (and prettier).

I've never had or heard of kabocha squash but that sure looks delicious! Thanks again for participating in the Monthly Mouthful!

I have a share in an organic farm and we just got several carnival squashes yesterday. What a great recipe to try with them! I also like squash chunked rather than mashed. Mashed reminds me of baby food.

There is a spot where people can put the unwanted things from their farm shares and other people can take them, so I actually helped myself to that and brought home two extra squashes. So I'm extra happy you posted this today ;-)

This recipe looks delicious! We often make butternut squash into parmesan-sticks with a teeny bit of sweetness to enhance flavor. The cayenne pepper sounds so good on this to me! It might even convert my husband into a squash eater! Oh! I could hope!
Thanks for the great blog - I LOVE reading your posts!

Maki-san~ do you have any advice to cutting through the tough skin? how did you get those thin and even slices? i tried to chop into mine and it didn't come out as nice. my kabocha kept breaking and in the end, it came out in weird lumps and pieces, lol.
thank you!

To make raw kabocha easier to cut into, microwave the whole squash for 3-4 minutes before you try to slice it and then shorten the oven-roasting time accordingly. Start with a shorter microwave time and add a minute or two as needed because if you start with too much time in the microwave, the squash can soften unevenly, causing it to collapse into an uneven mushy shape instead of making nice crescent-shaped slices. )))) :)

Sarah, you do need a strong and fairly sharp knife. Try cutting a small slice off the bottom first, so that the squash sits steadily. Then, making the first cut in the middle is the hardest part - it could help to have another pair of hands to gently pry open the halves as you cut. Once it's cut in half, then cut in quarters. Try slicing from the inside (the orange flesh) rather than the outside if the skin is too tough.

Some squash kinds, like Blue Hubbard, have really really tough skins so you almost have to break them open with a hatchet! With kabocha squash though once you've been able to cut into it it should go easier.

Thank you so much for this recipe. I tried it today and it is so good! I added some firm, pressed tofu without increasing the sugar or salt. It roasted along with the squash, so it was a one-dish meal. Mmm, it was kind of like teriyaki. I will make this again and again.

Hi, Maki - Since I first made this recipe last month, I have made it 2 more times plus have another kabocha waiting for roasting. I LOVE this recipe!!!

So good. Just made it.

Although Mine cooked fully in1 5 minutes. Therefore i was unable to flip them to crisp the other side.

Next time i will decrease the time for each side. wooo!

I really liked the preparation and recipe for the coating but didn't like the texture of the squash at all. It was really mushy, and just not delish. Did I do something wrong?

You may have the wrong kind of squash. If it tasted watery and stringy as well as mushy then it's the wrong kind. Try with another kind of squash...

This is a great, basic recipe to dress up roasted squash! I omitted the cumin and the soy sauce and just sprinkled the sugar/spice mixture over it as it roasted (after tossing the squash in a bit of olive oil + s/p).

I broiled it the last few minutes to get a nice crusty glaze. Delicious - thanks so much for the suggestion!

This is awesome! I stumbled across your website looking for a recipe for Kabocha squash and found your site.

I love kabocha squash. I grew Sunshine this year. Maki - is that your first name or last. Are you Japanese? My last name is Finnish. There are many Finnish words similar to Japanese words.

Maki is short for Makiko, which is my first name.

I live in Kansas and found the Kabocha squash at the store and bought it on a whim. Then, went searching for a recipe. I fixed the squash according to the recipe. I used sesame oil. It was great!!! Tastes very similiar to pumpkin, but has more substance. Served it with Rock Cornish Hens with recipe from Neeley's at Foodnetwork: salt, lemon-pepper, etc. A GREAT dinner. Give this squash a try.

We had this tonight--finally found kabocha at Whole Foods. It was delicious!

WOW! I had a kabocha squash from the farmer's market and didn't know what to do with it. Stumbled upon this recipe and had a good feeling--i don't really like the typical "bake it with butter and molasses" sweetsy recipes you typically find for squash.... so I tried this and--again, WOW! my husband and I were blown away. So yummy! Could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner-YUM. Period. This is going in my recipe file. PS--served, somewhat oddly, with an improv spicy eggplant and lentil tagine and it totally worked : )

Oh, also, preboiled the squash for about 5 mins flipping halfway, then cutting off the ends and chopping. Helps so much with the toughness factor--no machete needed!

We tried your recipe tonight. Awesome! The combination of oriental, chinese and austrian flavors created a "world food" flavor that we are still savoring. Thanks for posting this recipe! Best, Ditty Deamer

Love your kabocha!! I have made mine this way multiple times!! I actually have an entire page on my blog DEVOTED to kabocha!! it is my favorite food :)

<3, D

I'm eating these delectables right now. I'm a committed vegan of just 6 months, but I didn't turn my back on flavor. This dish is just the thing to wake up my tastebuds (as I'm eating it for breakfast). Worth the wait. I like the kabocha skins too. I altered the recipe with toasted hot sesame oil for the drizzle, and used darker organic vegan brown sugar ('cuz that's what I had on hand). Well done, Maki-san. Domo arigato!

This is an awesome recipe! This was my first time cooking or eating kabocha so I don't know what to expect. The flavor was great but the texture was a little dry. Maybe I over cooked it. Your pictures look very moist and mine came out almost crumbly. I only cooked it for 12 minutes on each side.

I can't wait to try this spice blend on other veggies.

Thank you!

Wow, yum. Love it, will make it again. Mine was nearly done after about 20 min, by the way

This recipe sounds great! My husband and I had Kabocha squash for the first time a few weeks ago at a rest. and they mashed it, but it had a very sweet and spicy flavor.

Do you think I could use your recipe but mix in the ingredients after mashing the squash? Not an expert cook in any way, so I never know if changing a recipe like this would work well or not.
Thank you so much.

I live in the San Diego area and easily grew Kabocha squash. Luckily, this recipe was the first I found on line. I have made this wonderful dish twice, with two altered versions today. Each attempt was well received by my guests. The pan and oven make a difference, as does the thickness of slices of squash. All recipes are a guide from which to use our creativity to use what is at hand, or are willing to leave the kitchen to find. If you had problems, try again, this is well worth it!
Thank you Maki

This is currently in my oven and making the entire house smell soooo good. Can't wait to taste one. :) Thank you for sharing this recipe.

(I definitely got some arm workout cutting the squash! lol)

If you thought yours wasn't the prettiest thing in the world you should see mine... I microwaved it a bit to make it easier to cut, but had trouble getting the sugar and spices to stick - maybe that was why. I love the smell and taste! thanks! がんばれ、日本

Just made a batch. Wow! I love it! Used smokey chipotle chili powder. mmmmmm....

My children don't eat spicy foods so I just took away the cumin and cayenne pepper...They absolutely loved it..Thanks for the recipe it was delicious. :-)

I LOVE this recipe and can't wait to share it with my friends. I'm eating now...as I'm typing this. I used toasted sesame oil and topped the squash with a generous sprinkling of raw turbinado sugar before baking it and after turning it. My husband doesn't like squash, but he had to admit this was good. I like it because it's easy to make and a bit unusual. Thanks!

This was a big hit with me and my husband. We just loved it and will be serving it for Christmas dinner. I'd never tried kabocha squash before and it was more flavorful, dense and interesting than other winter squashes. Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe!

This. was. AMAZING!!!!!! As I was packing up the leftovers after dinner I couldn't stop eating it. I slightly altered the recipe in that I forgot to add the oil and I only used 2 tablespoons of sugar, which was added to the dry spice mix. My kabocha was rather large with the slices overlapping on the baking sheet, so I baked for 15 minutes and instead of flipping the slices over I poured a half cup of water over them to keep them from drying out. 15 more minutes and perfection entered my GI tract. Many thanks from this Northern California girl!

I'm making dinner for friends tomorrow and would love an idea of what to make with this amazing looking Kaboucha squash dish...I'm Vegan so...


I made this recipe yesterday and it is SO, so good!! Thank you!

Thank you for the recipe, Maki-san! Now is the season for winter squash, and i am always looking for new recipes. This sounds delicious and I can't wait to try it! Arigatou gozaimashita!!!

What is the nutrition value of this recipie?

I tried this last year, and the folks haven't let me forget it but insist it be a part of our holiday meals. It seems to be somewhat addictive. I even made the sweet-spicey dry ingredients into a blend to give for presents last year.

Wow- just made these tonight and they are indeed wonderful. When I make these again I would be brave double the dry ingredients and halve the cooking time.

Yes, truly ugly but incredible delicious!

I used this recipe a few months ago but I neglected to save it. Glad I found it again. This time I'm printing it.

I got a little confused by the directions and probably made this recipe differently from what was meant. I tossed the squash with the spices, then mixed enough soy sauce into the remaining spice mixture to make a loose paste. I brushed this over the squash on the pan before baking, and again on the flip sides when I turned it at 15 minutes. I didn't use the oil and don't think I missed anything. Man was this good! The soy sauce- spice paste caramelized on the squash and it was like spicy squash candy. This recipe is a keeper.

YUM! We had this for dessert! I appreciated the comment/response on pre-microwaving. I used some middle eastern spices with the brown sugar and spray olive oil and it was just right. Thanks so much for this great site!

I cut the Kabocha in cubes and will serve it at our annual open house on Sunday--on the appetizer table with sushi and meatballs and other treats. I've been sampling the little bits and am sure it will be a hit. We used to enjoy a simpler version of this in Hokkaido and I'm pleased to be serving a reminder of those happy days.