Butternut squash is great for so many amazing recipes, especially now that fall and winter are just around the corner. Whether you’re making a rich soup, your own take on mashed potatoes, or a delicious autumn risotto, butternut squash is your veggie. But with its long neck, stout bottom, and incredibly thick skin, this squash can be pretty intimidating when it comes to preparing it. While the natural thing for squash amateurs to do would be to buy the pre-package squash, we would urge you to give it a go yourself! Don’t worry, we have the perfect step-by-step guide from America’s Test Kitchen to help you do just that.

The reason we would have you avoid the pre-cut squash is because of texture and flavor. Pre-packaged butternut squash tends to be dry and doesn’t taste as fresh as one you prep yourself. This will make for lackluster meals, which is the last thing we need in the cold winter months to come.

Chopped butternut squashAmerica's Test Kitchen
Your best bet to getting delicious butternut is to prepare it yourself! No need to feel overwhelmed, all you need to do is follow the simple instructions below to get ready-to-cook squash in no time at all.

All you need to prep your squash for cooking is a sharp kitchen knife, a peeler, and spoon or scoop. It should only take five or ten minutes to prepare your squash correctly.

How To Prepare a Butternut Squash

  1. Start by cutting a slice off the top and bottom of your squash.
  2. Using your peeler, peel off the skin.
  3. Cut the bulb (the round bottom) from the neck (the longer top).
  4. Cut the bulb in half and scoop the seeds out of both halves.
  5. Chop the bulb into pieces to match the recipe you plan on making – see the brief guide below.
  6. Cut the neck into pieces matching the bulb and combine them.

In regards to Step 5, there are two different ways you can cut your butternut squash, and each one is more suited for different butternut squash meals. Naturally, you can chop your squash however you prefer it, but this is a basic rule of thumb:

If you plan on roasting your squash or simmering it for a puree, you’ll want to cut the squash into large, square chunks. If you need smaller pieces for soup or risotto, cut the squash into half moon pieces, and then cut those pieces into smaller squares.

Just like that, you have correctly prepped this hearty winter vegetable! This will be a handy guide as you incorporate this seasonal favorite into various recipes during the chilly months to come. It’s nice to know, even though the season of beach days and tanning is over, that we’re entering a much cozier season – one we hope is filled with large bowls of butternut squash soup!

What do you think of the guide to preparing butternut squash? Do you prepare this veggie in a different way than this tutorial? If so, share your advice in the comments section below.