Every fall, grocery stores are full of winter squash, but they can be intimidating. If you've never cooked with them, butternut squash is a great place to start. Similar in flavor and texture to pumpkin, it'll add fall flavor to every meal you use it in.
Learning how to roast butternut squash is quick and easy, and we'll help you through it. You can keep things simple by seasoning with salt and pepper, or you can go all out with maple syrup, thyme, and chipotle. No matter how you roast it, though, butternut squash is great for your health. It's full of fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamins A and C.
Even though it makes a great side dish, don't feel limited when it comes to preparing this favorite fall vegetable. There are all kinds of delicious recipes you can use it in, including butternut squash soup, casseroles, and even butternut squash mac and cheese.
How to Roast Butternut Squash: A Step-by-Step Primer
Roasting butternut squash is simple, but there are some tricks to ensure perfect results every time. Once you've learned the basic cooking process, you can experiment with new ingredients, favorite flavors, and unique recipes, all of which you'll find further along in this article.
How to Prepare Butternut Squash For Roasting
During autumn, most butternut squashes at the grocery store are going to be fresh, but you should still select a squash that's heavy for its size. Pick up a few and compare the weight in your hands. Heavier ones will have less hollow space where the seeds are, so you'll get more of the edible part.
You can roast butternut squash in two ways: in halves or in cubes. If you're roasting in halves, cut off the top stem. Using a large, heavy knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. Use a big metal spoon to scrape out the seeds. It'll be kind of like cleaning out a pumpkin for carving. You don't need to peel butternut squash if you're roasting it in halves.
If you're cubing it, start by peeling the squash with a vegetable peeler. Then cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Finally, cut the squash into 1-inch cubes.
Simple Roasted Butternut Squash Recipe
- 1 butternut squash
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
Directions for halved butternut squash:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Rub the olive oil all over the cut sides of the squash. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, then place the squash cut sides down on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
- Roast until the squash is tender, about 1 hour. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of your squash. Check whether it's done by inserting a small knife. If there's no resistance, it's cooked through.
Directions for cubed butternut squash:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the butternut squash cubes in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and salt and pepper if desired. Toss everything to evenly coat the squash.
- Pour the squash onto a large-rimmed baking sheet (you can line it with foil for easier cleanup if you like). Arrange it in a single layer.
- Roast for 25-30 minutes until tender and browning around the edges.
If you'd rather not turn on your oven and need a faster way to cook, you can also steam butternut squash in the microwave. Place the cubes in a large microwave-safe bowl and add a cup of water (no oil necessary). Cover and cook on high until the squash is tender, the drain before seasoning or using in a recipe.
Recipes Using Roasted Butternut Squash
There are lots of ways you can incorporate roasted butternut squash into your meals that go beyond a simple side dish. We've rounded up some vetted, well-rated butternut squash recipes to help inspire you.
1. Roasted Butternut Squash with Onions, Bacon, and Parmesan
The smokiness from the bacon goes great with both butternut squash and onion in this simple side dish. Don't skip the fresh parsley at the end since it adds a little bright contrast to the caramelized flavors.
2. Roasted Butternut Squash with Onions, Spinach, and Cranberries
Can you imagine serving this jewel-toned dish at Thanksgiving? The recipe calls for it to be served warm, but you can serve it as a cold salad with your favorite vinaigrette, as well.
3. Stuffed Butternut Squash
You can stuff butternut squash with practically anything, but this recipe includes a packet of wild rice mix for convenience. Sage, apples, cranberries, and pecans give it an autumn feel.
Recipe: Spend With Pennies
5. Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash
Roasting the squash deepens its flavor so that it stands up to the richness of the pancetta in this risotto recipe. The saffron lends a lovely flavor and color to the dish, but you can skip it if it's out of your budget.
Recipe: Food Network
6. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
There are a lot of vegan butternut squash mac and cheese recipes out there for special diets, but we still like a little cheese in our macaroni. The squash blends into the sauce of this recipe beautifully, giving it a huge hit of vitamins and fiber. Even kids will love this one, whether they know there's squash in it or not.
Recipe: Feel Good Foodie
7. Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut squash soup is rich, comforting, and satisfying, and it can be as simple or as complicated as you want. This version is simple and classic, with just some garlic, onion, herbs, and ginger for flavor. Serve it with toasted pumpkin seeds or croutons for crunch.
Recipe: Love & Lemons
8. Thai Butternut Squash Red Curry
If you're sick of the traditional American flavors often paired with squash, give this recipe a try. Thai curry is easier and faster to prepare than you might think, thanks to canned red curry paste. Cilantro and lime wedges are a must for serving.
Recipe: Little Spice Jar
9. Creamy Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Pasta
Roasted garlic and crispy prosciutto chips? Yes please! The garlic and prosciutto all roast together with the squash, making this recipe easier than it sounds. Three cheeses — ricotta, gouda, and parmesan — make this pasta extra decadent.
Recipe: Half-Baked Harvest
12. Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchilada Skillet
Skip the hassle of rolling enchiladas with this quick skillet recipe. Just stir corn tortilla pieces into a mixture of butternut squash, beans, peppers, and enchilada sauce, and bake it all with plenty of cheese on top.
Recipe: Ambitious Kitchen
13. Butternut Squash and Sausage Tortellini Soup
Italian sausage and squash complement each other well in this creamy soup. The parmesan rind will add tons of cheese flavor, but you can add grated parmesan instead if you don't have a rind.
Recipe: How Sweet Eats
14. Butternut Squash Lasagna
For a showstopper of a meal, make butternut squash lasagna. Italian amaretti cookies give just a hint of sweetness and spice to the pureed squash. Layer that with a creamy basil sauce, mozzarella, and noodles, and everyone will be impressed.
Recipe: Food Network
15. Chai-Spiced Butternut Squash Muffins
Roasted and mashed butternut squash and whole wheat flour make these muffins a healthy snack for breakfast. Chai spices like cardamom and ginger make them fragrant, and the salted honey glaze is a beautiful finishing touch.
Recipe: Ambitious Kitchen
16. One-Pan Lemon Chicken with Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts
Sheet pan meals are a simple way to get an entire dinner on the table without much fuss and minimal dishes to wash afterward. In this version, chicken breasts roast over fall vegetables with a bright and flavorful honey, lemon, mustard, and herb glaze.
Recipe: Damn Delicious
17. Beef and Butternut Squash Stew
Shake up your typical beef stew with this recipe. It has all the traditional flavors of rosemary, thyme, and onion. But the ingredients take a unique turn with marsala wine and sundried tomatoes, making it special enough for entertaining.
Recipe: Food Network
18. Butternut Squash Pie
Move over, pumpkin and sweet potato, because butternut squash makes a delicious pie, too. This recipe calls for a homemade crust, but you can save some time and use a frozen pie shell instead.
Recipe: House of Yumm
19. Butternut Squash Casserole with Leeks, Prosciutto, and Thyme
A cross between a vegetable gratin and savory bread pudding, this recipe has over 3,000 ratings of five stars. It'd be great for a holiday brunch, lunch, or supper with soup or salad on the side.
Recipe: Food & Wine
20. Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Squash gives these homemade gnocchi a beautiful orange huge. Since you spend a lot of time making them, the brown butter and sage sauce is kept simple to let the flavor shine through.
Recipe: Beyond Sweet and Savory