These Crispy Air Fryer Butternut Squash Fries are seasoned with smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper for a smoky and spicy flavor profile that's sure to keep you going back for more. A healthy, low-carb alternative to french fries, these tasty vegetable fries are a fun snack or side dish that both kids and adults will love. So quick and easy to make, you can have these ready in just 30 minutes!
Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall vegetables. It's slightly sweet, versatile, and loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
During the fall and winter, I eat roasted butternut squash almost every week. But, sometimes I like to change it up a little. So, I started making these butternut squash fries in the air fryer.
I love these air fryer butternut squash fries because they're so crispy and flavorful on the outside, but still soft and a little sweet on the inside. Plus, they're fun to dip in all kinds of sauces. I'm partial to garlic aioli and hot honey, but you can also serve them with ketchup, ranch dressing, honey mustard, or cheese sauce.
One of the best things about these butternut squash fries is that they're so quick and easy to make. The air fryer does a great job of getting them super crispy in no time at all. For this recipe, I went with a smoky, mildly spicy flavor profile. However, feel free to get creative and use whichever spice blend you prefer.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Quick & Easy- In less than 30 minutes, you can have these crispy air-fried butternut squash fries ready to serve. Just cut the squash, coat it with oil and seasonings, and let the air fryer take care of the rest!
- Healthy- What better way to eat your vegetables than to turn them into healthy fries? Butternut squash is packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals so you'll feel good munching on this tasty side dish.
- Crispy- Tossing the butternut squash in oil, flour, and spices gives them an extra crispy crunch that you really can't beat.
- Fun Fall Side Dish- I don't know about you, but I get tired of eating the same vegetable side dishes over and over again. Sometimes it's fun (and necessary) to change things up a bit. These kid-friendly, crispy butternut squash fries are the perfect way to do just that.
Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
Butternut Squash Fries
- Butternut Squash- I prefer to cut my own butternut squash fries from a whole butternut squash so I can make sure I cut the fries uniformly. Don't be intimidated by using a whole butternut squash - it's actually way easier than it seems.
- Flour- Adding a little flour to the spice mixture gives these butternut squash fries an added layer of crunch that reminds me of battered french fries.
- Olive Oil- Tossing the butternut squash in a little olive oil helps the flour and spices stick better.
- Spices- I love smoky flavors with butternut squash, which is why I use smoked paprika, chili powder, and cumin. Feel free to change it up and use whatever spice blend you prefer.
Garlic Aioli Dipping Sauce (optional)
While optional, this garlic aioli dipping sauce is AMAZING with these air fryer butternut squash fries.
- Garlic- You can't have a garlic aioli without garlic. I use two cloves, which I mince very finely before adding to the food processor. If you don't love garlic, reduce it to one clove instead of two.
- Lemon Juice & Zest- A little lemon juice and zest balances the flavors of this aioli and brings some much needed acidity.
- Dijon Mustard- Mustard is an emulsifying agent, meaning it helps the aioli thicken up and maintain the right consistency.
- Egg- Eggs are another emulsifying agent that lend a creamy, rich texture to the aioli.
- Canola Oil- I prefer to use canola oil over olive oil since it has a more neutral flavor. This allows the flavor of the garlic and lemon to shine through.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make these air fryer butternut squash fries with garlic aioli dipping sauce.
Step 1: Cut the butternut squash. Peel butternut squash and remove the seeds. Then, cut the butternut squash into ½-inch thick fry-shaped pieces and place them into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the butternut squash and toss to coat.
Step 2: Make the flour-spice mixture. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, kosher salt, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the butternut squash and toss to thoroughly coat each piece of butternut squash with flour and spices.
Step 3: Cook the butternut squash fries. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F for 2 minutes. Then, working in batches, place the butternut squash into the air fryer basket in a single layer. Cook butternut squash fries for 12 to 15 minutes, shaking the basket occasionally until the butternut squash fries are cooked through and crispy on the outside.
Step 4: Make the garlic aioli (optional). Add the minced garlic, kosher salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, dijon mustard, egg, and egg yolk to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until everything is thoroughly combined. Then, with the food processor running, very slowly drizzle in the canola oil one drop at a time. As the aioli begins to thicken and form an emulsion, you can start drizzling the oil in a slow, but steady stream. Once finished, taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve in a small bowl alongside the butternut squash fries.
Tips and Tricks
- Remove excess moisture. If your butternut squash seems a little wet after cutting it, it's best to pat it dry before tossing it with olive oil.
- Cut the butternut squash fries to a uniform size. Making sure the butternut squash is cut as uniformly as possible is key to the fries cooking evenly in the air fryer. I recommend cutting the long "neck" of the butternut squash separately from the rounder portion of it.
- And make sure you cut the squash nice and thin. Cutting the butternut squash into thin, approximately ½-inch strips ensures they cook up to crispy perfection.
- Cook in batches. Another trick to achieving evenly cooked, crispy fries is cooking them in batches. You want the butternut squash fries to be mostly in a single layer in the air fryer basket.
- Don't break the aioli. Easier said than done, but I believe in you! Drizzling the canola oil, drop by drop, into the food processor very slowly (while it's running) is essential to obtaining the right consistency for your aioli. Patience is key here.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few ways you can customize these crispy air fryer butternut squash fries to fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Butternut Squash- Air fryer sweet potato fries would be an excellent alternative. Otherwise, you can try using acorn squash, hubbard squash, or pumpkin. If you don't want to cut a whole butternut squash, Trader Joe's has pre-cut butternut squash fries in their produce section.
- Flour- Use cornstarch or gluten-free all-purpose flour in place of the regular flour.
- Olive Oil- Any neutral-flavored oil can work here. You can also use melted butter if preferred.
- Spices- The options are really limitless here. Get creative! I love using a smoky flavor profile, but I've also made these using my Cajun Seasoning recipe as well and they were delicious.
- Garlic Aioli- Not a fan of garlic aioli? No problem. Ketchup, ranch dressing, hot honey, cheese sauce, hot sauce, or your favorite french fry dipping sauce will all be perfect with these butternut squash fries.
- Gluten-Free- Use gluten-free flour or cornstarch in place of the all-purpose flour to make a gluten-free version of these butternut squash fries. Don't forget to check all labels to ensure each ingredient is gluten-free.
- Spicy- Love all things spicy? Bump up the amount of cayenne pepper powder to ¼ or ½ teaspoon. You can also dip the fries in hot sauce, make a spicy aioli, or drizzle them with hot honey (my personal favorite).
- Sweet- Prefer your butternut squash with a sweeter flavor profile? Toss them with a little brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and kosher salt. Then, drizzle with maple syrup or make a maple aioli to dip them in.
- Thanksgiving- A classic Thanksgiving spice blend includes thyme, rosemary, sage, and garlic. These flavors pair beautifully with butternut squash. Try it for a fun and unique Thanksgiving side dish.
What to Serve with Air Fryer Butternut Squash Fries
Air fryer squash fries are delicious as a snack all on their own or paired with a tasty dipping sauce. However, these fries also make the perfect side dish for lots of different recipes. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Air Fryer Turkey Burgers
- Lemon-Garlic Roasted Chicken
- Chicken and Broccoli Lasagna
- Slow-Braised Turkey Breast with Gravy
- Baked Chicken Wings
- Eggplant Calzones
- Bolognese Pizza
- Beef and Bean Chili
Storage and Reheating
How to Store
- Refrigerator- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
- Freezer- For longer storage, place the cooled air fryer butternut squash fries in a freezer-safe plastic bag or storage container and keep them in the freezer for up to 12 months.
How to Reheat
Not many foods are as sad as soggy, leftover fries. These air fryer butternut squash fries are similar to potato fries in the way that they don't reheat well in the microwave. I recommend reheating them in the air fryer or in the oven for the best results.
- Air Fryer- Set the air fryer to 350°F and place the leftover butternut squash fries in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Reheat for 4-5 minutes or until crispy and hot.
- Oven- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spread the butternut squash fries out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until they're heated through.
- Microwave- In a pinch, you can use the microwave, keeping in mind the texture of the fries will be lacking. Place the butternut squash fries in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate and heat on HIGH for 30 seconds to one minute.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can absolutely make these butternut squash fries in the oven. Simply preheat your oven to 425°F and place a baking rack on top of a baking sheet. Spray the baking rack with non-stick spray and lay the butternut squash fries flat on the baking rack in a single layer. Bake for 40 minutes, flipping the fries halfway through.
Yes, butternut squash is a delicious and healthy winter squash that is full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Cooking these butternut squash fries in the air fryer cuts down on the amount of fat needed to achieve a crispy texture.
Butternut squash fries have the best texture and flavor straight out of the air fryer. If you want to prep ahead, cut the butternut squash and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also measure and mix the spices together ahead of time.
Butternut squash is similar in flavor to pumpkin or sweet potato. It has a sweet, nutty flavor that pairs well with both salty and sweet.
More Air Fryer Recipes
- Air Fryer Turkey Burgers
- Air Fryer Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Cheesy Air Fryer Broccoli Bites
- Air Fryer Parmesan-Crusted Halibut
Air Fryer Butternut Squash Fries
For the Butternut Squash Fries
- 1 small (approx. 1 ½ pound) butternut squash peeled, deseeded, and cut into ½-inch strips
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the Garlic Aioli (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup canola oil
For the Butternut Squash Fries
- Peel the butternut squash and remove the seeds. Then, cut the butternut squash into ½-inch thick fry-shaped pieces and place them into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the butternut squash and toss to coat.1 small (approx. 1 ½ pound) butternut squash, 1 tablespoon olive oil
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, kosher salt, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the butternut squash and toss to thoroughly coat each piece of butternut squash with flour and spices.2 tablespoons flour, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon onion powder, ¼ teaspoon cumin, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F for 2 minutes. Then, working in batches, place the butternut squash into the air fryer basket in a single layer. Cook butternut squash fries for 12 to 15 minutes, shaking the basket occasionally until the butternut squash fries are cooked through and crispy on the outside.
For the Garlic Aioli (optional)
- Add the minced garlic, kosher salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, dijon mustard, egg, and egg yolk to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until everything is thoroughly combined.2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, Zest from 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, ½ teaspoon dijon mustard, 1 large egg, 1 egg yolk
- With the food processor running, very slowly drizzle in the canola oil one drop at a time. As the aioli begins to thicken and form an emulsion, you can drizzle the oil in a more slow, but steady stream. Once finished, taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve in a small bowl alongside the butternut squash fries.1 cup canola oil
- Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 12 months.
- To Reheat: I recommend reheating in the air fryer or in the oven for the best texture and flavor. See the "How to Reheat" section in the post for more details.