5-Spice Glazed Kabocha Squash: Just 15 Minutes on the Stove-Top!


Eat Dairy Free - Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and SweetsIt’s squash season! Nearly every grocery store has big bins of assorted squash on sale, like delicata, spaghetti, butternut, carnival, and hopefully kabocha. Kabocha squash is sometimes referred to as a Japanese pumpkin. It looks like a small to medium pumpkin, but it’s a deep forest green. And it has a much thinner skin that gets tender as it cooks and can be eaten. In fact, I always leave the skin on when making this easy 5-spice glazed kabocha squash.

I originally came up with this recipe a decade ago, and have enjoyed it many times since. But I finally got around to taking some new photos, and I have added some essential tips to ensure you have good results. Even though I’m slow in the kitchen, this glazed kabocha squash recipe takes me just 20 minutes, from whole squash to tender bites on the table.

5-Spice Glazed Kabocha Squash Recipe - Fast & Easy Side Dish, Just 15 Minutes on the Stove-Top, No Peel! (vegan, gluten-free, optionally allergy-friendly and paleo)

Essential Recipe Tips: 5-Spice Glazed Kabocha Squash

This recipe uses a relatively small kabocha squash. Weigh your squash. If it is larger than 3/4-pound, be sure to adjust the seasonings upward. You can start with the same amount of water, but you might need to add more as it cooks. Or you can weigh out 3/4 pound of the cut squash, and freeze the rest (uncooked) to use later.

Do NOT substitute another squash and expect the same results. And definitely do NOT use a delicata squash – it will release too much liquid. All winter squashes are not created equal. If you use another squash and leave a negative review, I will delete your comment – just warning you! Peeled butternut squash might work well as a substitute, but I haven’t tested it yet.

You can add more Chinese Five-Spice Powder, but this is the amount that we like. It adds a mellow warm spice, but doesn’t overpower the natural flavor of the squash. You can find 5-Spice in the spice section of most grocers. It’s typically a blend of  cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns. And I usually use ginger powder instead of fresh ginger, since Tony has an aversion to chunks of ginger.

The squash skin becomes very tender as it cooks, and it adds a nice layer of texture. So you don’t need to peel kabocha squash. But like most winter squash, it can be a bear to cut. If you have any trouble, you can prick the squash several times with a fork, and microwave it for a few minutes. This will help to soften the squash just enough.

5-Spice Glazed Kabocha Squash Recipe - Fast & Easy Side Dish, Just 15 Minutes on the Stove-Top, No Peel! (vegan, gluten-free, optionally allergy-friendly and paleo)

Special Diet Notes: 5-Spice Glazed Kabocha Squash

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, vegan, plant-based, vegetarian, and oil-free.

For soy-free and paleo glazed kobocha squash, you can substitute coconut aminos for the soy sauce. Coconut aminos are sweeter and less salty, so I recommend adding a little salt to help bring out the flavors.

5.0 from 1 reviews
5-Spice Glazed Kabocha Squash (on the Stovetop!)
Prep time
Cook time
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This easy, no peel squash recipe is cooked on the stove-top in just 15 minutes! It's a fast way to enjoy the sweet fall bounty. The results make a delicious sweet and savory side.
Serves: 2 to 3 servings
  • 1 (3/4-lb) kabocha squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks, skin on (see post above for tips)*
  • ⅓ cup water, plus additional if needed
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or wheat-free tamari (for gluten-free)
  • 1½ tablespoons brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced or ⅛ teaspoon ginger powder
  • ⅜ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
  1. Put the squash, water, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and 5-spice in a large skillet and stir to coat. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the lid and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has thickened into a glaze and the squash (and peel) is nice and tender, about 5 minutes. If the liquid evaporates and your squash isn’t tender enough, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue to cook while stirring.
  3. Optionally sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds to serve.

More Winter Squash Recipes

Roasted Butternut Squash Muffins

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Homemade Butternut Tortellini

Dairy-Free Butternut Squash Tortellini Recipe (easy, vegan optional)

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Eat Dairy Free - Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


  1. You know, I’ve never had Kabocha squash before…though I know many people say it’s their fave squash. I really need to step up my game over here! Thank you for all the tips for preparation too! Definitely trying this once I find a Kabocha!

  2. Kabocha is absolutely the best! It’s one of my favorite winter squashes, right up there alongside delicate, because you don’t have to peel it. Oh yes, and it does taste delicious, too. 😉 Nice was to spice it up!

  3. I like that this squash recipe is really different from my usual squash preparations. It’s nice to branch out a little in terms of flavors and seasonings.

  4. I love squash season! I don’t make kabocha nearly enough. This looks delicious, and it’ll get me cooking! Thanks for the recipe!

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