Looking for a faster easier way to peel, cut, and cook butternut squash? Here’s how to cook butternut squash in an Instant Pot the easy way, without cutting it up first!
What is butternut squash?
Butternut squash is a winter squash with a mild naturally sweet flavor that’s in between a sweet potato and pumpkin. In fact, you can substitute it for either one in most recipes. I’ll often serve butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes because it’s lower in carbs.
Like other winter squash—from spaghetti squash to acorn squash—it has a thick hard skin that is difficult to peel. And the squash itself is hard to cut when it’s raw. It’s much easier to cook butternut squash whole and cut it after it’s cooked.
Whole butternut squash it will keep for a few weeks so you can store it in the pantry until you need it. Look for one that’s heavy and firm with smooth unblemished skin.
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Ways to cook it
Butternut squash is extremely versatile and there are several ways to prepare and cook it:
- You can roast a whole squash in the oven without cutting it up first. It’s easy to do but takes over an hour to roast.
- You can also roast it halved. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, brush the halves with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake on a cookie sheet until it’s soft and the edges start to brown. Then fill the baked butternut squash “boat” with your toppings of choice—try it with pulled pork or chicken!
- You can peel and cube it and roast it in the oven (I love this butternut squash recipe with rosemary and garlic). But to be honest, I’ll usually buy it already cut up from the produce department in the grocery store if I’m going to cook it this way. It saves time and my fingers, even if it is more expensive.
- You can also roast the cubed squash in an air fryer. This makes it quicker than roasting in the oven.
- You can peel it, cut it into large pieces, and spiralize it to make butternut squash noodles. Cook the noodles in a skillet or the oven for 5 – 10 minutes until they’re al dente.
- You can cook a whole butternut squash in the slow cooker. This takes longer, but it’s perfect if you’re busy all day since you can start it in the morning and have it ready for dinner.
- The quickest and easiest way to cook it is whole in the Instant Pot (I have this one). You don’t have to cut through the hard squash and it’s faster than roasting or slow cooking!
Instant Pot butternut squash
Putting the whole butternut squash in the Instant Pot is the best way to cook it because it’s so fast and easy it practically cooks its self. You just place the squash on a rack or trivet, add a cup of water and turn it on.
Using the pressure cooker is also great for busy weeknights. You can cook your main dish while the Instant Pot is cooking the squash.
Depending on which Instant Pot model you have, you’ll want to make sure your squash fits in the cooking pot without going above the max fill line. A medium-sized butternut squash will fit in the 6-quart models and a large butternut squash will fit in the larger 8-quart cooking pot.
Once the squash is cooked, let the pressure release naturally vs. using a quick release. Remove the lid and carefully lift the hot squash from the pot onto a cutting board. Once it’s cool enough to handle just cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Your butternut squash is ready for eating or using in a recipe!
How to serve it
You can use your cooked butternut squash for anything from mashed butternut squash to butternut squash soup to baked goods (try substituting it for pumpkin).
For mashed squash, you can mash it like you would mashed potatoes and add your favorite seasonings. I love it simply with ghee, sea salt, and cracked pepper. For a dairy-free version try it with fresh organic olive oil and fresh herbs.
It’s also great for a quick breakfast. Dice it and fry with some vegetables for a quick hash topped with eggs. Or try this easy frittata recipe for a quick meal.
I like to meal prep butternut squash and store it in the fridge for a quick and easy side dish. One squash is usually enough for a few meals for my family and will keep for several days once it’s cooked.
Can you freeze butternut squash?
Absolutely! I pulse it in the food processor and freeze the pureed squash in glass containers in different size portions. That way I can easily pull out and thaw as much squash as I need for a recipe.
You can also cube the cooked squash and freeze it that way for a quick and easy side dish.