If I don't pry myself away from the baking sheet, I could eat a whole tray of roasted butternut squash straight out of the oven. It's not only my favorite fall vegetable — it's my favorite vegetable, period. That's because when roasted, cubes of butternut squash takes on a deliciously sweet flavor with super-crispy edges and a tender, creamy center.
If you start with a whole butternut squash, these tasty little cubes come at a price. First, you have to peel the awkward-shaped veg without slicing your finger on the peeler or having the slippery squash roll off the cutting board. Then you have to seed it and attempt to chop it into equal-sized pieces so that they cook evenly. Only then can you move forward with roasting.
But we've got a shortcut, so you can be noshing on squash in just 25 minutes. Here's how to do it.
Starting with Frozen Butternut Squash Cuts Out All the Prep
I used to think all frozen veggies were destined for the microwave or a pot of boiling water, resulting in a bland and waterlogged side dish. After all, those are still the two types of cooking instructions listed on most bags of frozen veggies. But I'm not afraid to go rogue.
Drawing inspiration from our irresistible oven-roasted frozen broccoli, I knew I could achieve the same results with frozen squash. Because frozen squash is already peeled and cut for you, all you have to do is season it and throw it into the oven, eliminating at least 20 minutes of work. Honestly, it's convinced me to head straight to the freezer aisle every time I'm cooking squash.
3 Tips for the Best Oven-Roasted Frozen Butternut Squash
1. Preheat the baking sheet: Letting the baking sheet heat up as the oven heats means that as soon as you add the squash, the ice evaporates and the squash begin to brown and crisp. Making sure the pieces are arranged in a single layer (you'll want to be sure to break apart any pieces that are frozen together) and roasting them at a high heat ensures the squash crisps instead of steams.
2. Don't skimp on the oil and salt: A full two tablespoons of olive oil is enough to create a slick coating on each piece of squash without leaving them dripping in pools of it. The oil helps the squash take on color, as well as adds a rich flavor. And speaking of flavor, give the squash a nice generous pinch of salt — it will help draw out its natural sweetness.
3. Roast on the lowest oven rack: To get that gorgeous caramelized sear on the squash, you want to roast it in the hottest part of the oven, which is on the lowest rack. As it roasts, the squash will form a crispy crust, making it easy to slide a spatula underneath and flip it gently halfway through cooking so the other sides of the squash can have a turn.
How To Roast Frozen Butternut Squash
Serves 3 to 4
Prep time: 5 minutes ; cooking time: 20 minutes
What You Need
1 (16-ounce) bag
frozen butternut squash (about 4 cups, do not thaw)
Freshly ground black pepper
Rimmed baking sheet
Preheat the oven and baking sheet to 450°F. Arrange a rack in the lowest oven position and heat the oven to 450°F. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven to preheat.
Season the squash. Place the squash in a medium bowl, breaking up any pieces that are frozen together. Add the olive oil, salt, and several grinds black pepper and toss until squash pieces are evenly coated.
Transfer the squash to the hot baking sheet. Remove the preheated baking sheet from the oven and carefully pour the squash onto it. Arrange the squash in an even layer (this prevents it from steaming).
Roast the squash. Roast until squash is tender and crispy in places, gently stirring halfway through to ensure even cooking, 18 to 20 minutes total.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.