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Buttercup Squash: How to Choose, Prep, and Cook this Winter Squash

If you like pumpkin, you'll love buttercup squash. It's one of the sweetest varieties of winter squash, and its seeds are a great snack food, just like pumpkin seeds. Here's how to choose, prep, and cook buttercup squash.

Buttercup Squash

Buttercup Squash | Photo via Bigstock

Meet Buttercup Squash

You'll find this popular winter squash throughout fall and winter at your local grocery store or farmers' market. In addition to its sweet flavor, buttercup squash is a great source of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, and fiber. In fact, the more intense the color of the flesh, the more vitamin A it contains.

Choosing Buttercup Squash

This variety of squash has a turban-like cap that is a good indicator of age: When the squash is mature and ready to be harvested, the cap is firm. Found a squash with a soft cap? That means it's too old and should be passed up for another. Choose a squash that is heavy for its size and has even coloring. Stored in a cool, dry place, this squash will keep for several months.

Preparing Buttercup Squash

With its tough rind and funny shape, peeling this squash can be tricky. Luckily, you don't have to! Using a large heavy knife, carefully split it in half lengthwise through the stem. Use a heavy spoon to scrape out the seeds (save the seeds to roast later), then cook according to your recipe.

Buttercup Squash

Buttercup squash cut in half. | Photo via Bigstock

Cooking Buttercup Squash

Buttercup squash meat is smooth, with a deep orange color. It can lean towards being a bit dry, so try steaming, simmering, stewing, and baking to bring out its natural sweetness while adding moisture. Its mild flavor makes it pair exceptionally well with hard cheeses, nuts, beef, lentils, and pumpkin pie spice.

Recipes for Buttercup Squash

Feel free to substitute this squash in any winter squash recipe. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

Buttercup Squash Soup

Buttercup Squash Soup | Photo by Derbakermom

The key to this creamy Buttercup Squash Soup is a bit of cream cheese blended in with the cooked squash. The squash lends a slightly sweet note, which is perfectly balanced by herbs and pepper.

Roasted Cinnamon Spice Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Cinnamon Spice Pumpkin Seeds | Photo by AndersonAlia'sMama

Just like pumpkin seeds, butternut squash seeds are perfect for snacking. Follow the same steps in this recipe for Roasted Cinnamon Spice Pumpkin Seeds, or find more sweet and savory roasted squash seed recipes to choose from.

More Recipes to Try

    • Whether you're cooking this up for a holiday feast or a wintery dessert, Autumn Squash Casserole has a bit of everything: sweet, tart, crunch, and creamy.
    • It doesn't get any easier than Buttercup Squash with Apples and Pecans. Halved squash are stuffed with a sweet mixture of apples, sugar, cinnamon, and pecans for a treat that can be served as a side dish or dessert.


Discover the most common types of winter squash and get recipes for preparing them.

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About Jackie Freeman

Recipe developer, food stylist, culinary tinkerer and mama of two kitchen monkeys. When I'm not cooking (or cleaning up after cooking), I'm outside running, skiing, gardening, and dodging Nerf bullets. Follow me on Instagram: @chefjackief.