Roasted Butternut Squash

With a little olive oil, a baking sheet, and a sturdy chef knife, it's a simple task.

Roasted Butternut Squash
Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox
Active Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
55 mins
2 squash halves

When the air starts turning crisp, and the tables at the farmers' markets stack high with a cornucopia of rotund pumpkins and hourglass-shaped butternut squash, you know fall has arrived.

Butternut squash figures heavily in my fall and winter cooking rotation. From soups to gratins to bread puddings to breakfast hash, the versatile, slightly sweet squash is a star.

But it's not easy to love. The skin is tough, the flesh can be wildly exfoliating to bare hands, and it takes some strength to cut through when raw. But once you get past all that, and get a taste of it roasted, you'll be a convert. With a few simple steps, a little olive oil, a baking sheet, and a sturdy chef knife, you too can roast a butternut squash.

How to Choose Butternut Squash

When confronted with a table full of butternut squash, it's hard to choose. But keeping a few tips in mind will help.

First, examine its color. According to the Farmer's Almanac, the skin should be matte. Shiny spots indicate immaturity.

Another sign of your squash being unripe is any visible green. If there are streaks or patches, it's not quite ready . Look for a darker shade of beige, but don't be afraid of a pale spot—this is just where the squash was laying in the garden.

Another great test is to pick it up. A ripe butternut squash should feel hefty in your hands. If it's light, it's still unripe. And don't knock the Knock Test. Give your squash a couple of raps. If it emits a hollow sound, it's ready.

Be sure to examine the stem, too. Look for an intact, brown stem. If the stem is missing, or you notice deep divots in the skin, the squash may be on the way out. You want a firm squash with a good stem that sounds hollow when tapped.

How to Roast Butternut Squash in 5 Easy Steps

Some folks avoid roasting butternut squash because they assume it's complicated, when in fact it's far from that. Here, we'll show you how to roast butternut squash so you can harvest the tender, delicately sweet flesh for any cooking application—or just to eat straight from the skin. It's delicious that way, too.

Step 1. Prep

Line a medium-sized baking sheet with aluminum foil. You can cover it with cooking spray if you want, but the squash halves will be oiled before baking. Also, preheat the oven to 400°F.

aluminum foil lined baking sheet
Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Step 2. Cut off the stem

With a heavy-duty chef's knife, cut off the stem of the butternut squash. You can remove the bottom of the squash, too. Cutting a flat surface on the bottom can help if you plan to remove the squash peel and cut the squash into smaller pieces for roasting.

Then, cut the squash in half. It may be helpful to cut one side to the middle of the squash, then cut from the other side to meet the previous cut. Most kitchen knives are too small to cut through the whole squash at once.

You can also stand the squash on end and cut from the top down, but be careful to get equal halves.

cutting butternut squash
Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Step 3. Scoop out the seeds

Remove the stringy flesh and seeds from the center of the squash. But, save the seeds! Wash them, and dry roast them for a snack later.

butternut squash halves
Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Step 4. Bake

Then, move the squash to the aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Brush the squash halves with olive oil, then flip the squash cut-side down.

Bake the squash for about 50 minutes at 400°F. The skin will darken and may blister. You can press against the flesh with tongs, it wil be pliable when it's cooked. A fork inserted cleanly will indicate the squash is done, too.

roasted butternut squash face down
Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Step 5. Use

When the squash is cooked, remove it from the oven, and use tongs to flip the squash over cut-side up. This will let the team escape so the squash can cool faster.

Once the squash is cooled, you can peel the skin off. (You can also cut the peel off before roasting if you want). Dice it up for a simple side dish, or scoop it out and puree it for soup.

Can I Peel and Cube It Before Roasting?

Depending on what you plan to do with your squash, sometimes peeling and cubing before roasting makes sense. If you plan to serve it on roasted chunks as a side, this is the way to go since there will be no peel to deal with after.

Check out these tips Southern Living got from Chef Ryan Smith from Lazy Susan Tapas Bar in Macon, Georgia, to facilitate removing the skin with a sturdy chef knife.

But if you feel safer using a peeler, we have this video that walks you safely through separating your squash from its peel, and then uniformly cubing it in preparation for roasting.

Dishes to Make With Roasted Butternut Squash

Roasted squash has many applications. I like to scoop it out, mash with a stick of butter, and a couple teaspoons of fresh grated parmesan cheese for a tasty side to a Mojo-marinated pork tenderloin and some pepper-flaked roast broccoli. Or you can add a little maple syrup and cinnamon for a sweeter side. I've even subbed it into my sweet potato pie recipe with great success. But maybe the most iconic use of roasted butternut squash is a stockpot full of soup. This coconut curry version brings warm heat on a cold night, but for something really special, grab a couple of fall apples to roast with the squash, and use that as your soup base.

Don't forget to roast the seeds. Crispy, salted squash seeds join roasted pumpkin seeds in the nirvana of fall snacking.


  • 1 medium butternut squash

  • 1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil

  • Seasoning if desired, or salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

  2. Cut off the stem end of the squash. Cut the squash in half. Tip: To secure the cutting board, place a damp paper towel under the board.

  3. Scoop the seeds and pulp out of squash center. Rub the squash generously with olive oil. Flip the squash cut-side down onto the baking sheet.

  4. Roast at 400°F for about 50 minutes, or until the skin darkens and begins to blister and the flesh is pliable.

  5. Remove squash from the oven, and use tongs to flip squash over. This allows the steam to escape and flesh to cool. Once cooled, the squash easily separates from the skin and is ready for any recipe.

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