How To Peel and Cut Winter Squash

By Amanda Paa – Updated July 6, 2020

How to Peel & Cut Winter Squash

Can we all just agree that October should officially be the month of all things squash? It was just a little over a year ago that my cookbook came out, I’m as smitten now as I’ve ever been. Instead of hoarding Halloween treats, I’m hoarding all my favorite varieties of squash. The mister says I need to stop, but I’m not listening.

Instead I’m sharing my best tips and a video (!) for peeling and cutting winter squash, and a giveaway for my cookbook so you can make delicious recipes like this vibrant wild rice salad all winter long.

Wild Rice and Butternut Squash Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing Squash certainly isn’t easy to work because of its thickness, density, and uneven stature. Plain and simple, it can be intimidating. But fear not. We’re going to figure out how to peel and cut winter squash together.

Smitten with Squash {written by Amanda Paa}Before you get started making your favorite squash risotto, there are two very important things to check off the list.

    1. Put a damp towel underneath your cutting board so it doesn’t move around. Think of this like an artist tightening his drafting board.
    2. One of the most common problems I see when watching someone try to cut open winter squash is a DULL knife. It makes things a lot harder than it needs to be. So do yourself a favor, and each September, bring your chef’s knife (8 inch is recommended) in to get sharpened. You’ll be cutting and peeling more safely, with ease and efficiency, like this:

See, you totally got this! (My amazing friend Jennifer shot that video of my last year, and I hope to get in the kitchen with her again soon. Make sure to follow her on instagram, she showcases a lot of her great food photography and experiences there.)

Now, let’s walk through a few of the keys steps that apply to any squash, not just butternut.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash {without it turning to mush}

  • To set yourself up for success, trim the stem and root ends off first before making other cuts no matter which variety you’re working with. You’ll remove the toughest parts of the squash and create flat sides that you can stabilize on the cutting board without it wobbling around.
  • Cut vertically in half, rather than horizontally. And use the tip of the knife to make the first cut instead of the flat part. If the knife sticks, use a mallet to tap the back handle of the knife to continue to push it through.

You’ll end up with even halves that lie nicely on a sheet pan for roasting and stuffing. Or, if you’re cutting it into wedges, cubes or dices, you’ll be able to make uniform shapes that cook at the same speed.

Jeweled Butternut Squash & Curry Pilaf | heartbeet kitchen

  • I know a peeler seems like a good idea, but save that for thin-skinned cucumbers and carrots. It’s tiring, tedious and nearly impossible to get a good grip on the squash. A chef’s knife will work best.
  • Spaghetti squash and red kuri can often be too hard to even get an initial cut made. Into the oven they go, whole, at about 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Then remove, trim off the ends, and make your vertical cut. Much easier!
  • And my favorite tool of all – a melon baller. Hands down the easiest, quickest way to remove the seeds and stringy parts. The sharp edges dig nicely into the flesh and coax the seeds out easily instead of them flying on the kitchen floor. Bonus.

crustless delicata squash pie with candied pecans

Did you make this?

tag @heartbeetkitchen on instagram and hashtag it #heartbeetkitchen

October 10, 2015


I look forward to your comments, reviews and questions! If you love this recipe, please rate it when you leave a comment. Star ratings help people discover my recipes. Your support means a lot; thank you for being a part of the Heartbeet Kitchen community.


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  1. Mohit Kumar

    Easy to implement!!
    Going to do this in the upcoming days.
    Thanks for the squash’s recipe.


    This is brilliant! I just had winter squash at a restaurant last night – and I couldn’t think of how they cooked it so well! This must be how! So glad to have read this – perfect timing!

    • amandapaa

      Yay! Winter squash is wholeheartedly my favorite. Can’t wait to hear what you make with it.

  3. Connie | URBAN BAKES

    Congrats on the book! I can’t wait to take a look. One thing I would love to see is a recipe using the small gourds or to learn more about them than it being used a décor, if possible. :)

  4. Suzie

    Delicata squash recipe’s would be great. I love all squash so happy with any new squash recipe that I can adapt to AIP.

  5. Colleen Burke

    I love squash of all kinds, but find them intimidating! Thanks for all your great recipes and tips.

    • Amanda Paa

      glad some of the tips helped Colleen! happy squash cooking. :)

  6. Debbie

    We grew long pie pumkins this year and just harvested alot of pumpkins! So anything pumpkin!!

  7. Jenice

    Love stuffed acorn squash!

  8. Angie Jerde

    I love all types of squash but would love to see more with Kabocha. It is my favorite and I just know the possibilities are endless. Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. Becky

    I love butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash, but would love to learn other varieties of winter squash and uses for them.

    Fun to find a fellow Minnesotan as I was browsing Pinterest today & saw your Sweet Potato Gnocchi recipe! I work in St. Paul & live in Stillwater.

    • Amanda Paa

      Becky, so fun to connect with another Minnesotan! I’ll have a recipe coming up for delicata later this week, so stay tuned. :)

  10. Jolaine Wiens

    I absolutely love this recipe! I can’t wait to try it. Thank you for all your creativity!!

  11. Liz

    I LOVE winter squash! I always have some around this time of year, kabocha, buttercup, butternut, delicata, and love just roasting it, making soup, squash mac and cheese, you name it. Would love to see your cookbook!

    • Amanda Paa

      buttercup and kabocha are so dense and sweet. love them too! and plenty of recipes in the cookbook for them. thanks for stopping by!

  12. Liz @ Floating Kitchen

    Yeah squash!! That pretty much sums up my feelings, as you know. So I think I was telling you that butternut is the crop we grow the most of on the farm. Well, a lot of our restaurant customers want it delivered all ready peeled and prepped. So oh boy, do we go through a lot of knives at the farm this time of year. I think my mom just buys a huge batch of knives at the beginning of squash season and they are practically worn down to the handle by the end. It’s crazy! Butternut is one touch squash! Love this video and all these tips, Amanda! And sorry for rambling…:-)! XO

  13. kristie {birch and wild}

    I love that I always pick up new tips when I visit your blog. You cut your squash in a totally different way than me, and it looks way more efficient! I am going to try it tonight. I can’t get enough of squash right now. And great video!

  14. Wendy

    I have loved winter squash since I started experimenting with it back in the 70’s. It is so versatile, cheap and available. Some varieties store well for months! We grow a few varieties each year, so I can try different ones. Another hint for removing seeds is to use a grapefruit spoon with the serrated edge. That’s good for use on ginger, too.
    Just found your site and love it. Thank you so much!

    • Amanda Paa

      Thanks so much for stopping by Wendy, and glad we’ve connected! So great that you grow your own varieties. And I LOVE the tip about using a grapefruit spoon to remove the seeds. I’m going to try it this week!

  15. Hillary

    I just found your website and am enjoying looking through your recipes. I’m on the AIP diet, so any yummy recipes I can find for that I’m willing to try! My problem is that my husband and kids don’t care for squash….any ideas on how to hide it from them? ;-)

    • Amanda Paa

      Glad to have you here Hillary! I think sometimes why others think they “don’t like squash” is because it has been prepared in a way that isn’t too appealing, or the texture isn’t great. So if they’re introduced via a colorful, flavorful way, like the Wild Rice salad recipe I have here on the blog is a great place to start, or adding the puree to a sauce, such as that for mac and cheese.

  16. Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor

    You are the squash queen! I always love all of your squash recipes and would definitely love to see more unique acorn squash recipes. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of your book too!

  17. Traci | Vanilla And Bean


    I admit… my front porch is generally stocked this time of year with squash, but I’ve yet to load up… only a few are there now. But look out! This weekend, I’m going to the squash farm and will be taking the truck!

    This salad is gorgeous, Amanda. I love rice salads and do not make them enough. I love how they hold up in the fridge for dayyyyss and I can eat on them pretty much all week. Thank you for your tips on cutting squash. One thing I’ve learned too, over the years, is that one cannot get/be in a hurry while cutting squash. It’s just not going to end pretty. Thank you for this fabulous opportunity to win a copy of your book! Fingers crossed!

  18. Bethany

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Alexandra robertson

    Awesome reminder to use a sharp knife!!! I would love more recipes with kombucha because that is the next squash I want to tackle :)

  20. Laura Osburn

    Acorn squash! I love roasting acorn squash but I need some new ideas. It would be great to have this cookbook for all the Fall/Winter squash I’ll get in my CSA box this season.

  21. Dana S

    kabocha squash

  22. Sue

    Oh have I learned allot here today. Many food favorites in your recipe and since I needed to learn about massaging kale, I found another great recipe for Kale Apple Salad. Thank you ever so much. The Smitten with Squash Cookbook sound wonderful!

  23. DJ

    Any kind of squash really, but I would love to see more recipes for butternut squash.

  24. Jennifer

    What a great giveaway and book! Squash is a staple and to have recipes right at your hand is awesome!

    • Amanda Paa

      Yes, there are always so many ideas to play around with in the kitchen. Which is one of the reasons I’m glad winter squash season is so long! thanks for stopping by Jennifer.

  25. Heather

    An eight-ball squash recipe would be great!

  26. Crista

    I too, have been hoarding squash… I went crazy at the Farmers Market last week…
    I love your tips, they’re very helpful — especially the MELON BALLER! genius….

    you & I must be on the same wavelength, I pulled your book out
    (again) about a week or two ago. :)

    • Amanda Paa

      veggie lovers unite :) i think we may have to make something from the book when we go glamping. counting down the days!

  27. nosogirl

    I’d like to see a good recipe for spaghetti squash.

  28. Kathy

    we have a lot of local kabocha squash in our market. Would love some ideas for what to do with them.

  29. Jennifer Essad

    Hi! I’m in for all kinds. We didn’t grow up eating squash at all. I didn’t know what zucchini or yellow squash was until I was about 20 yrs old. I went to a party where someone brought a vegetable tray with small zucchini/yellow squash sliced for dipping. OMG, I thought about what we had been missing! I’ve baked pie pumpkins and then pureed but I haven’t done any types of squash. I’m so looking forward to your cookbook

  30. Mary Cochrane

    I pretty much love any kind of squash, so welcome any and all recipes.

    • Amanda Paa

      Awesome! I can’t wait to share more recipes with you.

  31. Bonnie Sanders

    I would love a recipe for a Kabocha squash. Thanks!

  32. Melissa Falk

    Great advice, Amanda. I always tense up when cutting thick squash like this one.

  33. Sj Dc

    Would love a recipe with a good substitute for spaghetti squash as they’re hard to come by in Asia

    • Amanda Paa

      that’s a tough one – spaghetti squash is really in a league of its own. there are no other varieties that i know of that create their own “strands” if you will. hopefully someone will start growing them in asia so you can experience one!