Kabocha has an exceptional sweet flavor, even sweeter than butternut squash. It is similar in texture and flavor to a pumpkin and sweet potato combined. Some kabocha can taste like Russet potatoes or chestnuts. The rind is edible although some cooks may peel it to speed up the cooking process or to suit their personal taste preferences. Kabocha is commonly utilized in side dishes and soups, or as a substitute for potato or other squash varieties. It can be roasted after cutting the squash in half, scooping out the seeds, and then cutting the squash into wedges. With a little cooking oil and seasoning, it can be baked in the oven. Likewise, cut Kabocha halves can be added to a pressure cooker and steamed under high pressure for 15–20 minutes. One can slowly bake Kabocha whole and uncut in a convection oven, after which the entire squash becomes soft and edible, including the rind.
Kabocha is available all year but is best in late summer and early fall. Kabocha is primarily grown in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, California, Florida, Hawaii, Southwestern Colorado, Mexico, Tasmania, Tonga, New Zealand, Chile, Jamaica, and South Africa, but is widely adapted for climates that provide a growing season of 100 days or more. Most of the kabocha grown in California, Colorado, Tonga and New Zealand is actually exported to Japan.