Despite what logic and life experience might tell us, sometimes you really can have it all, and that time is this Mashed Butternut Squash Recipe.
Why You’ll Love This Easy Mashed Butternut Squash Recipe
- No Peeling Required. 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. With mashed butternut squash, you don’t have to peel the squash at all! Simply cut the squash in half and roast it in the oven.
- Worthy of a Holiday Feast. Like my Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes, this dish is just as comfortable featured on a holiday table as it is served for a casual Tuesday night dinner. It looks elegant, tastes fantastic with holiday mains (like Thanksgiving Turkey or Crockpot Ham), and can be prepped in advance. The leftovers are delicious too (a holiday priority)!
- Easy to Customize. As with my Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes, this low-carb recipe can be adapted to match your meal and tastes. 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!).
How to Make a Mashed Butternut Squash Recipe
- 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.
- Maple Syrup. 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 its nutty flavor.
For even more ideas on 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.
- Prep Your Squash. Halve and remove the seeds (no need to peel). Lay the halves cut-side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake. Brush the squash with olive oil and maple syrup, then sprinkle with seasoning. Bake butternut squash at 350 degrees F for 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Mash. Stir in the milk, Parmesan (or nutritional yeast if you’d like it vegan), and remaining seasonings. Mash the butternut squash to your desired consistency. ENJOY!
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 the 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.
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. It also pairs nicely with a classic Baked Chicken Breast.
- Vegetables. For a vegetarian meal, try this mashed butternut squash with Grilled Portobello Mushrooms or Grilled Cauliflower Steaks.
- 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.
Meal Prep Tip
Cut the squash in half, and store it in the refrigerator 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.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Use Pre-Cut Squash. To make prep even easier and quicker, purchase pre-cut butternut squash from your grocery store.
- Fresh Cheese, Please. Skip the green can for this recipe. Since this recipe uses so few ingredients, the quality of your Parmesan will matter. If you’re using it, opt for freshly grated Parmesan cheese for the most delicious flavor.
- Make It Your Own. This recipe is begging to be customized! Don’t need this recipe to be dairy free? Swap the olive oil for butter for an even richer flavor. Love sweet flavors? Toss in some extra maple syrup.
Mashed Butternut Squash Recipe
- 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°F. For easy cleanup, 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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Frequently Asked Questions
Cutting a butternut squash can seem like a chore, but use these tips to make it simple!
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Regardless of what method you use to cut the butternut squash, I recommend using a non-slip cutting board to ensure safety and stability.
Yes! 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).
– For Steamed Butternut Squash. 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.
– For Boiled Butternut Squash. 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.