Butternut squash can be rather daunting to prep. They're round, hard, thick, and dense. But with a few easy steps you can very quickly peel and chop your butternut squash without too much difficulty.
First you need to have a large sharp knife. After that, the most essential thing to keep in mind when it comes to cutting anything is to stabilize whatever it is you are attempting to cut.
This is nowhere else as critical as when cutting a butternut squash, a notoriously difficult task because of the thickness and density of that squash.
How to Cut and Peel a Butternut Squash
How to Prepare Butternut Squash
The most important thing to consider when following these steps, or anyone else's steps for cutting winter squash is to keep whatever pieces you are working on as stable as possible.
The first cut from the bottom of the squash is to help keep the squash steady on the board as you gently work your knife down from the top to bottom.
How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash
- One butternut squash, 1 1/2 to 3 pounds
- A sharp, heavy, chef's knife
Slice off the ends:
Using a heavy, sharpened chef's knife, cut off about 1/4-inch from the bottom of the squash in an even slice. Then cut off 1/4-inch from the stem end.
Peel with a vegetable peeler:
Holding the squash in one hand, use a sharp vegetable peeler in the other hand to peel off the outer layer of the squash. You can also secure the squash standing upright and peel it in downward strokes with the peeler.
Cut the squash in half:
Stand the peeled squash upright on a cutting board. It shouldn't wobble, you want the squash to be stable. (If it is wobbly, make another cut at the bottom to even it out.) Make one long cut, down the middle from the top to bottom, with a heavy chef's knife.
Some squashes can be pretty hard; to help with the cutting you can use a rubber mallet to gently tap on the ends of the knife to help push the knife down through the squash.
Scrape out the seeds:
Use a metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and the stringy pulp from the squash cavity. (If you want, you can prepare the seeds like toasted pumpkin seeds.)
Cut squash halves into slices:
Lay the squash halves, cut side down on the cutting board for stability. Working section at a time, cut the squash into slices, lengthwise, the desired width of your squash pieces. Some recipes call for 1/2-inch slices or cubes, some for 1-inch or greater.
Stack and slice, then make crosswise cuts into cubes:
If you are cubing the squash, lay the slices down (you can stack a few at a time) and make another set of lengthwise cuts. Then make crosswise cuts to make cubes.
One 1 1/2 pound butternut squash will yield approximately 4 cups of 1/2-inch cubed squash.
Not all vegetable peelers are alike. Most have pretty dull edges. The sharpest peelers out there are made with carbon steel blades. Here's a Swiss model which you can pick up inexpensively at Amazon.com.