Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall ingredients, but if you’re new to cooking with it, peeling and chopping this oddly shaped vegetable can be a bit intimidating. But don’t fret! Here’s a quick tutorial so you can see just how easy it is to cut butternut squash. I promise it’s painless! And then you can use that delicious and beautiful butternut squash in soups, salads, casseroles, pasta, and more.
How to Choose A Butternut Squash
When choosing a butternut squash, look for a squash with smooth, light peach-colored skin. The interior of the butternut squash will be much more vibrantly orange colored than its skin. Inspect the squash for soft spots, dings, or other damaged areas. The squash should feel firm to touch and heavy for its size.
Do You Need to Peel Butternut Squash?
If you’re planning to cube or slice your butternut squash, you’ll want to peel it first. If you plan to roast your squash whole or halved, you can leave the skin on during roasting and then just scoop the soft flesh out of the skin after roasting.
What About the Seeds?
You’ll want to scoop the seeds out of the squash before chopping or roasting because they’re much easier to remove when the squash flesh is still raw and firm. But don’t toss those seeds! You can clean them and roast them just like you would roast pumpkin seeds.
How to Use Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is so versatile and can be added to salads, casseroles, pasta, sauces, and more! Butternut squash is also very similar in texture and flavor to sweet potatoes, so it can often be used in place of sweet potatoes in recipes. Here are some of our recipes that use butternut squash (more to come!):
How to Peel and Cut Butternut Squash – Step by Step Photos
Begin by creating a flat, stable surface on the squash so it doesn’t roll around when you try to peel it. Slice off the top and the bottom of the squash to create flat surfaces.
Set the squash on the wide, flat bottom and use a vegetable peeler to peel straight down toward the cutting board. Peel all the way around the squash until all of the peel has been removed and the vibrant squash flesh is visible.
While the squash is still standing up on the base, slice it in half lengthwise from top to bottom. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds from the center.
To cut the butternut squash into cubes, first cut it into slices horizontally, then cut each slice into cubes. To make this step faster, you can stack two or three slices at a time and then cut them into cubes together.
If you have too much butternut squash to use in your recipe, you can freeze the rest of the cubes for later! Simply place the cubed butternut squash in a freezer bag and store it in the freezer for up to three months. The frozen cubes can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight before use, dropped right into boiling water from the freezer, or popped right into a hot oven for roasting! Super easy peasy!
What is your favorite way to use butternut squash? Let us know in the comments!!
great site for novice cooks like me.
It is delicious but hard to cut. I use a saw!
Try poking it with a fork a few times and then microwaving it for five minutes. It softens it and makes it much easier to cut into. XOXO -Monti
Monti – this is a really underrated comment and should be explicitly highlighted in the article. Both for peeling and ease of chopping, the microwave trick borders on a safety tip to avoid having to use tons of pressure on your knife to cut successfully. I found 30 seconds on high, rest for a minute, 30 more seconds on high is perfect. The texture doesn’t change but peeling and cutting go from a chore to a breeze.
Also: if freezing we should really be briefly blanching the cubed squash before dunking in an ice bath to halt cooking. I used some squash that had been frozen for about 2 weeks to make Beth’s butternut squash soup, and while it tasted great we noticed it had an off putting faint smell to it that I never noticed with fresh squash. This is explained here: https://extension.umn.edu/preserving-and-preparing/science-freezing-foods
I only make pumpkin pies using butternut squash! I’ve one it years and No one knows unless I tell them. I swear that’s what Libby puts in their cans!
Good call! Libby’s grows a proprietary strain of tan-skinned Dickinson squash. And although Libby’s does refer to its fruit as “pumpkin,” in appearance, taste, and texture (not to mention species) it more closely resembles squash.
I find rinsing it off and drop into instant pot@ for (depending on size) 10 to 20 minutes skin practically falls off and goop spoons right out. Mash with butter and or spices and enjoy. Wear gloves if no time to let cool for a few minutes before final processing.
Maybe I missed it, but you have not mentioned that the skin is edible and softens enough to be eated. Maybe not ideal for some recipes asking for a velvelty texture, but anything that goes with cubes other vegetables tossed in, does not require any peeling at all.
My go to for butternut squash is simply roasting it, cut up along with a few carrots too! Just some olive oil and kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, toss to coat and spread out on a cookie sheet. I roast them up on 425 degrees for about 30 mins!! Soooo good!!
I recently purchased some butternut squash pasta sauce which I used on mushroom ravioli. Maybe you could come up with a recipe to make it.
I wondered how it would freeze! I’ll try that because I’m the only one who eats it and it’s hard to use up a squash for one person!
Are these seeds can be eaten as pumpkin seeds?
Yes. Just clean, add a touch of oil and spices, and roast. XOXO -Monti
How do you separate the goop from the seeds? I find it very difficult.
Soak the seeds in water. They will sink, and most of the goop (though not all) will float. XOXO -Monti
FYI, many people (myself included) have an allergic reaction to touching raw butternut squash with our bare hands (google “squash hands”). I always wear kitchen gloves when handling raw butternut squash, which also helps with not slicing fingers or losing grip on slippery peeled squash. 😉
Great tips! Do you have any ideas for the sticky sap that comes out of the squash, by chance? Even with gloves, sometimes it gets on my skin, and I find washing with soap, water and a scrubber -still- leaves it on my hands! It’s so hard to wash off.
Use salt or sugar to create a scrub. XOXO -Monti
A tip I learned a few years ago – after cutting off the ends, poke it all over with a fork and microwave for a couple minutes. This softens the skin considerably and makes peeling a breeze.
Same, that is my secret to share too!