Relax, It's Just Butternut Squash

Learn how to break down a butternut squash with this easy step-by-step guide. No need to buy precut! 

Photo By: Laura Agra

Photo By: Laura Agra

Photo By: Laura Agra

Photo By: Laura Agra

Photo By: Laura Agra

Photo By: Laura Agra

Photo By: Laura Agra

Photo By: Laura Agra

Photo By: Laura Agra

Photo By: Laura Agra

How to Prep Butternut Squash

Preparing butternut squash for your favorite fall dishes may seem like an ordeal if you've never done it before. But really, all it takes is a good sharp knife and some simple sleight of hand. Follow this step-by-step guide to peeling, slicing and cubing fresh butternut squash. (It's much easier to puree for soups once it's cut into 1-inch squares.) With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you'll definitely want to keep this technique in mind.

Get the Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Creme Fraiche

Remove the Skin

Grab a sturdy peeler and start peeling off the skin. The skin is thick, and underneath the top layer you may see a muted tan-orange color with streaks of green. Keep peeling. You want to keep going until you get down to the bright-orange flesh, which usually means a couple of passes with the peeler. You can also use a paring knife.

Slice Crosswise

With a large, heavy knife, on top of a secure cutting board, slice off the top of the squash, then slice the squash in half crosswise, right at the top of the bottom bulging part. 

Cut the Top Part Lengthwise

Take the top cylindrical part and cut the whole thing in half from top to bottom. 

Cut the Bottom Part Lengthwise

Cut the bulbous bottom in half from top to bottom. You will see a cavity filled with seeds in each half. 

Scoop Out the Seeds & Strings

Trim off the bottom stem edge of both bottom halves, and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and any strings (if you’ve ever cleaned out a pumpkin, this will be a familiar task). 

Cut the Top Into Strips

Cut the long, upper halves into 1-inch-thick planks (or to the thickness you desire), then cut those planks into 1-inch-thick strips. 

Then Into Cubes

Cut the strips crosswise so that you create 1-inch square cubes.

Repeat with Bottom Pieces

Cut the bottom halves into 1-inch-thick strips, and then cut those crosswise into 1-inch pieces (the bottom half will not yield such symmetrical cubes, but that’s fully OK).

Ready for Cooking

Now you are ready to cook your squash!  Cut-up squash can be cooked in the oven, or it can be sauteed and finished with some liquid to help it cook through, or it can simply be added to simmering broth and then pureed into soup. The following extremely simple soup recipe employs the oven for roasting, so you get a lovely lightly caramelized exterior, bringing out even more of the natural sweetness of the squash.

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Relax, It's Just Butternut Squash

Don’t be intimidated by breaking down a whole butternut squash! Check out Katie’s foolproof how-to gallery for step-by-step tips.