The Easiest Way to Peel Butternut Squash Is by Microwaving It

Melody has been an online writer for over five years. She is a genealogist who often writes about cultural ancestry and pet care.

Cucurbita Moschata has a hard outer skin

Cucurbita Moschata has a hard outer skin

Peeling Butternut Squash Is a Pain

I love butternut squash, don't you? While I enjoy eating it, I hate cooking it. Removing the skin is tedious work. Plus, because of the size, it can be difficult to hold on to. Just thinking about it makes me want to cross it off my grocery list.

I've learned an easy way to prepare this delicious side dish. All you need is a microwave-safe container, a microwave (of course!), and a fork. Well, having a butternut squash would be good, too. This method cuts your preparation time to just minutes. Isn't that worth giving it a try?

Step One: Prepare Your Squash

  1. Select a microwave-safe container with a lid. I used a container that had a steam vent on top. This makes for more thorough cooking and easier removal from the microwave.
  2. Wash the squash to remove any grit and dirt from the skin. If you are using a whole squash, cut it in half, and remove the seeds.
  3. Next, cut it into pieces to fit your container. If your container is large enough, you can halve the squash and cook each piece side by side. My container was a little small, so I cut my squash into chunks.
  4. Place the pieces in the container. Put a little bit of water in the bottom to prevent sticking. Place the lid on top with a little space to let the air escape or open the air vent if the lid has one.

Warning! Do not cook a whole squash in the microwave. I've heard horror stories. Even with air holes poked in the skin, the pressure can build up and it can explode. Don't take the easy way out. Cut it or chunk it before cooking.

You do not have to peel the squash! The skin comes off much easier after cooking.

I cut it into chunks so it would fit in my container

I cut it into chunks so it would fit in my container

Around the Kitchen

Step Two: Cook It

  1. Squash can take forever to cook in the oven, especially if it’s a large squash. I've found it’s much quicker in the microwave. I'm impatient. I'm always looking for the easy way out in the kitchen.
  2. Place your container in the microwave. Put the lid on. Leave a little space for steam to escape or open the vent. Heat on full power for 10 minutes. Test it with a fork. It should be soft. Let it cool for about 10-15 minutes.

On my first attempt, I was a little leery. I've had too many incidences of water evaporating and foods burning on the bottom. I checked mine at the 5 minute mark. Trust me, it wasn't anywhere near done. It was barely cooked. Another 5 minutes did the trick. It definitely needed 10 minutes to cook thoroughly.

Completely cooked, but skins are still intact

Completely cooked, but skins are still intact

Cooking Time Comparison

Cooking times vary depending on size and method. Baking whole sized, by far, takes the longest amount of time.

SizeMethodCooking Time


Baked in the oven

40-50 minutes

Cut in half


10-15 minutes

Cut into chunks


10 minutes

Cut into chunks


20-30 minutes

Step Three: Peel It

  1. Once your squash is cooled, you can peel it. Take a fork and gently slice away the skin. This was really easy with my chunks. If you’ve cooked a half squash, you might want to cut it into pieces that are easier to work with.

While I only used a fork, this might go easier with a butter knife. Hold the piece with the fork, then slice off the skin with the knife.

Compared to peeling an uncooked squash, this was a breeze. Half the time I'd end up peeling a finger along with the way. This whole process took me less than 3 minutes.

How’s that for easy?

Using a fork, the skin slides right off

Using a fork, the skin slides right off

But I Want to Cook It Later!

On occasion you might want to prepare and peel, but cook your squash by a different method. You may be creating a stew or some other dish where you need to have uncooked ingredients. No problem! Simply follow the steps above, but instead of cooking it fully for 10 minutes, microwave for 2-3 minutes. This will soften the skin and make it easier to peel.

It will still be somewhat difficult. However, if you've ever taken a peeler to a raw, uncooked squash, you will appreciate how much softer the skin is after microwaving.

Easiest way to peel for use later

A Good Source of Potassium

Why bother if it takes so much work to prepare? Aren't there other produce that are easier to prepare? First, it tastes so good. Unlike some winter squash, which can be bitter, it has a pleasant, sweet flavor. It is versatile and can be added to salads, stews, side dishes—you name it!

It's also a great source of potassium. Potassium is important because it aids in brain function and blood pressure management. Many people suffer from potassium deficiency, which leaves them with symptoms like drowsiness, anxiety, nausea, and irregular heartbeat.

If you suffer from low potassium, can't or don't want to take supplements, add butternut squash to your diet. One cup cooked squash contains 696 mg. of potassium. For some people it is easiest to get nutrients from food than supplements for a variety of reasons. If you're bored with potatoes and bananas, you've got another option to choose from.

I mixed some of mine with vegetables and made a sandwich

I mixed some of mine with vegetables and made a sandwich

An easy way to prepare Butternut Squash

© 2014 Melody Lassalle


Melody Lassalle (author) from California on March 13, 2015:

Hannah, I agree. It's difficult to work with butternut squash. This method makes it so much easier. Thanks for your comments!

Hannah David Cini from Nottingham on March 12, 2015:

I am looking forward to trying this. I love squash but make rarely because it is such a pest to work with. Thanks so much for sharing this tip.

Melody Lassalle (author) from California on December 20, 2014:

Sunshine625, It can be tedious working with butternut squash. If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, they often sell it peeled and pre-cut. That's the easy way to do it! Thank you for your comments!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on December 20, 2014:

I've never cooked or eaten butternut squash, doubtful I will now after reading what a hassle it could be! :)

Angela F from Seattle, WA on September 22, 2014:

I don't eat butternut squash but the roommate does and often uses this technique for cooking it.

Melody Lassalle (author) from California on September 14, 2014:

MartieG and Linda, you're welcome! It sure makes it easier to do it this way.

Melody Lassalle (author) from California on September 14, 2014:

Jmsp206, this variety is one of those foods that can be enjoyed as is...no seasoning. It's so tasty!

Melody Lassalle (author) from California on September 14, 2014:

Brite-Ideas, it would not have crossed my mind if a friend hadn't warned me about her experience. It becomes a pretty good sized projectile when under pressure.

Linda Jo Martin from Post Falls, Idaho, USA on September 14, 2014:

I will try this, next time I have a butternut squash to cook. Thanks for the suggestions.

MartieG aka 'survivoryea' from Jersey Shore on September 14, 2014:

What a great tip-don't know why I have never thought to use the microwave for this-thanks

Julia M S Pearce from Melbourne, Australia on September 14, 2014:

Love butternut pumpkin. I usually cook it in the oven and leave the skin on, it can be quite taste.

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on September 13, 2014:

that was very helpful, thank you - I'll remember to do this the next time - glad I read the part about not cutting it up and what could happen, YIKES!

Melody Lassalle (author) from California on September 12, 2014:

Rhonda, my family never ate winter squash when I was growing up. When I went vegan and started trying these different varieties, I couldn't how much good stuff I was missing. I have arthritis in my hands and am not to be trusted with knives. LOL Anything that makes cooking easier I am all for.

Rhonda Albom from New Zealand on September 11, 2014:

We love butternut squash, pumpkin and just about any thing from the family. You are right, it's the time involved that makes them a less desirable cooking choice. Thanks for some great tips.

Melody Lassalle (author) from California on September 10, 2014:

You're welcome, Elle-Dee-Esse! Your pumpkin soup sounds delicious. I've found butternut and pumpkin are interchangeable in soups and stews.

Lynne Schroeder from Blue Mountains Australia on September 10, 2014:

Butternut is my favourite pumpkin. I do a mena pumpkin soup using butternut with kumera, potato, leek and carrot. We also love it baked with a whole roast. Thanks for the peeling tip, I'll give it a go

June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on September 06, 2014:

I cook butternut squash regularly to use in soup. I have not tried microwaving it before, but I will certainly give it a try the next time I cook one.

Melody Lassalle (author) from California on September 06, 2014:

The winter squashes tend to have a little bitterness. The butternut has a delicate, sweet flavor and it is my favorite.

Dianna Mendez on September 05, 2014:

I do love butternut squash and need to eat more of it now that I know how to peel it easily. Your sandwich idea looks pretty good and I'll have to give it a try.

annmackiemiller from Bingley Yorkshire England on September 05, 2014:

I do love butternut squash and know what you mean about preparing it - I don't have a microwave though so will just struggle on.

Melody Lassalle (author) from California on September 03, 2014:

Well now, if only I had a husband to peel my squash, I wouldn't need the microwave :D

Fay Favored from USA on September 03, 2014:

Butternut squash is one of my favorite veggies. Since my husband is the one who peels it I'll need to show this to him. Thanks for the quick tips.

Melody Lassalle (author) from California on August 28, 2014:

I've done spaghetti squash in the microwave also. It's so easy to get the insides out this way. And, it's so delicious. Butternut and Spaghetti are my favorite winter squashes.

CherylsArt on August 27, 2014:

I've cooked spaghetti squash in the microwave before, that was sliced in half, and then scooped out the insides. That was my peeling adventure. It was pretty easy.

Melody Lassalle (author) from California on August 27, 2014:

Pawpawwrites, I bet they must be delicious straight from the garden.

Jim from Kansas on August 27, 2014:

Good information to have. I plan to grow some next year.

Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on August 26, 2014:

It makes such perfect sense cooking it and then peeling it. I'll never try to peel it raw again!

Melody Lassalle (author) from California on August 25, 2014:

I have a friend who microwaved one whole. It exploded and a chunk blew the door open. She had quite a mess in the microwave and outside it.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on August 25, 2014:

Well, I always learn new ways to prepare veggies on Hubpages. Thanks for sharing

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on August 24, 2014:

You know, I've never cooked butternut squash. I love summer squash, yellow and zucchini, and fix it frequently but for some reason just never tried butternut. Maybe I knew, deep down... Anyway, clever method. Thanks for sharing!

mumsgather on August 21, 2014:

Your butternut squash sandwich looks really inviting. Thanks for sharing the way to peel it.

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on August 21, 2014:

I can easily imagine the mess it can do if you cook the all thing.... Next time I need to peel squash I'll use this method.

Susanna Duffy from Melbourne Australia on August 20, 2014:

No! Don't cook a whole butternut in the microwave oven! Believe me, it's not worth the hours of cleaning or, in my case, the cost of buying a new microwave. Wish I'd known this method before

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