How To Cook Butternut Squash

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Learn how to cook butternut squash 5 ways! Roasting, steaming, boiling, microwaving, and pressure cooking all tenderize this delicious gourd. Choose the method that fits your style and enjoy various healthy recipes like side dishes, soups, and stews.

How To Cook Butternut Squash
Table of Contents
  1. Roasted butternut squash (whole) 
  2. Roasted butternut squash (cubes)
  3. Steamed butternut squash (cubes)
  4. Boiled butternut squash (cubes)
  5. Microwaved butternut squash (whole)
  6. Microwaved butternut squash (cubes)
  7. Instant Pot butternut squash (whole)
  8. Instant Pot butternut squash (cubes)
  9. BONUS: The seeds are edible!
  10. How To Cook Butternut Squash Recipe

Beneath the inedible skin of a butternut squash lies a sweet and nutty flesh. Once you peel and slice up this winter squash, there are endless uses. I have a handful of simple, go-to cooking methods for you to choose from, depending on how you plan to enjoy it. 

Steaming, boiling, microwaving, and pressure cooking are quick moist-heat ways to soften the flesh. These methods don’t add much flavor, but they are great for soups and purees. Roasting takes the taste to the next level. The high heat can turn whole pieces or diced cubes into lightly browned and tasty bites. I even use them as the star filling of taco night.

Roasted butternut squash (whole) 

Whole roasted butternut squash

You can roast whole squash halves by cutting it down the center and leaving the skin on. Just remove the seeds, brush with olive oil, and cook cut-side down. Depending on the size, cook for about 30 to 45 minutes for a 1 ½ to 2 pound squash. 

Slice and serve as a side dish or scoop the flesh out. This tastes lovely with some butter, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, or a sweetener like honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup. You can stuff the centers with a protein filling for a complete meal.

Roasted butternut squash (cubes)

roasted butternut squash cubes

The solid flesh needs a dose of high heat to release the moisture from the cell walls that soften the vegetable, around 400°F (204°C). The increased temperature can also create additional flavors from Maillard browning. You can toss the 1-inch cubed pieces with some olive oil, seasonings, and spices for extra flavor. Cook until it can be easily be pierced with a fork or knife, about 20 to 25 minutes. This method is great for meal prepping.

Steamed butternut squash (cubes)

Steamed butternut squash cubes

Cooking small butternut squash pieces is a quick way to soften the flesh without any additional oil if you’re looking for a low-fat method. The superheated steam generated from boiling water (100°C or 212°F) in a covered pot can cook the vegetable in 10 minutes or less. This method does not add any additional flavor to the squash, so make sure to season well; otherwise, it will have a pretty bland taste.

Boiled butternut squash (cubes)

Boiled butternut squash cubes

Boil 1-inch pieces in salted hot water until tender, about 9 to 11 minutes. The salt dissolves quickly into the water. This seasoning infuses throughout the gourd and enhances its natural sweetness. Make sure to drain the squash well to prevent it from becoming mushy and diluted in flavor.

Microwaved butternut squash (whole)

Microwaved whole butternut squash

Cut the squash in half and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. The plastic traps the steam to help soften the flesh in about 9 minutes. Cooking one half at a time, use the higher power setting to soften efficiently.

Microwaved butternut squash (cubes)

Microwaved butternut squash cubes

It takes 5 minutes or less for the electromagnetic waves to tenderize the cubes. The steam generated from the small amount of water added to the container speeds up cooking. Make sure to securely cover with plastic wrap to trap the heat. I use a 1-quart glass pyrex measuring cup for cooking the squash safely, or a microwave-safe bowl works too.

Instant Pot butternut squash (whole)

Instant Pot whole butternut squash

You can fit a whole butternut squash in the pressure cooker. I use about a 2 pound size. Any larger and you will need to cut the squash into 4 pieces instead of 2 halves. Cook them on top of the trivet to help elevate the gourds for more efficient steaming.

Add one cup of water and set it on the manual high-pressure setting for 8 minutes. Increase the time as needed depending on size and doneness, no more than 10 minutes for a 4 pound squash.

Instant Pot butternut squash (cubes)

Instant Pot butternut squash cubes

One quick and hands-off method to tenderize the squash is to cook it in an electric pressure cooker. The built-up pressure elevates the chamber temperature, cooking diced cubes in just 3 minutes. The squash is ready in about 15 total minutes, taking into account the time it takes to build pressure.

BONUS: The seeds are edible!

Once you scoop out the seeds, don’t throw them away. You can roast them just like pumpkin seeds. Remove the fibrous pulp, then wash and dry them well. Toss in some olive oil, salt and pepper, or other desired seasonings. Place them on a sheet pan and roast at 350°F (177ºC) for 10 to 12 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes until crunchy.

What’s the healthiest way to cook it?

Butternut squash is a healthy low-calorie food packed with fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium. Steaming and microwaving retains the most nutrients due to the brief cooking time and limited exposure to water. Boiling causes the sensitive water-soluble B vitamins and vitamin C to reduce as some transfer into the cooking liquid or make contact with high heat. Fiber is exceptionally stable, as well as most minerals. Therefore they are not significantly impacted by any of the cooking methods.

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How To Cook Butternut Squash

Learn how to cook butternut squash 5 ways! Roasting, steaming, boiling, microwaving, and pressure cooking all tenderize this delicious gourd.
Pin Print Review
3.77 from 13 votes
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients

Roasted Butternut Squash (Whole)

  • 1 butternut squash, about 1 ½ to 2 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt, for seasoning
  • black pepper, for seasoning

Roasted Butternut Squash (Cubes)

  • 2 cups diced butternut squash, 1-inch cubes
  • 1 ½ teaspoon olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoon black pepper

Steamed Butternut Squash (Cubes)

  • 2 cups diced butternut squash, 1-inch cubes

Boiled Butternut Squash (Cubes)

  • 2 cups diced butternut squash, 1-inch cubes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, optional

Microwaved Butternut Squash (Whole)

  • 1 butternut squash, about 1 ½ to 2 ½ pounds

Microwaved Butternut Squash (Cubes)

  • 2 cups diced butternut squash, 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cups water

Instant Pot Butternut Squash (Whole)

  • 1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds
  • 1 cup water

Instant Pot Butternut Squash (Cubes)

  • 2 cups diced butternut squash, 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup water

Instructions 

Roasted Butternut Squash (Whole)

  • Set the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 400ºF (204ºC).
  • Place the squash on a sturdy cutting board. Use a sharp chef’s knife to trim the stem and bottom of the squash.
  • Starting at the larger side of the squash, carefully cut in half lengthwise, using small rocking motions.
  • Use a large spoon to remove the seeds. If desired, wash, separate and dry the seeds for roasting later.
  • Line a large baking sheet with foil. Grease the foil with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, use a paper towel to spread evenly.
  • Brush the flesh of the squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the squash cut side down and evenly spaced on the baking sheet.
  • Roast until a knife can easily pierce into the flesh, about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the squash’s size.
  • Carefully turn the squash over with tongs and season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Butternut Squash (Cubes)

  • Set the oven rack to the middle position. Heat oven to 400°F (204ºC).
  • In a medium bowl combine butternut squash, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a sheet pan covered in foil and lightly greased with oil.
  • Roast squash for 10 minutes, then use a spatula to rotate and flip them. Roast until squash is lightly golden brown and fork-tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Steamed Butternut Squash

  • Fill a medium pot with enough water on the bottom to not touch the steamer basket. Add the steamer insert and then the squash on top.
  • Cover and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Once the steam builds in the pot (this will take a few minutes), cook the butternut squash fork-tender, about 9 to 11 minutes.

Boiled Butternut Squash (Cubes)

  • Add water to a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add salt and stir to dissolve.
  • Add the diced butternut squash and cook until fork-tender, about 9 to 11 minutes. Drain the squash well.

Microwaved Butternut Squash (Whole)

  • Place the squash on a sturdy cutting board. Use a sharp chef’s knife to trim the stem and bottom of the squash.
  • Starting at the larger side of the squash, carefully cut in half lengthwise, using small rocking motions.
  • Use a large spoon to remove the seeds. If desired, wash, separate and dry the seeds for roasting later.
  • Place one butternut squash halve on a large microwave-safe plate. Tightly cover with plastic wrap.
  • Microwave on high power for 9 minutes. Very carefully tap the covered surface to check if the squash is fork-tender. Microwave an additional 1 to 2 minutes if needed.

Microwaved Butternut Squash (Cubes)

  • Place butternut squash cubes in a 1-quart microwave-safe bowl or container.
  • Add water and tightly cover with plastic wrap or a plate that covers the top of the dish.
  • Microwave on high power for 4 minutes. Very carefully lift the cover to check if the squash is fork-tender. Microwave an additional 1 to 2 minutes if needed.

Instant Pot Butternut Squash (Whole)

  • Wash and thoroughly dry the butternut squash.
  • Place the squash on a sturdy cutting board. Use a sharp chef’s knife to trim the stem and bottom of the squash.
  • Starting at the larger side of the squash, carefully cut in half lengthwise, using small rocking motions.
  • Use a large spoon to remove the seeds. If desired, wash, separate and dry the seeds for roasting later.
  • Place the wire rack/trivet inside a 6-quart Instant Pot. Add the cubes of butternut squash on top of the rack. Pour the water into the side of the pot.
  • Make sure that the release valve is in the “Sealing” position. Place the lid on then turn and lock.
  • Press the “Manual” button on the Instant Pot on high pressure, and then set the timer to 8 minutes using the “+” or “-” controls. It will take about 10 to 12 minutes for the pot to heat and build pressure. You will see some steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display. For a larger 2 ½ to 4 pound squash, cut into 4 pieces. Cook 9 to 10 minutes depending on size and how soft you would like the flesh.
  • Once cook time is complete, carefully quick-release the pressure. Use an oven mitt to slowly and carefully twist the steam release handle on the lid to the “Venting” position. You can also cover the valve with a towel to prevent splatter. The initial release will spray some moisture around so be careful. Remove the lid, opening the top away from you as steam will release. Use tongs to carefully lift out the trivet, then quickly transfer to a plate.

Instant Pot Butternut Squash (Cubes)

  • Place the wire rack/trivet inside a 6-quart Instant Pot. Add the cubes of butternut squash on top of the rack. Pour the water into the side of the pot.
  • Make sure that the release valve is in the “Sealing” position. Place the lid on, then turn and lock.
  • Press the “Manual” button on the Instant Pot on high pressure, and then set the timer to 3 minutes using the “+” or “-” controls. It will take about 10 minutes for the pot to heat and build pressure. You will see some steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display.
  • Once cook time is complete, carefully quick-release the pressure. Use an oven mitt to slowly and carefully twist the steam release handle on the lid to the “Venting” position. You can also cover the valve with a towel to prevent splatter. The initial release will spray some moisture around, so be careful. Remove the lid, opening the top away from you as steam will release. Use tongs to carefully lift out the trivet, then quickly transfer to a bowl and serve with desired seasonings.

Notes

  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup butternut squash

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Nutrition Facts
How To Cook Butternut Squash
Amount Per Serving
Calories 32 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 3mg0%
Potassium 246mg7%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 7441IU149%
Vitamin C 15mg18%
Calcium 34mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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9 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy says

    Hi Jessica,

    I want to try all those recipes. I like squash a lot. I saw you mention you can use an immersion blender on squash. I bought one a couple years ago and only used it once as I was afraid it would damage my pan. It seemed so hefty to hold on to as well. Do you have any tips on using one?

    Thank you. Judy

    • Libby says

      I LOVE my immersion blender – especially for blending hot soup ingredients. I just take the pan off the stove and immerse the blender, up and down, through the soup until it’s blended to my preferred consistency. The blade has a guard all around it, so I’ve never had any damage to my pans. (Mine is not that heavy – it was an inexpensive one and works beautifully!)

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Judy! Don’t be afraid, like Libby said there is a guard around the blade. I usually lift the blad about a 1/2 inch above the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t tough and just circle the blender around the pot, lifting up and down as needed. Works great!

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