Despite what logic and life experience might tell us, sometimes you really can have it all, and that time is Mashed Butternut Squash.
This easy side dish recipe has all the best parts of our friend the butternut—the subtle, earthy sweetness, the stellar health benefits, and the bang-for-your-buck grocery budget prowess—and none of its most salient negative feature: peeling it.
As much as I adore butternut squash—when it’s in season, I all but turn orange from overconsumption—every time I go to cook it, I have a moment of pause. Do I really need/want to peel this butternut squash right now?
With mashed butternut squash, you don’t have to peel the squash at all!
Instead, you simply cut the squash in half (which can admittedly be a bit of an extreme sport; get yourself a good knife and a non-slip cutting board, pay attention, and you’ll be just fine; see below for more tips), then roast it in the oven.
Once the butternut squash is soft and tender (about an hour or so depending upon its size; use this time to cook the main event, call your grandma, and/or fix a cocktail), you scoop out the seeds, add a few seasonings, then mash away. Side dish, DONE.
In a bigger hurry? I included steps to make this recipe using steamed butternut squash instead of roasted below. It finishes up more quickly, but I do think the additional level of flavor the roasting imparts is worth the wait. Heads up: if you want to steam the butternut squash, you will need to peel it first.
This recipe yields a generous portion, and you’ll be glad. This roasted mashed butternut squash stores and reheats well, and it tastes great leftover too!
How to Make Mashed Butternut Squash
Flavor-profile wise, I opted to make this a savory mashed butternut squash recipe. If you or your family prefers it on the sweeter side, you can easily adjust the recipe (also be sure to check out this Roasted Butternut Squash with maple and cinnamon; it’s a touch sweeter and delicious!).
- Butternut Squash. Once roasted, the butternut squash will become tender, soft, and buttery. This delightfully nutty and sweet veggie is packed with Vitamin-A, Vitamin-C, magnesium, and potassium. Butternut squash is also a low calorie food. Just 1 cup of mashed butternut squash without any mix-ins is about 90 calories.
- Olive Oil. Here, it’s used both for roasting the squash so that it caramelizes in the oven and for stirring into the mashed butternut squash at the end; you need a bit of fat to make the recipe satisfying. As written, this is a vegan mashed butternut squash recipe, but if keeping it dairy free is not a priority for you, you can swap the olive oil for butter for an even richer flavor.
- Maple Syrup. A touch helps the squash caramelize; other than the sweetness that’s natural to the flavor of the squash itself, this recipe is more savory than sweet. If you’d like it sweeter, stir in additional syrup to taste.
- Nutmeg. A lovely pairing with butternut squash; use freshly grated for the best flavor.
- Cayenne. Optional if you like your naturally sweet with a little heat.
- Almond Milk or Milk of Choice. For a more indulgent option, use half and half or to keep the recipe vegan, full-fat coconut milk.
- Parmesan or Nutritional Yeast. Both ingredients will provide luscious cheesy, salty notes to the mashed squash. Nutritional yeast works well in place of Parmesan because of it’s nutty flavor. For even more ideas of how to use this versatile ingredient, check out all my nutritional yeast recipes.
- Fresh Parsley. It livens up the whole recipe and is really worth it.
For Roasted Butternut Squash (Recommended Method)
- Halve and remove the seeds from your squash (no need to peel). Lay the halves cut-side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Brush the squash with olive oil and maple syrup, then sprinkle with seasoning. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour 15 minutes, until tender. Let cool.
- Scoop the flesh to a mixing bowl. Add the milk, Parmesan (or nutritional yeast if you’d like it vegan), and remaining seasonings. Mash the butternut squash to your desired consistency. ENJOY!
For Steamed or Boiled Mashed Butternut Squash (Faster but Less Flavorful Method)
- If you’d like to steam or boil the squash instead of baking it, peel and halve it first. Remove the seeds and stringy flesh, then cut it into 3/4-inch cubes (see this post for more tips on peeling and cutting).
- To Steam. Add about 1 inch of water to a saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Bring to a boil, then add the squash cubes to the steamer basket. Cover and steam for about 15 minutes, until the squash is tender. Place the cubes in the mixing bowl with the other ingredients, and mash as directed.
- To Boil. Fill a Dutch oven halfway with water, and bring to a boil on the stove. Add the squash cubes, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the squash is fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, then add the boiled squash to the mixing bowl, and finish the recipe as directed.
**I do not recommend making mashed butternut squash using the microwave. This method can make the squash gummy, and it is difficult to cook it evenly; the stovetop (via steaming or boiling) or oven are your best bets.
Tips to Cut Butternut Squash
- Using a very sharp knife, cut the ends off of the squash (about 1/4 of an inch from the top and bottom) prior to cutting. Removing the ends helps stabilize the squash and keeps it from being wobbly while you cut.
- If you’re having difficulty cutting it, prick the squash skin all over with a fork. Then, gently microwave the squash for about 3 minutes, which will soften the skin and make it easier to cut. Be sure to score the squash flesh if you want to microwave it so that steam can escape.
- Regardless of what method you use to cut the butternut squash, I recommend using a non-slip cutting board to ensure safety and stability.
What to Serve with Butternut Squash
- Pork. Serving Crock Pot Pork Chops or a grilled pork tenderloin would be a delicious pairing.
- Chicken. Mashed squash would go well with a savory main like Rosemary Chicken Thighs with Apples and Brussels Sprouts, or channel holiday vibes with this Cranberry Chicken.
- Vegetables. For a vegetarian meal, try this mashed butternut squash with Grilled Portobello Mushrooms or Grilled Cauliflower Steaks.
More Ways to Use Mashed Butternut Squash
We enjoy this recipe most often as a healthy side with the dishes suggested above, but that’s certainly not the only possibility. Here are a few tasty ideas for what to do with mashed butternut squash.
- Mashed Butternut Squash Soup. Prepare the mashed butternut squash as directed. Add the mashed squash and 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth to a Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and adjust liquid as needed to reach your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper, and add additional Parmesan cheese to taste. Once the soup is hot, ladle it into bowls and add desired toppings. (If you love butternut squash soup, don’t miss my Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup or this Butternut Squash Apple Soup with Sage Parmesan Croutons.)
- Mashed Butternut Squash Casserole. For a healthy, flavorful twist/mashup of chicken pot pie and shepherd’s pie, use this mashed butternut squash instead of biscuits on top of this Chicken and Biscuits recipe.
- Mashed Butternut Squash Dip. Prepare the mashed butternut squash as directed (adding the Parmesan), then transfer it to a small, lightly oiled baking dish. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over the top and bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes. Turn the oven to broil for 2 minutes, until just browned on top. Serve with baguette slices or crackers.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- To Make Ahead. Cut the squash in half, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day in advance. You can also cut, roast, and scoop out the squash ahead of time. Store the roasted squash in the refrigerator up to 1 day in advance, then finish the recipe as directed.
- To Store. Place leftover mashed butternut squash in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm the mashed squash in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium-low heat, adding a splash of milk as needed for moisture. You can also rewarm this recipe in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Store butternut squash in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
More Butternut Squash Recipes to Love
- Butternut Squash Pasta with Sausage and Kale
- Skillet Lasagna with Basil, Italian Sausage, and Butternut Squash
- Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
- Easy Roasted Butternut Squash Parmesan
- One Pan Italian Sausage Butternut Squash Gnocchi
- Vegetarian Enchiladas with Butternut Squash and Black Beans
- Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash
- Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Kale
If you share my affinity for mashed orange veggies, don’t miss these Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes.
And as always, if you try this recipe, please leave a comment below to let me know how it goes. Your positive comments and star ratings help others and are super meaningful to me too!
Mashed Butternut Squash
- 1 large butternut squash about 3 to 4 pounds
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup plus additional to taste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided, plus additional to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper divided, plus additional to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg freshly grated if possible
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 1/4 cup almond milk or milk of choice use half and half or full-fat coconut milk for a richer flavor
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast optional but very good
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. For easy clean up, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Wash and dry the squash. Trim off the top and bottom ends, then carefully slice it in half lengthwise. (No need to peel it.) Scoop out the seeds. Place it cut-side up on the prepared baking sheet.
- Brush the cut sides of the squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the maple syrup. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or longer depending upon the size of your squash, until very tender and the squash pierces easily with a fork. Let rest until cool enough to handle.
- Carefully scoop out the flesh and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, milk, Parmesan, parsley, and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mash the butternut squash, either by hand with a potato mixer, or with an electric hand mixer on low speed, or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer on low speed, until it is as smooth as you like (we leave ours a bit chunky). Taste and adjust the seasoning as you like. Enjoy hot.
- TO STORE: Place leftover mashed butternut squash in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm the mashed squash in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium-low heat, adding a splash of milk as needed for moisture. You can also rewarm this recipe in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Store butternut squash in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: Cut the squash in half, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day in advance. You can also cut, roast, and scoop out the squash ahead of time. Store the roasted squash in the refrigerator up to 1 day in advance, then finish the recipe as directed.
- TO MAKE WITH STEAMED OR BOILED BUTTERNUT SQUASH: To make this recipe with steamed or boiled butternut squash instead of roasted, see blog post above for tips.
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