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How to Cut a Butternut Squash

How to Cut a Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is one of the real food pleasures of fall produce, but the task of preparing it for your meals may seem daunting the first time you get your hands on one. You can achieve the perfect slices and cubes with this foolproof technique from Real Simple.See More: Butternut Squash Recipes
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How to Cut Butternut Squash in 4 Easy Steps

A sharp knife, a steady hand, and these easy steps are all you need to squash this task.

Sturdy winter squashes can be tough to prep𠅋ut our easy guide to cutting butternut squash is all you need to stop stabbing and start slicing and dicing like a pro. Cutting up a big, unwieldy butternut squash can be scary—it’s one of the most challenging types of squash to cut𠅎specially if you’re not sure where to start. But like any overwhelming task, the trick is to split the chore into more approachable steps. This is the very best, very safest, most efficient way to cut a butternut squash, and it only takes four easy steps.

Once you’ve conquered this challenge, prepare yourself for step two: how to roast butternut squash. Still figuring out how to use your chopped-up butternut squash? We recommend butternut squash pizza.

When shopping for a ripe butternut squash, in general you want to look for a squash that is…

  • darker in color: the darker the shade of beige, the better
  • no green patches: look for a squash that is uniformly beige, free of cuts and blemishes
  • matte: the skin should be more matte (versus shiny)
  • heavy for its size: choose the squash that feels like it weighs the most for its size
  • sounds hollow: if you give the squash a tap, it should sound hollow inside

How to Cut a Butternut Squash Without Losing Any Fingers

Because a visit to the ER on Thanksgiving is a total buzzkill. Amanda Freitag shows you how on the Food Network Kitchen app.

Get the All-New Food Network Kitchen App

Download Food Network Kitchen now to sign up and take advantage of the latest offer and get 40+ live classes a week, hundreds of on-demand cooking classes, in-app grocery ordering and so much more.

In this series, we're showing off some of the coolest recipes, tips and tricks we've learned from chefs in the all-new Food Network Kitchen app.

Is the Butternut Squash Soup that Amanda Frietag made live on the Food Network app delicious? You bet! But this post isn’t about that. If you’re like me and you tremble in horror when you have to tackle a whole butternut squash, pay attention to the beginning of Amanda’s on-demand class for the perfect technique. Your fingers will thank you!

The first hurdle to a great butternut squash soup is to get into that thick-skinned vegetable. Sure, you could buy butternut squash already cubed, but it’s going to cost more. To tackle a butternut squash like a boss you need a few tools: a heavy cutting board, a wet paper towel, a heavy knife, a sharp peeler and a healthy dose of self-confidence. You’ve got this!

1. Put a wet paper towel underneath your cutting board.

“What that does is prevent this cutting board from slipping,” explains Amanda.

2. Use a heavy duty knife for the initial cut.

The weight of the knife helps you get through that thick skin.

3. Cut across the squash between the neck and the bulbous area, not in half lengthwise.

When you cut it this way, you separate the squash into the portion with seeds and the portion without, making it easier to cut and remove the seeds.

4. Cut the base in half and remove the seeds.

5. Cut off the tip of the neck to create a flat surface and peel.

At this point, you have options, you can peel it with a heavy duty peeler or you can use a knife. Amanda likes to use a flat peeler that she can pull towards her because she thinks a knife can take too much of the edible flesh off of the squash. “If you start at the cut end it’s easier for the peeler to pick up that skin,” says Amanda. She moves her hand and the peeler simultaneously to get through the skin. (Check out her technique at 2:47!)

Did you make it through that with all of your fingers? Congratulations! Now cube your squash, making sure the cuts are roughly the same size so that they all cook through at the same time, and follow any butternut squash soup recipe you like. Amanda uses green apple for a hint of sweetness and curry for a little spice in hers.

Check out the Food Network Kitchen app to find tons more ideas on creating the perfect Thanksgiving spread. Download the app and sign up now.

Here are some exclusive on-demand classes to get you in the holiday cooking spirit!

Pre-prep the squash

For starters, if you want peeled squash for your recipe, you should peel the squash entirely before cutting it up. To do this easily, slice a thin slice off the top and bottom, and holding the squash with one hand, run your peeler in long strips from the top to the bottom, moving the squash a quarter turn as you get the peel removed. If you are keeping the peel on, use the serrated blade for getting through the skin without slipping. Remove the neck of the squash in one piece by slicing through the squash right where the bulb starts to curve at the neck. This will leave you with the neck, which is solid, and the bulb, which is hollow and full of seeds. Place the cut side of the bulb face down on your cutting board and slice in half. Using a large metal spoon, remove the seeds and stringy guts from both halves of the bulb. Now you are ready to get the squash in hand.

How to cut up butternut squash

Step 1: Precook in microwave

This is my #1 trick to make cutting butternut squash easier! Before you begin cutting, pierce it several times with a knife or fork. Then place the whole thing in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.

This helps to slightly tenderize it and loosen up the skin a bit, resulting in an easier cutting and peeling process.

Step 2: Peel the skin

After it has been microwaved, the next step is peeling. Because the skin is on the tougher side, you don’t want to leave it on. Peel the exterior with a potato peeler until all skin is removed.

Step 3: Cut off ends and remove seeds

Next, slice the 2 ends off. This is a thick and dense veggie, so make sure to use a sharp knife. Remove the seeds with a spoon and wash the squash.

Step 4: Slice and cut into cubes

Then slice in half vertically down the middle. Then cut in half again. Working one section at a time, slice each of the pieces in horizontal lines (similar to picture below). Then slice into about 1″ cubes.

You can roast in slices if you’d like, but I prefer to roast in cubes because they get crispier.

15 Butternut Squash Recipes to Make on Repeat

So you bought a butternut squash and now it’s been sitting on your kitchen counter for a few days. Sure, you can roast butternut squash for a side dish or grain bowl topper or to turn it into a creamy purée, but there are a lot more options beyond those simple preparations!

The good news is that this orange-hued winter squash is super versatile, and once you arm yourself with some inspiration and a solid variety of recipes you’ll be set for the season. But first, how about a little refresher on prepping butternut squash?

Unlike thin-skinned summer squash and even acorn squash, which boasts thin-enough skin to eat, you’ll want to remove the skin from butternut squash. But leave your peeler where it is: While that can technically get the job done, it’s much easier to use a sharp chef’s knife to prep and cut a butternut squash. And while the orange-hued flesh is what you’re really after, don’t forget about the seeds. They can be cleaned and roasted into a crunchy snack — the same as you would with pumpkin seeds.

From creamy pastas and salads to soups and dips, here are 15 of our favorite butternut squash recipes to make all season long.

How to Cut Butternut Squash

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Butternut squash is a winter vegetable noted for its sweet, nutty flavor. It has a similar taste to the sweet potato, with an even smoother texture. This oblong-shaped vegetable isn't difficult to process once you've practiced a few times, and it's well worth the effort. Read the following article to learn how to cut and peel butternut squash.

  • Stand the squash upright on its wider end. Hold it from the top with one hand and use the other to run the vegetable peeler in vertical strokes down the side of the squash.
  • Alternatively, you could hold the squash in one hand and use the vegetable peeler to remove the rind in horizontal strokes.

  • Cutting butternut squash can sometimes be difficult because the squash is dense and hard. If this is the case, gently tap the knife end with a rubber mallet to help it cut through the flesh of the squash.
  • If the mallet method doesn't work, you can switch to a serrated knife and use a sawing motion to cut the squash in half.

  • For recipes like butternut squash chips, could run the peeled butternut squash over a mandolin to create super thin, even slices instead of slicing the squash using a knife.

  • If you want to save some time with the cubing process, stack several lengthwise strips on top of each other and cut them at the same time. If you utilize this technique, don't let the strips slip while cutting. This will create uneven cubes.
  • Keep in mind that the smaller you slice the squash, the more quickly the cubes will cook. Determine how small the pieces should be for the recipe you are using.

  • Add savory spices, like cumin, chili powder or cayenne pepper, to make a spicy side dish.
  • Add sweet elements, like brown sugar, maple syrup or agave nectar, to make a delectable treat.

  • Roast butternut squash cubes in the oven until they are soft.
  • In the meantime, sauté a diced onion and a few cloves of minced garlic in some olive oil in a large soup pot on over medium heat on the stove.
  • Add the butternut squash and a quart of chicken or vegetable stock.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste, then blend it in batches in the blender.
  • Serve with a drizzle of cream and some black pepper.

Grab a large cutting board, a vegetable peeler, and a heavy-duty, sharp chef’s knife.

Set the butternut squash firmly on the cutting board and, using the carrot/vegetable peeler, peel off bits from top to bottom. I start with the upper part of the squash and the bottom flat on the board, then tilt the squash to carefully peel the bits of peel off of the curved bottom bulbous part.

Leave some of the skin on the top and the bottom – that, along with the stem, will help you keep your grip as you get more and more peel off of that slippery, hefty sucker.

I have kind of a crappy old vegetable peeler, and even that works fine.

Carefully peel, peel, peel, until all the peel is gone.

Excellent! See, Martha? That’s all you had to tell me!

How to Cut Butternut Squash:

Start by trimming the top and bottom off the butternut squash:

Next use a sharp peeler to remove the skin:

You may find it’s more difficult to remove autumn squash peels than most vegetables, so a super sharp peeler is nice here.

I use this one (affiliate), which is not the cheapest peeler, but it’s wonderfully sharp.

Next cut the bulbous bottom of the squash from the longer neck portion:

Remove the seeds from the squash. I find a melon baller (affiliate) easier to use than a spoon:

Lay the squash half on its flat side, and cut into even slices:

For the half ring portions, I cut on an angle for even pieces:

For the flatter bottom and top piece, I cut that in half, then cut those two pieces into cubes:

To cut the upper part of the squash, I lay it on the flat bottom, and cut straight down in 1″ increments:

Cut a grid into each slice to get perfect cubes:

The cubes are now ready to be used for Roasted Butternut Squash, or any other recipe calling for cubes.