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How to Cook Butternut Squash: The Ultimate Guide

This ultimate guide shows you how to cook butternut squash for soups, salads, side dishes, and appetizers using 6 easy cooking methods. Here, you will also find instructions on easily cutting, peeling, and serving butternut squash.

Two butternut squash halves, a small dish with butternut squash puree, and a small dish with butternut squash seeds, all placed into a white baking dish with red handles.

Butternut squash is the most popular of the winter squash varieties.

It tastes great on its own and is often used as an ingredient in soups, stews, chilis, salads, appetizers, and even desserts. Butternut squash is inexpensive and packed with nutrients. It’s also very easy to store because it has a long shelf life.

Unfortunately, many people shy away from cooking butternut squash because they don’t know how to prepare it properly.

The good news is that cooking butternut squash is very easy. You just have to practice a few times and find one or two methods that work for you.

How to Prep a Butternut Squash for Peeling and Cutting

Butternut squash is a very dense vegetable with a hard rind, and trying to cut it can be a huge struggle. In fact, many people say that they never cook butternut squash because they just can’t cut it.

There are plenty of tutorials on the internet showing you how to cut a butternut squash using fancy sharp knives, but even with a high-end knife, you will have to put a lot of effort into cutting and peeling the butternut squash.

If you are like me and struggle when cutting and peeling a squash, I have good news for you. There is a way to make it softer so that the process of cutting and peeling it becomes less stressful.

If you do some prep work and precut butternut squash on the weekend and you will be able to cook it as needed during the week.

Here is how to do it in just a few simple steps:

Step 1.

Wash the butternut squash and pat it dry. With a paring knife, make two small crosscuts in the middle of the wide end of the butternut squash. These small cuts are needed to let the steam out of the squash, so it doesn’t explode.

The bottom of a butternut squash with 2 small crosscuts in the middle.

Step 2.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Place the butternut squash on a baking sheet and put it in the oven. Warm up the butternut squash for about 15 minutes. Alternatively, microwave the squash for 3 to 5 minutes (the time required depends on the size of the squash and the power of your microwave).

A butternut squash in a red baking dish inside an oven.

Step 3.

Take the squash out of the oven and let it cool until it’s cool enough to handle.

A top view of a butternut squash in a white baking dish.

Step 4.

Now you can easily cut and peel the squash using a good vegetable peeler or a sharp knife.

A top view of a butternut squash cut in half and some cubed butternut squash.

How to Cook Butternut Squash: the Best Methods

Now that we have all the peeling and cutting behind us let’s move on to the fun part and learn how to cook butternut squash.

There are quite a few methods of cooking butternut squash. The most popular ones are roasting butternut squash halves or cubes.

But there are also other less known ways of cooking butternut squash that will save you a lot of time and effort, such as cooking whole butternut squash, cooking butternut squash in a microwave, as well as sauteeing butternut squash.

You can also steam butternut squash which is perfect for making baby food.

How to Roast Butternut Squash Whole

Step 1.

To roast a whole squash, start by thoroughly washing and patting it dry.

Step 2.

With a paring knife, make two small but deep crosscuts in the middle of the wide end of the butternut squash. (I am not sure how this brown spot is called, but it’s the softest part of the squash, and you can easily cut through it).

These small cuts are needed to let the steam out of the squash, so it doesn’t explode. (And trust me, you don’t want this to happen because it’s messy!)

A bottom of a butternut squash with a small crosscut in the middle.

Step 3.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the squash on a sheet pan and put it in the oven.

Bake the butternut squash for about 60 to 75 minutes or until you can easily pierce it with a fork. If you are not sure if the squash is done, just bake it for another 10 to 15 minutes because it tastes better when it’s properly cooked through.

How to Cook Butternut Squash: Top view of a cooked whole butternut squash inside a white baking dish.

Step 4.

When the butternut squash is cooked through, take it out of the oven and let it cool until you can handle it. Be very careful because butternut squash get’s very hot inside. Cut the squash in half lengthwise.

How to Cook Butternut Squash: A top view of a cooked butternut squash cut lengthwise inside a white baking dish.

Step 5.

Scoop out the squash flesh and seeds. (Don’t discard the seeds because they make a delicious snack. See the instructions at the bottom of this post on how you can roast butternut squash seeds). The skin of the butternut squash is also edible and tastes similar to baked potato skin, especially in the spots where it has browned.

How to Cook Butternut Squash: One half of a cooked butternut squash, a small dish with butternut squash seeds with pulp, skin of a cooked butternut squash, and a small dish with butternut squash puree, all placed inside a baking dish.

How to Roast Butternut Squash Halves

One of the most popular ways of cooking butternut squash is roasting butternut squash halves.

A cut in half butternut squash will roast much faster than whole butternut squash, and the cut surfaces will caramelize while baking which intensifies the flavor of butternut squash.

Step 1.

To roast butternut squash halves, first, wash the squash and pat it dry, and then prep the squash as described above.

Step 2.

Cut off both ends and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. (Don’t discard the seeds because they make a delicious snack. See the instructions at the bottom of this post on how you can roast butternut squash seeds.)

Step 3.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Oil the cut side of the squash with olive oil and place the squash halves on a baking sheet. Roast the butternut squash halves for 30 to 45 minutes until fork tender.

Top view of two butternut squash halves in a white baking dish.

Should I Bake Butternut Squash Cut Side Up or Down?

You can roast the squash halves either cut side up or down.

The squash halves roasted cut side down result in a very soft and juicy butternut squash because the skin traps the moister in the squash, so the squash is a bit steamed inside.

If you roast the squash halves cut side up, you’ll get a slightly drier and firmer squash because some moister will evaporate during cooking. The squash that was baked cut side up is usually easier to cut and holds the shape better.

My personal preference is to bake the squash cut side up if I plan to serve it sliced. If I plan to make a butternut squash puree, I bake it cut side down.

Top view of two cooked butternut squash halves inside a baking dish.

How to Cook Butternut Squash in the Microwave

  1. To cook butternut squash in a microwave, first, wash the squash and pat it dry, then prep it as described above.
  2. Cut off the ends, cut it in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. (Don’t discard the seeds because they make a delicious snack. See the instructions at the bottom of this post on how you can roast butternut squash seeds.) Make a few holes in the skin of the squash using a fork or a knife.
  3. Place one squash half cut side down on a flat plate. There is no need to add any water because the butternut squash contains a lot of moisture. The thick skin of the squash traps the moisture inside so that the squash cooks evenly. Microwave it on high for about 10 to 15 minutes – the time will vary depending on the size of the squash and the power of your microwave. Once the timer stops, keep it inside the microwave for 5 more minutes.

Top view of a butternut squash half, placed cut side down on a white plate.

How to Roast Butternut Squash Cubes

  1. To roast butternut squash cubes, first, wash the squash and pat it dry, then prep the squash as described above.
  2. Peel the squash and cut it into cubes. (Don’t discard the seeds because they make a delicious snack. See the instructions at the bottom of this post on how you can roast butternut squash seeds.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the cubes onto a baking sheet and add one to two tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt. Toss the cubes to coat them in oil.
  4. Spread the cubes of butternut squash evenly over the baking sheet. Make sure the cubes are loosely arranged in a single layer. Use two baking sheets if needed.
  5. Bake the squash cubes for about 25 to 35 minutes until they start to caramelize. You can also leave the squash under the broiler for a few minutes. If you use two baking sheets, rotate them once so that the squash cooks evenly.

Top view of roasted butternut squash cubes in a baking dish.

How to Saute Butternut Squash

  1. To saute butternut squash, first, wash the squash and pat it dry, then prep it as described above.
  2. Peel the squash, then cut it into cubes. (Don’t discard the seeds because they make a delicious snack. See the instructions at the bottom of this post on how you can roast butternut squash seeds.)
  3. Heat about 1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the butternut squash cubes and cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 to 20 minutes until the squash is fork-tender and started to brown.
  4. Stir more often towards the end of cooking to make sure it doesn’t burn. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top view of sauteed butternut squash cubes in a black pan with a wooden spatula in the middle.

How to Steam Butternut Squash

  1. To steam butternut squash cubes, first, wash the squash and pat it dry, then prep it as described above.
  2. Peel the squash, then cut it into cubes. (Don’t discard the seeds because they make a tasty snack. See the instructions at the bottom of this post on how you can roast butternut squash seeds.)
  3. Add water to your steamer, then place the squash cubes into the steamer basket.
  4. Bring the water to a boil, cover, and steam for about 15 to 20 minutes until the squash is fork-tender. When using a stovetop steamer, always keep an eye on the water level to make sure it doesn’t evaporate. Add more water if needed.

Close-up side view of cubed butternut squash being steamed in a steamer basket.

How to Make Butternut Squash Puree

Step 1.

To make mashed butternut squash, cook it first using any of the methods described above. If you decide to bake butternut squash halves, place them on the baking sheet cut side down. Once the squash is ready, you can simply mash it with a fork or a potato masher.

Butternut squash puree in a white dish with a fork in the middle.

Step 2.

For a smoother butternut squash puree, process it in a food processor or blender.

Top view of a butternut squash puree in a blender.

Step 3.

For an extra smooth texture, push it through a mesh colander with a rubber spatula.

Top view of a butternut squash puree being pushed through a mesh colander placed over a white bowl.

How to Roast Butternut Squash Seeds

Roasted butternut squash seeds are delicious and taste similar to pumpkin seeds. You can have them as a snack or use them as a garnish for butternut squash soup.

Step 1.

To roast butternut squash seeds, scoop them out of the squash and separate them from palp.

Top view of a white bowl with butternut squash seeds and a bowl with butternut squash pulp.

Step 2.

Spread the seeds on a baking sheet.

A top view of butternut squash seeds in a white baking dish.

Step 3.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the baking sheet with the squash seeds into the oven and roast them for about 20 minutes or until they dry out and start to turn golden brown. They might also start to pop.

Top view of roasted butternut squash seeds in a white bowl.

Now It’s Your Turn!

I’ve really enjoyed cooking and especially eating all the butternuts squash that was prepared for this post. Now it’s your turn!

Please share with us in the comments below your favorite method of cooking butternut squash. Do you cook it whole? Do you like to roast butternut squash, or do you prefer to saute it? Do you use a method that isn’t mentioned in this post?

If you’ve never cooked butternut squash before, I hope you will experiment with different methods and choose the one that works for you.

If you already know how to cook butternut squash, I hope you’ve found some new tips and tricks that will help you improve your favorite method, or maybe you would like to try a new one.

Either way, I hope you will include this delicious and nutritious vegetable in your menu more often.

And if you like butternut squash as much as I do, check out this Hearty Butternut Squash Barley Soup and this Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash with Maple Syrup recipes.

Happy Cooking!

How to Cook Butternut Squash

How to Cook Butternut Squash

Yield: 4 portions
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

A delicious squash makes a perfect simple side dish and can be used to prepare soups, salads, and appetizers. In this easy guide, you will learn how to cook it using 6 easy methods.

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp olive oil for roasting and sauteing cubed butternut squash

Instructions

How to Prep Butternut Squash for Cutting and Peeling

  1. Wash the butternut squash and pat it dry. With a paring knife, make two small crosscuts in the middle of the wide end of the butternut squash. These small cuts are needed to let the steam out of the squash so it doesn’t explode.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375F. Place the butternut squash on a baking sheet and put it in the oven. Warm up the butternut squash for about 15 minutes. Alternatively, microwave the squash for 3 to 5 minutes (the time required depends on the size of the squash and the power of your microwave).
  3. Take the squash out of the oven and let it cool until it’s cool enough to handle.
  4. Peel and cut into the desired shape.

How to Roast a Whole Butternut Squash

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. To roast whole butternut squash, start by thoroughly washing and patting it dry. With a paring knife, make two small but deep crosscuts in the middle of the wide end of the butternut squash.
  3. Place the squash on a baking sheet and put it in the oven. Bake the butternut squash for about 60 to 75 minutes or until you can easily pierce it with a fork. If you are not sure if the squash is done, just bake it for another 10 to 15 minutes because it tastes better when it’s properly cooked through.
  4. When the butternut squash is cooked through, take it out of the oven and let it cool until you can handle it. Be very careful because butternut squash get’s very hot inside. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh.

How to Roast Butternut Squash Halves

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. To roast butternut squash halves, first, wash the squash and pat it dry then prep the squash as described above. Cut off both ends and then cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds.
  3. Oil the cut side of the squash with olive oil and place the squash halves on a baking sheet. Roast the butternut squash halves for 30 to 45 minutes until fork tender.

How to Cook Butternut Squash in a Microwave

  1. To cook butternut squash in a microwave, first, wash the squash and pat it dry then prep it as described above. Cut off the ends, cut it in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Make a few holes in the skin using a fork or a knife.
  2. Place one squash half cut side down on a flat plate. Microwave it on high for about 10 to 15 minutes – the time will vary depending on the size of the squash and the power of your microwave. Once the timer stops, keep it inside the microwave for 5 more minutes.

How to Roast Butternut Squash Cubes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. To roast butternut squash cubes, first, wash the squash and pat it dry then prep the squash as described above. Peel the squash and cut it into cubes.
  3. Place the cubes onto a baking sheet and add one to two tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt. With your hands, toss the cubes to coat them in oil.
  4. Spread the butternut squash evenly over the baking sheet. Make sure the cubes aren’t too tight and arranged in only one layer. Use two baking sheets if needed.
  5. Bake the squash cubes for about 25 to 35 minutes until they start to caramelize. You can also leave the squash under the broiler for a few minutes. If you use two baking sheets, rotate them once so that the squash cooks evenly.

How to Saute Butternut Squash

  1. To sautee butternut squash, first, wash the squash and pat it dry then prep it as described above. Peel the squash then cut it into cubes.
  2. Heat about one and a half tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the butternut squash cubes and cook stirring occasionally for about 15 to 20 minutes until the squash is fork-tender and started to brown. Stir more often towards the end of cooking to make sure it doesn’t burn. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

How to Steam Butternut Squash

  1. To steam butternut squash cubes, first, wash the squash and pat it dry then prep it as described above. Peel the squash then cut it into cubes.
  2. Add water to your steamer then place the squash cubes into the steamer basket. Bring the water to a boil, cover, and steam for about 15 to 20 minutes until the squash is fork-tender. When using a stovetop steamer, always keep an eye on the level of water to make sure it doesn’t evaporate. Add more water if needed.

Notes

1. If you've printed this recipe card, please refer to the blog post for more information, step-by-step pictures, as well as the instructions on how to make butternut squash puree and how to roast butternut squash seeds.

2. Please note that the nutrition information is provided for raw butternut squash without any oil.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 portions Serving Size 1/4 of recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 153Total Fat 0.3gSaturated Fat 0.1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0.1gCholesterol 0mgSodium 13.6mgCarbohydrates 39.8gFiber 6.8gSugar 7.5gProtein 3.4g

Nutrition facts provided on this website are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a qualified health care provider for personalized diet advice and make sure that each of the ingredients is allowed in your diet.

Did you make this recipe?

If you tried this recipe, please give it a 5-star rating! To do this, click on the stars above. You can also leave a review or comment below. And don't forget to tag me @mariaushakova.blog if you share a picture on Instagram!

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Saundra

Friday 22nd of November 2019

Thank you soo much! Now I will be able to cut it.

Maria Ushakova

Saturday 23rd of November 2019

Oh, great! So glad it was helpful :)

Paul

Wednesday 5th of June 2019

Thank you. I really enjoyed this post as I love butternut and always cook it in many ways, but you cleared the how to. 👍

Maria Ushakova

Wednesday 5th of June 2019

I am so glad you found this post helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to write a comment :)

Elaine

Thursday 15th of November 2018

What a thorough and well written explanation of cooking methods! I found you through a Pinterest search, and will be following you now! I can't wait to start cooking. Thank you so much.

Maria Ushakova

Tuesday 20th of November 2018

Hello Elaine! I am so glad you found this post helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

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