Since I spend about 75% of my waking hours in leggings (85% if you count their close relatives jeggings and yoga pants), every now and then I appreciate the opportunity to get a little fancy. Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to be strutting about in a ballgown anytime soon (unless you are throwing a ball and looking for an extra guest?), but every now and then, I do enjoy adding a little sparkle to my routine. The same can be said for recipes. Today’s Roasted Butternut Squash takes an easy weeknight side—roasted butternut squash cubes—and transforms it into a dish that’s worthy of a special occasion, be it a holiday table or dinner at home with someone you love. Cubes of butternut squash roasted with maple syrup and cinnamon until caramelized and tender, then tossed with fresh rosemary, it’s elegant to eat and easy to prepare. My kind of side!
We eat roasted vegetables several nights a week at home, and my default method to cook them is olive oil, salt, and pepper. 400 degrees F. 20(ish) minutes. Done and done.
It’s standard. It’s effective. It doesn’t require much effort.
Basically, it’s the yoga pants of roasted vegetable recipes.
But what about those meals when you need something a little special? When your friends and family are gathered for a festive occasion? When yoga pants simply will not do?
Roasted butternut squash to the rescue!
About this Roasted Butternut Squash Recipe
This roasted butternut squash recipe is ballgown-worthy flavor for yoga pants level of effort. It starts like any other roasted vegetable recipe—olive oil, salt, and pepper—but the simple additions of cinnamon, maple syrup, and fresh rosemary elevate it and give it a festive flair that you’ll be proud to share at the table.
Whether you are looking for a simple side to bring to Thanksgiving dinner, or if you want to shake up your weeknight roasted vegetable routine, this roasted butternut squash hits the spot.
I made this recipe the first time for my book club, and we enjoyed it so much that I’ve made it a few extra times for Ben and myself since. As much as I love my roasted veggie trio of olive oil, salt, and pepper, it has been refreshing to have some variety in our routine.
One final note: the cinnamon is bold in this recipe. You can absolutely taste the it, so if you are looking for the cinnamon flavor to be more subtle, I’d recommend reducing the amount to ½ teaspoon.
If, on the other hand, you are like me, see the word cinnamon, and think “GIVE ME ALL OF IT PLEASE!” this roasted butternut squash will be the perfect level of spice for you.
Why Roast Butternut Squash
I have three excellent reasons why I come back to making roasted butternut squash again and again.
- Butternut squash tastes absolutely delicious when roasted. It’s tender, caramelized, and you’ll catch yourself nibbling cubes of it straight off of the pan with alarming speed. (I feel the same way about this Roasted Frozen Broccoli.)
- Butternut squash is ultra good for you (more on that below).
- Roasted butternut squash is E-A-S-Y to make. The only tricky part is cutting it, and as you’ll see when you read the steps below, it’s actually not nearly as complicated as it seems.
Is Butternut Squash Healthy?
- YES! Like most vegetables, butternut squash is low in calories and high in vitamins and nutrients.
- Butternut squash is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium.
- The antioxidants in butternut squash can even aid in fighting off diseases.
How to Cut Butternut Squash for Roasting
If you find it intimidating to cut a butternut squash, you are not alone! However, don’t let its odd shape and hard surface stop you from cooking it. If you have a few basic tools (all of which I am betting are in your utensil drawer right now), you’ll find that it’s much easier than it seems.
I’ve tried a myriad of different ways to prepare and peel butternut squash from microwaving it, to roasting it part way, to cutting it in various patterns, and you know what? The vegetable peeler method is the easiest way to peel butternut squash. Here’s how to do it.
- Pick your squash. I find ones that have a longer “neck” are easier to peel. That said, no matter what shape your butternut squash is, this method works.
- Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut off both the top and bottom of the butternut squash, about ¼ of an inch from the end (this helps stabilize the squash while you peel and cut). I also like to use a nonslip cutting board like this, which is very sturdy.
- With a vegetable peeler (either a basic one like this or a Y-peeler like this), peel off the outer layer of the butternut squash. This is the squash’s skin. Depending upon your squash and how much pressure you apply, you may notice a thin, lighter layer of flesh immediately underneath the peel that surrounds the darker yellow flesh below. I always leave this lighter portion if it happens to stick. Once the squash is roasted, you can’t taste it.
- With the same sharp chef’s knife, cut the squash crosswise where the neck of the squash meets the rounder, base end so that you have two round pieces, once that’s a cylinder (the neck) and one that’s more of a ball (the base). Stand each of the pieces upright on your cutting board and make a cut down the middle from top to bottom. You’ll now have 4 pieces.
- Once cut, use a spoon or ice cream scoop to remove the seeds and stringy parts from the inside the base of the squash.
- Lay your halves cut side down, and cut each half into 1-inch wide slices. Then, cut your slices crosswise in 1-inch wide cuts. (You should end up 1-inch cubes.) You can adjust the width of the cuts as needed to suit your recipe. For example, if your recipe calls for ½-inch cubes, cut the pieces ½ inch-wide instead. Not all of the pieces will be a perfect square (the base end ones are especially odd). This is just fine. They will all taste delicious.
- Look at your beautiful cubes and enjoy your squash victory!
You may be wondering: Can you eat the skin of a roasted butternut squash? The short answer is yes. However, while it is safe to eat the skin, the texture is not as ideal. If you have successfully tried roasted butternut squash with skin, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
How to Make Roasted Butternut Squash
- Butternut Squash. This sweet, nutty, and unbelievably tasty vegetable shines when roasted to caramelized perfection.
- Olive Oil. For scrumptious roasted flavor and to ensure the squash caramelizes. Don’t skimp here; if you do, the squash may burn or turn out dry.
- Maple Syrup. A little maple syrup adds a delightful sweetness to the squash.
- Cinnamon. Roasted butternut squash with cinnamon is fall flavor at its finest. I love strong cinnamon flavor in my squash, but if you prefer a less strong cinnamon flavor, I recommend decreasing the amount in the recipe to ½ teaspoon.
- Rosemary. You may be tempted to use dried rosemary but fresh rosemary is key to achieving the best flavor. This recipe is very few ingredients, so each of them counts.
- Use nonstick spray to coat two baking sheets. Grab a large bowl and add your squash cubes. Add the olive oil, maple syrup, and spices to the bowl. Toss until the squash is coated in all the delicious flavors.
- Divide the squash between the baking sheets and discard any excess liquid from the bottom of the bowl. Make sure the squash is spread into a single layer on the baking sheets and not overly crowded. This will ensure the air can circulate in the oven and the squash roasts properly. If you crowd the squash on the pan, it will steam and not develop the caramelization we’re after.
- Place your baking sheets in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F. After 15 minutes, remove the pans, turn the squash with a spatula, and return to the oven.
- Bake until the squash is tender (about 10 to 15 additional minutes). Remove from the oven, and scatter fresh rosemary over the top. Serve warm and ENJOY!
How to Store, Freeze, and Reheat Roasted Butternut Squash
- To Make Ahead. Squash can be cubed 1 day in advance. Store cubes in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
- To Store. Store leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Reheat gently over low heat in a skillet on the stovetop, in the oven at 350 degrees F, or in the microwave until warmed through. The oven and stovetop will give you the best consistency.
- To Freeze. Lay cooked butternut cubes in a single layer on baking sheets, and place in the freezer until frozen solid. Place frozen cubes in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator the night before reheating. The cubes will become noticeably softer and not have as desirable of a texture if frozen, but it is certainly an option.
What to Serve with Roasted Butternut Squash
- Pork. These Crock Pot Pork Chops would be excellent paired with roasted butternut squash.
- Chicken. Serve your butternut squash with one of these other fall-flavored chicken recipes: Rosemary Chicken Thighs with Apples or Maple Dijon Chicken and Vegetables.
- Pasta. Round out your favorite pasta recipes from Baked Turkey Meatballs to Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff with this healthy vegetable side.
- Roasted butternut squash is also delicious with any holiday main: roast chicken, roast turkey, ham, prime rib; whatever your family loves!
More Easy, Healthy Butternut Squash Side Dish Recipes
Recommended Tools to Make Roasted Butternut Squash
- All-purpose baking sheet. Perfect for roasting any and all veggies.
- Vegetable peeler. The easiest way I’ve found to peel butternut squash.
- Cutting board. My new favorite with TONS of space! This no-slip cutting board is phenomenal as well.
- Sharp Chef’s Knife. Indispensable, a worthy investment, and a tool that will cook beside you for years and years.
Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash
- 1 large butternut squash about 3 pounds, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt no not sure table salt, or the recipe will be too salty (or reduce the amount and add a bit at the end as needed)
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Generously coat two baking sheets with nonstick spray.
- Place the squash cubes in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and maple syrup, then sprinkle the salt, cinnamon, and pepper over the top. Toss to coat, then divide between the two baking sheets, discarding any excess liquid with that collects at the bottom of the bowl. Spread the cubes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets, taking care that they do not overlap.
- Place the pans in the upper and lower thirds of your oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven, turn the cubes with a spatula, then return to the oven, switching the pans’ positions on the upper and lower racks. Continue baking until the squash is tender, about 10 to 15 additional minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the rosemary over the top. Serve warm.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: Squash can be diced 1 day in advance. Store cubes in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
- TO STORE: Store leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat gently over low heat in a skillet on the stovetop, in the oven at 350 degrees F, or in the microwave until warmed through. Between these three options, the oven or skillet will give you the best consistency.
- TO FREEZE: Lay cooked butternut in a single layer on baking sheets, and place in the freezer until frozen. Place frozen squash in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator the night before reheating. Note that when frozen, roasted vegetables will become somewhat more mushy (but they are certainly safe to eat and we don't mind a little mush for the convenience!).
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Health benefits of butternut squash mentioned in this article were sourced from Healthline and are meant to be for general information, not any kind of specific medical advice. For specific dietary needs, I always recommend contacting your doctor or seeking professional advice.