How to Peel and Cut Butternut Squash Step-by-Step

Surprise, you don’t have to remove butternut squash skin. But if you do want to, we’ve got a trick that makes it way easier.

October 27, 2022

Photo by: Laura Agra

Laura Agra

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.)

Photo by: Laura Agra

Laura Agra

Step 1: 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.

Can You Eat Butternut Squash Skin?

It's important to note that while many people choose to remove butternut squash skin (and this is best practice for soup making, where you want smooth results), you can 100% eat roasted butternut squash skin. Slice butternut squash into crescents and roast it with the skin on. The skin will become tender in the oven and melt in your mouth. So much work avoided.

Microwave Hack for Easier Butternut Squash Peeling

Microwaving the squash will make it much easier to peel. Simply slice off the top and bottom, poke the squash all over with a fork and microwave it on high for about 3 minutes. When it's cool enough to handle, peel the squash. The softened flesh will make peeling (and slicing) way easier.

Photo by: Laura Agra

Laura Agra

Step 2: 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.

Photo by: Laura Agra

Laura Agra

Step 3: Cut the Top Part Lengthwise

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

Photo by: Laura Agra

Laura Agra

Step 4: 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.

Photo by: Laura Agra

Laura Agra

Step 5: 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).

Photo by: Laura Agra

Laura Agra

Step 6: 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.

Photo by: Laura Agra

Laura Agra

Setp 7: Then Cut the Strips Into Cubes

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

Photo by: Laura Agra

Laura Agra

Step 8: Repeat with the 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).

Photo by: Laura Agra

Laura Agra

Step 9: Now You're 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.

Three Ways to Cook Butternut Squash

Learn how to bake, microwave and roast it.

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