Meet Your Ingredients: Butternut Squash

Meet Your Ingredients: Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is rich in fiber and vitamin A and can be used in a variety of fall-inspired dishes. Get all you need to know about this winter squash. 

The Basics

Sometimes called a butternut pumpkin, butternut squash is one of the most popular types of winter squashes. 

In fact, most grocery stores sell it pre-cubed, spiralized, and frozen. 

While technically a fruit, this nutty-flavored squash is culinarily used as a vegetable and can stand in for pumpkin in many recipes. 

Nutrition Overview

One cup of cooked butternut squash provides: 

  • 82 calories
  • 22 grams of carbs
  • 7 grams of fiber
  • 2 grams of protein
  • 457% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin A
  • 52% of the DV for vitamin C

It’s also high in vitamin E, several B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. 

How to select butternut squash

A ripe Butternut squash can be surprisingly difficult to pick out.

But trust me, it’s worth finding a ripe one otherwise you could end up with either an underripe, flavorless squash or an overripe, mushy one. 

Here’s what to look for: 

  • Heavy for its size. This may sound strange, but try picking up a few and you’ll likely notice that some feel too light – which is a sign that it’s underripe. 
  • Should sound hollow when tapped 
  • Still has a deep brown-colored stem attached 
  • Free of green stripes, as they’re a sign of an underripe squash 
  • Thick skin. Again, sounds weird but try to press your fingernail into the squash. If it goes through easily then put it down and try another. 

How to store butternut squash

An uncut butternut squash can last up to 2-3 months when stored in a dry, cool place. Just note that the flavor will slowly decline over time. 

Once cut, it can last in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge and several years in the freezer.

However, I like to use frozen squash within 6 months for best flavor. 

How to use in cooking/baking

There are many ways to cook and use butternut squash, but regardless of the method it’s important to wash the outside before cutting it to get rid of any dirt and debris. 

To Peel or Not to Peel? 

While the skin of butternut squash is safe to eat, it usually isn’t very tasty. If you plan on using cubes or slices then I recommend peeling the skin before eating. 

However, if you’re going to puree the squash after cooking, then I usually just keep the skin on and use a spoon to scoop out the softened, cooked squash directly into a food processor or blender. 

The many ways to use butternut squash 

Roasted butternut squash tacos with avocado crema

Butternut squash is most commonly roasted. While you can just cut it in half and roast, for a quicker cooking time, squash can be sliced or cubed before roasting. 

However, you can also steam, sauté, and even fry it.

Some ideas to get you going:

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About Kelli McGrane Headshot

I’m Kelli MS, RD, and my mission is to prove that eating healthier doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. Follow along to learn more about food and cooking, with an emphasis on breakfast and sweet treats!

About Kelli McGrane Headshot

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