Look beyond butternut squash’s intimidating hard skin, and you’ll find a bright orange flesh, buttery texture and slightly sweet, nutty flavor — with so many meal possibilities! Why should you make butternut squash your go-to ingredient for fall and winter meals?
1. It’s a nutritional ingredient with taste, texture and autumn nostalgia.
Butternut squash is one of the season’s all-star ingredients for good reason. It satisfies as the headlining ingredient in recipes like the always-popular Classic Butternut Squash Soup, adds flavor to salads, lends creaminess to rice dishes, and offers sweetness to desserts like Butternut Custard Pecan Pie.
Plus, try winter squash like butternut in place of potato sometimes and you’ll get a rich source of vitamins A and C plus small amounts of a variety of mineral nutrients.
2. It’s got versatile flavor that will pair beautifully with almost anything.
Like other winter squash, butternut squash pairs well with a variety of flavors from cinnamon and cumin to coconut oil and toasted nuts, making it a versatile choice for weekday meals and celebrations too.
3. It’s easy to store, and lasts longer than you might think.
Butternut squash can be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry place for a month or more. After cutting, store it in an airtight container or wrap tightly and refrigerate.
4. It’s easy to cut and prepare...really!
Don’t be daunted by its rock-hard surface! We can help with this how-to guide for cutting butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash:
5. It’s a prime candidate for roasting, which makes for great make-ahead meal planning.
Its dense flesh caramelizes well, taking on deep sweetness and nuttiness. It doesn’t get more straightforward than this no-prep Easiest Whole Roasted Winter Squash recipe — plunk the whole squash on a baking sheet and roast until tender. Once roasted, serve as-is, or spoon into gratins, casseroles, winter salads and stews. Or you can purée in a food processor until smooth to make soups, risottos, dips and spreads, or baked goods.
Another go-to for both butternut squash novices and those with experience is this recipe for How to Cook: Roasted Butternut Squash. The easy-to-follow recipe makes bite-size cubes that are delightfully caramelized on the outside and creamy inside. Add them to salads, whole grains, soups and pasta, or use as a pizza topping. Roast a butternut squash on Sunday evening, and look forward to your weekday lunches and dinners starring squash.
6. It’s the best way to warm up to soup season.
Classic Butternut Squash Soup is a traditional crowd pleaser and has become a seasonal staple. It’s elegant enough for a dinner party and also just the thing for a weeknight meal or simple lunch. Watch our how-to video, and see how easy it is:
Dress it up easily before serving by topping with pumpkin seeds for crunch, adding a few shavings of parmesan cheese (the cheese’s nuttiness will balance the soup’s sweetness) or finishing with crumbled feta for a sweet, creamy, salty trifecta of flavors.
7. It can shine on its own as a delicious entrée...
While butternut squash has the makings of an ideal side dish (delicious, nutritious and easy to prepare), it can also shine as the star of the plate.
Here are recipes worth adding to your repertoire:
- Butternut Squash and Macaroni Casserole
- Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage and Cranberries
- Roasted Rosemary Butternut Squash
8. ...or complement the main as a flavorful side, salad, starter or snack:
Butternut squash is a natural addition for salads — it plays well with so many flavors! — and it should also be considered for appetizers and afternoon snacks. Take one taste of Butternut Hummus, which is familiar in flavor, but surprisingly sweet and creamy, and you’ll agree.
Here are more recipes we love:
- Arugula Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Prosciutto
- Butternut Squash and Kale Salad
- Butternut Squash and Pecan Blini with Currant Caviar
9. It’ll satisfy your sweet tooth, stat.
With its natural sweetness, butternut squash also deserves a place at the end of the meal. Need a pie recipe that wows? Ground pecans make the crust for a velvety custard filling in this gluten-free recipe for Butternut Custard Pecan Pie.
10. It’s the leftover-friendly pick for next-day meals.
Have leftover cooked butternut squash? Heat and serve mashed with butter, cinnamon, honey or maple syrup. Add cubes to your favorite soup, stew, curry or green or grain salad. If you have leftover uncooked butternut squash, cube and toss in the slow cooker with the makings for your favorite pot-roast recipe.
11. It’ll help you power through the morning grind.
If you’re looking to start your day with veggies, butternut squash is a smart smoothie addition (sub roasted butternut squash in for the sweet potato in our Sweet Potato-Coconut Smoothie recipe). Or simply serve it on whole grain hot cereal.
12. It’ll pretty up your place with the rich colors of fall.
With their unusual shapes and varied colors, winter squash — including acorn, spaghetti and butternut squash — make beautiful table decorations. Nothing pretties up a place like a small bunch of squash and pumpkins on the table, especially when today’s decor becomes tomorrow’s dish.