How to Peel and Dice Butternut Squash

Heather says:

We’re well into autumn which means the availability of produce is changing. (Those of you in South Florida, Southern California and similar areas can hush, the rest of us have these magical things known as seasons that can affect our shopping habits). Butternut squash is one of my favorites fall vegetables, but preparing it for use in a recipe can be a little intimidating. Once the squash has been peeled and diced, it can be used interchangeably with diced sweet potato, rutabaga, turnips, or even carrots in many recipes. If you are using the squash instead of carrots in a recipe, use a much smaller dice than the one pictured in this tutorial.

*Warning* Butternut squash has a very smooth skin, make sure your knives are sharp and that you use care slicing. I took these pictures myself, when you copy the method, use both hands at all times. (I need an assistant)

Gather your tools, wash the squash and remove any stickers. This can be done with only a chef’s knife, but a utility knife is a little easier to use when removing the skin.

Grip Squash FirmlyGrip the squash firmly and cut with a chef’s knife where the neck meets the base. This will give you two manageable pieces.

Two manageable pieces


Use your chef knife to remove the stem end of the neck. Grip the squash firmly as it is slippery and may roll.

Set the neck upright so it is resting on one of the cut ends. If you have a utility knife, switch to it and peel the squash in thin layers. If you have a sturdy vegetable peeler, it can be used for this step.

Slice the neck of the squash into rounds. The thickness of your slices will depend on how large you would like the dice.

One or two rounds at a time, slice into strips, turn the rounds, 90° and repeat the cut to finish your dice.

Grip the bulb end firmly and slice off the bottom with your chef knife.

Remove the peel, just like with the neck of the squash.

Slice the bulb end in half.

Scoop out (and save the seeds, they can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds).

Slice the bulb end, as you did the rounds. rotate, and slice again to finish.

Your butternut squash is now diced and ready for use in recipes.

Good luck!


  1. MaineGirl on October 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    The lady at our local farm stand recommends piercing winter squash in a few places with a fork and then microwaving it for 2-3 minutes before trying to peel it. This is just enough to soften the skin without cooking the squash. It works great and makes the job of peeling much easier.

  2. DawnHartstromSibert on October 12, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Thanks Heather, for posting this. I’ve been cooking for many yrs. & always, foolishly, been intimidated by a whole large squash. Not anymore!

  3. Rachel@FoodFix on October 12, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Great! Here’s the shortlink to the post for Honey Roasted Root Vegetable Tzimmes: Thanks!

  4. Rachel@FoodFix on October 12, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Yes! I was just teaching an “autumn” menu and incorporating butternut squash…and it was surprising how many of my students had never tackled breaking down one…good for you for posting this! I posted a great recipe for Honey Roasted Vegetable Tzimmes that incorporates butternut squash..two weeks ago…great for the holidays!

    • HeatherSolos on October 12, 2011 at 6:54 am

      @Rachel@FoodFix Feel free to link the recipe, I’d love to see it.

  5. chewdigest on October 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Once I cut it in half, like you did, I use a vegetable peeler to get rid of the skin. I tend to be a Klutz, so anytime I can do something without using a knife, I do!

    • HeatherSolos on October 12, 2011 at 6:54 am

      @chewdigest that works just as well. I’m also very clumsy, trust me, there is hardly a doorjamb I miss. I feel your pain. 🙂

  6. MelindaHamby on October 11, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Can you recommend a recipe? I’ve tried it roasted and mashed with brown sugar and butter, but still do not care for the taste of the squash. It’s annoying because I love yellow squash and zucchini so much and really want to love other squashes just as much. Spaghetti squash didn’t go over well with the family, either. 🙁

    • HeatherSolos on October 11, 2011 at 10:17 am

      @MelindaHamby it’ll be helpful to me if you can tell me what it is about the squash you don’t like. Do you like sweet potatoes? Also, what kind of squash are you referring to, just butternut? If you don’t like it, it’s certainly not the end of the world and you’re welcome to use sweet potatoes or any of the vegetables I recommended as a substitute in place of the squash, it works both ways 🙂

      • MelindaHamby on October 11, 2011 at 10:25 am

        @HeatherSolos I love sweet potatoes, so it’s good to know that is a substitute. Butternut squash gives me a bitter aftertaste that turns me off.

        • HeatherSolos on October 11, 2011 at 10:27 am

          @MelindaHamby it sounds like you’re just particularly sensitive to that flavor and I’d just stick with sweet potatoes. I mean, you aren’t going to die of malnutrition by avoiding butternut squash. Now if you were like, I hate it because it’s orange, I may not have as patient of an answer 😉

        • KeterMagick on October 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm

          If you decide to try butternut squash again, try these two things to reduce bitterness: first, peel a bit deeper, so that no green or light color rind remains. There’s bitterness in the rind. Also scoop out the inside of the seed cavity extra well, as it has a musty taste that you might perceive as bitter. Second, try adding just a little bit of fresh lemon juice to your recipe. Lemon juice often can sweeten bitter food.

  7. fi.cooper on October 11, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Lot’s of soup recipes you don’t need to peel it at all…. I roast my squash with the skin on and then just whizz the whole lot up…. easy (a mix of bn squash, sweet potato and a bit of ginger and garlic makes a fabulous soup). When I’m peeling it though I use a horseshoe shaped potato peeler – do you have such a thing in the US?

    • HeatherSolos on October 11, 2011 at 9:37 am

      @fi.cooper Yes, they are called Y shaped peelers.

      It depends on the recipe and if I’m going to use the oven for anything else as to whether or not I’ll roast the squash or not.

    • KimberlyEvansSchratwieser on October 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm

      If you cut in half lengthwise, scoop the seets, then roast, you can scoop the meat out of the “shell” really easily. No peeling necessary.

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