Butternut Squash

butternut squash


The butternut squash provides the most value of any squash, dollar for dollar because it is thin-skinned, has a small cavity with fewer seeds and less waste than with most other squashes. As with other squashes the butternut squash benefits from baking which develops and deepens the flavor.

See recipes for many use suggestions.

Butternut Squash History

Although types of gourds were found in tombs of Egypt the butternut squash and its family members including the pumpkin and the calabaza are new world, native Americans. The butternut is the new kid on the block having made its appearance in 1944 although its lineage dates back .

The butternut squash was domesticated from the early cucurbita moschata squash. These squashes were successful as a food source in Mexico and parts of South America not only because of their many uses but they grew well in warm or cooler climates.  Like the other squashes found in the New World, the natives wasted nothing. Every part of these squashes were used.  The leaves were used to wrap foods for baking or simmering; the flowers could be battered and fried, the seeds can be roasted or eaten raw and the whole squash can be cut up baked.  Even pieces of the squash including the hard shell can be slowly baked with honey to form a dessert still eaten in Guatemala. 1

What To Do With Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is a very versatile food used simply boiled or baked or in soups, souffles, pies and breads. Pan fry slices or add cubed pieces to casseroles or even risotto. The butternut can be used in any recipe that calls for pumpkin.  You can even roast the seeds just like you do pumpkin seeds.  The seeds are high in protein.

  • Cut the squash in half, top each half with butter and brown sugar and oven roast
  • Scoop out the seeds and roast like pumpkin seeds
  • If you grown your own, use the leaves as a wrap (see about mixiotes)

Nutritional Value

Butternut squash is primarily a carbohydrate. This is one of the foods low-carb dieters tend to avoid based on the fact it is a higher starch squash compared to summer squash like zucchini.  That said these squash are very healthy foods, well, until you slather it with butter and brown sugar.   One cup of cubed squash (steamed or baked) is only about 64 calories and about 13 effective carbs.  This squash is also a good source of beta carotene, B vitamins, vitamin C and potassium.

How To Select

Choose firm squash with smooth all-over buff colored skin, a smallish "ball end" and a thick neck. The older large varieties are more flavorful than the newer bred-small versions.

Grown Your Own

Squash are very easy to grow and store very well.  Plant as you would a summer squash (sow 1 inch deep after all danger of frost). Space seeds 4 to 6 feet apart. Harvest it when the plants die back or just before frost. Cut and cure the fruit in a well-ventilated area, then store at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nutrition Information For Butternut Squash

Serving Size
1 cup, cubes
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g
Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 6mg
Total Carbohydrate 16g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 3g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A  0% Vitamin C  0%
Calcium  0% Iron  0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Butternut Squash Substitutes

Similar varieties can be substituted such as buttercup squash, acorn squash, calabaza, delicata, kabocha or hubbard squash.

More Butternut Squash Recipes

Butternut Squash Souffle - Recipe for Butternut Squash Souffle spiced with cinnamon and ginger. The recipe is a nice addition to any holiday meal.

Butternut Squash Soup - Recipe includes squash, chicken broth, onion, pears, thyme, coriander and cream, YUM!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Butter - Delicious butternut squash gnocchi are served with a sauce made with butter, fresh sage leaves, and fresh Parmesan cheese.

Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Risotto - A spicy rissotto made with pumpkin (fresh and pureed) garlic, onion, goat cheese, chicken stock, Parmesan cheese and butter.

Sources & Resources

More About Squash History - History and facts about squash.

Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini - By Elizabeth Schneider

1 America's First Cuisines, Sophie D. Coe.


Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of GourmetSleuth.com she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.