How To Peel and Cut Butternut Squash

How To Peel & Cut Butternut Squash -- an easy step-by-step tutorial |

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!



How To Peel & Cut Butternut Squash -- an easy step-by-step tutorial |

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.
How To Peel & Cut Butternut Squash -- an easy step-by-step tutorial |

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.
How To Peel & Cut Butternut Squash -- an easy step-by-step tutorial |

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.  
How To Peel & Cut Butternut Squash -- an easy step-by-step tutorial |

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.)  ;)How To Peel & Cut Butternut Squash -- an easy step-by-step tutorial |

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.)How To Peel & Cut Butternut Squash -- an easy step-by-step tutorial |

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.

How To Peel & Cut Butternut Squash -- an easy step-by-step tutorial |

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.

How To Peel & Cut Butternut Squash -- an easy step-by-step tutorial |

Leave a Comment:


  1. Kari — November 1, 2009 @ 8:50 pm (#)

    Wow, I really wish I had found this a couple of weeks ago…before I nearly chopped half my fingers off trying to peal and cut my first butternut squash. Thanks for the info!

  2. Amy — November 25, 2010 @ 12:30 pm (#)

    Some years ago, my mother helped me out with the easiest way to make butternut squash…just cut in half, seed, wrap each section tightly with plastic wrap and microwave. The meat of the squash gets cooked and you just it scoop out from the skin. Whatever works best for you.

  3. L. Darnell — July 6, 2011 @ 6:14 pm (#)

    Thanks for this, I had given up trying to get to the wonderful goodness inside this squash!

  4. Vanessa Levin-Pompetzki — October 2, 2013 @ 12:11 pm (#)

    FYI – I kept the seeds and roasted them in the oven. SO YUMMY. :)

  5. Karen — November 25, 2013 @ 11:26 am (#)

    One thing I do to make it easier to peel- pop the whole squash in the microwave, and nuke on high for 3 minutes. It. Does not cook the squash, but does make it quite a bit easier to peel…

  6. Becki — September 28, 2015 @ 7:55 am (#)

    I love butternut squash but it so hard to peel so I don’t cook it that often.  I always cringe though when I see how expensive it is cubed in the produce section.  I will have to give you method a try – I agree – sharp knife is key here.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 1, 2015 @ 9:07 am (#)

      Yes, we definitely think you should give this method a try — let us know what you think (and be careful)! :)

  7. Kristine | Kristine's Kitchen — September 28, 2015 @ 8:15 am (#)

    This is such a great post! I love butternut squash and it is such a pain to peel and chop! I don’t have the sharpest vegetable peeler, so I use my knife to carefully slice off the peel as you suggest. :) After looking at these photos I’m craving some butternut squash soup!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 1, 2015 @ 9:07 am (#)

      Thanks Kristine, we’re glad this helped!

  8. Heidi @foodiecrush — September 28, 2015 @ 8:38 am (#)

    I like to use a sharp serrated knife so I can saw the tough skin off. I’ll have to put the peeler to work instead. 

  9. Marie Warne — September 28, 2015 @ 9:25 am (#)

    I have to buy my butternut squash ready-chopped because I get a weird skin condition when I touch the flesh. After doing research, I found this below about irritant contact dermatitis (ICD). It’s not dangerous but it’s really annoying and uncomfortable. My husband doesn’t get it, neither does my daughter. Strange. 
    From wikipedia:
    “Many plants cause ICD  through their spines or irritant hairs. Some plant such as the buttercup, spurge, and daisy act by chemical means. The sap of these plants contains a number of alkaloids, glycosides, saponins, anthraquinones, and (in the case of plant bulbs) irritant calcium oxalate crystals – all of which can cause CICD.[6]

    Butternut squash and Acorn squash have been known to cause an allergic reaction in many individuals, especially in food preparation where the squash skin is cut and exposed to the epidermis.[7] Food handlers and kitchen workers often take precautions to wear rubber or latex gloves when peeling butternut and acorn squash to avoid temporary Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata) dermatitis[8] A contact dermatitis reaction to butternut or acorn squash may result in orange and cracked skin, a sensation of “tightness”, “roughness” or “rawness”.[9]”

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 1, 2015 @ 9:06 am (#)

      Wow, that’s so interesting Marie, we didn’t know that! Thank you for sharing.

  10. Emily R — September 28, 2015 @ 10:14 am (#)

    This is perfect timing, as I plan on making your 5-ingredient butternut squash/arugula/goat cheese pasta tomorrow night! I’ve never bought/cooked a butternut squash in my life…so this will be helpful :-) 

  11. Lady O — September 28, 2015 @ 11:06 am (#)

    We just pierce it, bake it until tender, and then process. Super easy.

  12. Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — September 28, 2015 @ 12:40 pm (#)

    Rich bought me a wide peeler for butternuts and I think I fell more in love with him as a result. It’s a game changer!! 

  13. Carlie — September 28, 2015 @ 1:30 pm (#)

    Just FYI I know some people (myself included) that have a weird skin reaction to butternut squash flesh while its raw. Now I always use gloves with handling. The reaction was on the palm of my hands, they were dry and tight and felt like a layer of elmers glue had dried all over them, and displayed an orange tint. Took a few hours to go back to normal.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 1, 2015 @ 9:06 am (#)

      Thanks for sharing Carlie, that’s good to know!

  14. Senika @ Foodie Blog Stalker — September 28, 2015 @ 1:36 pm (#)

    I have a butternut squash on my counter that’s been staring me down! Now I feel confident to give it a go, thanks Ali! 

  15. MomQueenBee — September 28, 2015 @ 2:43 pm (#)

    To make the seeding process easier, use a grapefruit spoon. It cuts right through those stringy attachments. 

  16. Kelly — September 28, 2015 @ 9:24 pm (#)

    Thank you for this tutorial!

  17. Lexy9 — October 1, 2015 @ 8:32 am (#)

    Hi, I’m suprised that you want to peel this pumpkin as the skin is so thin you don’t even need to peel this.

  18. Nancy Wilson — October 1, 2015 @ 12:07 pm (#)

    Hi Ali,
    Thank you so much for developing this tutorial. I am publishing a butterbut squash recipe roundup on our blog next week and linking out to your article will make a perfect addition.

    Nancy Wilson, RD

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 2, 2015 @ 4:19 pm (#)

      Hi Nancy, very cool, we look forward to checking it out! :)

  19. Carol H. — October 10, 2015 @ 7:15 pm (#)

    Thank you for the tutorial, because of it I bought my first one and will try one of your recipes!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 11, 2015 @ 6:51 pm (#)

      Awesome Carol! We’re happy it inspired you, and we hope you’ll find this method helpful! :)

  20. Debbie — October 18, 2015 @ 1:05 am (#)

    This is such a great way of doing it!    Thanks

  21. azurleigh — October 31, 2015 @ 10:42 am (#)

    Thank you so much for the hints about peeling butternut squash. Solved a hugh issue.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 1, 2015 @ 10:26 pm (#)

      No problem, we’re happy you found this helpful!


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