How-To: Cutting Butternut Squash

Squashes can be intimating to cut, but you’ll have the best tasting meal when using the freshest ingredients. Since it’s peak season for many squashes, and you can find in every shape and size at the store or farmers market now, I thought I’d share my tips for how to safely cut one. Trust me, just try cutting the darn thing instead of buying pre-cut or canned squash because you’ll taste the difference.

First, set up your cutting station:

1. Wet a large dish towel and place it underneath your cutting board to prevent the board from slipping.


2. Make sure your knives are nice and sharp – trust me, this will help your cause.


3. For cutting a squash like this, I’ve found that working at a lower area, like my kitchen table instead of my tall counters, helps me get better leverage on the beast.


4. Grab two bowls—one for your perfectly cut squash and the other for the peel and seeds. This helps keep a clean workspace.


Now that you’ve set up your work area, let’s talk anatomy. For the sake of being totally clear, identify the two parts of the butternut squash: the round ball section, known as the “head,” and the other long “neck” portion. When picking a squash I look for one with a long neck portion because that’s one hundred percent full of meat. It’s easiest to cut the neck portion into neat little squares. On the other hand, the head section is full of guts (sorry) and only some meat.


cutting butternut squash

Cut the squash, separating the neck and head.


cutting butternut squash

Trim the end of the neck so that you’ll have a fresh starting point to get to the meat.


cutting butternut squash

cutting butternut squash

Stand up the neck portion on one of the cut sides and using downward motion, slice the skin off using your knife. Remove all of the skin in this fashion by rotating the squash after each cut.


cutting butternut squash

Once the neck has been completely peeled, cut the head in half.


cutting butternut squash

Peel off the skin in the same way as you did the neck, always moving the knife down and away from your body. It is near halloween but you don’t want blood and gore on your precious squash, do you?


cutting butternut squash

With your work station clear of the peels and seeds,  you’re ready to dice up the meat.


cutting butternut squash

Ok ok, I guess I grabbed three bowls for my work station

Cut the head portions into even strips.


cutting butternut squash

Then turn the strips from the head and cut into the opposite direction.


butternut squash

Divide the neck portion into thirds lengthwise so that you’ll have thinner portions, in order to obtain a better dice.


cutting butternut squash

Cut the neck portions as well into even strips.


cutting butternut squash

cutting butternut squash

Cut the strips in the opposite direction, creating an even dice. Try to keep pieces close to the same size so that they’ll cook evenly in the oven.


cutting butternut squash

Place diced squash into your bowl to keep your space clear.


cutting butternut squash

Spread squash onto baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in 400 degrees oven for about 25 minutes.


cutting butternut squash

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9 thoughts on “How-To: Cutting Butternut Squash”

seriously helpful…love the photos. It might also be interesting sometime when you are demonstrating a cooking technique like this to post it as a video. That could be nice for some of the recipes as well. Thank you.


Thanks for your feedback! I think that’s a good idea — I’ll add more cooking techniques to my video list.


Wow, thanks for this! I love butternut squash, but I’ve always been too intimidated to try cutting a fresh one myself. You make it look easy! More techniques please!! 🙂

Thank you so much for this awesome tutorial Valerie! You successfully helped me make Elle’s first taste of food using organic, local butternut squash! This post came at the perfect time! You are right, those things are beasts!!

Now I find this. Thanks. Had one heck of a time the first time without this info. . Now I know how to do it.

I had a recipe which called for cooked squash. Your post was most helpful!! You method of communication was lovely …. read a few lines, and then see a photo to back it up. Made everything clear and easy to follow. Great job, Valerie!! Most appreciated.

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