Learn How to Cook Butternut Squash Whole with only 5 minutes prep and never worry about peeling and cutting it again! This frustration free technique results in tender squash perfect as a side dish and in your favorite fall recipes.
Table of contents
How to Pick the Best Butternut Squash
Before you learn how to roast whole butternut squash, it’s important to know a few things like what does butternut squash look like and how to pick a ripe one. Here is what to look for at the grocery store:
- Heavy: No lightweights here! Just like acorn squash and spaghetti squash, your squash needs to be solid and heavy. Don’t be afraid to pick a few up and compare them.
- Color: A light tan or beige color with no visible green or dark spots.
- Skin: Surface imperfections are normal, but if there are soft spots, deep scratches, or large cuts, skip it!
- Stem: If the stem is still there, it should be dark brown.
Do I Need to Peel and Chop It?
That’s the best thing about roasted whole butternut squash, you don’t have to do either!
So if the idea of peeling, then making butternut squash cubes sounds daunting, this is not only a timesaver but the best way to cook butternut squash.
That being said, though, if you want a more caramelized flavor, you will need to roast halved butternut squash or roast butternut squash cubes. Lucky for you, I include those directions below, too!
How to Roast Butternut Squash Whole
Whether you are new to cooking with butternut squash or a seasoned cook, to bake butternut squash whole really is the easiest way. Recently I started cooking spaghetti squash whole and that’s when I thought you can cook any squash whole!
The flesh is buttery, the skin easily pulls offs without using a vegetable peeler, and the seeds scoop right out. This is the best method if you want to make squash soup.
- Place whole squash on baking tray lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and poke 5-6 times with a sharp knife.
- Roast at 425 degrees F for 60-80 minutes. Time will be dependent on the size of your squash. It is done cooking in the oven when a knife easily pierces the skin.
- Remove squash from oven and let it cool for about 20 minutes or until it is safe to handle. Transfer to a cutting board and carefully slice in half lengthwise.
- Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy parts. Discard or roast them just like pumpkin seeds in the air fryer. Remove the peel and use remaining squash flesh as desired.
Squash will also appear mottled brown and a bit shriveled on the outside when it is done roasting in the oven.
How to Bake Butternut Squash Halves
Roasted butternut squash halves is another easy method of how to prepare butternut squash whole. While you will need to cut it your squash in half, there is no need to peel the skin.
- Prep: Cut raw butternut squash in half lengthwise, then remove seeds and stringy parts.
- Place on large baking sheet: Place on a sheet pan cut side up. Brush a light coating of olive oil on entire surface of the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake: Roast in the oven for 50 minutes until it is fork tender and golden brown. A knife should easily pierce the outer skin.
- Cool: Cool slightly for 5 – 10 minutes then scoop out the soft flesh to use in recipes or stuff with your favorite grain.
How to Cut Butternut Squash in Half
- Trim stem: Hold the squash firmly in the middle with one hand. With a sharp knife held in your dominant hand, trim the top by cutting a 1/2 inch off. If you would like to trim the bottom part, use the same method. It’s not necessary to do so, though and a matter of personal preference.
- Cut in half: Holding it firmly on its side, cut it lengthwise from top to bottom. To make it easier, make deep cuts with tip of a sharp knife on one side, turn squash over and repeat the same on the other side. Apply some pressure as you are cutting to loosen it. Do not rush.
- Remove seeds: Scoop out seeds and stringy parts with spoon or ice cream scoop. Your halves are now ready to roast.
How Long to Roast Butternut Squash?
You may ask “How long to bake butternut squash?”. Bake time will depend on whether you want to roast butternut squash whole or halved, and your preferred oven temperature. Here are recommended oven temperatures at 375 F, 400 F and 425 degrees F.
For whole roasted butternut squash:
- At 375 degrees F – will take 80-100 minutes.
- At 400 degrees F – will take 70-90 minutes.
- At 425 degrees F – will take 60-80 minutes.
For roast butternut squash halves:
- At 375 degrees F roast – should take about 70 minutes.
- At 400 degrees F roast – should take about 60 minutes.
- At 425 degrees F roast – should take about 50 minutes.
Keep in mind cooking time will be dependent on the weight of the squash. I tested large 3 pound squash.
How to Season It
Butternut squash is such a versatile vegetable! Our favorite way is plain with butter or oil, little salt and pepper but you can also experiment with these seasoning ideas.
- Cinnamon and brown sugar
- Pumpkin pie spice and maple syrup
- Chipotle seasoning
- Chili powder or cayenne pepper
- Curry powder
- Garlic powder
- Italian seasoning
- Fresh herbs: Fresh thyme, rosemary or sage pair amazing with any squash!
How to Use Whole Roasted Butternut Squash
Roasting a whole or half butternut squash results in very tender, buttery squash that can be scooped out to be used in a variety of great recipes!
- Make mashed butternut squash: Follow my directions for healthy mashed sweet potatoes and substitute the cooked squash as an alternative.
- Make pasta sauce: Scoop out the flesh, add to a food processor, and process until creamy consistency.
- Stuff roasted butternut squash halves with filling: Make my apple sausage stuffed butternut squash or use the ground turkey filling from my turkey stuffed acorn squash.
- Puree into a soup base: Half your work is already done when you skip cooking squash cubes for delicious chicken and butternut squash soup.
- Make hummus: Swap butternut squash for the sweet potato in this sweet potato hummus.
- Dessert: Sprinkle the halves with cinnamon, add a drizzle of maple syrup, and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and some chopped nuts! Or use your whole roasted squash as pie filling, it’s a delicious alternative to pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
Save some time on Thanksgiving Day and make your butternut squash ahead of time and then just reheat it for a great side dish! How you store your winter squash depends on if you will be scooping out the flesh or serving it as halves.
Store: For scooped out squash from roasting it whole, store in an airtight container up to 3 days. For roasted halves, let cool to room temperature then wrap each half tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to warm up and eat.
Reheat: Reheat your whole butternut squash in an oven safe dish or microwave until warmed through. To reheat your butternut squash halves, unwrap and place in a baking dish. Warm up in the oven at 350 degrees F 10-15 minutes until warmed through.
Technically yes, but most people don’t eat the skin of the squash. Most recipes will also call for you to peel the skin off your squash.
Uncooked butternut squash can be stored in a cool dry place for 1-3 months.
Cooked butternut squash can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container up to 3 days.
Other than being so sweet and delicious, butternut squash is good for you! It’s high in fiber, yet low in calories plus contains vitamins A, C, and E. It is also a great source of potassium.
How to Cook Butternut Squash Whole
- 1 large butternut squash 2-3 lbs
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a lipped baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat mat. It's important to use a baking dish with an edge as your squash may release moisture as it cooks.
- Place squash on the pan and poke 5-6 times with a sharp knife.
- Roast 60-80 minutes. Time will be dependent on the size of your squash. It is done cooking when a knife easily pierces the skin. Squash will also appear mottled brown and a bit shriveled on the outside.
- Remove squash from oven and let it cool for about 20 minutes or until it is safe to handle.
- Transfer to a cutting board and carefully slice in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy parts. Discard.
- Remove the peel and use remaining squash flesh as desired.
- Roasted butternut squash halves: Cut squash in half lengthwise, place on baking sheet, brush with olive oil and bake in the oven cut side up at 425 degrees F for 50 minutes.
- Store: Store either scooped out, as whole, or in halves in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Reheat: Reheat scooped out squash in microwave or whole and halved squash in oven safe baking dish at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes until warmed through.