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Tip: An easier way to peel butternut squash

March 2nd, 2008 · 28 Comments · Cooking tips

I made soup again the other night. I know I said I was sick of soup, but it sounded better than anything else I could think of. Anyway, the good news is it’s delicious and it gave me an excuse to try a new squash-peeling method.

On to the tip: Butternut squash is great to eat, but it’s a pain to prepare because it’s so hard to cut. Diane had had a hard time halving the things and told me about microwaving them first to soften the shell. I figured it might work for peeling, too.

Hence, I washed a 2-pound butternut, pierced the skin in a few places, and put it in the microwave for three minutes. When I took it out, liquid was oozing a bit from the holes I poked, and the squash was a little warm, but I could pick it up bare-handed.

Next, I lopped off the top and bottom, set it upright on a cutting board and peeled it with a chef’s knife, paring from top to bottom.

Partially peeled butternut squash

It was remarkably easy. Maybe not quite in the peel-a-carrot category, but much easier than previous attempts. You can see in the photo that moisture beaded up on the flesh where I peeled it, but that didn’t seem to harm the texture.

Only after I peeled the butternut did I halve it, seed it and cut it into 1-inch dice for the soup. Net result: soup prep time also halved.

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28 Comments so far ↓

  • Katie

    I can help you one more:

    The trick seems to be in having a flexible peeler with a comfortable enough handle that you can easily put some pressure on it.

  • Janet Majure

    Wow. I must not have the right peeler, or the woman in the video has some kind of softer-skinned butternut than I have had. I’ve never had the peel come off like that with a peeler, or even a very sharp knife. It does make me think I’ll try again sometime with a different peeler, though. Thanks, Katie!

  • Katie

    You’re welcome. :-)

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  • Don Gurney

    You saved the day! I wanted to try butternut squash (after tasting it at a friend’s house), but I had no idea how to peel it. My wife and I are in our 70’s but I do all the cooking because she works part time and also operates a painting studio. Thanks!

  • Janet Majure

    Good news, Don! Thanks for letting me know. :)

  • Emily

    After reading about the microwave suggestion for peeling a butternut, I tried it a couple days ago. I pricked a 3lb squash several times, then m-waved it for a total of 6 minutes in 2 min increments. Probably could have gotten away with a straight 4, maybe 5 minutes, as it started to get a little soft in a couple of spots on the ends. I cut it horizontally so it was easier to hold the neck and the bulb in my hand for peeling. It worked like a charm. We’ll be eating a lot more butternut squash now!

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  • jeannette

    Thanks for the great tip. I will be sure to use…. love all my squashes..i hope to try this tip on the acorn sqyash as well or do you have a different tip to share on how to peel that one also?

  • Jamie

    I just use a cheese grater to peel squash. It’s easy and doesn’t take too much time, and requires little muscle work.

  • Janet Majure

    Jeannette–Glad to be of help! I don’t know a good way to peel acorn squash; haven’t tried this one. With acorns, I always cook in the peel and scoop out the flesh.

    Jamie–That’s amazing. You must have one heck of a cheese grater! Good for you. :)

  • Christine

    Woooot! it worked brilliantly! I used a little sharp paring knife to peel it. I’ll be passing on the tip.
    Thanks :)

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  • Susan Beard

    I have MS and my hands vary from day to day in weakness. So, when I attempted to peel my first butternut squash today, I didn’t get halfway through it before my hands, neck, and shoulder were screaming in pain! I asked my son to finish it for me and after we ate it, (absolutely deelicious!!!), I found this site! So now, I can have it as often as I like without the pain!! Thank you so much for the tip!!

    • Janet Majure

      Hi, Susan. You’re welcome! Hope it works for you. I don’t thinking peeling a butternut will ever be easy, but this sure is easier.

  • Mel

    This works amazingly well! Thank you. Butternut squash is no longer banned from the kitchen.

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  • mary lynne

    Thanks for this tip 0- I’m going to try it tonight. I’m wondering if you could do the microwaving whenever (I mean an hour or two before you plan to cook) and just let it sit. For one thing, maybe it wouldn’t ooze as much? But then again, maybe it would just go back to being really hard to peel (and after peeling one butternut squash last year I’d be inclined to go ahead and call them impossible to peel!)

  • Janet Majure

    Hope it worked for you, Mary Lynne. I’m sure I’ve done the microwaving and let it sit for an hour or so. It won’t go back to being really hard, I don’t think; the microwaving is slightly cooking it, which time won’t undo.

  • lee

    If you microwave the squash to soften the peel, will the squash remain firm enough to cut into one-inch cubes?

    • Janet Majure

      Yes. Believe me, there’s still plenty of cooking left to be done after three minutes in the microwave! I suppose if you had a little tiny squash maybe it would be pretty soft, but even then, I think it would be fine.

  • Genie

    Thanks so much for the tips, especially since I just cut my thumb with a very sharp knife. I guess I should’ve checked on tips first. Oh, well. It’s my first time trying a recipe with this delicious squash. I don’t think we’ll be having it tonight though.

  • DML

    I will try this tomorrow. Cooking Light has a Barley butternut squash risotto recipe that calls fr cubed squash. No tips there how to peel. I usually roast it in oven after we halve it for soup. That works unless you wanted solid pieces of squash. Ther is. Ipe that uses canninelli beans puréed to make butternut squash soup seem creamy without the cream. Also Cooking light recipe.

  • DML

    I learned to put squash in microwave for 2-3 minutes and it softens the skin enough to allow you to peel easily with a vegetable peeler.