No need to don a coat of armor to peel, cut, and seed this sturdy squash.
It’s no wonder the freezer aisle and produce section almost always include peeled and cubed versions of this gourd ready to grab and go. While that can be convenient, you’re almost guaranteed to pay a premium for pre-cut butternut squash. Plus, in the case of frozen cubes, you have less control over the final consistency. And with the refrigerated kind, we’ve found that they can err on the dry side (since the surface area has been exposed to air for hours…and sometimes days).
For this reason we suggest buckling up, rolling up your sleeves, and following our easy guide for how to cut butternut squash. We’ll walk you through every step of the way so you can safely slice (and dice, if desired)—no world’s strongest human-level muscle power required.
What You’ll Need to Peel and Cut Butternut Squash
A sharp chef’s knife.
A spoon. You’ll use this to help scoop out the seeds and stringy pieces.
A non-slip cutting board. “If your cutting board tends to move around on your countertop as you work, place a damp washcloth or paper towel underneath to help keep it in place,” Brekke advises.
How to Peel Butternut Squash
For the longest shelf life for your squash, wash and remove the skin just before you plan to use it, Brekke says.
To peel butternut squash with a vegetable peeler, feel free to do so when the squash is whole. For easy peeling, cut both ends off before peeling. Rinse the skin well under running water, using a clean dish towel to brush off any dirt.
Rest the end of the squash on the cutting board. With the vegetable peeler in your dominant hand and your non-dominant hand supporting the squash (with fingers safely away from the cutting edge), run the vegetable peeler from top to bottom of the squash to remove the peel. Work your way around the squash, tilting and/or flipping it as necessary, to take off the entirety of the skin.
If you don’t own a peeler or prefer to use a knife, after washing the squash, Brekke recommends using the knife to cut the squash in half, crosswise, to separate the round, seed-filled bulb end from the top of the gourd. Place one of the squash pieces cut-side down on the cutting board. With the chef’s knife in your dominant hand and your non-dominant hand supporting the squash (with fingers safely away from the blade), run knife blade from top to bottom of the squash to remove the peel, tracing as close to the skin as possible to preserve as much of the flesh as you can to use in your recipe. Work your way around the squash, tilting and/or flipping it as necessary, to take off the entirety of the skin. Repeat with the other squash half.
How to Cut Butternut Squash
Once the butternut squash is peeled, you’re ready to cut it in half crosswise to separate the round bulb from the top—if you didn’t do so already before peeling the squash with a knife.
Step 1: Cut Squash in Half
The internet exploded with “I wish I knew this earlier!” comments when clever content creators shared a tip about how to cut butternut squash in half when you don’t think you’re strong enough to do so. We tried this out and can stand behind it as a clever assist:
Place a whole butternut squash on the cutting board lengthwise, with the stem and root end pointing left and right.
With your non-dominant hand holding the bulb end of the squash and your dominant hand holding a sharp chef's knife, place the blade edge about 1 to 2 inches above the bulb.
Using your non-dominant hand at a safe distance away from the knife blade, carefully rock the squash an inch or two back and forth on the cutting board. The knife should slide a bit more easily through the flesh. Friction, for the win.
Use your knife to slice ¼-inch off the stem end and the root end. Place the top, cut-side down, on a cutting board, then slice or chop as desired.
Step 2: Remove Pulp and Seeds
For the bulb end, place it cut-side up on the cutting board. Use your knife to cut it in half, then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp parts from both halves.
Step 3: Cut into Cubes
Place the cleaned squash bulb halves, round-side up, on the cutting board. Use your knife to slice or chop as desired. For cubes, cut long strips of squash. Once cut, chop the strips into cubes.
Test Kitchen Tip: Prefer to roast butternut squash halves? No need to peel it first. Wash the butternut squash, then place it on the cutting board with the stem pointing away from your body. Use your knife to slice ¼-inch off the stem end and the root end. With your non-dominant hand steadying the squash, trace the knife from end to end the length of the squash. (Place the heel of our dominant hand’s palm on the top part of the knife, if necessary, to get more leverage to press down and cut the squash into two tall halves.) Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp parts from both halves. Transfer the squash to a sheet pan, drizzle with oil or coat in melted butter, then season as desired and roast at 350° F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender.
The Best Ways to Cook With Butternut Squash
Besides roasting in halves or cubes, we love to transform squash into vegetable noodles. Check out our Butternut Burrito Bowls for inspiration. Come fall, little feels cozier than a butternut squash soup. Fans rave about Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup and Gluten Free Butternut Squash Soup with Polenta Croutons. For a hearty vegetarian main dish, we swear by Four-Cheese Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese, Butternut Squash and Mushroom Noodle Bowl, and Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry.
Any which way you choose to chow down on squash, now that you’re a pro at how to cut butternut squash, you’ll be mere minutes away from rocking your recipe.
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