Buttercup squash is an often overlooked member of the fall squash family. Learn the best ways to cook it including this simple method for roasting in the oven until sweet and caramelized.
Buttercup squash is one of the many fall squash varieties but a little less well known than some of its relatives like butternut, spaghetti, acorn or even delicata and kabocha.
I wrote an entire guide to winter squash a bit ago and while I covered the basic winter squash in that article, buttercup wasn’t really on my radar back then.
So, we’re going to dive deep into it today!
We’ll touch on everything from where to buy it to the best ways to cook buttercup squash and then a simple oven roasted buttercup squash recipe that uses maple syrup to really amp up the fall flavors.
WHERE TO FIND BUTTERCUP SQUASH
You may be lucky enough to grab one of these guys at your local grocery store but chances are more likely you’ll find buttercup squash at your local farmers market or farm stand during the fall or winter seasons.
It’s a bit more unusual than other winter squash but worth seeking out!
It’s very similar to koginut squash and sweet dumpling squash in that regard, another more unique winter squash worth trying!
WHAT DOES BUTTERCUP SQUASH LOOK LIKE?
This is the tricky part because buttercup squash can actually look a little different from one to the other!
Sometimes, it will look exactly like the picture above – a mostly dark green, somewhat short and flat shaped squash with a few streaks of light green on the sides and a top that just has a normal looking stem coming out the center.
It can be a little bit confusing when they look like this to decipher a buttercup from a kabocha squash.
Other times, however, the top where the stem is will have a domed little circle (usually a light green color) sort of popping out. It reminds me of an outtie belly button!
You can see a picture of that type of buttercup squash in this Thai buttercup squash soup recipe.
WHAT DOES BUTTERCUP TASTE LIKE?
One of the reasons it’s worth seeking out a buttercup squash is because of it’s delicate sweet flavor.
To me, it’s most like kabocha squash in sweetness and flavor.
It sweetens up beautifully when cooked and the flesh is nice and smooth textured. Not stringy at all like spaghetti squash or even acorn can sometimes be.
It would make a great baking substitute for pumpkin (like in these parmesan pumpkin scones) or butternut (like in these butternut squash biscuits) once baked and pureed.
Buttercup squash was actually used as one of two squash (the other being butternut) to breed honeynut squash. The two squash taste very similar despite looking quite different.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF BUTTERCUP SQUASH
Like all winter squash, buttercup is a great source of fiber and a deliciously satisfying lower carbohydrate side dish option.
With its rich yellow/orange color, it’s packed with vitamin A and beta carotene.
It’s also a solid source of vitamin C.
HOW TO COOK BUTTERCUP SQUASH
One of the best features of buttercup squash is that the rind is edible!
Just like in this Kabocha Squash Chili, you can cook the squash with the rind still intact and it will soften up along with the flesh to enjoy as an edible part of the meal!
Delicata is another one that doesn’t require peeling either and I love enjoying it roasted and stuffed for exactly that reason – you can eat the whole thing!
I love squash that don’t require peeling, it makes dinner prep that much easier!
With that in mind, there are a quite a few ways to cook buttercup squash.
Boiling and steaming are two easy stove-top methods and are great in that they both help keep the squash tender and moist.
To boil buttercup, I like to chop the squash in cubes and add it to boiling, salted water. Cook until fork tender.
While dependent on the size of your cubes, this shouldn’t take much longer than 10 minutes. Make sure to drain well.
Boiling is a great cooking option for when you intend to puree the squash.
If creating a puree is indeed your intention, I would then peel the squash before chopping. While the rind is edible, the puree will be smoother and more consistent if peeled.
Similar to boiling, chopping into cubes and placing it in a steamer basket is a simple, no-frills way to cook the squash and again, a great option when the final intention is to puree or mash.
I like to use the baking method when I plan on stuffing squash.
Baking squash is best done at a temperature around 350°F. Half (or quarter if the squash is on the larger side) the squash and place cut side up in a baking dish with a little bit of water on the bottom.
You can cover the top with foil to keep from drying out as it bakes or, brush with a little olive oil.
Bake until tender and then you’ll have a delicious vessel to stuff as desired.
Check out this Apple Lentil Stuffed Acorn Squash or this Lamb Stuffed Kabocha Squash for some filling options that would also be delicious inside a buttercup squash.
Last but not least, my favorite method for cooking buttercup squash – roasting!
Roasting is a great way to impart extra flavor on the cooked squash by using ingredients to baste on top of the flesh along with high heat that allows the squash to naturally caramelize and develop its sweet undertones.
MAPLE ROASTED BUTTERCUP SQUASH
This is one of those recipes that’s so simple it’s almost embarrassing to share as a “recipe”.
But, there doesn’t seem to be too many recipes out there for cooking buttercup squash so I figured I would share it! Besides, who doesn’t love and appreciate an easy side dish?!
The ingredient list couldn’t be simpler:
- sliced buttercup squash
- extra virgin olive oil
- maple syrup
To roast the squash, preheat the oven to 425°F. I always use my convection roast setting on my oven so if you have that, I encourage you to use it as well.
If you don’t have a convection oven, you can still roast at 425°F. Or, if you know your oven runs a little low, try increasing the temperature 10-25 degrees.
Place the squash slices (that should be cut about 1/3 – 1/2″ thick) on a heavy duty baking sheet in a single layer.
Drizzle half the olive oil and maple syrup on top of the squash. You can also use a brush to brush it on each piece of squash to really ensure even coverage.
Season with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet, gently flip each piece over and brush or drizzle the remaining olive oil and maple syrup on top. Roast for another 20 minutes.
The roasted buttercup squash will be golden brown and crispy on the edges and the flesh will be tender and starting to caramelize from the natural sugars in the squash and the maple syrup on top.
If you happen to have an acorn squash on hand instead of buttercup, this maple baked white acorn squash recipe is very similar and incredibly delicious too!
The result is one of the simplest fall side dishes yet it’s packed with so much delicious flavor.
The squash sort of melts in your mouth with each bite.
It’s sweet but not overpoweringly so. It’s also light in texture and not heavy at all like butternut or sweet potatoes can tend towards.
I used to think delicata squash was my favorite (and I do still love this creamy delicata squash soup) but I think when it comes to roasting, buttercup has moved into first place.
MORE WAYS TO ENJOY ROASTED BUTTERCUP
For even more fall flavor, try sprinkling the squash with one or a combination of any of the following spices before roasting:
- pumpkin pie spice
- Chinese 5 spice (a favorite of mine to use on roasted squash!)
Other spices that would go well with the maple syrup but aren’t necessarily “fall” flavors include:
- smoked paprika
Also, don’t throw out the seeds when you cook your buttercup squash!
Use this basic method to get crispy, crunchy delicious roasted squash seeds and you’ll enjoy one of the best fall snacks out there!
You can also follow this garlic herb recipe for roasted delicata seeds with the seeds of buttercup squash.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH ROASTED BUTTERCUP SQUASH
Want a complete fall-centric meal? Serve the roasted buttercup with an apple butter roasted chicken or, apple cider braised lamb shanks.
It’d also be a delicious substitute for the sweet potatoes in this sheet pan maple mustard chicken.
Alternatively, use the baking method to cook the buttercup squash and stuff it with the filling from these cherry lentil turkey sausage stuffed sweet potatoes!
OTHER BUTTERCUP SQUASH RECIPES
These buttercup squash crumble bars and this creamy buttercup squash pasta also look like completely delicious ways to enjoy this winter squash from a sweet and savory perspective!
Check out my buttercup squash web story too for more info!
Roasted Buttercup Squash
Learn the best ways to cook buttercup squash including this simple method for oven roasting it with maple syrup until sweet and caramelized.
- 1 large buttercup squash
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Slice off small portions of top and bottom of the squash so that it sits flat on a cutting board. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds (save them to roast). Cut each half into slices about 1/3" thick and place in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
- Drizzle the prepared squash with half the olive oil, half the maple syrup, salt and pepper.
- Roast for 20 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven, gently flip each piece of squash and drizzle the other side with the remaining olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper.
- Return to the oven and roast for an additional 20 minutes until squash is crispy and golden brown on the edges while the flesh is tender and starting to caramelize.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 96Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 76mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 0g
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Tuesday 10th of January 2023
I love buttercup squash. The only issue I have is cutting it in half. gets my right arm but then when I do get it cut in half I cut the halves in half and half again. Then to peel it I stick 2 pieces per microwaveable bowl and set it for a quick minute. Wait until it is slightly cool and can use my black handle sharp knife to peel off the green with. Try different angles to do so then cut it in half (cubes)_ and put them in a microwaveable rubbermaid bow did 2 cups of it with water in the microwave under fresh vegetables category with saran wrap over it. Drained water and put it on my plate and add the becel type buttery margarine to it to melt and oh wow was it ever good. Have the other half yet to do. May try doing it Wed. Had it with the ham.
Thursday 20th of October 2022
AMAZING! And my oven did it in 20 min on a convect roast setting. I sprinkled my slices with smoked paprika, cumin and smoked salt.Also tried ghee to replace the extra virgin olive oil. And the flavor came out really good- soo different.Not only for healthfulness, but ghee will also boost the recipe's flavor.
Thursday 16th of June 2022
We also love the Buttercup squash..I cook it in the microwave, remove seeds, 1 tablespoon butter in the hole where seeds were, cover with micro saran, cook 7 min, salt and pepper to taste.. Delicious!
Tuesday 25th of January 2022
I was not familiar with this squash when I got it from a coworker. I love that you can eat the skin and this recipe gives it a nice roast with a little sweetness.
Sunday 24th of October 2021
If I just want to half the squash would I have to increase the time for baking?
Sunday 24th of October 2021
No, the baking time should remain the same.