How to peel and seed a butternut squash

by admin on November 16, 2007 · 11 comments

Here’s how we peel and seed a butternut squash.

A dozen people wrote in to challenge our claim (in yesterday’s root source) that there is no easier way to do this. To which we say: you’re right.

If you’re making a soup or purée or some other dish that doesn’t require the squash to hold it shape, then you can halve the squash, roast it and then scoop out the flesh once it’s cooked.

If you do need a clean chop or dice in the finished dish, you can still do yourself a favor by blanching the squash for several minutes or following the method used by commenter Melanie: “Poke it with a knife in a bunch of places, microwave it for 3 minutes, leave it to cool, and it peels very very easily.”

Whether you go with one of these methods or with our hack-with-a-paring-knife technique depends on whether you’re looking to save time or energy. If you don’t feel like a workout, try heating the squash first. If you need to get the show on the road, go with our faster (but more strenuous) technique.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in. Please keep the comments coming. And if you have a root source request, please let us know. We’ve got reader requested root sources coming up on sambal oelek and rabbit!

Recipe: For Butternut Squash And Banana Purée you don’t really have to worry about the squash holding its shape.
Recipe: But for Butternut Squash Tempura, you do.
Reference: How to peel and seed a butternut squash

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca November 16, 2007 at 5:47 pm

Maybe I’ve had my head in the sand for awhile, but I just discovered butternut squash about 2 weeks ago, and, boy, is it good!! I made a soup that had some curry in it (plus some other good stuff), but it was the wonderful flavor of the squash that carried through. It’s my new favorite…next to acorn :)


Kalyn November 17, 2007 at 10:17 am

Yes, I agree this is a rather strenous task, but I find when I buy the pre-peeled squash cubes (from Costco, usually) they don’t have quite the fresh flavor as the squash you peel yourself and cost twice as much!

neonfrosting November 17, 2007 at 6:14 pm

any good quality vegetable peeler will take care of peeling a butternut squash.

Matt November 17, 2007 at 11:26 pm

+1 on neonfrosting’s comment: A sharp peeler (esp. one with an adjustable depth, set deep) will have no problem. Just lop of a bit of the end to keep it stable on the board, and voila!

Kiriel November 18, 2007 at 10:18 am

If I am making soup or something like that, I microwave it with the skin on and peel it once soft. But I find that a good quality peeler will deal with it tout de suite! and believe me, Butternut is SO much easier to deal with than a queensland blue pumpkin, which needs to be chopped with an axe!

Tamra November 18, 2007 at 5:43 pm

Any insight on to the allergic reaction that some people tend to have while handling butternut squash?

I’ve handled it successfully in the past without any issues, but recently when cutting it, I ended up with what looked like acid burns on my hands. I thought I was going to have to go to the ER, but I gave it a couple of days and it all cleared up as if nothing happened. It didn’t hurt or anything, although my hands felt really tight… And, I can’t imagine that my skin “regenerates” back to normal THAT quickly.

CJ McD November 19, 2007 at 12:57 pm


I suggest buying a box or rubber or plastic gloves and keep them on hand for a variety of chores including cutting squash, chopping hot peppers and even mixing meatloaf….the uses are endless. And your hands won’t flare up.

Amy November 28, 2007 at 11:07 pm

I just finished prepping a 1/2 bushel of butternut squash by baking and pureeing it to store in the freezer. Now, I am googling to see how to prep some of the other 1/2 for winter storage. I have some recipes in which I like the squash cubed. So far, I have only used fresh, but would like to freeze some in cubes. So, after hitting upon this website, I want to check to see if after cubing the squash I could blanch for 3 minutes and freeze. What is your experience with this? Some websites say you have to cook it completely before freezing.

Linda February 29, 2008 at 6:24 pm

Tamra, I just had the exact same reaction to preparing butternut squash. Never had any problem before. Does anyone know if this is a normal reaction for some people? What causes it? Is the squash safe to eat?
Any input would be welcome.

Sonya Williams April 29, 2008 at 12:36 pm

I’ve just experienced the same thing, so I googled it. According to the folks at Good Housekeeping, it’s caused by a sap that is released by the squash and covers your fingers. What I’m worried about is that I tasted the soup I made, and my tongue’s gone numb too. If it were the sap thing, it shouldn’t happen with cooked squash. I’m scared to eat my soup, and it smells so good!

Steve Zazulyk December 8, 2008 at 11:28 am

Hello,I live in Canada and it can get very cold here, butternut squash,apple and yam soup is a great way to feel nice and cozy inside on long winter days. I recently decided to cook the seeds with some left over pumpkin seeds from Halloween. It was incredible, the butternut seeds are by far the best toasted seed I’ve ever had. A little Olive oil and salt in a 350 degree oven for about 15 min will do. The Squash seeds are a good source of calcium and zinc.
Here’s the full recipe:

Toasted (roasted) Squash Seeds


Squash or Pumpkin Seeds, raw
Olive Oil (optional)
Salt (optional)
Hot Sauce (optional)


Scoop out the seeds and fibrous material from the seed cavity of a squash or pumpkin when you are preparing it for a meal. Set aside the seeds in the refrigerator until you are ready to toast or roast them. The seeds should not be stored for more than 24 hours before toasting. (The toasted seeds shown in the photo are from one butternut squash – size is about 1/2 actual.)

Place the seeds and the fibrous material (pollen ducts) in a strainer and rinse thoroughly with hot water under the tap. The hot water will remove the sliminess and make it easier to separate the seeds from the other squash or pumpkin material. Separate the seeds and place in a covered glass or ceramic baking dish. We usually mix in a little hot sauce for a spicy taste. A little salt could also be used instead of the hot sauce.

Bake in an oven at 350 degrees F. or in a microwave oven on “high” until the seeds are crispy. Occasional mixing will help the process. A little olive oil will also help the crisping process, but is not necessary. If you decide to use olive oil, add a little to the raw seeds in the covered dish and mix thoroughly. Remove from the oven when the seeds are crispy and let the seeds cool.


Steve Zazulyk
Ontario, Canada

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