Culinary Arts

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash, Plus 10 Butternut Squash Recipes

Written by MasterClass

Jun 13, 2019 • 4 min read

Butternut squash is one of fall’s most versatile vegetables. There are plenty of ways to use this sweet winter squash, from everyday soups and salads to festive side dishes for the holidays. But before you can get that far, there’s the whole ordeal of peeling and cubing the squash: here we'll teach you how to seed, peel, and cut down a tough-skinned, curvy vegetable.


What Is Butternut Squash?

Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata), also known as butternut pumpkin, is a type of winter squash that grows on a vine. It is cylindrical with a bulbous base, tough outer yellow-orange skin, and orange flesh with seeds inside. Its deep orange flesh has a sweet taste similar to sweet potatoes and is delicious roasted, sautéed, or puréed. Squash is a rich source of iron, riboflavin, and vitamins C and A.

What You Need to Prep a Butternut Squash

  • A Sharp Chef’s Knife: Using a large, sharp knife is key since the weight and length of the knife will help you make steady cuts. A flimsy knife could easily slip and cause an injury. When sharpening a knife, make sure your thumb is behind the guard of the steel sharpener. Never expose your fingers to the blade.
  • Vegetable Peeler: Use a sharp and reliable vegetable peeler for peeling the skin.
  • Metal Spoon: Use a metal spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits inside the squash.
  • Cutting Board: Make sure to stabilize your cutting board to keep it from sliding around. Place a lightly dampened kitchen towel under your cutting board to keep it in place while you work.

How to Peel Butternut Squash in 3 Steps

  1. Lay the whole squash on its side and slice off the stem and bottom of the squash. Use your non-dominant hand to hold the squash while cutting, making sure to tuck your fingers in for safety. Once the knife has pierced through the skin, you can lean in with more pressure to complete the cut.
  2. The easiest way to work with larger vegetables is to cut them into manageable pieces first. Cut butternut squash in half at the neck, before it begins to curve out, and work with two separate ends of the squash.
  3. Place the flat end of each half on the cutting board and use a vegetable peeler to peel butternut squash skin in long, downward strokes.

How to Seed Butternut Squash

Cut the large bulb of the squash in half lengthwise, revealing the seeds. Use a metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy pulp from the squash cavity. Save the seeds if you’d like to roast them later.

How to Cut a Butternut Squash

Squash cubes can be stored tightly covered and refrigerated for up to five days.

  1. To cut the long neck: Cut the long neck in half and place each half on the cutting board with cut sides down for stability. Cut squash into semicircles as thick as your recipe calls for (usually between ½ to 1½-inch pieces). Cut each semicircle into cubes.
  2. To cut the bulb: Slice each half into semicircles the same width as the slices from the neck, then cube the semicircles. Some of the pieces will be irregular in shape, but they are still perfectly fine to use.

10 Butternut Squash Recipes

  1. Spice-Roasted Butternut Squash: One of the simplest ways to cook squash is in the oven. On a baking sheet, try tossing 1-inch cubes of squash (from one 3-pound squash) with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 1 ½ teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander, kosher salt and black pepper. Spread cubes onto the sheet in a single layer. Roast in an oven at 425°F for 35 to 40 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.
  2. Fall Squash Salad: A colorful gluten-free salad with roasted cubes of butternut squash, baby kale, pomegranate seeds, crumbled goat cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette.
  3. Butternut Squash Hummus: A sweet twist on classic hummus with puréed butternut squash, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. Serve with toasted pita chips and raw veggie sticks.
  4. Curry Butternut Squash Soup: A creamy vegetarian soup with butternut squash, shallots, curry powder, and garlic simmered in coconut milk and vegetable broth. Once the vegetables are cooked through, the mixture is puréed with an immersion blender or blender until smooth.
  5. Butternut Mash: A low-carb substitute for mashed potatoes easily made with puréed butternut squash, roasted garlic, and butter.
  6. Butternut Squash Risotto: Creamy butternut squash risotto is fall comfort food at its best. Arborio rice is slowly cooked in broth with onion, butternut squash, white wine, Parmesan cheese, and butter.
  7. Orecchiette With Butternut Squash: Orecchiette pasta with sautéed butternut squash, and crispy sage in a brown butter sauce.
  8. Lasagna: Layers of lasagna noodles with sweet creamy puréed butternut squash, caramelized onions, bechamel sauce, and ricotta.
  9. Autumn Pizza: Try topping your pizza with slices of butternut squash, caramelized onions, torn kale pieces, and creamy goat cheese.
  10. Butternut Squash Pancakes: Butternut squash purée is an easy ingredient to sneak into your morning pancakes, giving you a boost of extra fiber and vitamins. Try whisking a few tablespoons into your pancake batter before cooking.

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