Maple roasted buttercup squash is so easy to prepare and has such fantastic flavor. The perfect side to many a meal, it's comforting and delicious.
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At this time of year, we often get squash in our vegetable box, which is not such a surprise, really, but is also something I am glad about. I also love seeing the brightly colored displays in the farmers market and even the supermarket.
There are so many ways to use squash in recipes, whether as a side, a component of a main or the star itself, they never get boring. Plus the flavors and textures are perfect for this time of year.
While I have made everything from squash gnocchi to squash and cheese biscuits/scones, roasting and making soups (like delicata squash soup) are definite favorites. However I am always finding new ways within these favorites, and new squash to try out.
Working with different winter squash varieties
I didn't grow up with lots of different types of squash, but over the years, I have loved getting to know the different qualities of the different varieties. And I don't just mean their shapes and sizes.
Some are sweeter, others less so. They can be dense, or more tender. As a result, some are better for different uses. Though that said, there are a few ways that work with most winter squash.
With nearly all squash, you can be fairly safe with a few cooking methods:
- Dice and steam - typically 10min or so, depending on squash and size of pieces. Make sure you test with a knife to see if tender, then remove. You can then serve this way or use for eg soup or mashed.
- Halve and bake - remove seeds then place cut side down on a medium-low temp eg 350F/175C for at least 40 mins, depending on the type and size. You may need to cover the skin to avoid it getting too browned. This then gives a vessel you can stuff or tender flesh to scoop and use for other uses - this is how I prepare pumpkin for pumpkin pie.
- Dice or slice and roast - this is far and away my favorite, whether as below with maple or simply with oil. Roasted squash are perfect as a side either as they are, or mixed into salads like my kabocha squash salad.
Identifying buttercup squash
Buttercup squash has a dark green skin and is a relatively dark orange flesh. The outside can look almost similar to acorn squash, but the inside color is more like butternut. The texture and flavor is relatively similar to butternut too - it has that same smooth texture and isn't stringy.
Many, though not all, have a paler green 'cap' as you can see in the photos here which helps to distinguish it from acorn squash. It's sometimes called turban squash, and you can probably see why when it has this shape. The ridges tend to be less pronounced and skin less shiny than acorn squash, too.
Like many other winter squash, it can be a little hard to cut, so take care and use a sharp knife. You can eat the skin once cooked, though I admit I prefer to peel it off as it can go a little chewy.
What does buttercup squash taste like?
Buttercup squash is relatively sweet and smooth in texture. It's probably closest in flavor to butternut or kabocha, though without quite as much depth of flavor as the latter.
What I really like about it is the fact it's that bit lighter than butternut. It's not got that denseness like a potato or parsnip, it's more fluffy like sweet potato. You can easily substitute it for most other sweeter squashes and sweet potato in a range of recipes. Or prepare it in this simple, tasty way, of course.
I debated whether or not to bother sharing this with you as it seems too ridiculously simple. However given I hadn't found all that many recipes for buttercup squash when I was looking, I figured it might be as well to add to the list.
Plus, there is nothing wrong with an easy recipe if the result is something tasty, which is certainly the case here.
The maple syrup doesn't make it overly sweet, it more just enhances the natural sweetness and helps give you little caramelized bits around the edge. And who doesn't like caramelized bits?!
You can keep it simple with just oil and maple syrup, or else add some salt and pepper, or a touch of spice such as cinnamon or cayenne, or some herbs like rosemary or thyme. Alternatively, pair it with a sauce or top with eg gremolata after cooking.
This maple roasted buttercup squash is such an easy, tasty side, and so versatile in what you pair it with. The recipe works equally well with many other squash, too, although I do recommend trying buttercup squash, it was a great discovery for us a few years ago and one we still enjoy when we see it. Either way, get roasting and enjoy!
Try these other tasty roasted squash sides:
- Butternut squash wild rice salad
- Kaddo bowrani (Afghan pumpkin)
- Kabocha no nimono (Japanese simmered squash)
- Plus get more fall recipes in the archives.
Maple roasted buttercup squash
- 14 oz squash 400g, peeled and de-seeded weight (half a medium squash)
- 1 tablespoon oil olive oil, or vegetable/canola (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Pre-heat the oven to 375-400F/190-200C (can vary temp to suit whatever else you are cooking).
- Remove the seeds from the middle of the squash and peel off the skin (or not, if you prefer). Dice the squash into large bite-size chunks and place in an oven dish.
- Drizzle over the oil and maple syrup and toss the squash so all of the chunks are covered in both.
- Roast for approximately 40 minutes until the squash is soft and starting to caramelize. It's worth checking roughly halfway through cooking and turning any pieces of squash that look slightly dry to help them cook evenly.
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This post has been updated with additional photos and information but the recipe itself remains the same (already delicious! 🙂 )