This Sautéed Butternut Squash is caramelized to perfection on the stovetop, then lightly seasoned with garlic, salt, and pepper. Made in only 25 minutes with just 5 ingredients, this quick and easy vegetable side dish recipe highlights the natural sweetness of this tasty winter squash and is ideal for a busy weeknight dinner. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan-friendly.
Butternut squash is one of my favorite ingredients to use in fall and winter recipes. It's simple, versatile, and hearty enough to stand on its own.
With its sweet, nutty flavor and tender texture, this simple sautéed butternut squash is a dish that will quickly become a staple in your kitchen. Whether you're serving it as a side dish on Thanksgiving or adding it to your favorite recipes throughout the week, sautéed butternut squash with garlic is an easy and delicious way to enjoy this seasonal ingredient.
I chose to keep the seasonings to a minimum in this recipe to allow the natural sweetness of the squash to shine. However, this tasty winter squash pairs well with a lot of flavors. Feel free to use this recipe as a template and get creative.
So, if you're ready to learn how to sauté butternut squash on the stovetop, keep reading to learn everything you need to know to make this simple side dish recipe.
Some links throughout this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you’re willing to use them, it helps fund this site and allows me to continue to provide content. I appreciate your support!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Ready in 25 Minutes- A quick vegetable side dish you can have on the table in no time. Perfect for a busy weeknight dinner!
- Only 5 Ingredients- Just butternut squash, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Healthy- Butternut squash is packed with fiber, vitamin A, potassium, and plenty of other nutritious vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Flavorful- The sweet flavor of butternut squash is deliciously balanced with a bit of garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Perfect for Fall- It doesn't get more fall than butternut squash. Pair this sautéed butternut squash with roasted meat and vegetables for a hearty, fall-inspired meal.
- Customizable- I kept the seasoning simple for this recipe, but feel free to add whichever spices and herbs you enjoy with butternut squash.
Here are some notes on the key ingredients. For the full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Butternut Squash- I recommend cubing a whole butternut squash at home for this recipe. Not only is it fresher and more flavorful, but it is also more cost-effective than buying pre-cubed butternut squash. See tips below for how to peel and cut butternut squash.
- Light Olive Oil- Use light olive oil or another cooking oil with a high smoke point, such as canola oil, avocado oil, or sunflower oil.
- Garlic Powder- Gives the squash a wonderful garlic flavor that pairs well with other savory dishes.
- Kosher Salt- Balances the sweetness of the butternut squash and adds flavor.
- Black Pepper- Adds flavor and a mild heat.
Quick Tip: Fresh, ripe butternut squash should have matte tan skin without any green coloring or dark brown blemishes. When squeezed, butternut squash should feel firm. If the squash feels squishy or has any soft spots, it's a sign it's past its prime.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make this easy sautéed butternut squash.
Step 1: Cook the squash. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet. Add the cubed butternut squash to the skillet, spreading it out into a single layer. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook butternut squash for 5-7 minutes. The part of the squash touching the skillet should be nicely browned and caramelized. Stir the squash and reduce the heat to medium-low. Place the lid back on the skillet and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the squash is soft and tender.
Step 2: Season the squash. Sprinkle the garlic powder, salt, and pepper evenly over the squash, stirring to ensure all of the squash is well-seasoned. Remove the skillet from the heat and serve.
How to Peel and Cut Butternut Squash
Step 1: Remove the ends. Using a sharp chef's knife, remove about a ½-inch from both ends of the squash.
Step 2: Peel the squash. Secure the squash with one hand and use a sharp vegetable peeler in the other hand to remove the skin. Long strokes down the length of the squash typically work best.
Step 3: Cut the squash in half. Stand the squash upright on a cutting board. The squash should feel securely planted. Cut it in half lengthwise using a sharp chef's knife. If you're having trouble getting the knife through, very carefully use a meat mallet or similar tool to gently tap the knife through the squash.
Step 4: Remove the seeds. Use an ice cream scoop or metal spoon to remove the seeds and scrape out the stringy bits.
Step 5: Cut the squash into slices. Lay each half of the butternut squash cut side down on the cutting board. Going from top to bottom, cut the squash into ½-inch slices.
Step 6: Dice the squash. Once all of the butternut squash is sliced, cut each slice into ½-inch cubes.
Tips for Success
- Cube your own butternut squash. Preparing your own butternut squash from home takes a few extra minutes, but is so worth it. Pre-cubed squash is often more expensive than whole butternut squash. Plus, freshly cut squash has more flavor and nutrients than squash that was cut days earlier.
- Use the right type of skillet. Cooked butternut squash is very soft. And preventing it from sticking to your skillet can be challenging. Using a well-seasoned cast iron skillet is your best bet. However, a Teflon-free non-stick skillet can also be used.
- Let the squash caramelize. Don't be tempted to stir the squash too often, especially when you first add it to the skillet. You want to let the squash caramelize before stirring. I recommend letting the squash cubes sear for a good 5-7 minutes before moving them.
- Mix up the seasonings. I kept this recipe simple, but butternut squash is so versatile and pairs well with lots of flavors. Try adding some rosemary, thyme, and onion powder for even more flavor.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few ways you can try customizing this sautéed butternut squash recipe to fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Butternut Squash- Diced pumpkin, acorn squash, hubbard squash, sweet potato, and carrots can all be sautéed using this same method. However, the cook time may vary depending on the vegetable.
- Olive Oil- Use your favorite high-heat oil in place of olive oil. If you want to use butter, I recommend mixing it with a little oil so it doesn't burn before the squash finishes cooking.
- Garlic Powder- Substitute 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic for garlic powder. Alternatively, use garlic-infused olive oil to cook the squash.
- Kosher Salt- Swap kosher salt for sea salt or table salt, if preferred.
- Black Pepper- Try red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper instead of black pepper for a little more heat.
- Smoky- Smoked paprika pairs beautifully with the sweetness of caramelized butternut squash. I recommend using ¼ to ½ teaspoon in this recipe.
- Spicy- Add a few shakes of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to make spicy sautéed butternut squash cubes.
- Herbed- Butternut squash pairs exceptionally well with winter herbs, like thyme, rosemary, and sage. An herbed version of this recipe makes for a delicious and simple Thanksgiving side dish.
- Sweet- Highlight the natural sweetness of butternut squash by seasoning it with cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar or maple syrup.
- Mix-Ins- Add pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, ground sausage, or wild rice to the butternut squash to make it a more hearty side dish.
What to Serve With Sautéed Butternut Squash
This easy vegetable side dish pairs well with many meals. Here are a few of my favorite recipes to serve with pan-fried butternut squash.
- Slow-Braised Turkey Breast
- Ground Turkey Shepherd's Pie
- Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Breast
- Lemon-Garlic Roasted Chicken
- Dutch Oven Chicken Pot Pie
- Air Fryer Chicken Sausage
- Braised Beef With Mushroom Gravy
- Parmesan-Crusted Air Fryer Halibut
- Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
How to Use Leftover Butternut Squash
Whether you have leftover raw or cooked butternut squash, there are a lot of different ways to use it. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use leftover butternut squash.
- Add to quiche, frittata, or omelette
- Purée and make muffins or quick bread
- Top a fall-inspired green salad or grain salad
- Mix into pasta dishes
- Make soup or curry
- Fill tacos, enchiladas, burritos, or tacos
- Top a pizza or flatbread
Storage and Reheating
How to Store
- Refrigerator- Store leftover butternut squash in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
- Freezer- For longer storage, freeze leftover butternut squash in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
Fun Fact: Whole, raw butternut squash can last up to 3 months when stored in a cool, dark place.
How to Reheat
- Stovetop- Heat a small amount of oil or butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add the squash and heat, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until fully warmed through.
- Oven- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the leftover squash cubes out evenly on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. Heat the squash for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.
- Microwave- Place the butternut squash in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a lid or damp paper towel. Heat on HIGH in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until the squash is fully warmed through.
- Air Fryer- Preheat the air fryer to 325°F for 5 minutes. Spray the basket with cooking spray and add the leftover butternut squash cubes. Heat for 4-5 minutes or until fully warmed through.
When it comes to meal prepping, it doesn't get more flexible than butternut squash. Cut the raw butternut squash into cubes and store it in an airtight container for up to 7 days before cooking.
Alternatively, sauté the butternut squash up to 3 days before serving. If making ahead, I recommend cooking the butternut squash for a minute or two less than stated in the recipe. Then, when you reheat it, it will be cooked perfectly.
Frequently Asked Questions
For this recipe, I recommend removing the skin. While butternut squash skin is technically edible, it is a little tough and unpleasant to eat in my opinion. But, if you enjoy it, feel free to leave it on.
If you're struggling to peel and cut raw butternut squash, soften it in the microwave. Simply remove about ½-inch from both ends of the squash. Then, poke holes all over the butternut squash and microwave for 3 minutes. Allow it to cool before peeling and cubing. Keep in mind, this may shorten the cook time slightly.
When cut into ½ to ¾-inch cubes and covered with a lid, it takes about 12 minutes to fully cook butternut squash in a skillet over medium heat.
When fully cooked through, the butternut squash cubes should be soft and easy to pierce with a fork.
More Butternut Squash Recipes
Sautéed Butternut Squash
- 1 ½-2 pound whole butternut squash (approx. 3 cups cubed) peeled and cut into ½ to ¾-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet. Add the cubed butternut squash to the skillet, spreading it out into a single layer. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 5-7 minutes. Stir the squash and reduce the heat to medium-low. Place the lid back on the skillet and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the squash is soft and tender.
- Sprinkle the garlic powder, salt, and pepper evenly over the squash, stirring to ensure all of the squash is well-seasoned. Remove the skillet from the heat and serve.
- Quick Tip: Use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or a Teflon-free non-stick skillet to ensure the cooked butternut squash does not stick to your pan.
- Storage: Store leftover cooked butternut squash in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Make Ahead: Butternut squash can be cubed and stored raw in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.