Kabocha Squash - The Perfect Japanese Recipe (2024)

This sweet and savory Japanese style kabocha squash is easy to make and only requires a few simple ingredients. This recipe is also vegetarian, making it a great option for those on a mostly plant-based diet. Whether you’re looking for an easy and tasty recipe or something nutritious, kabocha squash is the perfect choice!

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Sliced kabocha squash simmered in dashi is a side dish as common in Japan as mashed potatoes are in America.

My favorite version of kabocha squash is the traditional nimono, which means simmered in Japanese. The dish is very simple – pieces of kabocha squash that are left to simmer in a savory, umami rich, and sweet broth, until the flesh and skin are tender. Some simmered kabocha can be overly sweet for my taste, so I like to make my own at home, which is more savory and dashi concentrated.

What is Kabocha Squash?

Kabocha squash, also sometimes called Japanese pumpkin, is a type of winter squash that originated from Japan. The outer skin is dark green and tough, but softens once it’s cooked. It’s one of the very few squashes that has an edible skin. Kabocha squash has a bright orange flesh and has is slightly sweet in flavor, making it a popular ingredient in many Japanese dishes.

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How to Cook Kabocha Squash

Kabocha squash is a delicious and versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. While it may seem daunting to cook with at first, kabocha squash is actually quite easy to prepare. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. When choosing a kabocha squash, look for one that feels heavy with a deep green color.
  2. Kabocha squash can be cooked in a variety of ways, including steaming, boiling, grilling, deep frying, and roasting. It’s often used in soups and stews, as well as stir-fries and curries. It can also be roasted and pureed to make a delicious kabocha squash puree or potage.
  3. Kabocha squash is a great addition to both sweet and savory dishes. Try pairing it with ginger and honey for a sweet treat, or using it in place of pumpkin in your favorite soup or chili recipe.
  4. Cooking time varies depending on the size and cooking method but it takes about the same amount of time as it would for butternut squash, delicata squash, or acorn squash.

With these tips in mind, you’re sure to create a delicious kabocha squash dish that your whole family will love!

Can the Skin of Kabocha Squash be Eaten?

Yes it can and it’s very delicious! Just make sure you cook it through otherwise it can be quite crunchy (not pleasant!). I personally like to keep the skin on when I boil or deep fry kabocha.

I peel it when I steam, grill, or roast it in the oven. I also recommend taking the skin off if you are making a soup or a puree so you get a beautiful orange color, instead of a muddled brown.

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Japanese Style Kabocha Squash Ingredient

  • Kabocha squash: You can tell if a kabocha squash is ripe if the skin is dull and firm. The stem should also be dry and cracked. Also look for a light yellow patch on the skin, which means it had time to ripen before being scooped up from the earth.
  • Dashi broth: I use Kayanoya dashi powder to make my broth because it has a smokiness other dashi powders don’t have. It’s also one of Japan’s most famous and loved dashi company. You can find Kayanoya stores across Tokyo with tons of different dashi flavors – it’s heaven for home chefs like me!
  • Sugar: A little sugar to bring out the natural sweetness of the kabocha squash.
  • Mirin: Mirin also adds sweetness and a little something extra, similar to sake.
  • Soy sauce: Make sure to use Japanese soy sauce such as Kikkoman or Yamasa as they have more depth of flavor and are more balanced in general.

Where Can I Buy Kabocha Squash?

Kabocha squash is available at most grocery stores, usually in late summer, early fall, and winter months. You can also find kabocha squash at farmers markets and Asian grocery stores, which should have them all year-round.

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How to Make Kabocha Squash (Instruction)

Scroll all the way down to the recipe card for the full recipe.

  1. Cut the kabocha squash and remove the seeds.
  2. Mix the dashi, sugar, mirin, and soy sauce, in a pot.
  3. Boil the kabocha in the dashi liquid until the pieces are tender.
  4. Enjoy!

How to Store Kabocha Squash

Kabocha squash can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks.

If you plan on storing it longer, you can wrap it in plastic and keep it in the fridge for up to four weeks. When kabocha squash is cooked, it will keep in the fridge for three to four days.

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Is Kabocha Squash High in Nutrients?

Yes, kabocha squash is a good source of vitamin C and A, as well as potassium. It also contains fiber and beta-carotene. Kabocha squash may also help to improve digestion and promote a healthy immune system.

What Can I Do With Kabocha Squash Seeds?

You can roast kabocha squash seeds the same way you would with pumpkin seeds, and eat them as a snack. You can also add the roasted seeds to soups or stews as a topping for extra flavor.

More Winter Squash Recipes

From sweet, savory, cheesy, and hearty, here are some of my favorite winter squash recipes that you and your entire family will love:

Delicious Winter Squash Recipes You Might Like

Savory Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms

Roasted Acorn Squash With Cheese and Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Spicy Kabocha Squash And Adzuki Bean Soup

Spaghetti Squash Yakisoba Style

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Did you like this kabocha squash recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!


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Japanese Style Kabocha Squash (Kabocha No Nimono)

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  • Author: Caroline Phelps
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 sides 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Japanese
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Tender pieces of kabocha squash simmered in a savory, briny, and mildly sweet dashi broth.


Units Scale

  • 1 pound kabocha squash
  • 1 1/2 cup dashi broth (or 1 teaspoon dashi powder dissolve in 2 cups water)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce


  1. Start by scrubbing the kabocha with a little soap and water. Rinse well and pat it dry.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
  3. Slice each half into bite size wedges.
  4. In a medium size pot over high heat, add the dashi and chopped squash.
  5. When it’s boiling, turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. Stir and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the texture of the squash is tender.
  7. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm.


This kabocha squash recipe will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 155
  • Sugar: 13.6g
  • Sodium: 884.1mg
  • Fat: 0.7g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0.2g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 35.8g
  • Fiber: 4.6g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Cholesterol: 0.6mg

Recipe Card powered byKabocha Squash - The Perfect Japanese Recipe (12)

Kabocha Squash - The Perfect Japanese Recipe (2024)


How do Japanese eat kabocha? ›

Kabocha is used in many Japanese recipes in which it is stewed, deep-fried into tempura, or even used in desserts. It has beta carotene, vitamins, iron, and all the healthy goodness. Japanese moms would make sure their kids eat it, and no excuse is acceptable.

What is the best tasting kabocha squash? ›

Kabocha Squash

Two of the more common, and nicest tasting are 'Red Kuri' (92-100 days) with its orange-red skinned fruits and smooth flesh that is less sweet but nicely flavored, and the gray-skinned 'Winter Sweet' (95 days), which has dry, sweet flesh.

Do you eat the skin of kabocha squash? ›

Kabocha: This squash skin may need a little TLC—scrub well and cook it for a long time—to become totally edible, but it becomes soft, supple, and so delicious. Try it sliced and simply roasted as a side dish or to top a fall salad.

Is kabocha healthier than pumpkin? ›

Kabocha squash had higher amounts of vitamins and C than pumpkin, while both showed similar mineral contents except for iron.

Can kabocha squash be eaten raw? ›

Most people eat them for their flavor, but their texture and dry flesh make them ideal for cooking in stews and curries. If you want to eat them raw, you can dice or grate them into a salad for a nutty, sweet crunch and their bright orange color.

Can I eat kabocha squash everyday? ›

If you eat an excessive amount of kabocha squash, or any yellow or orange fruit or vegetable containing beta carotene, you can develop carotenemia. This is a condition that can cause your skin to appear yellowish or orange. It's harmless, and the cure is simply to cut back on the carotene-containing foods.

Why is my kabocha squash bitter? ›

The higher the levels of cucubitacin, the more bitter the squash will taste. The most likely cause for a bitter taste in squash is due to an environmental stress of some sort, most likely a wide temperature flux or irregular irrigation. Either of these will create an excess of cucurbitacins to concentrate in the fruit.

How do you know when kabocha squash is ready to eat? ›

The ripe kabocha squash has a very dark color to it. and isn't very shiny. Whereas the younger one that isn't quite ready. has almost no color contrast and is very shiny. Follow these tips and you'll get a delicious, sweet smelling winter squash.

Is kabocha squash good for kidneys? ›

Squash is fine for earlier stages of CKD and kidney transplant when potassium is well-managed without dietary restriction.

How to tell if kabocha squash is bad? ›

A squash with soft spots and is soft to the touch, is a sign that the squash has gone bad. And if it starts to leak fluid, that's a sure sign that the squash is spoiled. Likewise, if the flesh and seeds of the fruit are mushy and slimy, that's a clear sign that it shouldn't be eaten.

How long does kabocha last in the fridge? ›

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.

Can you eat too much squash? ›

While the high beta-carotene content in squash can provide many benefits, studies also suggest that consuming too much of this compound can increase the risk of lung cancer. In addition, some types of prepared squash include high amounts of added sugar.

Does kabocha squash spike blood sugar? ›

High in fiber yet low in carbs, the kabocha squash glycemic index is relatively low, which means that it won't spike blood sugar levels to the same extent as high-carb, starchy foods or added sugars.

Is kabocha good for weight loss? ›

Kabocha squash

Like actual pumpkin, it's low in calories and rich in fat-fighting beta-carotene. Plus, the fact that the skin is totally edible means that kabocha is packed with belly-filling fiber, too. Rather than roasting it, try steaming slices of the squash.

Is kabocha a superfood? ›

Kabocha provides vitamins A and C, some B vitamins, fiber, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants. The seeds of the Kabocha also contain a significant amount of zinc, protein, and healthy oils.

Why does kabocha pumpkin taste so different? ›

Kabocha pumpkin has less seeds and thin skin compared to pumpkins. When kabocha is cooked, the taste of kabocha pumpkin resembles sweet potatoes more than any other pumpkin.

Does kabocha need to be peeled? ›

It's not my favorite thing to do either! I do have good news, though: there's no need to peel kabocha squash, as the skin is entirely edible. If your squash is particularly nubbly, you may want to trim away any brown, dry spots, but feel free to leave on the orange or green skin.

What does a kabocha taste like? ›

Kabocha has an exceptionally sweet flavor, even sweeter than butternut squash. It is similar in texture and flavor to a pumpkin and sweet potato combined. Some kabocha can taste like Russet potatoes or chestnuts.

Is it safe to eat kabocha seeds? ›

You can enjoy your homemade roasted kabocha seeds like any other pumpkin/squash seeds. I prefer to hull the shells, but it is actually 100% safe to eat even the shells!

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