Butternut Squash with Cinnamon

Simple food makes for the best food.  The key to preparing simple food well is to purchase the very best ingredients you can find: in that way, their natural flavors are liberated. Some of the simplest preparations allow the beauty of those subtle flavors to stand on their own, albeit  dressed with a little butte.  This is such a dish.  It’s so simple I hesitate in posting as though there should be greater fanfare to its three humble ingredients, as though you might shrug and say to yourself, “Squash, butter and cinnamon?  That’s it, really?”

It’s a lovely food, and despite its utter simplicity, it’s worth sharing.

At the end of our farmers market season, we purchase winter squash by the case: pounds of butternut, delicata, acorn and Cinderella squash that we hide in baskets on countertops, in boxes in the unused fireplace – even on the bookshelf.  It’s our way of maintaining our commitment to local foods well beyond the harvest season when the days grow dark and nothing grows in the billows of glacial snow.  We also purchase cases of carrots and turnips and celeriac.  We purchase bushels of apples and pears – and several pints of berries which end up in the freezer.  Never mind the heirloom tomatoes – we put up two cases a week for the last six weeks of the market.  What this means for my family is that, aside from fresh greens and citrus, we eat from our market for months after it closes.

Those cases of squash sustain us.  We serve winter squash, in one form or another, at least twice a week throughout the winter.  The acorn squash are the first to go.  They don’t last long.  Next go the Cinderella squash which can go mushy in the blink of an eye if you don’t act quickly enough. The delicata quickly follow, but the butternut squash – they outlast everything and we’ll eat them well into March and April.  And as the butternut squash age, they grow sweeter so that those final butternuts we enjoy in the middle of April are sweeter than any dessert.

Winter squash, like all strikingly colorful foods, is rich in nutrients – particularly carotenoids which are thought to offer anticarcinogenic properties and fight inflammation. Winter squash is also quite rich in many vitamins and minerals including folate, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese.  Butter, included in this recipe, adds a velvety touch to the squash and also enables your body to better assimilate the nutrients the squash contains; remember: we need fat to absorb our nutrients.

butternut squash with cinnamon

By Jenny Published: February 9, 2010

  • Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
  • Prep: 05 mins
  • Cook: 40 to 60 minutes (baking time) mins
  • Ready In: 45 mins

So sweet it borders on a dessert, this warm squash purée combines the simplest of ingredients for a side-dish packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. While a food processor is not necessary for recreating this recipe, I find that it really helps to produce a very smooth purée with a beautiful, soft and appealing velvety texture.


  • oil or fat (for greasing the squash)
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp butter or clarified butter (from grass-fed cows)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • dash unrefined sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Split and seed the butter nut squash, then grease its skin with any oil or fat and place it flesh-side down in a casserole dish or clay baker.
  3. Add about one to two cups water to the casserole dish and roast the squash at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until tender and easily pierced with the tines of a fork, about forty to sixty minutes.
  4. Remove the squash from the oven and allow it to cool until you can easily handle the squash without gloves.
  5. Spoon out the squash’s bright orange flesh and place it in a food processor or stand mixer along with two tablespoons butter, one teaspoon ground cinnamon and a dash unrefined sea salt.
  6. Process until well-blended and quite smooth.
  7. Serve warm.

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What people are saying

  1. Kate DuBois says

    Thanks for the info on the life cycle of squash – winter, acorn, Cinderella, delicato, butternut – I never knew this. And I can’t wait to try this recipe. It’s a perfect fit for a new program I’m working with by Melonie Dodaro, a health expert and the author of The Mind Body FX Lifestyle, which recommends local fresh vegetables wherever possible. I’ll be back! Kate

  2. Carolyn says

    We will be having butternut squash tonight, so I will use this recipe on the gang. I usually peel, cube and roast in the oven for an hour with coconut oil or tallow and quartered red onions. We too are winter squash fiends. Can’t get enough of them and we eat them at least 4 times a week. We have been blessed with a “fraidy hole” as the locals call them – a storm cellar. We can store a ton of food just like our grandparents used too.

    I really enjoy your posts, thank you for all the footwork you do for all of us!!

  3. says

    I think I’m going to make this tonight. I bought about 10 butternut squash back in November and I’m down to two. I also bought a bunch of sweet potatoes back in October and I’m about done with those as well. Good thing spring is just around the corner!

  4. Janice says

    Yum! We love butternut squash here too! I have never put oil or fat on the skin before though. Does that help it cook faster or help with peeling at all? Just curious!

  5. Jenny says

    Tiffany –

    You will LOVE the butternut squash recipe.  It’s tremendous – so simply, but so flavorful.  Sometimes we even leave out the cinnamon.

    – Jenny

  6. Jenny says

    Bernadine –

    Did you get your tin and recipe cards yet?  I hope so!  You’ve GOT to try the molasses custard in there.  It’s so luscious.

    – Jenny

  7. Mallory says

    I just fell in love with butternut squash this fall–it is so versatile! I can’t wait to try this recipe! I am curious about your comments in the headnotes about heirloom tomatoes. How do you store them for months without them spoiling? I thought tomatoes were not supposed to go in cold storage because it kills the flavor, so I did not stock up and am desperately missing them now!!! Any tips on how I can enjoy them into these dark wintery days would be greatly appreciated!

  8. bobcat says

    Anyone else get nervous putting hot-ish things in their food processor because of the synthetic material the bowl is made out of?

    Mine is one of the pricey-er Kitchenaid ones and very sturdy (so it’s not like it’s flexible plastic and therefore chock-full of plasticizers), but I still get nervous, because the bowl does have a “chemical-ish” smell to it (it’s still kind of new). Sigh.

    I know I could always use a blender that has a glass pitcher, but I like the idea of having a food processor for certain things.

    I realize you can’t be afraid of everything, and that this is a drop in the bucket compared to people that drink out of plastic bottles everyday. It still doesn’t sit well with me though, and I wonder how I’ll feel about it someday when I’m pregnant (when things like this are even more important).

    Just wondering if I’m the only one that worries about this.

  9. bobcat says

    PS–thanks for the recipe! Even when something is so simple, it’s always nice to get ideas, because sometimes it’s the simple ideas that go right over our heads, in a “why have I never tried that?” kind of way.

  10. Jennifer says

    I sometimes use Frontier’s Apple pie spice mix or their pumpkin pie spice mix on baked squashes. My favorite use for butternut squash though is in pie. No crust, just eggs, coconut milk, squash and a splash of maple syrup. Yum. Pie is also the only way I can get my preschooler to eat winter squashes.

  11. Trevor says

    About the food processor and the heat inside the plastic bowl, the clean up, etc…

    I would just scoop it out in a larger bowl and mix everything up with a fork or a potato masher.

    I think the fp may be a bit overkill for the task at hand. The cooked squash should be quite soft as is.

  12. says

    I made this tonight using my hand blender. I’m normally a big sugar fiend so I was surprised when this tasted sweet by itself. I’m not sure it’d be a dessert for us but it made a very tasty side dish.

  13. says

    I’ve made this several times and Love it! Once I substituted coconut oil for the butter and it was good, different, but still really good. I saw on your FB awhile back that you oil your winter squash to help them last longer. I meant to ask then, but forgot and can’t find the post, what oil do you use on them? And what is the purpose of oiling them? I have a guess about the oil adding another protective barrier, besides the skin, so that the squash is less exposed to the air, but if there is something more, or I’m entirely wrong, I would love to know. I love sharing your recipes with friends and family, knowing they will be more nourished if they make them. Thank you.

  14. Heather says

    Three cheers for squash! Thanks for providing a wonderful recipe – I love having the basic recipes right at my fingertips. I used my immersion blender and the puree came out like fluffy silk.

  15. Monica says

    I love squash too & have one left from last fall. I always put the whole squash in the oven to cook. It’s so much easier than cutting the hard outside of it. It comes out so moist. I am wondering if I should still grease the skin?

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