Southwest Delicata Squash Salad

The holiday season is reserved for a well-deserved period of indulgence. This Southwest Delicata Squash Salad breaks up the richness associated with November and December but is still so satisfying. There are hundreds of recipes for delicata squash all over the internet, but this one is made special with a southwest twist.

Southwest Delicata Squash Salad

We roast the delicata half-moons in maple syrup, hot sauce, and southwest spices. Pumpkin seeds are tossed in the same seasoning and toasted alongside the squash to give the salad a crunch. The star is the creamy jalapeno dressing, made with pickled jalapenos for a mild kick, that coats the veggies and compliments the spices of the squash. Finished with cotija cheese and pomegranate seeds, it’s the perfect hearty fall dinner salad.

This is satisfying as is but would be a great vehicle for leftover turkey after Thanksgiving or shredded chicken. 

Need a special salad to take to a Thanksgiving dinner? This Southwest Delicata Squash Salad could be great there, too. And you’ll have extra jalapeno dressing — a stellar spread on a leftover turkey sandwich!

Southwest Delicata Salad with Creamy Jalapeño Dressing

Southwest Delicata Squash Salad
Serves: 4 people
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins



  • 2 Tbsp. avocado oil
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce - I used Siete Food’s Chipotle Hot Sauce
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 small/medium delicata squash - halved lengthwise seeds removed and cut into ¼” thick half moons
  • ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)


  • ¼ red onion - thinly sliced about ½ cup
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar


  • 2 cloves garlic - roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped pickled jalapenos - drained
  • ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro - plus more for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • ½ tsp. Cracked black pepper
  • ¾ cup homemade mayo - or sub for store bought avocado oil mayo


  • 6 cups deribbed and shredded kale
  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 3 oz. crumbled cotija cheese
  • 1 medium avocado - sliced


  • Preheat oven to 400. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the avocado oil, maple syrup, hot sauce, cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cinnamon, pepper, and salt. Add in the delicata, and toss well to combine, ensuring they are all well-coated. Distribute half of the squash on each prepared baking sheet to ensure they have enough space to get golden.
  • Add the pumpkin seeds to the now empty bowl and toss them around to coat in any excess seasoning leftover from the squash. Set aside.
  • Transfer the trays to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Give them a shake at the 15-minute mark, rotate the trays, and roast for an additional 10 minutes. After 25 total minutes, remove one of the trays, push the squash to one side, and add the spiced pumpkin seeds. Transfer back into the oven and roast for 5 more minutes. Set the trays aside.
  • While the squash is roasting, pickle the onions and make your dressing.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the onions and the red wine vinegar. Toss and set aside. They’ll pickle a bit while you prepare the rest.
  • In a wide mouth mason jar, add all the ingredients for the jalapeno dressing. Place the head of an immersion blender in the bottom of the jar. Slowly blend, pulling the blender up and down to ensure the dressing is smooth. Blend until you have a smooth and creamy dressing. It will be a pale green and resemble the texture of ranch.
  • To assemble, add the kale and cabbage to the bowl with the pickled onion. Add a pinch of salt, and using tongs, massage the greens a bit to break down the fibers. Add the dressing in tablespoon increments, tossing as you go, until your greens are lightly dressed. Add in half of the roasted squash, pepitas, pomegranate seeds, and cotija. Gently toss to combine. Transfer the salad to a large serving tray. Arrange the remaining squash atop the salad, and garnish with the remaining pomegranate seeds, cotija, and avocado. Serve and Enjoy!


  • Reply
    Carrie Gonzalez
    October 17, 2022 at 1:03 am

    Wow! This is amazing! The flavors all come together in your mouth. I saw delicata squash at the grocery store the other week and remembered seeing this recipe on the blog. Bought the squash and made the salad tonite. My favorite salad!

    • Reply
      October 18, 2022 at 1:09 am

      yay!! thanks, Carrie!

  • Reply
    January 5, 2022 at 9:51 pm

    This salad is amazing! Thank you Alex. The squash on it’s own is probably the best delicata squash I’ve ever tasted. We were all eating it straight off the tray and there was hardly any left for the salad. Have made the salad five times now since Christmas Eve- it’s that good! I’d recommend starting your dressing with only half the pickled jalapeños called for and then adding more after you taste- it is definitely spicy as written.

  • Reply
    January 4, 2022 at 2:19 pm

    5 stars
    I made this for Christmas Eve and was so delicious! I made it again a few days later! The dressing is delicious as well! Had to use acorn squash but tasted great. When I ran out of dressing I used Tessamae’s habenero ranch dressing and was delicious!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2021 at 9:07 pm

    5 stars
    Wow! This salad is amazing. We make your recipes several times a week and truly love everything you make. This salad is my favorite! The different textures and flavors make this a standout. Thank you for your creativity and talent!

  • Reply
    December 29, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    5 stars
    I made this last night as a “stand alone” for dinner. The best salad ever! Our family will be seeing this gorgeous and delicious salad again and again. Thank you, Alex! I am really looking forward to your new cookbook.

  • Reply
    Jen M
    December 29, 2021 at 4:40 am

    5 stars
    So delicious! I skipped the squash because we were having a heavy meal but included everything else and it was delicious.

  • Reply
    December 10, 2021 at 8:43 pm

    Delicious! I had to make two substitutions due to what we had at home. I used acorn squash instead of delicata and Greek yogurt instead of mayo. We also added chicken to round out the meal. We loved it!

  • Reply
    Katie Taylor
    December 5, 2021 at 8:20 pm

    5 stars
    This is probably the best salad I have ever had. AMAZING!!!! I did peel and dice acorn squash because my store didn’t have delicata, so I had to roast it a bit longer. I will definitely make this again. It was well worth the steps. Such a special salad.

    • Reply
      December 6, 2021 at 12:41 pm

      Thanks, Katie!!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2021 at 3:16 am

    This is the holy grail of salads. It reigned supreme at Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone loved it and asked all about it.
    The Defined Dish has redefined my cooking and I love it! Thanks for doing all the legwork to give us perfect recipes.

    • Reply
      November 30, 2021 at 3:47 pm

      Thank you, Lindsey!!

  • Reply
    November 25, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    Do you let the squash cool before putting it in the salad?! Tia

    • Reply
      November 25, 2021 at 8:20 pm

      I put it in warm!

  • Reply
    November 24, 2021 at 1:23 am

    This salad was to die for!!! We added rotisserie chicken, but it would have been amazing without it too. Counting down the days until your next cookbook is out!!

  • Reply
    November 23, 2021 at 3:04 am

    Can you sub the kale for spinach mix?


    • Reply
      November 24, 2021 at 2:33 am

      sure! Just know it will wilt more quickly so to not toss as vigorously as this recipe calls for.

    • Reply
      Sarah Ganske
      November 28, 2021 at 8:42 pm

      If I can’t find delicata squash, what type of squash would you recommend using as a substitute?

      • Reply
        November 29, 2021 at 1:21 pm

        Acorn squash would be a good sub! You could cut it into thin wedges.

  • Reply
    Jane Marie
    November 22, 2021 at 7:25 pm

    If I’m making this for Thanksgiving but some family members have a sensitivity to kale, does spinach work as a substitute? If so, is there a different way to apply the dressing?

  • Reply
    November 15, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    5 stars
    Ahhhhhh this is so delicious! I ended up subbing acorn squash and almonds but this recipe knocks it out of the park. Don’t commit to the 1/4 of jalapeños if you don’t want too much heat. Thank you, Alex!

  • Reply
    November 15, 2021 at 5:45 pm

    5 stars
    Absolutely LOVED this salad. Due to a sensitive nursing baby, I had to keep the spice level at a minimum, but even 3 pickled jalapeno slices made for an excellent dressing. Can’t wait to make this one again!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2021 at 2:26 am

    5 stars
    I made this for dinner tonight and the salad was SO GOOD! I packaged the leftovers away for lunches during the week, but it really blew me away. I made the recipe exactly as instructed, and it was was so flavorful and delicious.

  • Reply
    Catie Wilcox
    November 3, 2021 at 2:20 am

    I made this tonight for dinner and it’s SO delicious! You really are a culinary genius!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2021 at 1:16 am

    If I’m planning this for Thanksgiving, what can I do in advance vs what should I do right before to make sure it’s delicious??

    • Reply
      November 3, 2021 at 1:11 pm

      My tips would be to make the dressing in advance (it keeps well for 5 days; however, 2 days before would be ideal). You could also prepare the kale and cabbage and pre shred those.
      Everything else (pickling the onions + roasting the squash) should be done same day.

  • Reply
    October 29, 2021 at 4:41 am

    Can you substitute plain Greek yogurt for the Mayo?

    • Reply
      October 29, 2021 at 10:57 am


  • Reply
    Abby Hipps
    October 27, 2021 at 11:48 pm

    Can you make this dressing a day or two ahead?

    • Reply
      October 28, 2021 at 12:31 pm

      Definitely!!! It keeps well for 5-7 days.

      • Reply
        Abby Hipps
        November 28, 2021 at 4:14 pm

        I have made this salad couple times, including for thanksgiving dinner. Absolutely delicious and beautiful. It really balanced out the richness of the traditional stuff and added gorgeous color to the plate. Favorite!!

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