It is winter squash season. Right smack in the middle of my favorite season, fall. With this season comes all the flavors that shine this time of year, one of them being kabocha squash. It is also known as Japanese pumpkin or Kent pumpkin, depending on where you live. Kabocha squash is quickly cooked whole in an Instant Pot!
The thick skin hides the bright orange color insides and is difficult to cut into. Even if you use your sharpest knife, it can still be a challenge. Have no fear; the Instant Pot is here! This magical pot cooks the kabocha squash whole! And by the time the Instant Pot has done its whole pressure cooking thing, that thick skin is peeling off on its own! I told you it was magical.
Kabocha squash has a sweet flavor reminds me of sweet potatoes and pumpkins. It is filled with fiber and beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin A and is low in calories. It is also a wonderful low FODMAP option. Kabocha squash is the best option for either pumpkin or squash, tested safe by Monash University at 75 grams or ⅔ of a cup.
How to Find and Choose the Perfect Squash
My first stop to find the perfect kabocha squash was Ferndale Market. In the middle of the market was a giant box filled with all the winter squash varieties. I wasn’t exactly sure what a kabocha squash looked like. I knew it was a deep green with vertical stripes of a lighter green. I found one that didn’t look like a buttercup squash and used my helpful Google app to search with my camera, and winner, winner! Google told me that this squash was indeed kabocha squash.
The next challenge is choosing the perfect squash! I looked for one with a deep green skin color without any soft spots. It is fine if there are some bumps or blemishes. That is just Mother Nature proving once again that nothing is perfect and a few bumps or blemishes are fine. It is important to choose a squash that is small enough to fit in the inner pot of the Instant Pot.Jump to Recipe
Instant Pot Instructions
A step-by-step guide on how to cook a whole kabocha squash in the Instant Pot.
Wash and scrub the squash with a veggie brush.
With a sharp knife, cut one-inch slits all over the squash. They do not have to be deep, just a way for steam to escape from the squash.
In the inner pot of the Instant Pot, place the trivet that came with it and a steamer basket. If your steamer basket has an inner handle, remove it if you can, or just use the trivet. Place the whole squash on the steamer basket and add one cup of water to the inner pot.
Put the cover on the Instant Pot and the valve to seal, and choose high pressure. Set the timer to cook for 20 minutes.
When the timer goes off, do a quick release of the pressure and remove the cover once the pin drops.
Allow the kombucha squash to cool for ten minutes, and carefully remove the squash from the pot.
Cut the flesh of the squash in half with a sharp knife and scoop out the seeds.
Using a knife or fork, peel off the rind on a cutting board. Keep in mind, the rind of a kobocha squash is edible and an excellent source of fiber if you want to give it a whirl.
Now, you could mash it with a fork or potato masher and eat it. However, if you want a smoother squash texture, use a mini food processor or immersion blender to puree it. This is an important step if you are going to be using this as a substitute for a can of pumpkin puree you would buy at the grocery store.
Additional Cooking Methods
Roasting - If you do not have an Instant Pot, roasting kabocha squash is a delicious alternative option. Cut the squash in half using a sharp knife and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the insides of the squash and roast on a baking sheet for 45-60 minutes at 400 degrees F or until the flesh is soft.
Slow Cooker - Place the washed squash in a slow cooker and place the slow cooker on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours or until it is pierced easily with a knife or fork. Carefully remove the squash and allow it to cool. Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Once the seeds are removed, scoop the flesh out of the shell.
Undercooked squash? Pop any pieces that didn’t get soft into a microwave-safe container for a minute or two to soften any pieces that weren’t fully cooked in the Instant Pot.
Storing Leftovers and Extra Squash
Buy a few extra squash and store them in a dark, cool, dry place. Squash is one of those ingredients that you typically can not find year-round. Stock up when they are in season!
How to Serve
Kabocha squash is a delicious, healthy side dish all on its own. However, add butter, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper; it is a wonderful substitute for mashed potatoes on the Thanksgiving table. Another delicious option is to use kabocha squash as the star ingredient in pumpkin soup! The savory flavors, with warm spices and coconut milk, make a delicious dairy-free fall soup option.
I asked a pumpkin farmer this exact question. He replied that squash is typically what you eat, and a pumpkin is what you use to decorate. He explained to me that pumpkins are a type of squash. The canned pumpkin we all know and love to use for pumpkin pie is 100% squash.
The skin of the kabocha squash is edible. Therefore, you do not need to remove the skin. However, you may want to remove it depending on your recipe.
Kabocha Squash (Japanese Pumpkin) Instant Pot
- 1 Kabocha Squash smaller than 8 inches in diameter
- 1 cup Water
- Rinse and scrub the squash with a veggie brush.
- With a sharp knife, cut one-inch slits all over the squash. They do not have to be deep, just a way for steam to escape.
- In the inner pot of the Instant Pot, place the trivet that came with it and a steamer basket. Place the squash on the steamer basket and add one cup of water to the inner pot.
- Put the cover on the Instant Pot and the valve to seal, and choose high pressure. Set the timer to cook for 20 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, do a quick release of the pressure and remove the cover once the pin drops.
- Allow the kombucha squash to cool for ten minutes, and carefully remove the squash from the pot.
- Using a knife or fork, peel off the rind.
- Once the rind is removed, cut the squash in half with a sharp knife and scoop out the seeds.
- Mash it with a fork and serve immediately. Or, if you want a smoother squash texture, use a food processor to puree it. Add butter, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.