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Sep 18, 2013 10:42 AM

Cutting/peeling butternut squash

Hey everyone, I love butternut squash but don't love getting into a form where it's cook-ready. I've tried peeling it before cutting it into chunks but find the squash's distinctive shape makes that difficult. Anybody have any tips for peeling and cutting it up?

Thank you!

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  1. Hi medrite,

    First, make sure your knives are nice and sharp. I lop off the top and bottom of the squash, then usually cut it in half (separating the pear-shaped globe from the top). I peel both sections with a sharp paring knife (you could also use a good veggie peeler), then cut the bulbous section in half vertically to remove the seeds.

    It's actually not bad to prep compared to turnips or other winter squash varieties.

    7 Replies
    1. re: pinehurst

      I cut the squash up as Pinehurst suggests, then use a Y-shaped peeler to easily remove the peel. I'd never tried a Y peeler before but have grown to love it.

      1. re: tcamp

        tcamp, I have never heard of a Y peeler. What are its advantages? Thanks! andrea (pinehurst)

        1. re: pinehurst

          Also called a harp peeler or U peeler. This is the shape if it were lying sideways and the dashes were connected into a handle. The blade is the vertical part of the D: D--- You move it like you would a razor.

          1. re: greygarious

            Great idea -- I have one but it never occurred to me to use it for something like this. That's why I love you guys!

          2. re: pinehurst

            Grey's description is excellent. I find it especially useful for items like the butternut - hard and unwieldy to get a regular peeler in the right position.

            Looks like this:


            1. re: pinehurst

              The top one here is worth seeking out:


              It has been criticised for taking off too much, which is valid for asapragus etc. but is just what is needed for squash (and celeriac, swedes and similar)

            2. re: tcamp

              Thanks so much for this suggestion. I've always used a chef's knife, cutting it as pinehurst describes, then slicing down in strips. This sounds much easier and more efficient (not to mention safer). I just ordered the OXO version from Amazon Prime (I have a half-dozen OXO utensils, they are the BEST!).


          3. Cut the bottom round part off. Use a real sharp industrial type peeler. Go slow and it will peel each section quite easily.

            1. Microwave it on high for 2-3 minutes, depending on size. This softens the exterior enough to make cutting and peeling a lot easier.

              6 Replies
              1. re: greygarious

                Wow, nice tip. My way in the past has been to have DH do it! lol

                We got a number of them this last year and cut them up and froze them in chunks via vacuum sealed bags. Wonderful for soups and risottos, etc.

                1. re: greygarious

                  I've always poked it w/ a knife a few times first because I was told it could explode if I didn't. I don't know if it will but I didn't want to take the chance.

                  1. re: chowser

                    I had a spaghetti squash explode in the microwave - but I was attempting to cook it through, not softening it up. It was very dramatic. ;)

                  2. re: greygarious

                    Best tip EVER. I just did this - 3 mins for a largeish squash. It peeled SO easily - it took me probably half the time it normally does with my U peeler. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!

                    1. re: greygarious

                      I'll add for the microwaveless (like myself) 15 or 20 minutes in a pre-heating oven does the same.

                    2. I use a serrated bread knife. The serrations make it easy to penetrate the skin, and then just some firm pressure on the back of the knife forces the blade through. The same knife pares of the skin easily.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mike0989

                        Thanks everybody, some great ideas here!

                      2. On week nights when I just want something easy, I just cut the stem off, cut it in half lengthwise, and put cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake in a moderate oven about 45 minutes or so. Then it is easy to scoop out the seeds and serve. Or makes it easy to scoop out the flesh and do something else.

                        If I start the squash first, I can prep everything else, and food hits the table in about an hour, which isn't too bad after a long day of work.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: dkenworthy

                          I also prepare the squash this way

                          1. re: jpr54_1

                            Me as well.

                            I'm clumsy. If I tried peeling squash when it's uncooked, I would seriously injure myself.

                          2. re: dkenworthy

                            Yeah, this is incredibly easy and you don't have to fight with peeling it.

                            I do scoop out the seeds first, separate out the gunk, and bake them along with the squash with a bit of salt, as you would do with pumpkin seeds.

                            1. re: dkenworthy

                              I also use the oven method dkenworthy posts.

                              I NEVER peel it. Sometimes I cut it in half and place it cut side down in the microwave (quicker than the conventional oven).

                              My cooking time varies depending on whether I want to scoop out the squash and mash it or cut it into cubes to mix with gnocchi, sage and brown butter.

                              I've also found the frozen squash cubes to be okay.