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Got a winter squash recipe to make? Here’s how cut butternut squash and prep it to use in any recipe with relative ease. Includes a video tutorial.

bowl of cubed butternut squash
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Why this method works

Sure, you can buy butternut squash pre-cubed in the supermarket. There’s nothing really wrong with that approach. But knowing how to break down a whole squash opens up worlds of self-sufficiency, cost-efficiency, freshness, and flexibility that simply aren’t possible without that knowledge. And, of course, avoiding packaging is a little gift to the environment.

Our method works by:

  • Creating flat surfaces to maximize safety and ease of chopping
  • Separating the squash into sections for seeding
  • Leaving you with maximum flexibility on size and shape of the final pieces

You can use this method for quite a few other varieties of winter squash as well.

How to do it

Here are the steps you’ll take to prep a butternut squash. Depending on what the recipe calls for, you can stop at any point in the process. See all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post.

1. Remove the ends

removing stem end

Cut off a thin slice from the stem end and the root end. This both trims off the inedible parts and creates two flat surfaces to work with.

2. Peel

peeling butternut squash

Depending on the size of the squash and your preferences, you can rest the squash on one of the flat surfaces while you peel or hold it in your hands. Be sure to remove all of the tan-colored peel. Under that you’ll likely find some green striations on the flesh. You can choose whether to peel them away or leave them.

3. Separate top from bottom

cutting squash across the beltline

Just to make the squash easier to handle and easier to cut evenly, you can separate the top (or neck portion) of the squash from the bottom portion, which contains the seeds.

4. Halve bottom and scoop out seeds

scooping out seeds

You can use a regular spoon to scoop out the seeds. I tend to reach for a regular tablespoon/soup spoon from our set that has the thinnest edges. You could also use a grapefruit spoon. Be sure to remove not just the seeds, but also as much of the stringy pulp as you can — ideally all of it.

5. Cut sections into slices

slicing butternut squash into rounds

This will look a little different for the neck portion and the lower portion, but lay each section on its flattest surface and cut it into slices of whatever thickness your recipe calls for. (I default to a nice small 1/2-inch dice for most purposes, which means you’d use 1/2-inch thick slices.)

In the example here, I chose to cut off one vertical slice of the neck portion and then rest the neck on that long, flat surface to slice the remainder of that piece. You can use that technique or make all your slices vertical, whichever feels more comfortable.

6. Cut slices into batons

cutting squash into batons

Let’s not mince words: baton is the French word for stick. In this step, you’ll cut your slices into nice, even sticks. Evenness in cutting ensures evenness in cooking. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but keeping pieces approximately the same size goes a long way.

7. Cut batons into dice

cubing butternut squash

Finally, you’ll rotate those sticks 90 degrees and cut across them to dice (cut into small cubes). That’s it! Your butternut squash is ready to use.

Our favorite winter squash recipes

Now that you know how to cut butternut squash, here are some of our favorite ways to use it and other varieties of winter squash:

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bowl of diced butternut squash
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5 from 1 vote

How to Prep Butternut Squash for Recipes

Here's how to peel, cut, seed, and chop a butternut squash for a recipe. You can use a similar technique on many other winter squash varieties. Includes step-by-step photos and a video tutorial.
Active Time15 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: Everyday Easy
Keyword: how to cut butternut squash, how to prep butternut squash
Yield: 1
Author: Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Cost: $0

Equipment

  • 1 chef’s knife
  • 1 cutting board

Materials

  • 1 whole butternut squash

Instructions

  • Remove the stem and root ends.
    removing stem end
  • Peel the squash.
    peeling butternut squash
  • Separate the top/neck section from the bottom.
    cutting squash across the beltline
  • Halve the bottom. section lengthwise.
    showing seeds
  • Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp.
    scooping out seeds
  • Cut sections into slices.
    slicing butternut squash into rounds
  • Cut slices into batons (sticks).
    cutting squash into batons
  • Cut batons into dice.
    dicing squash

Notes

You can use this basic method for quite a few other varieties of winter squash as well.

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

Hungry for More?
Subscribe to Umami Girl's email updates, and follow along on Instagram.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

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Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

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