How to Roast a Whole Butternut Squash ♥ You Know, WHOLE

How to Roast a Whole Butternut Squash
Today's vegetable recipe: The easiest way in the world to roast a butternut squash. No knife, no cutting, no lost fingers. Whole. Roast it whole. Really.

So, um, this is awkward. But how did I miss this easy-easy-EASY way to roast a butternut squash? For six years now, I've been writing about easy ways to cook vegetables and somehow, some-crazy-how, I missed this.

Except – I didn't. I actually roasted a whole squash, whole, almost exactly five years ago when making Rutabaga & Butternut Squash Purée. I even remarked upon it. But then, days, weeks, months and even years passed. When I remade the purée last week, there was the recipe. (Ha! As if something this simple can even be called a recipe. Let's call it a "technique".)

So I didn't miss the recipe aka technique, I plain forgot. Blame it being the end of the season and the summer's excitement about green beans, I think it was in 2006, some vegetable anyhow. But now, now, NOW I remember though I'm worried, really, because it's kinda late in the season again. So I'm going to count on you guys, YOU, to remember and try this really soon so none of us, ever, forget, again. (And just so there's no forgetting, here's how to cook a whole spaghetti squash too. And How to Cut, Peel & Cube a Butternut Squash and Keep All Ten Fingers.)

'kay? 'kay.

HOW TO ROAST A WHOLE BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: about 90 minutes

1 butternut squash, washed under running water

Turn the oven to 425F. There's no need to wait for the oven to preheat, put the squash on a baking sheet or in an oven-safe pan of some sort and put it straight in. Wait awhile, the house is going to start smelling really really good. (You might want to rustle up some snacks because the cowboy and cowkids are gonna be hungry.) A medium-size squash, less than two pounds, took an even 90 minutes, a larger one might take longer.

That's it. Really! That is IT! Well, okay, so you also need to slice it open and scoop out the seeds and peel off the skin. Then that's it!

YIELDS (MY OWN EXPERIENCE, YOURS MAY VARY)
18oz butternut squash yields 9oz roasted squash
34oz butternut squash yields 19oz
44oz butternut squash yields 24oz
7oz = 1 cup packed cooked squash

This means that, roughly, a two-pound squash will yield one pound of cooked squash. Good to know!

ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
Do use a baking sheet or something to protect your oven, some times the squash oozes a bit of sugary juice.
Nope, I didn't prick the squash before roasting. And I've done it twice six times now, once in 2006 and again in 2011 and not a single squash blew up. So given that, I'm sticking with the no-prick roasting. Breaking the skin will let moisture out and some of the sugars will seep out and burn, like they often do when you roast the squash cut-side down.
While you're roasting one, roast two or three. The Recipe Box for winter squash recipes is filled with squash recipes that call for cooked squash. They're marked with this little icon, , cool, eh?
I haven't figured out why (and wonder if it's just the difference between one squash and another) but some times the squash comes out just like we want and think of as perfect: cooked through, smooth and sweet, meaty and moist. But some times the squash comes out almost wet and watery, some times it comes out dry and fibrous. I've had this happen with three different squash cooked the same length of time at the same time. Ideas, anyone?


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26 comments:

I think pricking vegetables is only necessary for the microwave...not the crockpot or oven.

Maybe the fibrous factor is related to how old or big the squash is?

LOVE winter squash!

I love to roast the whole butternut squash too...Great tips!

genius, thanks for sharing. have a bn squash i need to cook, cold front blew in this morning, perfect excuse to turn the oven on for 90 minutes. :)

I would surmise that you're not going to get a perfect squash every time. Nature is, inherently, variable, so some squash just aren't going to be exactly like you want them.

Nice post though. I have 3 buternuts that I should use up before I move at the end of the month... though I do like the lovely taste and texture of cutting them up and roasting them in my toaster oven.

I found a similar "recipe" for eggplant. Just stick it in the oven with no pricking or piercing. I set a timer and totally forgot about it until I heard a bomb going off in the kitchen! The eggplant exploded and blew open the oven door and left it's guts all over the kitchen for quite the hilarious cleanup.

I'm willing to trying it again because it was pretty hilarious. Maybe I'm doing something wrong?

The quality of your butternut pumpkin (yep!! they're called pumpkins in Australia!) will vary due to the growing conditions.

If it grew in a particularly wet season, or was watered a lot, it will be mushy and watery.

A dry season, or not enough water - a dry tough pumpkin!

Hope that helps.......

Oh that's amusing because I've been using your instructions for how to roast a whole squash all season.

I eat butternut squash every single day! Along with Pumpkin & Spaghetti Squash!!! If I were what I ate.. I'd be a squash for sure... but a trim one because they DON'T pack on the pounds!

Great recipes -- great to have so many choices in one place, too. Thanks for making it so easy to find good recipes.

I tried this on a *huge* squash the other day and it worked great! It was not a butternut squash, it was another variety called a pink banana squash. I especially liked how easy it was to remove the seeds after roasting it whole! Thanks!

I love the butternut squash pie...with honey......

Tried this, LOVE IT!!!

Thanks so much. :-)

Although I love the taste of oven-roasted squash,energy costs are too high here in the Bay area to justify this 90 min technique when it tastes almost the same cooked other ways such as whole in the slow cooker or microwave. These other methods use far less energy so I can save my high cost oven dollars on cakes, browning, etc.

Tried this a few times when we've made Enchiladas Calabaza (google for "Enchilada Calabaza Seva," it's fantastic and simple!). Every time it has come out perfectly, but it's already done by 45 minutes! No need to run it any longer: it is already easy to effortlessly skin, mash up it and process into yummy enchiladas! Thanks so much for this post!

I love roasted butternut squash, this last time I tried it cut in French fry form. Tasted the same so I will probably go back to the other. Just last night I made a stew in my pressure cook and added in the already roasted squash at the end, tasted great. It warmed it up almost immediately. Now I have a new way to do my stew.

I have two whole butternuts roasting in the oven now. Am looking forward to using them in several recipes of yours.

Just a question: how do you know when the squash is done?! Is a prick with a fork to check for tenderness the best way to go?

Thanks so much for your recipes & column.

Anonymous ~ Y'know, good question! I'm not sure I've even ever thought to check, they've all turned out beautifully. But yes, I think inserting a knife into the flesh is the way to check, especially in the neck, where the flesh is thickest and densest.

I have oven baked butternut and spaghetti squash for years, initially when I was short on prep time and already had the oven on. However, my family isn't very accepting for spaghetti squash as a substitute for pasta. Their favorite way, and now a Thanksgiving 'must' every year, is to bake the spaghetti squash, remove the seeds, then before removing it from the shell, take a paring knife and make 1 to 2 inch horizontal cuts in the long strands. Empty the squash into a bowl and add salt, pepper, and about 1 cup of cheddar, colby, swiss, or even Velveeta for a creamier dish. You can also use mozzarella for some stretchy fun! Use whatever you have or like. Cover and return to the oven until heated through and cheese is melted. This is my family's most requested way to do spaghetti squash. Love your recipes and ideas! kathyk243

About the variability of the squashes and their texture: as one who grows them (just a few dozen each season in my garden), I might suspect that some of yours had been aged just right, others not as well. Storage over weeks, even months, is not only possible with winter squash but -- as with melons -- desirable. Cool post-harvest storage is what concentrates the sugar and the flesh itself, pulling it away from the moist seeds and pulp in the center and making it into a drier, denser layer along the walls. So, a better-aged squash gives a certain sound when knocked on, almost like a wood block, vs. an unaged squash, which sounds fuzzier, less distinct, like rapping on . . . a vegetable.

Just recently used this method for roasting whole Butternut Squash (for Christmas). This is AWESOME. I can't believe how much easier this is than trying to skin/cut up a whole raw butternut squash - which in my mind is kinda like trying to skin and cut up a baseball bat. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this great tip!!! I'm sure I will be preparing butternut squash much more often now. Next, I will try roasting a whole spaghetti squash!

i did this for another random squash the other week and it worked great. last time we tried cutting a butternut squash before cooking, my roommate almost cut his finger off! this roasting whole squashes is MUCH safer with their tough skins. So i agree with this recipe! :)

I remember reading on your site about making soup stock from roasted butternut squash peelings and seeds. I have searched and Googled, but I can't find those instructions! Could you tell me where to find it? Thanks.

Anonymous ~ So glad you asked, it's with this recipe, Butternut Squash Soup That Actually Tastes Like Butternut Squash.

My apologies - I really am working at updating the Recipe Box, I've let myself get way way too far behind. :-(

I had to write you to say that when roasted, "the seeds and stuff" is a delicacy! I'm just experimenting with raw, but when I do roast a butternut squash for an extra long time, the seeds and stuff are really good! Put them right along with the squash in a serving ... though I do not care for the acorn squash seeds n stuff!

Thanks for sharing your experiences and for all the people who have commented, especially thanks to "Michigan Front-yard Farmer" for clearing up the aging of squash (I call them pumpkin).

I have many tiny butternuts (that's easier) that I grew. I know, I was supposed to cut off the vine so the plant concentrated on one or two fruit, but do you know how much fun we had? The compost just grew a harvest (these and plenty of very big juicy rockmelons (canteloupe).

My hubby is still giggling, "whatiya want for dinner, half a pumpkin?". I'll age them 'til they don't sound like a vegetable first.

Have you ever roasted sweet meat squash whole? They are very heavy and dense so I am wondering how long they might take.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna