How to Soften a Butternut Squash

Updated April 17, 2017

Few things are as frustrating as having to labour over cutting tough vegetables like butternut squash, particularly when you are already pressed for time in your meal preparation. Butternut squash is an incredibly versatile and delicious vegetable that can be used in a variety of meals such as soups, mixed roasted vegetables, stews and baby food. Softening butternut squash will make it easier to prepare and use. The best part is, softening is quick and relatively easy, meaning your dinner will be back on track in no time.

Rinse the butternut squash with cold water. Scrub off any dirt or residue from stickers.

Pierce the skin of the squash with a fork in a few places. Make sure you pierce all sides of the squash. In total, there should be between 20 to 30 small holes in your squash.

Microwave the squash at full power for three minutes. After microwaving, it is normal for liquid to ooze out of the holes you made. The squash should be warm but you should still be able to pick it up bare-handed. If it's too hot, wait until you can pick it up with bare hands to proceed to the next step.

Cut off the top and bottom of your squash using a sharp chef's knife.

Set it upright on your cutting board and peel the rest of the skin with the same knife, paring from top to bottom. You can also use a vegetable peeler at this point if the skin of the squash has softened enough.

Once fully peeled and cut, the squash should still hold itself together while being much softer. Proceed with your recipe from this point, but cut the cooking time down, by a much as a half, to compensate for the softness.


This softening technique can be used for other hard squashes including acorn squash, winter squash and yellow squash.


Exercise caution when using sharp knives. Even softened squash has some toughness to it, and resistance may be required. Always reduce the cooking time for softened squashed to avoid an overly cooked meal.

Things You'll Need

  • Fork
  • Chef's knife
  • Peeler
  • Cutting board
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About the Author

Marie-Pier Rochon has been writing since 2005. She has served as a writer at PlaceForPoeple and a newsletter writer for the Creative Sydney festival. Previously, Rochon also worked as a communications adviser for various Canadian federal agencies. She earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors in organizational communications from the University of Ottawa.