But even the most reliably delicious of ingredients has its flaws, and butternut squash in particular has a big one: peeling it is beyond difficult—not to mention, frustrating. After a close encounter between my thumb and a knife, I decided to do a bit of YouTube detective work (I've acquired most of my life skills this way) in hopes of finding a better, safer way.
In the process, I stumbled upon a video tutorial showcasing a butternut squash-peeling method that claimed to be the fastest and the easiest, thanks to an ultra-simple trick: use the microwave.
Now, if you're more experienced and adept in the kitchen than I am, there's a solid chance you already consider this "hack" old news. But if, like me, you find this method to be a revelation, here's a step-by-step guide:
Behold your beautiful butternut squash, in all its winter glory.
Furiously poke holes all over the squash with a fork.
Using the same knife that almost cost you a finger, carefully cut off the top and bottom off of the squash.
Microwave the squash for at least 3 minutes and 30 seconds (you might need to go a little longer, depending on the size, but that should do the trick).
Let the squash cool to the point where it doesn't hurt to hold it, and peel away the skin with ease! (In the video, she uses a paring knife or vegetable peeler, but I've found you can also use your hands.)
And with just a few minutes in the microwave, butternut squash—which I both loved and feared all at once—becomes just like any other easily roast-able (this trick actually cuts down on time in the oven slightly), toast-able, puree-able, Instant Pot-able ingredient. This little bit of magic leaves you with nothing to worry about except what you're going to do with it. (Hint: There are many, many options.)
A Genius Way to Use Butternut Squash
What's your favorite butternut squash recipe? Tell us in the comments below!
Erin Alexander is the Associate Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.