How to cook butternut squash

How to Cook Butternut Squash (4 methods, how to cut, storage guide)

Learn how to cook butternut squash more than 4 ways! Slow cooker, Instant Pot, roasted in cubes, roasted in half, and more!

Isn’t squash season the greatest?

My site already includes many many ways to prepare butternut squash, from soups (umm, the amount of butternut squash soup recipes on Rachel Cooks is a little excessive, actually), to salads, to mashes, and even healthy queso dip!

You have also loved my tutorials on how to cook acorn squashhow to cook delicata squashhow to cook spaghetti squash, and most recently, how to cook kabocha squash, so I figured it was due time for butternut squash to get its moment in the spotlight.

After all, it’s arguably the most popular variety of squash.

As with the other squash varieties, there are a few different ways to cook butternut squash.

Buckle up, there’s a lot of info here! I outlined it the best I could so that you can scroll to whatever information you need!

Butternut Squash

Here’s what you’ll learn in this post:

  • How to peel and cut a butternut squash
  • How to roast butternut squash cubes
  • How to roast butternut squash halves
  • How to cook butternut squash in the Instant Pot
  • How to cook butternut squash in a slow cooker
  • A few other little nuggets, including how to freeze squash

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash

Most important thing to remember here: Get yourself a large cutting board, a good vegetable peeler, and a sharp knife. AND BE CAREFUL. I am not responsible for any accidents!

I’m going to take you through this, step-by-step. This is the process to achieve cubed butternut squash. If you want to roast squash halves, cut from top to bottom (stem to end) and scoop out the seeds. No peeling necessary!

Step 1

Wash squash thoroughly using a vegetable brush. Technically, yes, you’re going to peel it, but you want to start with a clean squash, otherwise the dirt will get on your hands, which will be on the squash. Just wash it. Next, use a good vegetable peeler to peel the squash. I like to peel down past the green lines that you might see right under the peel. You can leave them on, it’s up to you!

Step 2

Next, you’ll want to trim off the ends and cut the squash in half near the neck. The seeds will all be in the bottom portion.

Step 3

Cut each of the halves in half again, this time from top to bottom. Stand them up on end when you do this so they’re steady on a flat surface.

Step 4

Get rid of the seeds! I like to use a grapefruit spoon to help me scrape out the seeds, but you can also use a normal spoon or your fingers. The little teeth on a grapefruit spoon make it so easy, though.

Step 5

Cut into cubes, whatever size you’d like for your recipe! Remember, the larger the cube, the longer they will take to cook. I like to cut them in 3/4 to 1-inch cubes. They don’t have to be perfect, but you want them to be somewhat uniform in size so that they cook evenly.

My favorite tools for peeling and cutting squash:

How to Roast Butternut Squash Cubes

The best way to roast butternut squash cubes is with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Of course, you can add any seasonings you like. Roasted butternut squash cubes are a fantastic side dish to any meal, but are also perfect on salads. They are tasty on a vegetarian taco or this fall-inspired flatbread. Roasting the squash brings out the flavor, so you can also use this method of cooking squash if you’re making squash soup. It’s an extra step, but it’s often worth it; it’s amazing in this roasted butternut squash soup.


  • Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  • On a rimmed baking sheet, toss squash cubes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. For a medium sized squash, I’d recommend 1-2 tablespoons oil, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8-1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Make sure all of the squash is coated with oil.
  • Place in oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring once, or until squash is golden brown and fork tender. Don’t overcook it or it will get mushy.

How to make it your own:

  • Try using a different type of oil. Coconut oil (melted) is a perfect choice and avocado oil also works well.
  • Add spices! Cinnamon is a great choice, but you can also go more savory with some sage or cayenne. Try this spicy sweet roasted butternut squash!
  • If you cut the squash smaller or larger, it will change the cooking time. Plan on a longer cooking time if you left the squash in large cubes, shorter cooking time for small cubes.

How to Roast Butternut Squash Halves

This method is perfect for mashes and soups. It’s easy and doesn’t require any peeling, which is a huge bonus. You can roast a butternut squash cut side up or cut side down. If you do it cut side down, it will likely get a little more browned. There’s great flavor there! Cut side up is perfect if you want to add any flavorings like brown sugar and butter. My mom always made it that way and it was sooo good.

Roasting the squash halves is also a great method if you plan to make stuffed squash. This stuffed butternut squash is amazing (you can’t really go wrong with bacon and cheddar).

It takes a little longer to cook a squash this way than it does to cook cubed butternut squash, so take that into consideration.


  • Preheat oven to 425ºF. If desired, line a pan with parchment paper or foil for easy clean up.
  • Scrub squash clean. Slice squash in half from stem to end. You can trim the stem end off to make it easier to slice through. I leave it on because I like the way it looks but most people snap it off.  Scoop out seeds.
  • Coat cut sides with oil (I like to use olive oil), and sprinkle with salt and pepper (no need to go crazy, you can add more later).
  • Roast for 35 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the squash. You want it to be tender when pierced with a fork in the middle.

How to Cook a Butternut Squash in an Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is just a jack of all trades, isn’t it? There are a couple ways you can do this.

Cooking a whole butternut squash in an Instant Pot:

This requires a squash that will fit completely inside your pressure cooker, which isn’t always possible to find. However, this is the easiest and quickest method, as it doesn’t require any cutting or peeling. It can be a little tricky, because cooking time will vary based on the size and thickness of the squash.

  • Place trivet/steamer basket in the bottom of Instant Pot. Add 1 cup of water.
  • Put squash into the pot and seal the lid. Set for high pressure for 30 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
  • Carefully remove squash, cut it in half, scoop out seeds, and then scoop out flesh.

Cooking a quartered or halved butternut squash in an Instant Pot:

This is the next easiest way if the entire squash doesn’t fit inside your pressure cooker and there’s a lot less cooking time.

  • Place trivet/steamer basket in the bottom of Instant Pot. Add 1 cup of water.
  • Scrub squash and cut into quarters. Remove seeds. Seal the lid of your pressure cooker. Set for high pressure for 10 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
  • Carefully remove squash sections and scoop out flesh.

Cooking butternut squash cubes in an Instant Pot:

Honestly, if you’re going through the trouble of chopping up the squash, it will be way more flavorful if you roast it…buuuuut if you want to do it in the pressure cooker, you can!

  • Wash, peel, de-seed, and chop squash (scroll up if you need help with those steps).
  • Place a steamer basket in the bottom of Instant Pot. Add 1 cup of water.
  • Add squash and cook for 5 minutes. Quick release pressure. Squash will be perfectly tender, ready to make into a delicious soup.

How to Cook Butternut Squash in a Slow Cooker

I’ve already done a post on how to cook butternut squash in the slow cooker so check that out if you’re looking to cook it slowly while you’re off taking care of other business! This method is great for mashes and soup recipes. It would be a great way to cook the squash if you were planning to make this butternut squash mash with smoked paprika.

You can also use the slow cooker for some complete recipes that include squash, like this slow cooker creamy chicken soup with quinoa and squash, or these slow cooker Moroccan chicken thighs. 


  • Stick butternut squash in the crockpot (I like to line it with foil for quick clean-up, you can also wrap the squash in foil)
  • Cook for 4-8 hours on high or until tender enough to pierce with a fork.
  • Once it’s tender, remove from the slow cooker and let it cool enough so you can handle it safely.
  • Carefully cut it in half from stem to end, being careful for steam. Remove seeds and scoop out the flesh.

How to Store and Freeze Cooked Butternut Squash

Store cooked squash in an airtight container in the fridge, or a zip-top bag or other airtight container in the freezer. If you want to freeze cooked butternut squash cubes, place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and freeze until solid before moving them to a freezer bag or container. This will prevent them from sticking to each other.

How long does butternut squash last?

Cooked butternut squash will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge in a covered container, or 3-4 months in the freezer. Uncooked, uncut squash will keep for 3-4 months in a cool, dry place. Discard if it becomes soft, squishy, or moldy.

PS: If you’re still here at the bottom of this post, I am impressed! You must love squash as much as I do.

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