Meet Your Ingredients: Kabocha Squash

Meet Your Ingredients: Kabocha Squash

Sweet and nutty, kabocha squash is a great substitute for sugar pumpkins and sweet potatoes. Get all you need to know about this round winter squash now. 

The Basics

Kabocha is a round, squat winter squash that’s also sometimes called a Japanese pumpkin. 

Originating from a Japanese squash variety, kabocha squash are now grown around the world — even in my home state of Colorado! 

Besides being fun to say, kabocha squash has a wonderfully nutty, sweet flavor that works so well in sweet and savory dishes. 

Nutrition Overview

As with all winter squashes, kabocha is packed with nutrients! 

One cup of roasted kabocha squash (without added oil, butter, or other fat) provides: 

  • Calories: 49
  • Fat: <0.5 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Sugar: 5 grams 
  • 70% of the daily value for vitamin A

The standout nutrient in kabocha squash is vitamin A as just one cup almost covers you for the day. This essential nutrient is important for healthy skin and eye health. 

One serving is also a good source of vitamin C and magnesium. 

How to pick kabocha squash 

Kabocha squashes are often confused with buttercup squashes as they’re both squat, round, and green. However, unlike buttercups, kabocha squash point out at the bottom and often have small bumps. 

To pick one, look for a squash with a deep green rind. When picked up, it should feel firm, not soft, and heavy for its size. 

How to store kabocha squash 

Like other winter squashes, whole kabocha can last for 1 month when stored in a dry place like your kitchen countertop. 

Once cut (cooked or raw), you’ll want to store it in an airtight container in the fridge and use it up within a few days. 

However, you can prolong the shelf-life by storing it in the freezer. To freeze kabocha squash, start by rinsing the squash, cutting in half, and removing the seeds. From here, you can either cut it into slices or cubes. 

Place slices or cubes on a baking tray and freeze for 1 hour. Transfer cut squash to an airtight container or freezer bag and store for up to 6 months in the freezer. 

You can also roast or steam the squash first before freezing. 

How to use in kabocha squash cooking/baking

Kabocha squash can be substituted for almost any other winter squash; however, it works particularly well in recipes that call for sugar pumpkin, sweet potato, or buttercup squash. 

While you can use it in place of butternut squash, just note that it will make the dish sweeter (which can be a very good thing). 

Wondering how to prep kabocha squash?

Meet Your Ingredients: Kabocha Squash

Here are some basic instructions:

  1. Start by rinsing it under cool water to get rid of any dirt on the rind. 
  2. Then, to make slicing easier, slice off the top and bottom of the squash. 
  3. The skin of kabocha squash is edible; however, if you plan on pureeing it after cooking, I recommend peeling the squash before cooking. 
  4. Next, cut the squash into your desired shape (usually slices or cubes). You’re now ready to cook it according to your recipe’s instructions. 

Now all you need is a recipe!

For savory dishes, it can be tossed in a marinade or seasonings and roasted for a side dish or salad topping, pureed into a soup, or sautéed and added to grain bowls or pasta dishes. It also makes for a tasty ravioli filling! 

On the sweet side, it can be pureed and used wherever you’d use pumpkin or sweet potato puree, such as pies, homemade pop tarts, dessert bars, cheesecakes, and blondies or brownies. 

Here are some recipes from other food blogs to get you started:

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About Kelli McGrane Headshot

I’m Kelli MS, RD, and my mission is to prove that eating healthier doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. Follow along to learn more about food and cooking, with an emphasis on breakfast and sweet treats!

About Kelli McGrane Headshot

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