Kabocha Squash vs Acorn Squash

Kabocha squash and acorn squash are two different varieties of winter squash within the Cucurbita (gourd) family. 

While both vegetables have similar characteristics, there are some small but noteworthy differences in taste and nutrition that set them apart. 

In this article, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between kabocha squash and acorn squash so you can decide which one is best for your preferences and cooking needs.

What is kabocha squash?

Kabocha squash is a variety of Cucurbita maxima, a species that also includes other winter squash like buttercup, hubbard, and turban squash (1).

Kabocha squash has a round, squat shape and is small to medium in size, weighing up to 8 pounds. Its moderately thick skin is dull, bumpy, and mostly dark green but scattered with lighter green stripes and speckles. 

Inside, the squash is filled with seeds that are typically scooped out before cooking, along with dense bright orange flesh. It has a smooth, velvety mouthfeel and tastes nutty, earthy, and a little sweet — similar to sweet potatoes.

Kabocha squash is believed to have originated in the 1860–70s in Japan, where it is still very popular today. It is often used to make a dish called Kabocha no Nimono (simmered kabocha) (2).

In the United States, kabocha squash can be found at farmers’ markets, health food markets, and some supermarkets (depending on your location).

Kabocha squash can be sliced and roasted, boiled and pureed into soup, or baked and stuffed with seasoned meat or grains. It pairs well with soy sauce, maple syrup, and warm spices.

What is acorn squash?

Acorn squash is a winter squash and variety of Cucurbita pepo, a species of squash that also includes pumpkin, zucchini, and straightneck (yellow) squash (3).

This unique squash is acorn-shaped and usually relatively small (4 to 5 inches across) with moderately thick skin that ranges in color from dark green to bright orange.

Inside, it has firm yellow-orange flesh that has a soft, fibrous texture and tastes sweet, nutty, and earthy. Its seeds are edible but can be easily scooped out before cooking.

Acorn squash is native to North America and has been used for centuries by Native Americans. Traditionally, it was boiled in water, baked over a fire, or added to stews and cornbread (4, 5).

In the United States, acorn squash is readily available and can be found at farmers’ markets, health food stores, and supermarkets.

Acorn squash can be prepared in a variety of ways, but it is often sliced and roasted with spices or cut in half, baked, and stuffed with rice, beans, or meat.

Kabocha squash vs acorn squash

Kabocha squash and acorn squash are both winter squashes with green skin, yellow-orange flesh, and slightly sweet, nutty flavors. 

Kabocha squash is larger and has starchy, smooth flesh, while acorn squash is smaller, moister, and fibrous. 

Acorn squash has slightly more calories, carbohydrates, and fiber than kabocha squash, but both are low in protein and fat. Acorn and kabocha squashes are both good sources of vitamin C, providing 12% of the Daily Value.

Here’s a more detailed review of how they compare in both flavor and nutrition:

Flavor comparison

Kabocha and acorn squash have very similar flavors — they’re both sweet, nutty, and earthy, although acorn squash tends to be a little milder.

However, the biggest difference between the two is their textures. Kabocha squash is known for being very dry, starchy, and smooth, while acorn squash is more moist and fibrous.

Both squashes pair well with seasonings like soy sauce, maple syrup, and warm spices, and can be used in a variety of dishes like salads, soups, side dishes, and baked goods. 

Just keep in mind that dishes made with kabocha squash will be drier than acorn squash unless you add water or other liquids.

Nutrition comparison

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the calorie and macronutrient content of kabocha squash and acorn squash, based on a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving size (6, 7):

NutrientKabocha squash (raw, frozen) (100g)Acorn squash (raw) (100g)
Protein1.2 grams0.8 grams
Fat0 grams0.1 grams
Carbohydrates8.2 grams10.4 grams
Fiber1.2 grams1.5 grams


Acorn squash provides slightly more calories than kabocha squash. There are 40 calories in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of raw acorn squash, while an equal portion of raw kabocha squash provides 35 calories.


Both acorn squash and kabocha squash are considered low-protein foods, each providing 1 gram or less of protein per serving.


Like most starchy vegetables, acorn squash and kabocha squash are very low in fat. Both squashes provide less than 1 gram of fat per serving.


Kabocha squash has slightly fewer carbohydrates, with 8 grams per serving compared to acorn squash’s 10 grams per serving. 

Vitamins and minerals

Unfortunately, there isn’t enough research on the vitamin and mineral content of kabocha squash to be able to fully compare it to acorn squash.

Here’s what we can compare, based on a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving (6, 7):

NutrientKabocha squash (raw, frozen) (100g)Acorn squash (raw) (100g)
Vitamin C11 mg (12% DV)11 mg (12% DV)
Vitamin D0 mcg (0% DV)0 mcg (0% DV)
Sodium0 mg (0% DV)3 mg (<1% DV)
Potassium412 mg (9% DV)347 mg (7% DV)
Calcium24 mg (2% DV)33 mg (3% DV)
Iron0 mg (0% DV)0.7 mg (4% DV)

Overall, acorn squash is slightly higher in sodium, calcium, and iron, while kabocha squash has a little more potassium. Both vegetables provide the same amount of vitamin C.

However, keep in mind that we were only able to compare 2 vitamins and 4 minerals.

Available forms

1. Fresh (kabocha and acorn)

Acorn squash is available year-round at most grocery stores, It can also be found at farmers’ markets when in season throughout the fall and winter.

Kabocha squash is a little less popular in the United States, but it can still be found at many farmers’ markets, health food stores, and some supermarkets depending on your location.

2. Frozen (kabocha only)

Frozen diced kabocha squash is available from Earthbound Farm and may be available at some health food stores and supermarkets.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find any frozen acorn squash products online. 

Final thoughts

Kabocha and acorn squash are both tasty winter squashes that can be used in salads, soups, side dishes, and even desserts.

Both squashes are sweet, nutty, and starchy, but acorn squash is a little milder in flavor and kabocha squash has a drier texture.

Nutritionally, It’s difficult to compare them because the information for kabocha squash is incomplete. From the little we do know, it seems that they have similar amounts of vitamins and minerals.

No matter which you choose, both kabocha and acorn squash make delicious and nutritious additions to your diet.

Amy Richter is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Missouri. She is an experienced nutrition writer and medical advisor for Healthline and Medical News Today.  Amy is passionate about all things food-related and enjoys translating complex science into easy-to-understand articles.

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