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Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata)

Butternut squash is a type of pumpkin or winter squash that grows on a vine. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar with a tan-yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp with a compartment of seeds in the blossom end. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer.

Cultivation and history

Although botanically a fruit, butternut squash is used culinarily as a vegetable that can be roasted, sautéed, toasted, puréed for soups, or mashed for casseroles, breads, muffins, and pies. 

The word “squash” comes from the Narragansett word askutasquash, meaning “eaten raw or uncooked”. Although Native people may have eaten some forms of squash without cooking, today most squash is eaten cooked.

Butternut squash is a modern variety of winter squash, developed by Charles Legget of Stow, Massachusetts, in 1944. This squash will store for two to three months (some varieties will keep up to six months). They are best kept at 50 °F with 50 percent humidity. For the best flavor, butternut squash should be left to cure for 2 months after harvest.

One of the most common ways to prepare butternut squash is roasting. Once roasted, it can be eaten in a variety of ways. The fruit is prepared by removing the skin, stalk, and seeds, which are not usually eaten or cooked. However, the seeds are edible, either raw or roasted, and the skin is also edible and softens when roasted. Grilled butternut is typically seasoned with nutmeg and cinnamon or stuffed (e.g., spinach and feta) before being wrapped in foil and grilled. Grilled butternut is often served as a side dish and as soup.


Raw butternut squash is 86% water, 12% carbohydrates, 1% protein, and contains negligible fat. One hundred grams supplies 45 calories, is a rich source of vitamin A (67% DV) and vitamin C (25% DV), and contains moderate amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese, each having 10-12% DV.


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