Baked Butternut Squash

published Sep 22, 2021
thanksgiving
Baked Butternut Squash Recipe

This timeless fall side dish is simple and versatile enough that you'll find yourself turning to it again and again all season long.

Serves4 to 6

Prep5 minutes

Cook1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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baked butternut squash on a baking sheet, halved
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

Sweet, orange-hued butternut squash is one of the most iconic flavors of fall. And while I love it in everything from soup and pasta to tarts and risotto, I think the best way to enjoy it is also the simplest: baked slowly with olive oil, salt, and pepper until tender. This understated side dish can pair with just about anything you’re serving this season, and lets the flavor of the squash shine. Here’s how to make the very best baked butternut squash.

Do I Need to Peel Butternut Squash Before Roasting? 

For this recipe, you’ll be cutting the butternut squash lengthwise, then baking the large halves. For this reason, there’s no need to peel the squash. Leaving it unpeeled helps maintain the squash’s shape as it bakes and holds in all of its sweet juices. Technically, the skin is edible, but unless it’s a very fresh butternut squash that you’ve picked up from the farmers market, it can be tough even after a long cook in the oven. Once baked, you can choose either to slice the squash with the skin on or scoop out the soft flesh, which will pull away easily from the skin.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

What Flavors Go Well with Butternut Squash? 

This recipe is intentionally simple so that you can make it your own. In addition to salt and pepper, try sprinkling the squash with a big pinch of ground cinnamon or nutmeg if you’d like to lean into its inherent sweetness. Or, go for curry powder, ground cumin, or smoked paprika if you’d rather bring out its savory side. You could also fill the cavities of the squash halves with a couple of fresh sage leaves or thyme or rosemary sprigs, which will infuse their flavor into the flesh as it bakes.

What Do I Do with Baked Butternut Squash?

Squash is an ideal side dish for so many fall dinners, including roast chicken and skillet pork chops. Serve it sliced into wedges, or scoop out the flesh, transfer it to the bowl, and mash it with a little butter or grated Parmesan cheese. This rustic mash isn’t just a side dish: Try turning it into a pasta sauce by tossing it with hot pasta and a generous splash of the pasta cooking water. The squash can also be used in a seasonal grain bowl or even tossed into smoothies.

Baked Butternut Squash Recipe

This timeless fall side dish is simple and versatile enough that you'll find yourself turning to it again and again all season long.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium butternut squash (about 3 pounds)

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

  2. Place 1 medium butternut squash on its side. Trim off both ends with a large, sturdy knife. Stand the squash upright and cut in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and any stringy bits.

  3. Drizzle a 9x13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and tilt the dish to coat. Place the squash halves cut-side up in the baking dish. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

  4. Bake until fork-tender and caramelized around the edges, 75 to 90 minutes. To serve, slice into 1-inch-thick wedges or, if preferred, scoop out the flesh and mash lightly with a fork.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.