This 30-minute Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Pecans is easy enough to add to a weeknight meal but tasty enough to add to a holiday spread!
I love all the great meal opportunities that come from the summer garden, but the fall garden goodies can never come too early for me! Turning winter squash into delicious soups and sides makes the whole house smell like fall.
Pumpkin gets the most attention these days (and I do really enjoy those recipes), but I always LOVE the smooth, sweet, nutty taste of butternut squash. Something super special happens when it’s roasted at a high temperature!
This Roasted Butternut Squash keeps a nice, crisp exterior while the insides are unbelievably soft. That melt-in-your-mouth texture perfectly complements the caramelized brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon used to season the dish! Then we add dried cranberries and candied nuts to add the perfect sweet and savory balance. It’s the very best of autumn in a side dish!
Besides all that, it’s also super practical. Butternut squash is packed full of vitamins and nutrients, but the brown sugar and cinnamon make it very kid-friendly. You can meal prep this recipe ahead of time to save you some stress, and it reheats perfectly.
Whether you’re freezing it for later or enjoying it right out of the oven, you’re bound to love this, too!
Ingredients for Roasted Butternut Squash:
This is just a quick overview–For specific measurements and instructions, scroll down to the recipe card!
- Butternut squash: you will need one large, or two small squash for a total of 4-5 cups of cubed squash.
- Butter: I use salted butter in this recipe.
- Brown sugar, Cinnamon, Salt, Pepper and a hint of cayenne red pepper is optional, but recommended!
- Dried Cranberries: I recommend sweet, but unsweetened will also work.
- Pecans: un-roasted, whole, half or pecan pieces.
How do you make Cinnamon Butternut Squash?
This is a super simple recipe. First, you’ll want to prep the squash by peeling the skin, discarding the pulp and seeds, then dicing it into 1″ cubes. Make sure the pieces are as close to the same size as you can get so that they cook evenly and are finished at the same time. (You can prep the squash up to 2 days ahead of time and store covered in the fridge if that’s more convenient!)
Next, melt your butter and mix in your brown sugar, salt, pepper and cinnamon, and cayenne if using. Pour about 3/4 of the mixture this over your butternut squash cubes, reserving the rest for the pecans and cranberries. Place the cinnamon squash mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the squash from the oven and stir. Toss the remaining butter mixture with the pecans and cranberries. Add them to the baking dish and bake an additional 10 minutes, turning every five minutes so the pecans do not overcook.
What does butternut squash taste like?
If you haven’t yet tried butternut squash, the taste is similar to a sweet potato or pumpkin. It tastes a bit sweet, a little “earthy,” and slightly nutty (like when you make a brown butter sauce). It’s softer and smoother than acorn squash, but they taste pretty similar.
The flavor goes super well with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, even cayenne or paprika. When adding a sweetener, it’s best to go with brown sugar, molasses, or maple syrup (the darker the better).
How do you cut butternut squash?
The skin of butternut squash is very tough, and this can make cutting difficult! First, you’ll want to cut off both the top and bottom part of the squash (about a 1/2″ at each end). If this is too difficult, pierce the squash several times with a fork or knife and microwave for 2 minutes. This will slightly soften the exterior of the squash without cooking the insides.
Use a vegetable peeler to peel off the skin of the squash. Lay the squash down, cut it in half vertically (so you have two long pieces), then cut those again so you have four long pieces. Once cut, scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp.
Finally, dice the squash into roughly 1″ pieces. If you need it to cook a bit faster, you can make these cubes smaller. It’s best to cut all pieces into the same size so that they will cook evenly.
Do I have to peel the butternut squash before cooking?
Technically, no. The rind is edible if you cook it. However, it is tougher than the “meat” of the squash, so I prefer peeling it off.
Can I make Roasted Butternut Squash ahead of time?
Yes! Butternut squash can be meal prepped easily, saving you time before serving. You can make this dish 3-4 days ahead of time and store it in the fridge in an air-tight container until ready to serve. If you’re wanting long-term storage, you can freeze the cooked butternut squash for up to 3 months for the best texture.
To reheat, place back on a pan and bake at 350 degrees F until warmed throughout. The time required varies based on the amount you’re reheating, how crowded the squash is on the pan, and whether it was refrigerated or frozen.
What to serve with butternut squash:
My favorite entrée to serve with Roasted Butternut Squash is perfectly cooked Blackened Pork Chops! That heavy spice blend is balanced so well with the sweetness of this side dish. I’d also serve some Foil Pack Green Beans and these Cheddar Cornbread Muffins.
If you’re looking for a traditional holiday meal, here’s a great Smoked Whole Turkey recipe! This roasted squash would be a favorite along with Green Bean Almondine, this Keto Sausage Stuffing, and Rosemary Garlic Keto Dinner Rolls. Don’t forget the Keto Cranberry Sauce!
P.S. If you have leftovers, consider mashing them and using them in place of the sweet potato and maple syrup in this pancake recipe! It makes the perfect breakfast after the holidays, and those dried cranberries and candied nuts would make a great topping!
Other Easy Side Dishes:
- Cheddar Bacon Ranch Roasted Cauliflower
- Cheesy Roasted Asparagus
- Keto Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans
- Rosemary Garlic Sweet Potato Wedges
- The BEST Instant Pot Collard Greens
- 1 large butternut squash, or 2 small (4-5 cups cubed squash)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Melt the butter in a small bowl. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, pepper and cayenne if using.
- Toss the squash cubes in 3/4 of the melted butter mixture. Spread on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake the squash 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, stir the squash well.
- In a bowl combine the pecans and cranberries with the remaining butter mixture. Add the pecans and cranberries to the baking sheet in a single layer.
- Roast another 10 minutes, stirring half way through so the pecans do not over cook.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 205Total Fat: 12.5gCholesterol: 15.3mgSodium: 245.3mgCarbohydrates: 25.3gFiber: 3.9gSugar: 12.8gProtein: 2g