How to Cut a Kabocha Squash (Japanese Pumpkin)

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  • A complete guide on how to cut, peel, and cook a kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin) with helpful tutorial video and step by step pictures.

    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash - a whole Kabocha squash is being peeled and cut into cubes on a cutting board.

    Over the years I’ve asked by my readers how I cut a whole kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin) for my kabocha recipes. So today I am sharing a complete guide on how I cut a kabocha squash (including how to peel and cook kabocha), along with some of my favorite kabocha recipes.

    Watch How to Cut a Kabocha Squash

    A complete guide on how to cut, peel, and cook a kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin) with helpful tutorial video and step by step pictures.


    Kabocha Squash Pumpkin | Pantry | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    What is Kabocha Squash

    Kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin, has a thin but firm green skin and a bright vivid orange flesh.  Amongst the many squash varieties, kabocha probably tastes the sweetest. Its rich texture and flavor is akin to a sweet potato and a pumpkin combined. The green outer skin may look deceptively hard, but it is edible.

    Kabocha is used in many Japanese recipes where it is stewed, deep-fried into tempura, or even used in desserts.  It has beta carotene, vitamins, and iron, and it’s one of those vegetables Japanese moms tell kids to eat it all up.


    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash 2

    How to Pick a Kabocha Squash

    Kabocha is grown year-round, but they are best in the late summer to late fall.  When picking out the perfect kabocha squash, the two most important factors to consider are color and weight.

    Choose kabocha that has a firm, deep-colored green rind.  Some faint stripes, bumps, or blemishes on the skin are fine.  And choose ones that feel heavy for their size (usually about 2-4 lbs).

    If you’re looking for a substitute for kabocha squash, you can use acorn or buttercup squash as they both have edible green skin and sweet orange flesh.


    A whole Kabocha squash is being peeled and cut into cubes on a cutting board.

    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash

    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash 1

    Step 1: Pick your knife

    The most important tip to cut a kabocha squash is to get a large sharp knife.  When you use a sharp knife, lesser force is required to make a cut of the squash. The edge of the knife bites the object precisely while a dull knife may slip and lose the control.  That means a dull knife can be more dangerous than a sharp knife.  It’s always good to invest on one high quality, all-purpose chef knife (instead of buying a fancy set of knives).

    Now wash the kabocha squash and dry before moving onto the next step.

    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash 13
    If you microwave half of kabocha, remove the seeds first.

    Step 2: Microwave kabocha

    You might have already known this tip, but microwaving a kabocha really helps.  The microwave cooking time varies depending on the size of your kabocha, how soft you want your kabocha to be (some recipes require kabocha to be more raw than others), and your maximum microwave wattage.  But it’s good to remember 2 to 4 minutes as your starting point.

    And if you’re like my son, you might be wondering if the kabocha squash would explode by microwaving.  Let’s say it won’t happen unless you microwave it for like 10 minutes, which I’ve never done before. If you are curious to try, I can’t guarantee what would happen.

    Now if your kabocha is bigger than your microwave or you don’t own a microwave, you can either cut the whole kabocha with a large and heavy sharp knife, or you can wrap the kabocha in aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 400 ºF (200 ºC) for 15 minutes.

    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash 12

    Step 3: Remove the stem

    If you are slicing the whole kabocha, remove the stem first using a large spoon.  Just dig in a little and it’ll pop out.

    How To Cut a Kabocha Squash 3

    Step 4: Slice kabocha into half

    Stick the very sharp knife in the middle and work around the outside until you can cut it into two parts.

    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash 4

    Step 5: Remove the seeds

    Using a large spoon, remove the seeds and pith from the core of the kabocha squash.

    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash 5

    Step 6: Slice the halves into wedges

    Then slice the halves into 4-6 wedges depending on your recipe.  You can also cut the halves in half first before slicing into smaller wedges.

    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash 6

    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash 7

    Step 7: Cut the wedges into cubes or slices

    Depending on your recipe, you may need to cut the wedges into cubes or slices.  Decide if you want to remove the (edible) rind for your recipe.  If you decide to remove it, read the next section before you cut into cubes or slices.


    A whole Kabocha squash is being peeled and cut into cubes on a cutting board.

    How to Peel a Kabocha Squash

    The kabocha skin is edible.  Many Japanese kabocha recipes such as kabocha tempura and simmered kabocha require to keep the skin on.

    However, if you want to show that beautiful orange color in your recipe, you have to remove the rind as the dark green kabocha skin will not keep the beautiful orange flesh color.

    Method 1: Peel kabocha skin before cooking

    In most recipes, you will want to remove the skin first before cooking.  Lay each wedge on its flat side, and slice the peel off.  Then you can easily cut into small pieces.

    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash 8

    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash 10-2

    Method 2: Peel kabocha skin after cooking

    You will most likely use this method if you want to steam and puree the kabocha for your recipe.  It’s best to keep the skin when steaming so that kabocha holds its shape and doesn’t stick to your steamer basket.

    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash 11


    How to Store a Kabocha Squash

    If you are not using the entire kabocha squash, make sure to remove the seeds and pith from cut kabocha before wrapping with plastic wrap.  You can store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or in the freezer for a month.

    You can store the whole uncut kabocha in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1-2 months.


    How to Cut a Kabocha Squash 9

    How to Cook a Kabocha Squash & Kabocha Recipes

    A white plate containing ball shaped panko-crusted Japanese pumpkin croquettes and a silver fork with black handle.

    1. Steam It

    Steam diced kabocha squsash (with skin on), remove the rind, mash the flesh, and shape into this delicious Kabocha Croquettes (Japanese Pumpkin Korokke).

    Kabocha salad | JustOneCookbook.com

    2. Boil It

    Boil peeled kabocha cubes and mash it to make this delicious Kabocha Salad.

    Easy-to-follow, creamy and rich Kabocha Squash Soup popular in Japan. Ready in 30 minutes. | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    3. Puree It

    Throw steamed cubes into a food processor/blender to make Kabocha Squash Soup and Kabocha Squash Pie.

    Simmered Kabocha | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    4. Simmer It

    When simmered slowly in a delicious broth, curry, or stew, kabocha takes on a new depth of flavor.  Check out traditional Japanese Simmered Kabocha made this way.

    Kabocha Pork Stir Fry II

    5. Stir Fry It

    When you’re stir frying kabocha, it’s best to keep the rind on so that kabocha slices keep in shape.  Make Kabocha Pork Stir Fry to go with your rice and miso soup.

    Vegetable Tempura | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    6. Deep Fry It

    Dip your kabocha slices (with skin on) in tempura batter and deep fry to golden crisp kabocha tempura!

    7. Bake or Roast It

    You can make your favorite casserole dishes with kabocha squash!  Or toss kabocha squash with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper (or with your favorite spices and herbs) and let the oven does it work.  Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of kabocha beautifully.


    Did you enjoy learning How to Cut a Kabocha Squash?

    If you want to browse more kabocha recipes, click here.  Thank you so much for reading and till next time!

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