Simple Sautéed Butternut Squash is a delightful combination of sweet, nutty, and buttery flavors, balanced with the tartness of Honeycrisp apples. Pair with your favorite fall weeknight main dish or serve on your holiday table for a healthy, warm side dish.
📋 About the Recipe
- Ready in 30 minutes. Serving healthy, nutritious sides alongside your main dishes doesn't have to be time consuming or complicated. This delicious side dish requires just 4 ingredients and can be on the dinner table in 30 minutes or less.
- Perfect side dish for holiday tables. In addition to enjoying on busy weeknights, this sautéed squash recipe is also elevated enough to serve for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Jewish holidays.
- Easy to pair with several proteins and side dishes. This butternut squash is one of those fall recipes that can be served alongside nearly any protein, side dish, or salad recipe. Serve it with your favorite fresh herbs, like fresh parsley or fried sage leaves, and enjoy!
🛒 Ingredients for Sautéed Butternut Squash
A few notes about the ingredients:
- Butternut squash - This sautéed butternut squash recipe is best with fresh butternut squash. If you are short on time, most grocery stores sell pre-cut squash cubes.
- Apple - Adding apples to this easy side dish is optional, but I love how the flavor combination highlights the natural sweetness of the squash and adds additional texture to the dish. If using, I recommend an apple that's both sweet and tart like Honeycrisp.
- Brown sugar - Adds additional sweetness and helps caramelize the squash and apples.
- Cinnamon - This warm spice adds depth of flavor, and helps to highlight the fall flavors and sweetness of the butternut squash and apples.
- Butter - I prefer to sauté this butternut squash in unsalted butter because it adds a rich, creamy, slightly nutty flavor. It also helps brown the squash and apples better, allowing it to develop a nice golden brown color.
⁉️ Substitutions and Alterations
- Squash substitutions - If you are unable to find butternut squash, a fresh sugar pie pumpkin or sweet potatoes would work well as a substitute.
- Brown sugar substitutions - Replace the brown sugar with coconut sugar or a liquid sweetener like maple syrup.
- Butter alternative - If you're out of unsalted butter, salted butter will work. Or, use an oil with a higher smoke-point and a flavor profile that is complimentary to the dish. In this sautéed butternut squash recipe, I would recommend extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil.
📓 How to Make Sautéed Butternut Squash
- Melt the butter. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and allow it to fully melt.
- Add butternut squash. Once the butter has melted, add in the cubed butternut squash. Toss to coat the squash evenly in the butter and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add apple, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and black pepper. Stir well to combine and let the butternut squash sauté for another 5 minutes, undisturbed. This will allow the squash and the apples to caramelize and become golden brown.
- Add water. Pour the ¾ cup of water into the skillet, then continue to sauté the butternut squash for 5 to 10 minutes, uncovered, or until the squash is fork tender. When ready, you should be able to pierce the squash with a fork or knife without any resistance.
- Serve. Enjoy this delicious vegetable side dish immediately while warm alongside your favorite proteins like Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Breasts, Ground Chicken Meatloaf, or Dutch Oven Turkey Breast.
❄️ How to Store Sautéed Butternut Squash
To store: Leftover butternut squash will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To freeze: This sautéed butternut squash recipe can also be frozen. To freeze, allow to cool completely to room temperature, then transfer to a freezer-safe container such as a large, zip top bag or an airtight storage container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Before reheating, allow the frozen squash dish to thaw completely overnight in the refrigerator.
To reheat: Simple sautéed butternut squash will reheat best in the microwave or in a hot sauté pan. Heat until the squash pieces are warm and tender.
🔍 Recipe FAQs
Yes, before adding the butternut squash to the skillet, the squash should be peeled. You will also want to scoop out the seeds and discard them before chopping the squash into bite-sized pieces.
Peeling a butternut squash can be tedious, but there are a few tricks to help make the process easier. For starters, cut the squash in half, then remove the ends.
This will leave you with two smaller pieces with flat ends that are easy to stand up and stabilize on a cutting board. Then, using a very sharp chef's knife or a vegetable peeler, remove the skin. The sharper your tools, the easier this will be.
Once you have peeled and removed the seeds of the squash, chopping it into bite-sized pieces is fast and easy. For a full visual of the process, refer to this detailed tutorial: How to Peel and Cut Butternut Squash.
💭 One More Tip
Learn how to pick the best butternut squash in the grocery store! The best squash will have a firm, smooth exterior that is uniform in color. Avoid squash with green patches as these are not fully ripened.
The stem should be intact and strong - a brittle stem suggests age. Finally, look for a squash that has a straight neck and a well-rounded base.
Avoid squash that are in-proportionate (too skinny at the top or too bulbous at the bottom).
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Sautéed Butternut Squash
- large skillet
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 honeycrisp apple, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes optional
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar optional
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ cup water
- Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter.
- Once butter has melted, add cubed butternut squash. Toss to coat in the butter. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add apple, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Let cook, uncovered, without mixing for 5 minutes, so the squash and apples can caramelize.
- Add water. Cook, uncovered, another 5 to 10 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.
- The apple and brown sugar are optional but both add great flavor and subtle sweetness to the dish!
- Carefully watch the squash as it cooks to make sure it does not burn.
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