How to Peel, Cut and Roast Butternut Squash
Words Heather Ramsdell
Cooking butternut squash can be intimidating, but with the right tools we have an extremely easy way to prepare butternut squash.
It is so satisfying to cook a dish you have learned by heart. A little know-how saves time, reduces stress, and frees you to be more creative. Whether you love to cook or just need to solve the dinner problem, this repertoire of how-tos gives you confidence to add personal style and hopefully makes life more tasty.
There are so many ways to prepare the same dish. These are recipes for dishes and drinks you’ll make again and again, pared down to the essential ingredients and steps. They include tips to take out guesswork, choose the best tools, answer the most common questions we hear, and amp up the qualities that make us love each food in this series: to make crispier, faster chicken; creamier, tastier beans; fearless squash, more pro-looking layer cake; cocktails you can memorize; and eggs, precisely how you like them, every time.
Let’s get cooking.
Cooking butternut squash can be intimidating. It’s kind of big, its density can make it hard to cut through, and it gets a little slippery when peeled.
Using the right tools — a sharp chef’s knife, a solid peeler, and a nonslip cutting board — will make things easier and safeguard your hands. Once you peel, cut, and roast butternut squash a few times, you will also have the know-how to roast other winter squashes, and, by extension, other hard, root vegetables like beets, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, yams, celery root, and sunchokes (with some variations in prepping and roasting time).
Or you can just customize butternut with your own flair and enjoy it many times before spring sets in. These tips will help you become a very confident squash handler and roaster:
Use the Right Tools
A long, sharp knife is the right tool for cutting squash. Dull knives require more force and cause slipping. When slicing, you actually have more control over a long blade.
Stop things from sliding around. Anchor both your board and your squash, or opt to use a board with non-slip edges. Make sure your board does not wobble or slide, and rest the bulb of the squash on the board as you peel to stabilize it.
Separate the Bulb and Neck
The hollow bulb and solid neck have two different shapes, and separating them helps you cut each one more evenly. Cut a line right at the shoulder of the bulb to reveal the seeds. Wedge the blade of a sharp chef’s knife into the squash and press down to slice off the bulb at the shoulder, exposing the seeds. Scoop them all out at once.
It may seem fussy at first, but try lining up your pieces evenly when you work. This habit will make your prep more pleasing.
Cut the Same Size
You can cut larger or smaller chunks, divide your squash into wedges or slice it in a spiralizer, but make the pieces roughly even. Even-size pieces cook at the same rate. (No need to go overboard, a little bit of variation is fine.)
Choose a Good Peeler
A sharp and sturdy peeler, especially one with a long blade designed specifically for big vegetables, works wonders on a butternut skin.
Try an Ice Cream Scoop
Use a sturdy spoon or ice cream scoop to remove seeds from the bulb. These tools are designed to dig.
Make It Yours
Adorn with optional extras such as a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a small clove of garlic grated into the oil, or a sprinkling of fennel seeds or curry powder.
Roast Butternut SquashServes 4 to 6: 10 minutes prep, 30 minutes cooking
1 medium butternut squash, 2 to 3 pounds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
- Peel squash and separate the bulb from the neck. Scoop out seeds and strings and discard. Slice off the stem and blossom ends and cut squash into ¾-inch cubes.
- Scatter squash cubes evenly on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt (about 2 teaspoons) and several grinds of black pepper. Turn the cubes to coat them.
- Roast until tender when pierced with a fork and golden in spots, about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve.