How to Cook Butternut Squash

Cooking butternut squash is simple and easy. You can roast, bake, or microwave butternut squash for use in recipes or as a side dish. With our tips, learn how to select and serve delicious butternut squash, too.

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How to Select and Store Butternut Squash

Butternut squash

Butternut squash, a common winter squash, starts appearing in markets in the fall. This bowling pin-shape squash has a firm, dense flesh that does not get stringy after cooking, giving it a creamy texture well-suited to mashing. The deep orange flesh of this squash is high in beta-carotene, fiber, vitamins C and B6, and potassium.

  • Selecting  Choose butternut squash that feels dense and heavy with no blemishes or soft spots. The skin should appear uniform and flat, not glossy. Look for squash with no cracks and the stem still attached, which helps prevent the flesh from drying out.
  • Storing  Butternut squash will last several months stored in a cool, dry place between 50°F and 60°F. Don't store near apples, pears, onions, or potatoes; these foods give off ethylene gas, which can spoil squash. Once cut, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several days.

How to Prepare Butternut Squash

  • Cleaning  Thoroughly rinse squash under cool tap water and scrub with a clean produce brush.
  • Cutting and Seeding  Use a large chef's knife to cut off the stem end of the squash. Cut squash in half lengthwise through the neck and down through the bottom. With a large spoon, remove the seeds and fibrous material from each half of the squash. At this point, squash halves can be baked or microwaved.
  • Peeling and Cubing  If you need cubed or sliced squash for recipes, you will need to peel it. Start with a seeded squash half and use a sturdy vegetable peeler to cut off long strips of peel, cutting away from you. The squash can then be cut into cubes or slices for cooking.

Baking Butternut Squash

Bake butternut squash in the oven when you want to serve it mashed. Or enjoy each half as a single serving and eat it with a spoon.

  1. Clean squash, cut in half, and remove seeds.
  2. Place squash halves, cut sides down, in a baking dish or foil-lined pan. Bake in a 350°F oven 45 to 50 minutes or until tender. To check doneness, pierce the squash with the tip of a sharp knife. It should slide in easily.
  3. Carefully turn squash halves over. Scoop out flesh into a bowl. Add butter, salt, black pepper, and other seasonings as desired and mash.

Microwaving Butternut Squash

To prepare butternut squash on the quick, use your microwave and save over half an hour.

  1. Clean squash, cut in half, and remove seeds.
  2. Place squash halves, cut sides down, in a baking dish with 2 tablespoons water. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 9 to 12 minutes or until tender, rearranging once. To check doneness, pierce the squash with the tip of a sharp knife. It should slide in easily. (You can test it through the plastic wrap.)
  3. Carefully turn squash halves over. Scoop out flesh into a bowl. Add butter, salt, black pepper, and other seasonings as desired and mash.

Roasting Butternut Squash

Roasting butternut squash pieces caramelizes their exterior while keeping them moist and tender inside. Toss roasted squash into soups or salads; throw them on a pizza; or use them to fill omelets, quesadillas, or sandwiches. They're also perfect as a simple side dish.

  1. Clean squash, cut in half, and remove seeds. Peel and cut squash into 1-inch cubes or 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  2. Toss squash with a little olive oil to coat and prevent drying out while roasting. Spread in an even layer in a foil-lined baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
  3. Roast in a 450°F oven, uncovered, 30 to 35 minutes or until tender and brown on the edges, stirring once.
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