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How To Cut Up a Butternut Squash (& Roast It)

It’s fall, so you know what that means…

No, I’m not talking about festive Starbucks cups and new fall TV shows.  It means that hundreds of butternut squash recipes are flooding Pinterest.  You’re probably getting seduced by them as we speak.  And then you remember that getting a butternut squash from whole into bite-sized pieces is THE WORST.

Until you know how to do it well.  So that’s where I come in.  I’ve found and refined a way to dismember butternut squash that doesn’t take long, doesn’t kill your hands, and will get you perfect little cubes every time.  Sure, you can sometimes buy it pre-cut (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but you can’t always find it that way plus it gets kind of slimy fairly fast.  Better to have a good back-up.

So let’s dive in, shall we?  There are two main pieces of equipment that you need, and one of them is an actual decent Y-peeler.  I’m in love with my OXO peeler, got it a few years back and now no longer accidentally take off layers of skin when I’m peeling veggies.  It gives you so much more leverage and stability than a regular vertical-bladed peeler.

Begin peeling long, deep strips out of the squash.  You’ll need to overlap your stripes, because it will likely take two tries to get it deep enough.  Butternut squash peel is not messing around.

Once you’ve peeled all the way around, get your knife out.  That’s the other key piece of equipment you need, a BIG ASS knife.  I have an 8″ chef’s knife for this that is perfect.  The shape is better for what we’re doing than a santoku.  I grabbed my knife set four or five years ago on one of those Good Morning America deals and I totally love it.

Slice off the ends of the butternut squash, and then cut it in half right where it starts to balloon out.

Take the smaller symmetrical half and cut it in half length-wise, then flip each flat side over and dice into even pieces.

The half that has kind of a buddha belly is a little more complicated.  Cut it in half length-wise as well, then take a knife or sharp spoon and dig out the weird spongy stuff and the seeds and throw that away.  Then flip those halves over and *very carefully* dice those too—I say very carefully because they have a tendency to slip and cause you to almost cut off your finger.

And voila, you’ve cut up a butternut squash.  Despite being challenging to chop and having very thick skin, if you approach it in pieces this way it’ll go really quickly.

A few of my favorite butternut squash recipes

Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash & Dried Cranberries

Mac & Cheese with Roasted Butternut Squash, Kale, & Chicken Sausage

Butternut Squash & Sage Lasagna

Or my perennial fave, just roast it

If you’re wanting to roast up your squash, pre-heat your oven to 400 F, or even 425 if you’re feeling sassy.  You can also start it at 400 and then about 10-15 minutes into roasting turn it up to 425.  Roasted veggies are very forgiving.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and toss your squash cubes on there.  Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and use your hands to make sure it gets covered.  Season with fresh-ground salt and pepper, and some garlic salt (my vegetable secret weapon).

Roast for around 20 minutes, possibly a little more to get it to start looking caramelized and a little burnt/crispy.

How to cut up butternut squash

  1. Using a Y-peeler, peel long, deep strips out of the squash length-wise.  You’ll need to overlap your stripes, because it will likely take two tries to get it deep enough (and you want to really see the orange).
  2. Slice off the ends of the butternut squash, and then cut it in half right where it starts to balloon out.
  3. Take the smaller symmetrical half (the neck) and cut it in half length-wise, then flip each flat side over and dice into even pieces.
  4. For the half that is more rounded, cut it in half length-wise, then take a knife or sharp spoon and dig out the weird spongy stuff and the seeds and throw that away.
  5. Flip those halves over and *very carefully* dice those too, but be careful because they have a tendency to slip and cause you to almost cut off your finger.
  6. And you’re done!

How to roast butternut squash

  • Pre-heat your oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Toss your squash cubes on there, drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and use your hands to make sure it gets covered.
  • Season with fresh-ground salt and pepper, and some garlic salt—my secret weapon for delicious veggies.
  • Roast for 10 minutes, then turn the oven up to 425 F and roast for another 10-15 minutes, possibly a little more to get it to start looking caramelized and a little burnt/crispy.

How to cut up & roast butternut squash easily, easy instructions for peeling & dicing without hurting your hands

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