Butternut Squash Apple Cranberry Bake

There are two approaches to holiday cooking – fancy and complicated, and simple and easy. (Guess which camp we’re in?) Here is a colorful, simple harvest bake, with chopped butternut squash, tart apples, and cranberries. The hardest part is cutting up the butternut squash (it’s a workout). But then all you have to do is put everything in a casserole and bake it in the oven for an hour. You can make it a day ahead of time and just heat it up in the oven (while the turkey’s resting) before serving. We loved this, next time we may want to add maybe half a cup of toasted walnuts or pecans. Thanks Heidi H of Carlisle, MA for the recipe!

Butternut Squash Apple Cranberry Bake Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 8.

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large tart cooking apples cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (half a stick) butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace

Method

butternut-apple-cranberry-3.jpg butternut-apple-cranberry-4.jpg

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice and peel squash and apples.

2 Put squash cubes in ungreased 7x11-inch baking dish. Place apples on top and then cranberries. Mix the flour, salt, sugar, and nutmeg and sprinkle on top. Dot with butter. Bake 50-60 minutes.

55 Comments

  1. Jaime

    I’ve been looking for something just like this! I was worried cranberries would burst or smush in baking – so glad to see they can work. I wonder if this would work with sweet potatoes mixed with the squash, and maybe with rosemary rather than the sweeter spices? Would the cranberries not work with that then?

  2. Donna

    I do a very similar dish quite often and love it. I had to change the squash out because I can’t get it in my city at a decent price, but sweet potatoes are a good substitute. :)

  3. Katy

    Yum! My parents made a winter vegetable dish one year for Thanksgiving, that involved cutting up about a zillion pounds of squash, potatoes, turnips, etc. They said it was a pain to prepare but we all loved it. :-)

    I always cheat by pre-baking my butternut squash or sticking it in the microwave for a few minutes to make it easier to cut, because I once had to go to the hospital from a squash-cutting injury (yuck)…

  4. Michelle

    Toasted walnuts sound like a nice addition, when would you add those? At the end? or bake them along with the squash?

    thanks!

  5. Tartine

    Trader Joe’s sells pre-cut butternut squash, at a more reasonable price than supermarket pre-cuts. Sure it’s not THAT big a deal to chop your own, but if you’re short on time (or weak in the biceps) just buy the TJ’s. I always have some of the precut on hand b/c I make some variation of butternut squash for my toddlers regularly. Chopping quickly becomes a PAIN! Happy holidays everyone. Oh, and thanks Elise!

  6. Alix

    I made this for dinner last night, I just happened to have all the ingredients but wasn’t planning to use them together. It was so easy (especially as I buy ready cut butternut squash)
    Anyway it was fabulous I love the combination of flavours I’ll make it again.
    Thanks

  7. Selma Tannenbaum

    I made a test run of the recipe for dinner last night just approximating the ammounts (I used cut up squash from Trader Joe)and my husband and I polished off an 8X8 casserole by ourselves with a smidgen left for tonite’s dinner. It was delicious. The squash took a little longer to cook than the apples so for Thanksgiving dinner when I make the full recipe, I’ll cut the apples a little thicker.

    I accidently used regular sugar instead of brown but it was so good anyway. Sure my family will love it too.

    I suspect I’ll make it for Hanukkah and/or Passover too as it is very tzimmes like.

    PS The big box stores like BJ or Costco also carry precut squash (at a good price too)

  8. Helen

    If you roast butternut squash skins they are edible – especially with somthing sweet like honey and a little olive oil. Recipe look fantastic, I’ll be trying it soon!

  9. C

    I did a pre-Thanksgiving test run of this and it was delicious. I used about half the butter that was called for and it was perfect. I do prefer sweet potatoes to butternut squash, but I’m going to keep the squash anyway, as I like the challenge of cutting and peeling it! I’m bringing it to my mother’s for Thursday…

    Thanks, Elise!

  10. Selma Tannenbaum

    Does anybody cover the casserole dish with foil for the first part of the cooking. It took a long time to get the suash cooked through and I thought maybe the first 40 min or so under foil would take care of that.

    Any comments?

  11. Michele Gill

    What a winner! Looks beautiful, tastes delicious and so easy. I even used “I can’t believe it’s not butter” and it still tasted great. Didn’t have mace so substituted five spice.

  12. Art

    Hmmm… I’m thinking about trying this with sweet potatoes instead of butternut squash. Any ideas on whether or not that will work well? It’s hard for me to find quality squash in my region at this time of the year. That, and I’m trying to come up with a creative use for those sweet potatoes, too. Looks absolutely delicious, though!

    Note from Elise: You might need a slightly longer cooking time for the sweet potatoes. I might prebake the pieces for 15 minutes before adding the cranberry and apples.

  13. Jonathan

    This turned out to be the big surprise of the feast yesterday!

    Wegman’s also sells the precut/peeled butternut squash, for those who don’t live near Trader Joe’s.

    I added a bit of cinnamon and pecans. It worked beautifully. Thanks for the recipe.

  14. Lisa

    This was wonderful! I took it as a side dish for Thanksgiving and everyone wanted the recipe. It was quick, easy, beautiful and most importantly, tasted fabulous! I love your blog and all the recipes. Thanks!

  15. Karl

    Sent my wife to the store to get the squash. She came back with a bag and proclaimed, “see, it’s already cut up!”. Great! Except that it was sweet potatoes. Had no time to run back out and get butternut squash, so just went with the sweet potatoes. Well… it was still fantastic. No one even knew, and everyone loved it.

    So, if you are not up for cutting put all that butternut squash, try sweet potatoes instead.

  16. Selma Tannenbaum

    Made the recipe again for Thanksgiving. Took care of the squash taking a little longer by putting it in alone for about 15 min., then adding apples and cranberries. A total hit. Shared the recipe with all there. It will be a holiday standby from now on.

    Will try the sweet potatoes too . Can’t be bad.

  17. Emily

    I know that I found this recipe way after many people have already enjoyed it (and in the wrong season, apparently) but, what would you consider “tart cooking apples”. I’m really bad at choosing which type of apples to use so I always just use the kinds I like to eat raw and I’m sure there is a better way. Looking for enlightenment!

    The best cooking tart apples are green Granny Smith apples. In the Northern hemisphere they are in season from September through December, about the same time as butternut squash. ~Elise

  18. Melinda

    Made this last night in preparation for Thanksgiving at my cooking club. It was really yummy, maybe a bit sweeter than I’ll make it next time. We added cinnamon and pecans like Jonathan suggested above and really liked the addition. We microwaved the butternut squash for about 5 minutes to help speed up the cooking process.

  19. Sarah

    Did anyone else have trouble getting the squash to cook through? I cooked it for over an hour and it was still pretty hard. Should I cover it? I usually bake squashes with water in the bottom so they steam…
    Whats going on here?

  20. Rhonda

    I made this dish this evening along with Buttermilk Biscuits with Goat Cheese and Chives and Bacon-wrapped Pork Roast. They were all wonderful. I had to substitute sweet potatoes for the squash because my store did not have a single butternut squash in inventory. However, it turned out wonderful. I will be making this again for Thanksgiving.

  21. carolina p

    Made this last night and it sure was delicious. I added just a drizzle of pure maple syrup and chopped pecans before baking and sprinkled a bit of cinnamon on after baking, fabulous! Thanks for the inspiration, I will be making this for Thanksgiving this year!

  22. Pietr Hitzig

    Microwaves were designed to make cooking with buttersquah easier.

    1, Insert a sharp knife into the bulb where the seeds are. This is to open a vent and to prevent explosions.
    2 Place squash in microwave, zap for three minutes.
    3, Permit squash to cool.
    4 Squash can be now dissected, chopped or split asunder. Peeling is far easier too.

  23. Patrick Madden

    We made this recipe exactly as you direct here. We thoroughly enjoyed it, so we plan to make it for Christmas as well. Nobody in our family had really eaten butternut squash before, so we were a little wary, but it was great! Thanks!

  24. okayzee

    This was incredibly easy to make and came out looking exactly like the photograph. I reduced the sugar to only 1/4 cup. I used dried and fresh cranberries for multi-layered flavors.

  25. Michelle

    Wow – sooo good. We’ve been trying to come up with a tasty way to prepare butternut squash since making baby food for our first born. I’m glad that after over a 2 year search we have finally found it. I tweaked it just a bit – dried cranberries (Craisins) since that’s what we had on hand, and I used only 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. This is now going in regular rotation. Served with the Chicken Bacon Roulades. Fantastic. I looked like the hero – again. Thanks Elise.

  26. dbradford

    I have heard so much about butternut squash, but where I live it is very expensive. So, this year I grew my own. I have fallen in love with it. your recipe looked very tasty and will most definately give it a try.

  27. Pam

    Yes, this autumn recipe IS simple and easy. Sometimes when a recipe is simple, it also lacks flavor. Not the case here, this is delicious and bursting with fall colors!

  28. Annie

    Thanks for this! It made my night. Great with chicken — that sweet, buttery sauce got all over everything — yum!

  29. Tracy

    Delicious! I made this with 3 cups of butternut squash leftover from your risotto. Next time I’ll dedicate an entire squash to this dish. It was so good with wilted kale. Thanks for another great recipe!

  30. Heidi

    I made this dish for a pre-thanksgiving meal with the “urban family” last night and it was a hit! Sweet and buttery with a great pop of flavor from the cranberries. I finished the leftovers for breakfast this morning.

    Your recipes are consistently fantastic and your site the is the first place I look when planning a meal or looking for ideas!

  31. Rachel

    This recipe is great! It’s hard to appreciate, until you make this dish, how beautiful it is, especially if you use fresh cranberries. The colors of the ingredients make for a lovely autumnal dish. I’ve made this twice and both times people raved and gobbled it up.

  32. Ali

    This was a great side dish last night at our Thanksgiving table. It was so good that it will definitely become a regular dish on our year round supper menu! Next time I will use more cranberries as their tart flavor is a nice contrast to the sweetness of the squash.

  33. Anna G

    Made this again this year… wonderful and in case anyone is wondering this is TODDLER APPROVED! This went over so well with my 15 month old that it will become a regular dish. The hardest part of this dish has been done for me by the supermarket as they now sell cubed butternut squash… it takes about 15 minutes to put the whole thing together and produces something that my daughter devours.

  34. Kristin

    I made this for a holiday dinner with friends last night and everyone RAVED about it. I love butternut squash and I love the simplicity of this dish. It went perfectly with my cornish hens and amazing scalloped potatoes (recipe for which I also got from your site!!) Thanks so much, I will definitely be making this again!

  35. Olivera

    I just made this dish today ..right now …and woaw its awesome. And coming from a Serbian backround this is something new of combination and quite interesting . My family really liked it. Thank you :))

  36. Hillary

    This dish is wonderful! I made Christmas dinner this past year for my in-laws to prove that non-traditional can not only be more healthy, but more delicious as well. They were in shock! I love this recipe. The only issue I had was that I had to cook for about an hour and a half to make sure the squash was done. At 60 minutes they were still very hard.

  37. Shae

    Had a tough time finding fresh/frozen cranberries. Has anyone ever used the dried cranberries before?

    You’ll have a hard time finding fresh or frozen cranberries out of season. The fresh ones you can find usually October through December, the frozen maybe into February. ~Elise

  38. Bergy

    What a taste treat this is! The combination of squash, Apple & cranberries with mace is so good. I used dried unsweetened cranberries. I cut back on the sugar and used brown Splenda. Squash was served with Steamed broccoli & curried artificial crab. We enjoyed the dinner

  39. Chris

    I have not seen the question, Should I cover it?
    answered. I have made similar recipes, and I think the answer is, yes, cover it. An aluminum foil cover sealed tightly around the edges really does insure 30 to 40 minutes cooking time.

    Cover it if you want, but the recipe doesn’t call for it. Uncovered you will get more caramelization and more flavor. ~Elise

  40. Sandy

    I made this for Thanksgiving this year, with fresh cranberries and pecans. It was SO delicious, and couldn’t be easier. I used Trader Joe’s cut squash, so it was merely a 10-minute assembly job. We all enjoyed the colorful, tasty dish, but my vegetarian guest was especially enthusiastic, and thrilled to take home some leftovers and the recipe. I’m making it again tonight, and will reduce the sugar just a little. Thank you, Elise, for the continued Simple and Easy [and Delicious] approach to cooking. I loved recipes where the return far exceeds the effort!

  41. Krysia

    Made this for Thanksgiving dinner with quince in place of some of the apples. It was my favorite dish on the table.

  42. Karen H.

    This was wonderful! Made it for Christmas dinner. Did NOT cover it. I cooked it a little longer than the 50 – 60 minutes and the apples became very crisp. Really good! I think the next time I make it I will add more than a 1/2 cup of cranberries, maybe 3/4 of a cup. I will definitely make this again.

  43. Marlene

    Loved this! Made it on Christmas as directed and it was wonderful. Making it again today for a playgroup potluck and I am going to use a bit less sugar.

  44. Jen

    This is a lovely dish and I have made it a few times, sometimes with squash and sometimes with yam. I prefer using yam because it keeps the sweetness consistent throughout the dish and does not become “mushy” when you bake it. I am always getting requests for this dish! It is a definite keeper.

  45. David

    I’m not a vegetarian to say the least and I’ve never eaten butternut squash before so I was nervous making this dish. Also appreciated the link on how to cube the squash… Very helpful. I will definately be making this dish again as everyone loved it! I added a half cup of pecans as well and it was just awesome. Thank you so much for posting this recipe.

  46. Deb

    Could this be cooked in crockpot? Or at least reheated in one? Would like to take to a church harvest dinner and it would be easier if it could be served/reheated in a crockpot.

    You could cook it in a crockpot, but then nothing will get browned, which provides a lot of the flavor. Best is probably to reheat it in a crockpot. Haven’t tried to do that though. ~Elise

  47. Anna

    I made this last night to accompany grilled chicken and wild rice and it was a huge hit! I used sliced sweet potatoes instead of butternut squash. I prebaked the sweet potatoes for about 20 minutes. I halved the sugar and butter, and melted the butter to drizzle over the top. I covered the dish in foil for about half the cooking time. Perfect! My family loved it. This one is definitely going to be on our Thanksgiving table. Thank you for your wonderful blog!

  48. Meyo2001

    This was delicious! So easy to make. I reduced the sugar just a little to make it less sweet. The squash came out soft, but not mushy. Perfect.

  49. Maureen

    How much precut squash would you use for this recipe? I did not see that information. Sorry if I missed it.

    Great question. Don’t really know, because I just used a large squash and didn’t measure. If I had to guess I would say about 3 or 4 cups. ~Elise

  50. Qing

    Made this for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit. Even the people who normally won’t eat butternut squash loved it. I accidentally left out the butter so it was a little dry, but considering that it was the fat-free version I don’t complain at all. :) I’ll definitely make this again!

  51. Ed

    Elise, what are your thoughts about doubling this recipe with a 9×13 dish? This was a big hit last year but there wasn’t enough for my family. Thanks for a great website.

    I think it should work fine. ~Elise

  52. Qing

    I’ve made this 3 times since Thanksgiving. Twice I didn’t use butter and I must say I prefer it without butter. Even my hubby who normally won’t eat butternut squash likes it. It’s a wonderful side dish for the season and I am sure I’ll be making it again. BTW I did it once with dried cranberries. It was good but not as pretty and balanced as with fresh ones. Thank you for another great dish!

I apologize for the inconvenience, but comments are closed. You can share your thoughts on our Facebook page ~ Elise.