How to Sweeten Your Winter Menu with Honeynut Squash
Sure, a honeynut looks like a miniature butternut squash, but one bite into this winter squash and you'll find it packs big sweetness. Honeynut squash has been on the market for a few years, but you may have passed by it by thinking it was a small butternut. This hybrid squash tastes similar to a butternut—only sweeter—and can be cooked and prepared in exactly the same ways. We especially like it roasted or pureed into soup.
What Is Honeynut Squash?
This tiny squash’s life began in the 1980s at Cornell University as a cross between butternut and buttercup squashes. It wasn’t until 2015, when plant breeder and associate professor Michael Mazourek refined the flavor and shrunk its size to create a small squash with concentrated flavors, that honeynut became available nationally.
How It Stacks Up
At about 5 inches tall and weighing less than 2 lb., honeynut squash is roughly half the size of an average butternut but has sweeter, more concentrated flavor. It starts off green-skinned (like a zucchini), turns tan, and ripens to a deep honey color. No need to peel these beauties. The skin tender is edible like that of a delicata squash. Because the skin is thin and delicate, honeynuts ripen a lot faster than butternut squash but should keep for a couple of months in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. If the skin starts to look wrinkled, use it soon; they can get over-ripe.
Where to Find Honeynut Squash
Honeynut squash is usually harvested in the fall through October and sold throughout the winter season. Look for honeynut squash at farmers markets, select grocers, and specialty stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Because they weigh less than the average winter squash, they tend to be cheaper too.
How to Cook Honeynut Squash
These sweet squash make a great side for one when halved and roasted. (Don't forget to save the seeds for roasting.) Try roasting them like you would a butternut squash: Halve it, seed it, then place it on a sheet pan with some butter, salt, and favorite spices. Bake in a 425°F oven for about 30 minutes, or until tender enough to pierce with a fork. From there, mash or slice it for a tasty side. Or swap honeynut squash in for a butternut in your recipes; just pay attention to how many pounds or cups the recipe calls for. You'll probably need more of these tiny squash.
Test Kitchen Tip: Watch those fingers! Keep a firm grip as you cut and prep your squash because they can be tough to get through with your knife even with their thinner skin.
Consider making these the centerpiece of your next winter dinner menu in our sausage-stuffed honeynut squash recipe. You'll want to think about decreasing the amount of sweet ingredients like sugar in the recipe to let the natural sweetness of the tiny squash shine.