How To Peel and Cut Butternut Squash
I’m interrupting our regularly scheduled programming today to bring you a quick step-by-step photo tutorial that I think may come in “handy” this fall, especially if you’re looking to save all of those precious fingers of yours while chopping up one of the season’s most popular ingredients. You know, that one that we all love to eat, but dread having to chop up. Yes.
We’re talking about how to peel and cut butternut squash!
When I first started teaching myself how to cook, I absolutely loved buying and eating butternut squash. But after a few too many close encounters with my chef’s knife almost dicing my digits, I decided it was time to study up on how to properly (and safely) peel and cut butternut squash if I was going to continue enjoying it for years to come. Turns out, it’s actually pretty simple. And now years later — and dozens of butternut squash, and dozens more delicious butternut squash recipes later — I love my butternuts more than ever. And I love chopping them up with all 10 fingers still in tact. ;)
So for anyone else who’s interested in learning how to peel and cut your first butternut squash, or even for any of you who might like a little refresher, here’s a quick photo tutorial.
Also, stay tuned for more great butternut recipes coming up this week, as well as an extra-special giveaway coming up tomorrow that will make your slicing and dicing all the more enjoyable too. Cheers to butternut season!
Alright, first off, let’s talk tools. When cutting butternut squash, you definitely need a sturdy cutting board, a sharp vegetable peeler, as well as some sort of metal spoon to help scoop out the seeds and pulp. But most importantly, you need a good sharp chef’s knife. And I do mean sharp. I have a hunch that most butternut-squash-cutting injuries come less from bad cutting techniques, and more from dull knives that require you to have to cut with much more force.
So when cutting butternut squash, be sure to pull out your knife sharpener and get that blade extra sharp. Then it should make your slicing and dicing all the safer.
For easier cutting, I’ve also had friends recommend placing the butternut squash in the microwave for 3-4 minutes before cutting. I have yet to try this, but have heard that it softens the flesh and makes cutting much easier.
So to begin, lay the butternut squash on its side, and use your sharp chef’s knife to slice about 1/2-inch off the top of the squash.
Then repeat by slicing about 1/2-inch off the bottom of the squash. These flat surfaces will help you stabilize the squash when it comes time to cut and dice it later. (Discard the top and bottom ends of the squash.)
Next, use a sharp vegetable peeler to peel all of the skin off of the squash, while carefully holding the squash with your other hand. (Discard the peel.)
*If your peeler is not very sharp at all or if you don’t have one, you can also slice the squash (peel-on) horizontally in half as shown in the next step below, then use the chef’s knife to just make vertical cuts to slice off the peel.
Once the entire squash is peeled, lay the squash on its side and slice it down the center. Then slice each of the two halves down the center to form four quarters of the squash. (Actually, I goofed on the order with these photos — it’s safer to make a vertical cut down the center of the squash first, rather than cutting it horizontally through the center, but either will work.) ;)
Once the squash is quartered, use a spoon to scoop out all of the seeds and pulp out of the cavities in the lower two quarters of the squash. (Discard the seeds and pulp.)
Then your squash is officially ready to cut!
Just place the flat sides of the squash against your cutting board, and then carefully cut it into your desired size/shape of pieces. Keep in mind that the smaller your pieces, the faster your squash will typically cook (especially if you are roasting or sauteing the squash). I typically cut mine into 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch cubes for roasting, but the size/shape of the cut is totally up to you.
Once your butternut squash is cut, you can either cook it immediately. Or you can refrigerate it in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze it in a sealed container for up to 3 months.