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Three sisters squash fritters recipe

Squash, corn, and beans are the combination known as the Three Sisters. These acorn squash fritters with corn and beans are a delicious vegetarian, gluten-free meal. Plus, they are a tasty way to get more vegetables into your diet. Similar to a rissole or a croquette, vegetable fritters are an easy veggie recipe that you can serve as a side, snack or main dish.

I’ll show you everything you need to know about how to make veggie cakes in detailed instructions.

I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.

You may also be interested in my vegan veggie cakes and my original veggie cakes recipes. For ease of browsing, you can find all of my veggie cake recipes in one place.

Three sisters squash fritters stacked on top of each other.

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Why you should make these three sisters vegetable cakes

These squash fritters are delicious on their own, but they could be eaten with an egg for breakfast, or made into a burger.

They would also be excellent tucked into lunchboxes, as they travel well and can be eaten at room temperature. There are so many options when it comes to vegetable cakes.

Three sister vegetables cakes with corn and squash in the background.

These hearty little vegetable patties are full of protein and fiber, plus they come with a built in bonus – roasted squash seeds. Save the seeds from the acorn squash and roast them for a healthy snack.

Acorn squash fritters with beans and corn

I’ve used acorn squash, because I love the flavor of this winter squash, but you could use almost any that you like. They are incredibly easy to make and are one of my favorite acorn squash recipes on the blog.

Acorn squash patties on brown paper.

Use whatever squash you prefer, as well as the type of beans that you prefer. This recipe is very flexible. Using ingredients you like will ensure that you will happy with the end result.

Ingredients you will need

  • Onion – I used a sweet onion, but a yellow onion would also be perfect here.
  • Chiles (optional) – I cook my dried beans with dried chiles for extra flavor. If you are using canned beans, you won’t need it.
  • Garlic – A clove or two adds great flavor to these vegetables cakes.
  • Egg – One egg helps to bind the squash fritters together.
  • Beans – The base of our veggie patties – you can cook your own dried beans, or use canned. Whichever method you prefer.
  • Squash – Any winter squash is a good option, but I would not recommend using spaghetti squash, as the texture is completely different.
  • Corn – Late summer corn is perfect here, but you can use frozen or canned if corn is out of season.
  • Cornmeal – This holds the fritters together so they don’t fall apart when cooking and gives them tons of flavor.
  • Oil – I use a neutral oil, like grapeseed, to sauté the onion and garlic.
  • Salt and pepper – Everything needs seasoning.

How to make three sisters squash fritters

Here’s a quick summary of how to make squash fritters. Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full recipe. 

First, roast the acorn squash in the oven until soft. This should take approximately 30 minutes. While it is roasting, proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Step-by-step instructions for making squash fritters.
  1. Mash beans with a potato masher, or a fork until they are mostly broken up.
  2. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent, about 6 – 8 minutes. Add corn and cook another minute.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine mashed beans with corn, onions, garlic, salt and pepper. When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop flesh out and add it to the bowl.
  4. Whisk one egg and add it to the mixture with cornmeal. Mix well until fully combined.
Portioning squash fritter mixture in measuring cup.

Use a shallow 1/4 cup measure, or a 2 ounce scoop to portion mixture, then cook fritters in pan or air fryer.

Cooking methods

Recently, I made butternut squash fritters in the air fryer and really liked the result, so I wanted to test these three sisters veggie cakes in the air fryer as well.

I tried a couple of different cooking methods, and here are the results:

Cooking methods for squash fritters on parchment paper.
  • Air fryer – The air fryer made them crunchy on the outside and did brown them, but not evenly. It dried them out a bit, though not enough that I wouldn’t choose this method, but it’s not my first choice.
  • Pan fried – This is my personal preference. Yes, it is fried in oil, but not a lot. It is evenly browned, with a fantastic crunchy exterior. The inside stayed perfectly fluffy and didn’t dry out.
  • Cornmeal coated – The coating of cornmeal gave it a really crispy outside that made me think of fried green tomatoes. This was a close second.
Coating vegetable cakes in cornmeal.

Variations and substitutions

You can easily swap out acorn squash for butternut, buttercup, kabocha, Hubbard squash or any winter squash that you like. I would avoid spaghetti squash because the texture is not the same.

If you choose to cook dried beans, remember that they will almost triple in size after cooking. The beans I used in this recipe are called Yellow Eye beans. They are an heirloom variety and they are incredible.

Dried and cooked beans on a white plate.

Chef tips and fritter recipe FAQ’s

Can I freeze them?

Yes! They freeze really well. You can store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Can I bake these squash fritters in the oven?

Absolutely. I would suggest giving them a little spray of olive oil to help them brown. Bake them just until crispy, about 15 minutes, depending on your oven. If you have a convection feature, turn the fan on to help brown them evenly.

Are they vegan?

They are vegetarian because the recipe calls for one egg. However, you can substitute the egg with a chia seed or flax egg and that would make them vegan.

Serving suggestions

For a lovely fall-inspired meal, you could serve these squash cakes with a butternut squash arugula salad. For a protein, these rosemary lemon chicken thighs would be really nice. Of course, you could also make a sausage-stuffed acorn squash to go with them.

An apple cider bourbon cocktail would be my choice to serve with dinner, followed up with this pumpkin snack cake for dessert.

Stacked squash vegetable fritters on brown paper.

Helpful tools and equipment

  • Air fryer – This air fryer is easy to use and won’t break the bank.
  • Air fryer liners – reusable air fryer liners make cleaning up much easier and keep your air fryer looking like new.
  • 2 ounce scoop – This makes the perfect size – 1/4 cup measure, without trying to get the mixture out of a measuring cup in one piece.

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Yield: 12 fritters

Three sisters squash fritters

Three sisters squash fritters

Three sisters squash fritters with beans and corn are a delicious vegetarian and gluten free recipe.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 acorn squash, seeds removed *See note
  • 1/2 cup corn (fresh, frozen or canned) // 120ml
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked beans (dried or canned, drained) // 360ml
  • 1 cup cornmeal // 185 grams
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F // 180°C.
  2. Cut acorn squash in half and remove seeds. Drizzle cut side with 1 teaspoon oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 - 30 minutes, cut side down, until soft. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, use a large spoon to scrape flesh from squash skin.
  3. In a medium sauté pan, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 5 - 6 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Finally, add corn, cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, mash cooked beans with a potato masher, then add sautéed vegetables and squash.
  5. Whisk egg (or use chia/flax egg) and add to bean and squash mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add cornmeal and use clean hands to combine mixture, mixing until uniform. (Mixture should be fairly thick. If it is not, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes)
  6. Use a 2 ounce scoop or 1/4 cup measure to portion out squash fritters.
  7. To cook on the stovetop, heat a heavy pan, like cast iron or a heavy frying pan, over medium/medium-high heat and add enough oil to cover to bottom of the pan. To cook in an air-fryer - heat to 350°F.
  8. Pan fry: Carefully place squash fritters into oil and cook for 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil. For air fryer: cook for 10 - 12 minutes, flipping halfway through. *See notes
  9. Repeat until you have used up all of the mixture. Let cool slightly before eating. Store in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.

Notes

Half of a 1 1/2 lb. acorn squash should yield approximately one cup of flesh. If your squash is on the smaller side, cook both halves of the squash.

*Corn will pop if it comes in contact with a hot pan for a few minutes. Please be mindful when cooking.

All air fryers cook differently. You may need more than 10 - 12 minutes, or less. It will depend on the brand and size of the air fryer that you own.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 116Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 147mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.

Did you make this recipe?

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Thanks for stopping by! Have a delicious day 🙂

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