Roasted whole butternut squash is an easy way to enjoy the delicious winter squash. Simply slice in half, then bake until tender. A maple cinnamon glaze and chopped nuts add a touch of sweetness to each serving.
Table of Contents
One of the easiest ways to prepare butternut squash is to roast it whole. No peeling, just cut in half, remove the seeds, and bake. It makes for a stunning and healthy side dish. To add layers of flavor with minimal effort, I roast the halves flesh-side down to boost the browning on the surface.
You can simply enjoy the sweet and nutty flesh with just salt and pepper. However, I like to make it even tastier. A brush of sticky maple syrup and a sprinkle of bold cinnamon and nutmeg creates delicious caramel notes. Slice it up into individual servings, scoop out a few spoonfuls, or stuff it to make an edible bowl.
Prepare the squash for roasting
The most challenging step in this recipe is cutting the squash. Make sure to trim off the stem and bottoms first. This process makes it much easier to slice down the center.
Then use a gentle rocking motion with a sharp knife to cut it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. If you like, clean and dry them, then roast the seeds as a healthy snack.
Roast the squash
Brush the flesh with olive oil before roasting. The fat heats up and helps fry the surface, creating a golden brown color loaded with flavor. I cook the squash halves cut-side down until I can easily pierce it with a knife. It’s ready to enjoy, but let’s boost the flavor up a notch with a glaze.
Add a flavorful glaze
Combine maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Generously brush it on top, then roast until it’s bubbly and caramelized. Giving the oven about 10 minutes helps to evaporate the syrup’s moisture and concentrates the toffee-like flavors onto the squash.
The warm spices add enticing aromas and make it seem more like a dessert, but healthier. Right before serving, add some chopped pecans for a nice contrasting crunch.
What to serve this with
Two-ways to make squash more flavorful
Cook the halves flesh-side down. Direct contact with the hot baking sheet develops more Maillard browning. I like to wait to season it with salt and pepper until after it’s done roasting. The salt draws out the moisture from the cut flesh and brings it to the surface. The salt causes the squash to steam instead of brown, which we want to avoid.
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Roasted Whole Butternut Squash
- Set the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 400ºF (204ºC).
- 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.
- 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. Serve as is or proceed with maple glaze.
- In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Brush evenly on the flesh and roast until the surface is caramelized, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Garnish whole roasted butternut squash with chopped pecans.
- Roasted butternut squash seeds: Wash and dry the seeds. Toss in some olive oil and salt. Place on a sheet pan and roast at 350°F (177ºC) for 10 to 12 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes until crunchy.
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