How to cook butternut squash – prepare it, roast it, mash it and more!

This is how to cook butternut squash properly – whether you want to roast it for Thanksgiving or mash it for a healthy autumnal side dish

how to cook butternut squash
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Knowing how to cook butternut squash properly is a must all year, but most especially around the Holidays when this gorgeous tasting gourd is sure to be adorning our dinner tables more frequently! 

If you are new to squash, then you may be asking yourself a few questions. Should I eat the skin? How will I actually get the skin off? And which is the best way to cook it? And, we know how you feel, because we've all been there! But it's not as daunting as you may think, and there are a variety of options available to you. 

The most popular way to cook butternut squash, by far, is to roast it. Roasting any veg simply helps concentrate the flavors, and when you roast butternut squash, it enhances all it's sweetness and gives it a gorgeous texture to work with (and eat) also! 

Whether you want quick results, or are looking to get a little more cheffy for your Thanksgiving spread with stuffed squash, mashed butternut squash or other type of butternut squash recipe, just keep scrolling for our cooking advice and inspiration.

Do I need to peel butternut squash before roasting?

No you don't, and you can actually eat the skin of most squash which is delicious, but if you prefer to remove it, if it's too tough, then take a look at our best ways to remove the skin.

How to peel butternut squash

A peeler can often work, but when the skin is too tough, use your knife to very carefully slice the skin off. Working from the top to the bottom once cut in half. See below!

Another way to tackle the skin, if you're making roasted squash purée perhaps, is to cut the squash in half lengthways and roast it from 40 minutes to an hour at about 200 degrees celsius – time depends on the size – but until the flesh is soft. You can then scoop out the flesh to use in your recipe, and discard or compost the squash skin. Easy.

How to cut butternut squash

This is a big gourd to handle, so start by chopping off the top and bottom, then discarding/composting. How you cut it will then depend on the size of the squash and on how you want to cook it. 

If you want to make butternut squash stuffed with something delicious, then cut it down the middle from the thinner section to the base. So that you have two halves, with the skin on. 

If you want to roast it without the skin, in cubes (see method below), or steam/boil it, then cut it in half, length or width ways so that you can peel it easily, then chop equal sized pieces from more manageable sections. 

How to roast butternut squash without the skin

Ingredients:

  • Butternut squash
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, for seasoning

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees.

2. Take a large, sharp knife and slice off the stalk, and base, of your butternut squash. Then, slice your butternut squash in half, where the slimmer half meets the thicker end.

3. Place the first half of your butternut squash on your chopping board and remove the skin using one of our methods above.

4. Once the skin is removed, chop both sections of your butternut squash in half, lengthways, and remove any seeds. 

Top Tip: rather than throwing your squash seeds away, why not roast them in the oven for a few minutes with little olive oil and some seasoning? They taste just like pumpkin seeds and make a delicious topping to a salad. Plus, you're minimising food waste.

5. Begin dicing your butternut squash into bite-sized chunks. Remember the smaller they are, the quicker they'll cook. Then, transfer your butternut squash cubes to a clean baking tray, making sure they're evenly distributed.

6. Drizzle a little olive oil over your butternut squash, as well as salt and pepper for seasoning. Use your hands to make sure everything is equally coated.

7. Place your baking tray in an oven and leave to cook for thirty to forty minutes. Remember, your squash may cook more quickly, or slowly, depending on how large your cubes were.

How to boil butternut squash

If you want to make butternut squash purée – delicious – for a weekday fall recipe then boiling or steaming it is the way to go! It takes about 20-25 minutes for each method. Simply chop your squash into 1-2 inch cubes, and them to boiling salted water/or steamer – until soft. Drain off the water and blltz it into your soup or make butternut squash mash like below.

How to make mashed butternut squash 

Sweet potato mash

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A 2-3lb squash will serve 4 people nicely.

Ingredients:

  • One butternut squash
  • Butter, use about 30g to every 2lbs of squash (you can make this vegan)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon and nutmeg (either is optional but a nice touch, especially for the Holidays)
  • Milk, cream or a plant based milk, add a dash at a time depending on the consistency
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Boil or steam your squash.

2. Let it cool and add it to a blender along a little milk and blitz until a smooth purée. (You can use a potato masher also in which case simply return it to the pan, off the heat and mash!)

3. Whichever way you've mashed it, add it to your pan with the butter, spices and seasoning.

4. Depending on the consistency you'd like, add more milk for a more liquid consistency, or hold off to keep it smooth and firm. 

5. Serve will a little extra butter and sprinkling of cinnamon on top for decoration and enjoy.