How To Cut Butternut Squash

Learn how to cut a butternut squash safely with this step-by-step tutorial (video included).

How To Cut Butternut Squash

It’s butternut squash season again!

And because I care about us and our sanity and the preservation of all ten of our precious fingers, I thought we could all use a quick refresher this season on how to cut butternut squash…the safe way.

Because let’s be real, as delicious as butternut squash may be, it is approximately zero fun to cut and peel.  And if done the wrong way, it can put the safety of those fingers holding the squash in serious jeopardy.  But if done the right way, I promise that you can peel and cut butternut squash much more easily, quickly and safely.  And before you know it, you will be cooking it up in no time.

So let’s get to it!  Here are my best tips for how to select, cut, peel, cook and store butternut squash!

How To Cut Butternut Squash

How to Cut Butternut Squash | 1-Minute Video

How To Select A Ripe Butternut Squash:

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 Soften Butternut Squash Skin:

The skin on butternut squash is notoriously tough and difficult to peel.  So if you would like to soften the skin a bit before peeling your butternut squash, just use a fork or paring knife to poke holes all over the skin of the squash.  Then pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes, remove, and proceed onward with peeling the squash.

How To Peel Butternut Squash:

I highly recommend using a good-quality sharp peeler to peel butternut squash.  I prefer using a Y peeler, but a swivel peeler would also work. That said, if you do not own a peeler, you can halve the squash horizontally (see photos below), place the cut side down on a flat surface, and then use a knife to vertically slice off the peel.

How To Cook Butternut Squash:

There are actually lots of great options for how to cook butternut squash, such as…

  • Roasted butternut squash: I will be actually sharing my best tips and recipe tomorrow for how to roast butternut squash in the oven — stay tuned!
  • Baked butternut squash: If you do not want to roast butternut squash at high heat (which tends to make the edges of the squash slightly browned and crispy), you can bake butternut squash instead, which simply means at cooking it at lower heat for a bit longer.  When making baked butternut squash — either halved, or chopped into cubes — I recommend cooking it at 350°F until the squash is tender.  Cooking time will depend on the size of your butternut squash pieces.
  • Slow cooker butternut squash: Place the whole (uncut) squash in a large slow cooker.  Slow cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours, until the squash is tender and cooked through.
  • Instant pot butternut squash: Place the steamer basket in the bottom of your pressure cooker.  Slice the butternut squash in half lengthwise, then place the halves side by side in the pressure cooker, and pour in 1 cup of water.  Cook on high pressure (manual mode) for 12 minutes, followed by a 10-minute natural release, followed by a quick release.
  • Sautéed butternut squash: Cut the squash into 1/2-inch cubes.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the squash and sauté for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.

How To Store Butternut Squash:

Fresh (whole) butternut squash should be stored in a cool, dark place in order to prevent ripening.  Depending on its ripeness when purchased, fresh butternut squash should last for 1-3 months.

Uncooked (diced) butternut squash can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days.  Or to freeze diced uncooked butternut squash, spread it out on a parchment-covered baking sheet in an even layer (no overlapping).  Then freeze on the baking sheet for 3-4 hours, or until frozen.  Remove the baking sheet, and transfer the diced squash into a freezer bag or storage container, then freeze for up to 3 months.

Cooked (diced or mashed) butternut squash can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days.  Or to freeze diced cooked butternut squash, spread it out on a parchment-covered baking sheet in an even layer (no overlapping).  Then freeze on the baking sheet for 3-4 hours, or until frozen.  Remove the baking sheet, and transfer the diced squash into a freezer bag or storage container, then freeze for up to 3 months.

Butternut Squash Recipes:

Looking for some butternut squash recipe inspiration?  Here are some of my faves!

The Best Butternut Squash Soup Recipe | Slow Cooker, Instant Pot or Stovetop

Butternut Squash Soup

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How To Cut Butternut Squash
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How To Cut Butternut Squash

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 butternut squash 1x

Description

Learn how to cut butternut squash (safely!) with this step-by-step tutorial and video.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash

Instructions

  1. Lay the butternut squash on its side on a large sturdy cutting board. Use a sharp chef’s knife to carefully slice off the top 1/2-inch (including the stem) of the squash, and discard.  Repeat by slicing off the bottom 1/2-inch of the squash, and discard.
  2. 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. 
  3. Once the entire squash has been peeled, lay the squash on its curvy side and slice it in half down the center (see photo example above).  Then slice each piece in half down the center vertically, so that you now have 4 pieces of squash.
  4. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp.  And now — your squash is ready to cut/dice however you’d like!
  5. To dice the butternut squash, 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 the pieces, the faster your squash will typically cook (especially if you are roasting or sautéing 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.
  6. Once your butternut squash is cut, you can either cook the squash 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.

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93 comments on “How To Cut Butternut Squash”

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

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

  5. 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. 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.

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

  7. 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!

  8. 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. 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]”

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

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

  12. 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. 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.

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

  16. Thank you for this tutorial!

  17. 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. 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.

    Best,
    Nancy Wilson, RD

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

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

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  23. This is such a great way of doing it!    Thanks

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

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  35. God bless you for this.  This was very helpful.

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  40. If you buy your squash already peeled & cut how much do I need for this recipe? 1 Cup, 2 Cups, or how many ounces of squash?

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  43. Hi,  How many cups of squash is this??  TX

    • Did you mean to ask about how much squash to use in the butternut squash soup recipe?

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  46. Never really sure on how to peel butternut squash! Thanks for sharing this information, will be sure to use it next time!

  47. I would love to see a tutorial on how to properly cut and peel a mango!

    Thanks :)

  48. Excellent instructions!  You were really smart to use the kind of peeler you did, because it really saves your knuckles (I have an antique potato peeler, which has a bar across the top instead of the long handle, but it works the same way).  Another thought for doing this is to wear rubber gloves.  The reason I say that is because the next to last time I tried to peel and cut a butternut squash, I ended up with some kind of nasty gluey stuff dried on my hands that was very difficult to get off.  It may have just been that one squash, but I’ll be wearing gloves from now on.

    As for video subjects, mango and pomegranate would be excellent topics.  I do know how to do mangoes, and found instructions for pomegranate, but no longer know where those instructions are…  Which is why I love that you provided written instructions to go along with the video.  :-) 

  49. I would love to see a tutorial on slicing mangos.  I feel like I waste a lot of the fruit by leaving too much of it on the core.  How about a video lesson on making crepes?  I’ve always been nervous to try that one.

  50. This is great. After cutting my thumb cutting butternut squash (3) at Thanksgiving  I bought new knives on black Friday. Hoping this will help as I love butternut squash soup. I think I also need a new and sharp peeler. Thanks of the tips.