Creamy, buttery, nutty baked butternut squash is a delectable way to spice up your holiday meals or any meal for that matter. It’s perfectly seasoned with fresh sage, garlic cloves and crunchy walnuts making a terrific side dish that’s super easy and brings great flavors to the table in no time.
I love butternut squash and sage. It’s like the perfect pair and the crunch of the walnuts adds a great texture to this healthy dish. It’s simply seasoned to bring out the natural sweetness of the squash.
But you don’t have to just serve this dish for the holidays – this roasted butternut squash is perfect to top off salads and also pairs well with pork chops or grilled steaks.
If you’re looking for a different way to fix butternut squash, you might try this Butternut Squash and Black Bean Taco Soup. Just maybe not for the holidays. 😉
If you haven’t tried butternut squash, no worries, I’ve included everything you need to know to prepare this wonderfully savory dish.
Butternut squash – this recipe is also delicious with delicata squash.
Olive oil – I use olive oil in everything but you can use another neutral cooking oil.
Fresh sage leaves – sage pairs perfectly with butternut squash. But fresh thyme or rosemary also works.
Garlic – I minced it and added it during the last 10 minutes of baking so that it doesn’t burn.
Walnut pieces – pecans would also be nice!
Salt + pepper
How to cook butternut squash
It’s super easy to roast butternut squash:
- Preheat the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add butternut squash, olive oil, sage, salt and pepper and toss to combine.
- Roast for 15 minutes and flip the squash.
- Sprinkle with walnuts and garlic and roast for another 10 minutes.
- In just 30 minutes, you’ve got perfectly baked butternut squash to serve as a side dish, salad topper or even add to pasta.
This dish serves 4-6, but if you’re feeding a crowd, you can certainly double the recipe.
My favorite way to serve this butternut squash is as a side dish for grilled steak or pork chops!
It’s delicious topped with fresh pesto, hot honey or crumbled goat cheese. This butternut squash can also be prepared ahead of time and used as a salad topper!
What does butternut squash taste like?
Butternut squash is shaped with a bottleneck and has bright orange flesh that is slightly sweet with a buttery, nutty flavor. Which is how it gets its name ‘butternut’.
It tastes milder and nuttier than a pumpkin. It can be eaten raw or steamed but roasting it gives it a full-bodied taste with a little bit of crunch.
Nowadays, you can even make Air Fryer Butternut Squash, leaving the oven free for baked goodies! 😉
Do you need to peel the squash when roasting?
Yes, I highly recommend it. Because we are using butternut squash in this recipe, you should peel the squash before you eat it. The same goes for kabocha squash because the texture is not ideal for eating. But that’s not true for all squash.
That being said, it is edible in that you can eat it and for roasting it in the oven, it would soften the skin, so if you don’t feel like peeling it then you can leave it on. But I would really recommend peeling it.
Smaller varieties of squash like acorn and delicata have soft and tender skin, so there’s really no need to peel it unless you’re just dying to. It’s edible and nutritious and saves you time. There’s no need for any adjustments for seasoning, so just follow the same directions if you decide to roast these types of squash.
It can be a pain to peel the skin off butternut squash, but if you want to soften the skin before you peel it, cut off the top and bottom and stab some holes with a fork and nuke it whole for about 3 1/2 minutes. Let it cool a bit, then using a vegetable peeler or knife peel the skin off.
It should make the skin easier and will save you time and frustration.
If you’re more of a visual person, watch this 2-minute video on How to Peel a Butternut Squash. Notice she cuts them into cubes and that’s ok. I just prefer half-moons for this recipe.
How to cut butternut squash:
I love the look and cut of half-moons in this butternut squash recipe. It just adds to the styling of the dish and makes it look fancy.
Make sure that you cut the slices with the same thickness, so they cook evenly.
- To start, you’ll want to peel the squash (as directed above).
- If you didn’t already microwave it to peel it, then cut the top and the bottom of the squash off.
- Take the tip of the knife in one hand and a firm grip at the other end, insert the tip in the middle to cut lengthwise. Don’t put too much weight on it, just rock the blade back and forth and cut it down to the top of the squash.
- Then spin it around, insert the tip of the knife at the start of the last cut and rock it down the bottom end. This should cut two nice halves.
- Take a spoon and scoop out the pulp and the seeds.
- Now put the flat surface of the squash on the cutting board and slice into half-moons.
- Safely cut butternut squash by using your free hand to firmly hold the squash and cut away from your hand.
- Once it is cut lengthwise, put the flat side on the surface on the cutting board to make even slices of squash.
Can you eat the seeds of butternut squash?
Absolutely! Roasted Squash Seeds make a terrific crunchy snack. You can season them how you like, and they’re done in about 15 minutes.
What spices pair well with butternut squash?
I love butternut squash with sage. It pairs well together especially if you are serving it as a side dish for Thanksgiving. I also like to use other fall seasonings like cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and even a touch of maple syrup.
Thyme and rosemary are also terrific with butternut squash.
To get a kick, you can add crushed pepper or cayenne for a totally different flavor profile, mixing the creaminess of the butternut squash and the heat of the pepper.
Butternut squash isn’t just for the holidays! I love to roast it to top off salads throughout the year, so the flavor changes with my moods and the seasons.
Fresh vs dried herbs:
I much prefer using fresh herbs, especially using sage with this butternut squash. But sometimes it just isn’t possible.
If you use flaky dried herbs like sage or oregano, you would need to use 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs to 1 teaspoon of dried herbs.
If all you have is ground herbs instead of flaky dried herbs, the rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of dried leaf herbs to ½ teaspoon of ground dried herbs.
The reason dried herbs are more pungent is the water has evaporated leaving stronger residues of essential oils. So it’s best to be a bit more conservative when using dried herbs over fresh herbs.
How to buy butternut squash:
Buying the best produce at the market can sometimes be tricky. Butternut squash is best in early fall and through the winter, but it’s available year-round.
To get the best squash look for a darker shade of beige, one that feels heavy without bruises, cuts or mold, and one with a fat neck and small bulb for the most meat.
And go for the matte rather than the shiny ones. It should sound hollow with a thump test.
How long does butternut squash last?
Because butternut squash has tough skin, it can last a while when it’s stored properly and get even sweeter. But don’t store unpeeled butternut squash in the fridge! It will end up slimy.
Unpeeled, whole butternut squash will keep for a month if stored in a cool, dark place like a cupboard or pantry. Be sure to remove it from any packaging material.
And don’t store it next to ripened fruit like bananas because it will shorten the shelf life of the squash.
If you peel it ahead of time, raw and cooked squash can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Can you freeze butternut squash?
Yep! Butternut squash is great to buy in season and on sale, and freeze it for later use! In fact, butternut squash can be frozen when it’s raw or after it’s been cooked.
Just peel and place the sliced pieces on a lined baking sheet, leaving a little space in between each piece. Then transfer them in the freezer for a few hours until they are firm and frozen through.
Once frozen, transfer the squash to a freezer bag, squeeze out the air and seal it.
Don’t forget to date the bag, and you’ll have butternut squash to top off your salads throughout the year. If kept frozen, it’ll last for 12 months!
Some like to blanch their veggies before freezing, if you’re interested in this process, check out how to Blanched Broccoli. Just use the same process to blanch squash before freezing it, just skip the shock phase.
The best part is, you don’t even need to thaw the squash before you use it! Yay!
Do I have to use butternut squash with this recipe?
No, you can use acorn or delicata squash, they would work just as well with this recipe.
When you should not eat butternut squash?
If it’s been a while and you look in your pantry and notice the butternut squash, you can do a simple check to make sure it is still good to eat.
Just check the rind. It should be firm with an even color and shouldn’t have squishy rotten spots. If there are only a few spots, you can simply cut them off like you would other veggies.
If the whole thing is covered in rotten spots and there’s too much just to cut out, then you should toss it.
If the squash is leaking, feels hollow or too squishy, it’s best to throw it out.
As they say, when in doubt, throw it out! 😉
Do I have to use walnuts?
Nope! You can use a variety of nuts if you prefer, like pecans or almond slivers.
Or if you’re nut-free, try pine nuts (they’re actually seeds!) roasted with this butternut squash. It would add another level of creamy nuttiness.
Speaking of pine nuts! I love toasting them and adding them to salads and soups. If you’re interested in more, check out How to Toast Pine Nuts from my other blog Texanerin Baking.
I also think adding pomegranate seeds would be a special addition giving it even more of a burst of flavor.
Benefits of butternut squash:
Butternut is a great fall addition to any diet whether you roast, toast, sautee or puree. It’s a great way to add flavor to many cold-weather meals. Plus, it has many benefits to justify adding it to your regular diet.
It’s high in antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. Not only that, but this fall treat is also known to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation.
And with 582mg, it has more potassium than a banana! Adding potassium and reducing sodium can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure.
And yes, butternut squash contains carbohydrates, but with one cup, it only has 82 calories and is packed full of fiber both soluble and insoluble. This helps again with lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Compared to a sweet potato, both of which are good sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Sweet potatoes, though, are about double the calories, carbs and sugar per serving, yet higher in fiber and protein than butternut squash.
So both are actually great to work into your regular diet.
This Thanksgiving, maybe you want to shake things up a bit and skip the sweetened sweet potatoes and the carbs and calories and try this roasted butternut squash instead. 😉
Do I have to roast butternut squash?
No, it’s so versatile you can use a variety of methods to cook butternut squash. Sauteed butternut squash in olive oil makes it slightly caramelized for extra flavor.
To do that just heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add peeled and cut butternut squash to the pan. Stir frequently and once lightly browned in about 15 minutes, salt to taste and you’re ready to serve.
You can even add two cloves of garlic to the oil and garnish with parsley for an extra touch and a bit more flavor.
What to serve with roasted butternut squash?
Since we are nearing the holidays, this butternut squash recipe is ideal, staying with traditional dishes. For an everyday healthy side dish, this Steamed Cauliflower is great! And so easy.
The holidays mean turkey time and this Air Fryer Turkey Breast is exceptional because it takes less than an hour to make. I also have this Instant Pot Turkey Breast which is quick and easy, and both recipes include conventional oven directions. I think this Stove Top Pork Tenderloin would also be great!
This year will be a cozy holiday, so instead of stuffing, I’m opting for this Tuscan-style Panzanella Salad. It’s a bread salad that is tasty and filling.
This Baby Kale Salad with roasted chickpeas and apples also looks fantastic!
If you’re thinking ahead for the holidays, this Air Fryer Ham is so easy and perfect for a smaller crowd. It’s done in less than an hour and pairs well with this butternut squash. If you like glazed hams, try this Maple Glazed Ham. It’s got only 3 ingredients and is done in no time.
These Lemon Butter Green Beans with Almonds add color and deliciousness to any table at any time of year.
And it wouldn’t be complete without dessert! So here is an easy Crustless Pumpkin Pie. 🙂
I hope you enjoy the holidays and this Baked Butternut Squash Recipe! Thank you for following along and as always, I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and tell me what you’re making for the holidays!
Baked Butternut Squash
- 1 large butternut squash peeled and sliced into half-moons about 1/3" thick
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 10 fresh small sage leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup (28 grams) coarsely chopped walnuts
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- Preheat the oven to 425 °F (218 °C). Get out a large baking sheet and grease it a bit with olive oil.
- Add the butternut squash, olive oil, sage leaves, salt and pepper to the baking sheet. Toss to combine.
- Bake for 15 minutes and flip each piece over.
- Sprinkle over the walnuts and garlic. Bake for another 10 minutes.
- Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.