How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash (without Losing a Limb!)

Years ago, I remember Martha Stewart tweeting something like, “ask me anything about winter squash!” And because, at that very moment, I had a giant and intimidating butternut squash staring me down from its perch on the kitchen counter, I shot back, “Well … how do I get the PEEL off the thing?!”

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash (without losing a limb!) - 1. Peel with vegetable peeler 2. Cut off the top and bottom 3. Set solidly on bottom and cut in half down the middle 4. Scoop out seeds 5. Cut into slices 6. Cut into spears 7. Cut spears into cubes

If she read my question, I’m thinking she probably rolled her eyes. I didn’t get an answer, I do know that. But at some point shortly thereafter, I realized you could use a carrot peeler (very carefully) to do the job. Between that and a large, very sharp, heavy-duty chef’s knife, peeling and cutting up a butternut squash is actually a fairly easy task. Here’s how to do it!

Select Your Squash

Choose a firm squash that is heavy for its size, with few blemishes, a firmly intact stem, and no soft spots.

Peel the Squash

Grab a large cutting board, a vegetable peeler, and a heavy-duty, sharp chef’s knife.

Set the butternut squash firmly on the cutting board and, using the carrot/vegetable peeler, peel off bits from top to bottom. I start with the upper part of the squash and the bottom flat on the board, then tilt the squash to carefully peel the bits of peel off of the curved bottom bulbous part.

Leave some of the skin on the top and the bottom – that, along with the stem, will help you keep your grip as you get more and more peel off of that slippery, hefty sucker.

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash (without losing a limb!) - 1. Peel with vegetable peeler 2. Cut off the top and bottom 3. Set solidly on bottom and cut in half down the middle 4. Scoop out seeds 5. Cut into slices 6. Cut into spears 7. Cut spears into cubes

I have kind of a crappy old vegetable peeler, and even that works fine.

Carefully peel, peel, peel, until all the peel is gone.

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash (without losing a limb!) - 1. Peel with vegetable peeler 2. Cut off the top and bottom 3. Set solidly on bottom and cut in half down the middle 4. Scoop out seeds 5. Cut into slices 6. Cut into spears 7. Cut spears into cubes

Excellent! See, Martha? That’s all you had to tell me!

Cut the Squash

Now lay the squash on its side and grip it firmly (but far away from the knife). Lop off the top and the bottom.

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash (without losing a limb!) - 1. Peel with vegetable peeler 2. Cut off the top and bottom 3. Set solidly on bottom and cut in half down the middle 4. Scoop out seeds 5. Cut into slices 6. Cut into spears 7. Cut spears into cubes

And then place the bottom cut end on the cutting board so it’s got nice solid footing, and cut it in half. You will probably need to press on the back of the knife with the heel of your hand. Slowly, slowly rock and press the knife like a teeter totter to make your way through it until … voila! Two halves.

If you have an especially large and unwieldy squash, you can cut it in half the other direction too, separating the neck and the body, so that you have four pieces to work with (a clever badger shows you more about that in this awesome tutorial).

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash (without losing a limb!) - 1. Peel with vegetable peeler 2. Cut off the top and bottom 3. Set solidly on bottom and cut in half down the middle 4. Scoop out seeds 5. Cut into slices 6. Cut into spears 7. Cut spears into cubes

Scoop out the seeds and innards with a spoon and discard.

Cut each half into slices.

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash (without losing a limb!) - 1. Peel with vegetable peeler 2. Cut off the top and bottom 3. Set solidly on bottom and cut in half down the middle 4. Scoop out seeds 5. Cut into slices 6. Cut into spears 7. Cut spears into cubes

And then cut each slice into spears.

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash (without losing a limb!) - 1. Peel with vegetable peeler 2. Cut off the top and bottom 3. Set solidly on bottom and cut in half down the middle 4. Scoop out seeds 5. Cut into slices 6. Cut into spears 7. Cut spears into cubes

And then rotate the spears 45 degrees and, a few at a time, cut the spears into cubes. I like about 3/4-inch cubes for roasting.

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash (without losing a limb!) - 1. Peel with vegetable peeler 2. Cut off the top and bottom 3. Set solidly on bottom and cut in half down the middle 4. Scoop out seeds 5. Cut into slices 6. Cut into spears 7. Cut spears into cubes

That’s it! Nice work! You’ve gone from this …

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash (without losing a limb!) - 1. Peel with vegetable peeler 2. Cut off the top and bottom 3. Set solidly on bottom and cut in half down the middle 4. Scoop out seeds 5. Cut into slices 6. Cut into spears 7. Cut spears into cubes
to this:

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash (without losing a limb!) - 1. Peel with vegetable peeler 2. Cut off the top and bottom 3. Set solidly on bottom and cut in half down the middle 4. Scoop out seeds 5. Cut into slices 6. Cut into spears 7. Cut spears into cubes

And you still have ALL your limbs!

Note: I really can’t guarantee that you’ll keep all of your limbs during this process, but I do believe the odds are in your favor.

Now that you’ve tamed the butternut squash, you can make yummy things like this:

Or just toss it with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and some salt and pepper, spread it in a single layer on cookie sheets, and roast in a 400-degree oven, stirring occasionally, until tender with golden brown bits here and there – about 45 minutes or so.

Or freeze for later.

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash (without losing a limb!) - 1. Peel with vegetable peeler 2. Cut off the top and bottom 3. Set solidly on bottom and cut in half down the middle 4. Scoop out seeds 5. Cut into slices 6. Cut into spears 7. Cut spears into cubes

Dangerously delicious.

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How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash

It’s possible to do so without losing any limbs, I promise!

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash

Directions:

 

  1. Set the butternut squash firmly on a cutting board and, using a vegetable peeler, peel off bits from top to bottom. I start with the upper part of the squash and the bottom flat on the board, then tilt the squash to carefully peel the bits of peel off of the curved bottom bulbous part. Leave some of the skin on the top and the bottom – that, along with the stem, will help you keep your grip on the slippery squash.
  2. Lay the squash on its side and grip it firmly (but far away from the knife). Lop off the top and the bottom. This gives you a flat surface that will help you keep the squash stable as you proceed.
  3. Place the bottom cut end on the cutting board so it’s got nice solid footing, and cut the squash down the middle. You will probably need to press on the back of the knife with the heel of your hand. Slowly, slowly rock and press the knife like a teeter totter to make your way through it until … voila! Two halves. (If you have an especially large and unwieldy squash, you can cut it in half the other direction too, separating the neck and the body, so that you have four pieces to work with.)
  4. Scoop out the seeds and innards with a spoon and discard.
  5. Cut each half into slices. Cut the slices into spears. And then, a few at a time, cut the spears into cubes. I like about 3/4-inch cubes for roasting. That’s it, you’re done, and you still have all of your fingers!

 

All images and text © for Kitchen Treaty.

How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash (without losing a limb!) - 1. Peel with vegetable peeler 2. Cut off the top and bottom 3. Set solidly on bottom and cut in half down the middle 4. Scoop out seeds 5. Cut into slices 6. Cut into spears 7. Cut spears into cubes

Karen Raye

Kare is a vegetarian home cook living among carnivores. She loves creating irresistible and flexible recipes that help multi-vore families like hers keep the peace - deliciously.