How To Peel and Cut Butternut Squash {The Mountain Kitchen Tips

How To Peel and Cut Butternut Squash {The Mountain Kitchen Tips

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Do you know how to cut butternut squash?

If you have never cut into one of these things, it can be quite a chore. As with most winter squash, the shape is awkward and butternut squash is very dense.

I remember the first time I decided to make a butternut squash recipe. I had no clue what to do with the thing. How in the world do you cut cubes out of something so curvy?

butternut squash cut on cutting board

I’ll be honest, as delicious as butternut squash are they are absolutely no fun to peel and cut. It’s definitely not something you want to do every day, but it is a lot easier when you learn the best way.

Today I’m sharing a step-by-step guide with you on how to peel and cut into a butternut squash. This is the technique I learned a while back and in my opinion, it works the best.

Not only will this tutorial teach you the best way to cube up butternut squash, but it will teach you about selecting the perfect squash, storing it and the equipment you need to get the job done.

Peeling and cutting your own squash will save you money and knowing how will keep your fingers safe from the blade of the knife!

So let’s get started, shall we?

butternut squash with ends cut off

How To Select A Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is readily available year-round, but they are best in fall through winter. A mature squash can range from 1 to 5 pounds, with an average weight of about 2 to 3 pounds.

In general, look for a squash that is a dark beige color, with a fat neck and a small bulb. This will indicate that the seed cavity is small and there will be more “meat” to work with. Butternut squash should have hard matte skin without any mold, cuts or blemishes. Select one that feels heavy for its size and has a hollow sound when tapped.

How To Store Butternut Squash

You don’t have to eat butternut squash right away. If you find them on sale buy them up and store them until you are ready to use them.

You can store butternut squash in a cool dark place around 55 to 60 degrees F. A basement or closet without sunlight or humidity is ideal. You should be able to store them for about 2 to 3 months.

hand holding up recomended y-peeler

3 Kitchen Essentials Needed

There are 3 essential things needed when cutting into a butternut squash. They are:

#1 Vegetable Peeler

Over time peelers can dull, so I highly recommend getting yourself a good-quality peeler to peel the butternut squash.

I prefer using a Y-Peeler (like this one). In my opinion, a Y-peeler is the best peeler to peel the squash with. I purchased a new one not too long ago and I couldn’t believe how much better it peeled vegetables than my old one.

#2 Very Sharp Chef’s Knife

You need to have a large sharp chef’s knife about 8 to 10 inches in length. It’s important that it be very sharp, as the squash is very dense.

I recently purchased a reasonably priced chef’s knife from Misen. I’ve been very happy with it.

#3 Large Cutting Board

Having a large workspace makes all your kitchen chopping much easier. There’s nothing worse than not having enough cutting room. I highly recommend getting a large 14×17 inch cutting board (like this one) for all your kitchen needs.

peeling butternut squash with y-peeler

How To Peel Butternut Squash

The skin of butternut squash is pretty tough. Peeling it can be difficult, that’s why I recommended a good-quality peeler for you to use. However, there is a little trick you can do to soften up the skin of a butternut squash before peeling… nuke it!

Microwave the Squash

Use a fork or sharp paring knife to poke holes all over the skin of the squash. Then put the squash in the microwave and microwave it on high for about 2 minutes prior to peeling it. This will help soften up the skin and make it a lot easier to peel!

Slice off the Ends of the Squash

The skin should be softened. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut off ½-inch from the bottom of the squash in an even slice. Then cut off ½-inch from the stem end.

Peel the Squash

Lay the squash on a cutting board. Use one hand to secure the squash, and the other hand to peel it. Use downward strokes with the peeler. Peel off all the skin completely. You may have to lift it up to get all of the skin from the squash.

If you don’t like Y-peelers, a swivel peeler will work too. Actually, you don’t even need a peeler, you can slice the skin off with a knife. To do this, cut the squash in half horizontally, then place it cut side down on the cutting board. Slice the skin off vertically. Which is why the next essential is so important…

center cut of squash

How To Cut Butternut Squash

Using the chef’s knife, make one long cut down the middle of the squash from top to bottom.

Sometimes squash can be pretty hard; to help with the cutting you can use a rubber mallet, if you have one, to gently tap on the ends of the knife to help push the knife through the squash.

I’ve been meaning to purchase one, but haven’t. I usually lay a kitchen towel over the knife and tap it firmly with the bottom of my fist.

split squash

You should now have two halves with the seeds and pulp exposed. Use a metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy pulp from the squash cavity. Stop scraping when the strings disappear from the “meat”.

scooping out seeds of squash

Finally, lay the squash halves, cut side down on the cutting board for stability. Working a section at a time, cut the squash into slices, lengthwise, the desired width of your squash pieces.

half squash cut into discs

You will now have half-circle discs. Lay each disc flat and cut the disc into strips to the desired thickness your recipe calls for. Then cut the strips into cubes following the same dimensions.

cutting disc into strips

In conclusion, some recipes call for ½-inch slices or cubes, some for 1-inch or greater.

Most importantly, make sure that the squash cubes are uniform in size. This will allow them to cook evenly and they will all take the same about of time to cook.

cutting the strips into cubes

Butternut Squash Recipes:

Now that you know the best way to cut butternut squash, try it! Here are some recipes from our archive that use butternut squash:

Don’t let the daunting task of peeling and cutting a butternut squash deter you from eating delicious recipes. Roasted, simmered, fried or puréed butternut squash are yummy. Yumminess should win out every time!

I hope this tutorial helps you next time you are in the kitchen wanting to cook butternut squash. If you have an easier way to do this chore, we’d love to hear from you. Comment below!

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The Mountain Kitchen

Hi, my name is Debbie, Author and Photographer at The Mountain Kitchen, a blog that shares delicious homemade recipes using clean food ingredients, and stories about mountain life.
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