This is a super simple guide to roasting or baking butternut squash. You can use the same method for any other type of winter squash such as crown prince, kabocha, acorn squash.
There are two reasons you might want to roast squash…
- For adding to a recipe such as soup, pasta sauce, curry, dhal, salad or hummus.
- Serving as a side dish, as an accompaniment vegetable.
For adding to recipes we are going make it super plain.
Then for serving roast squash as a side dish, the only difference is that you might like to season lightly before roasting. I have posted a simple, separate recipe below for roasting your squash as a side vegetable.
First please allow me to answer some of the most frequently asked questions I get on roasting squash.
Do you need to peel the skin before roasting squash?
1. Roasting with the skin on
If the skin is really thick on your winter squash, it’s easiest to leave it on for roasting. Once cooked you can scoop the flesh out of the skin. This is the simplest method and is ideal if you are going to puree the squash.
Butternut squash often has thinner skin than other winter squash and can be left on and eaten, if roasted thoroughly. Butternut squash skin can also be blended in when you pruree it. This is a personal preference. Personally speaking, I still often remove the skin, especially if my butternut is not organic.
2. Peeling the skin off before roasting
If you need want cubes of squash then you will need to peel the skin off and then dice it.
If you are going to peel butternut, or other winter squash, then I recommend you use a really good veg peeler. I really like the OXO good grips vegetable peeler which is the only one I use now.
Should I slice, cube or roast my squash whole?
There are different ways to prepare your squash before roasting. Leaving it whole generally takes ages to cook. Therefore I recommend that you cut in half, cut into slices or dice it.
Generally, before roasting butternut squash I use one of the following methods to prepare it…
- Peel and dice into cubes
- Cut in half and scoop out the seeds
- Slice it after scooping out the seeds
With tougher skinned squash such as crown prince I will usually cut into chunks or slices before roasting. I don’t peel the skin, but rather scoop the soft squash away from the skin once baked.
How long does it take to roast butternut squash?
Roasting time depends on the sized that you have cut your squash before roasting.
The smaller you cut your squash, the faster it is going to roast.
Leaving it larger is easier, but roasting times are a bit longer.
If I cut my butternut squash in half it will take up to an hour to fully roast.
On the other hand, if I cut the squash into slices or cubes then it will usually take 30 to 45 minutes.
How do you know when your butternut squash is baked?
Your squash is baked when you can easily pierce it with a fork.
Do I need to cover my squash with foil when roasting?
No you don’t need to cover your squash with foil when roasting.
Foil might help it cook a little faster, but it really is not necessary. I rarely cover my squash with foil when roasting as I want the full deep caramlised roasted effect.
One of the downsides to foil this is that it traps the moisture int he baking tray and can give your squash a steamed flavour, rather deep roasted.
What is the difference between roasting and baking?
Most of us use the words roasting and baking interchangeably. In fact I use both words to mean something that has been cooked in an oven. Roasting and baking are very similar so I don’t think it matters too much for the purpose of home cooking.
But for us geeks, please note there is a slight difference.
Baking is done at a temperatures well above boiling point from 300 – 500F or 150C – 250C). We surround the food with a hot enclosure (the oven) and depend on both radiant heat (from the walls) and hot-air convection too cook the food.
Book reference: McGee on Food & Cooking 2004
If you look around the internet then alot of people say that roasting is done at higher temperatures. It does seem reasonable as usually food is roasted at hot temperatures. Say 400F/200C or higher. However, if you dig into the science of it, that is not exactly true. Merriam Webster dictionary (who like to get their definitons spot on) have looked into in and say it’s complicated!
Roasting used to be what we did on an open fire in the olden days.
Now it’s generally accepted that roasting is cooking in a really hot oven, which results in a more crispy out-layer than baking at lower temperatures. However, hot roasting in an oven is still technically ‘baking’.
How to roast butternut squash (quick guide)
Plain method ideal for adding to recipes that ask for roasted squash…
- Decide if you need to roast your squash as cubes, chunks/slices or in half (see notes above for more detailed guidance).
- If you are cutting into cubes, then peel your squash.
- If you are cutting into chunks or in half, then cut as desired, scooping out the seeds.
- Put your cut or diced squash onto a baking tray.
- If you have cubes or chunks then make sure they are evenly spread and not piled on top of each other.
- Place your tray into a hot oven at around 400F (200C). If you have the oven on for something else at a different temperature then it will still cook, so just pop it in and adjust your baking time.
- Roast until you can easily pierce your squash with a fork. Timing will vary depending on thickness of the squash and temperature of the oven. Generally it will take between 30 and 60 minutes.
- You can either let your squash cool down and use over the next couple of days, or use immediately.
- For making roasted squash as a side dish, please scroll down directly below for recipe with seasoning and instructions.
- 1 large butternut squash
- A sprinkle of sea salt
- A sprinkle of black pepper
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- A dash of balsamic vinegar (optional)
- Peel your butternut squash.
- Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. You do not need the seeds.
- Cube the squash into cubes of your desired size. Bear in mind that your squash will shrink a little once it has cooked. I like to cut my squash into cubes that are under an inch cubed. A half-inch cubed is ideal for bite-sized pieces.
- Toss your squash onto a baking tray and sprinkle on your sea salt, pepper.
- Drizzle with oil (and optional vinegar) and toss the ingredients together.
- Place into a hot pre-heated oven at around 400F (200C).
- Roast until you can easily pierce your squash with a fork. This should take 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size you have cut your squash.
- During the roasting period, you can turn your squash once of twice if you like for perfectly even cooking. I often forget and it works fine without turning.
- Your squash is ready to enjoy immediately.
- If you have extra leftovers than you can use them for any of the roasted squash recipes (links below).
My favourite recipes using roast butternut squash…
Roast butternut squash pasta sauce…
Butternut squash hummus…
Roast butternut squash & ginger soup…
Butternut squash lentil dhal…
Roast butternut squash salad…