How to Cook Butternut Squash

By Harper Wayne
Updated on 05. May. 2021

Everything you need to know to buy, prepare and cook perfect butternut squash every time.

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Butternut Squash is a hearty winter squash. They’re most often associated with soups, however there’s much more to this delicious and nutrient-filled vegetable. Butternut squash makes a perfect side dish to just about any poultry or red meat, or is delicious as the star of the meal in vegan or vegetarian cooking. It's also full of fiber and vitamins but low in calories and fat. It’s also a good source of antioxidants, which can help protect against everything from premature aging to certain types of cancers.

Table of contents

  1. How to Shop for Butternut Squash 
  2. How to Store Butternut Squash
  3. How to Peel and Prepare Butternut Squash
    1. How To Prepare Cubed Squash
  4. How to Roast Butternut Squash
    1. How to Roast Cubed Butternut Squash
    2. How to Roast Halved Butternut Squash
  5. How to Cook Butternut Squash in an Instant Pot
  6. How to Microwave Butternut Squash
  7. How to Make Butternut Squash into Soup 
  8. How to Store and Freeze Cooked Butternut Squash

How to Shop for Butternut Squash 

Butternut squash is available in stores year-round, but is best from early fall throughout winter.

Look out for squash that’s heavy. If the squash feels light or lighter than you expected, pick another one. This indicates a smaller seed cavity, where the most “meat” is located. 

The skin should be hard and without bruises. Always make sure to check for mold before purchasing any fruit. If there is a dark color or a spot where the squash could have been resting or laying, that should be okay to buy. 

How to Store Butternut Squash

Do not put butternut squash in the refrigerator. Your squash should keep fresh for a month or even longer if it is kept in a cool, dark, and dry spot. 

If it is already peeled, store tightly covered for up to five days in the refrigerator. 

How to Peel and Prepare Butternut Squash

What you’ll need is a large cutting board, a solid vegetable peeler, and a sharp knife. Be careful while peeling squash and remind yourself to go slow the first time you peel. This set by step process is specific to cubed butternut squash but if you are roasting halves, simply cut from the stem to the end of the squash, scoop out your seeds, and then you’re ready. For halves, there is no peeling needed!

How To Prepare Cubed Squash

- Wash your squash 

- Start peeling. Peel down past the green lines that you might start to see after the first peel. 

- Trim off the ends and cut your squash in half, near the neck if possible. 

- Cut each of your halves in half again, yielding 4 parts. This time do so from top to bottom. Steady them before making any cuts. 

- Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Grapefruit spoons make this easier. 

- Cut into cubes. The larger the cube the longer they take to cook. They don’t need to look perfect, but try and keep them all in similar sizes for cooking times. 

How to Roast Butternut Squash

Roasted squash, cubed or halved, is a great side dish to any meal and a great topping for a warm salad. Roasting squash brings out an intense flavor and is also an important step when making squash soup. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

How to Roast Cubed Butternut Squash

- Preheat oven to 425ºF.

- Grab a baking sheet and line it with tin foil.

- Toss squash cubes with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Make sure it all evenly coated.

- Pour onto a baking sheet.

- Roast in the oven for around 25-30 minutes, depending on how crispy or soft you want them. Stir once to make sure they all evenly cook.

- They should be “fork tender”. If you overcook the squash they will become mushy. 

How to Roast Halved Butternut Squash

Roasting for halves is best for mashes or soup. This does not require peeling. If you cook your squash cut side down it is more likely to brown which leads to additional flavor. Cooking them cut side up is nice for a stuffed butternut squash recipe. 

- Preheat oven to 425ºF.

- Line pan with parchment paper or tin foil for an easier cleanup

- Clean your squash and prep like above. 

- Coat cut sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (To clarify this would be on the “meat” portion.)

- Roast for 35 minutes to an hour, depending on the squash side. Test by piercing with a fork to test tenderness. 

How to Cook Butternut Squash in an Instant Pot

The most flavorful squash comes from roasting it, but cooking it in an instant pot works too. This works well for soups. 

Butternut Squash Salad with Pomegranates and Feta

- Wash, peel, de-seed, and cube.

- Place a steamer basket at the bottom of your instant pot and add 1 cup of water.

- Add in squash 

- Cook for around 4-5 minutes

- Quick-release the pressure and the squash will be tender and ready for soup making.

How to Microwave Butternut Squash

This is best if you don’t have a lot of time to cook your squash but still want to enjoy the yummy winter fruit. 

- Cut in half, length-wise, and remove all seeds.

- Place squash face up (meat side up) in a microwavable safe plate.

- Microwave for 8-10 minutes until it is easy to pierce with a fork. This time might vary based on squash size. 

How to Make Butternut Squash into Soup 

This is a little more advanced, but the result is worth it!

Winter Vegetable Bisque

What You’ll Need:

- Olive oil 

- Garlic cloves

- Onion 

- Butternut squash peeled and diced into cubes 

- Vegetable broth 

- Salt 

To Make the Soup:

- In a dutch oven pot (or heavy pot) heat olive oil over medium/high heat.

- Add in 1 onion diced and 2 garlic cloves minced

-Cook until soft, around 5-7 minutes.

- Add cut-up butternut squash and vegetable broth to the onions and garlic. 

- Bring to a boil and cover.

- Let simmer for 15-25 minutes until the squash is soft

- Pour everything into a blender, add 1 tsp of salt and blend until smooth. Enjoy! 

How to Store and Freeze Cooked Butternut Squash

At the end of the day, if you are done cooking your squash but have some leftover, store it in the freezer!

Place it in an airtight container in the fridge or a ziplock bag in the freezer for longer shelf life. If you think you might use it the rest the following day, store it in the fridge. 

Butternut squash is a great addition to any fall menu and can be into versatile sweet or savory side dishes, and as a delicious soup! Want to know how to cook butternut squash another way, or have a suggestion for the next installment of our How To series? We'd love to hear from you! Shoot us an e-mail at

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