How to Roast a Whole Butternut Squash

Ah, butternut squash. I appreciate it's flavor but it has a skin like a coat of armor. Have you ever tried to cut into a butternut squash? Let alone peel it? It's hard! There is a lot of swearing involved, sometimes blood, and then it never ends up on my menu. Is there a good way to peel butternut squash? The answer is yes! Peel it after you roast it whole, it will be the easiest butternut squash prep you've ever done. This discovery changed my life, I love to can and it opened up entire avenues to easy squash soups.

Excuse the absence of a before picture of the squash. I got carried away and forgot, then a discussion on Facebook over creative commons ensued and my friend Tiffany graciously posed some squash and texted me the picture. Sadly, I am not clever enough to figure out how to get the picture off the phone and onto this post so if you don't know what an uncooked butternut squash looks like visualize a large tan bowling pin looking object with a fat base. Or google it.

Turn your oven to 450. Wash the squash off really well. Plan to cook a couple at a time. There is no reason to run the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes for one squash. I did three that were about 2 1/2 pounds each.

I had already taken one out here, but I put them fat end to short end & over the cookie sheet.

Place a baking sheet on the lower rack under where the squash will go. Place the squash directly on the rack above. Do not poke them or halve them or anything. I promise they won't explode in your oven. They will naturally split to release steam and any juices will drip onto the tray. I just gave my rack a little wipe after and it was good as new.

Roast them for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Shut the oven off and crack open the oven door. Let them sit for another hour-ish. This is important. Otherwise you will be cursing me while you try to handle hot squash. Just trust me- don't bust open a steaming hot squash.

Get together one large bowl and two smaller ones. After the hour of rest take one out gently. They are roasted so you want to handle them gently to avoid unintentional breakage. If you cannot comfortably pick up the squash with your hands, it didn't cool off enough. Give it a few more minutes. Picture time!

Stand up the squash in a bowl.

The skin will flake off super easily. I just threw it in our compost bin. The top stem part will also break right off.

After you've peeled it, whack the whole neck part off down to the fat base. There are no seeds in this part.

Gather your cooked squash in a large mixing bowl.

Now you're down to the seed part. They'll be really easy to spot because they'll be surrounded in fluorescent orange stringy matter. Scoop it all out carefully. 

Put that in a different bowl. You can rinse these in a strainer later and roast the seeds if you wish. Because they have already  been cooked they just need a quick broil for crunch.

Now just peel of the rest of the skin from the bottom part and put the flesh in the mixing bowl. Repeat with the rest of your squash. You lose the least amount of water weight from the squash this way. The 3 squash I roasted yielded about 7 1/2 pounds of cooked squash. You can mash it with a spoon or puree it and store it for later use in the fridge.

Feeling motivated? Check out my other squash recipes that I made out of this puree for Apple Curry Squash Soup, Squash Maple Herb Soup or Butternut Squash Casserole with Candied Bacon and Almonds (this one is just an excuse to eat pumpkin pie-ish goodness for dinner).


  1. So tell me? For the other recipes mentioned is there a way to BUY pureed squash like you can buy pumpkin??

    1. Some grocery stores (particularly small co-op ones) carry canned squash around the holidays. You could also microwave/steam a bag of frozen or fresh cubed squash and puree it but I swear cooking it is really really easy and worth having some on hand during the Thanksgiving/Christmas food frenzy. You could freeze the puree if you weren't going to use it all. You could also use canned pumpkin in any of the recipes as a substitute.

  2. Oh my gosh! Awesome idea! I love butternut squash, but yes, we usually end up cutting down the middle and roasting it that way. I'm trying this next time. Thanks!

    1. Thanks! I swear it's super easy. I have 14 pints of it in my freezer right now. I may have gotten a little carried away....

  3. I am roasting as we speak. I'm so excited that I found this post!

  4. Thanks for the tip and assuring me that it wont explode!