Need an easy and reliable vegetable side dish idea? Ready in around 15 minutes, sautéed butternut squash goes with almost anything.
Make this recipe with frozen or fresh butternut squash – your choice. Lightly seasoned and both sweet and savory, it’s just as suitable for a weeknight dinner as it is for a special occasion such as Thanksgiving or dinner with guests!
✔ A back-pocket side dish recipe. Everyone needs a few trusty go-to side ideas when dinner just needs that little extra on the plate. You’ll go back to this recipe for sautéed butternut squash again and again… as well sautéed frozen green beans and sautéed frozen broccoli!
✔ Fast and effortless. When you’ve already put effort into a tasty main dish, who wants to spend a lot of time on a side? This simple butternut squash recipe takes barely 15 minutes, and uses only dried seasonings you probably already have in your pantry.
✔ Healthy! Butternut squash is nutrient-rich, low in fat and high in fiber.
✔ A stove-top recipe. We all love roasted veggies, but with this recipe you can get the same browned and caramelized effect… without having to turn on the oven!
✔ Make it with frozen butternut squash cubes, or fresh. Using ready-cubed frozen butternut squash makes this recipe even easier, but use fresh if you prefer.
✔ Serve with so many dishes and for ANY occasion! This sweet and savory cinnamon, allspice and herb-laced sautéed squash goes with so much – from weeknight favorites like panko chicken or Swedish meatballs, pork chops or grilled fish, to your Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey.
✔ Useful leftovers. Use the leftovers in too many ways to count – tossed through a salad such as this delicious pumpkin and feta salad with chorizo (switch the pumpkin for the butternut squash!), use on a pizza, add to pasta, and much much more.
So what does sauté actually mean, anyway? Well, it originates from the French word ‘sauter,’ meaning ‘to jump’! In other words, swift cooking in a bit of fat until browning occurs. I can’t help imagining the veggies playfully dancing in the pan as they cook!
Butternut squash: Whether you decide to use fresh or frozen butternut squash for this recipe (I like frozen just for the convenience), I’d recommend buying ready-cubed/chopped.
Of course, you can also buy either a whole or part of a butternut squash and peel and chop it yourself, but you’re going to need a little more time for that.
If you decide on frozen, it’s absolutely fine to pan-fry the butternut squash straight from frozen. Win!
Olive oil: Just a couple of tablespoons of this is what I use to sauté the butternut squash in. Nice and healthy!
Dried seasonings, herbs and spices: As well as salt and pepper, I like to add a touch of cinnamon and allspice for sweetness, depth of flavor and warmth, a hint of garlic powder, and around a teaspoon of mixed dried herbs.
These flavors go perfectly with the natural sweetness of the squash. However, if you don’t have allspice, you could use nutmeg instead.
My favorite ‘mixed herb’, blend to use in this dish is (all or some of) rosemary, marjoram, thyme and sage. A blend including tarragon would work well, too. Ultimately, it’s fine to add whatever dried herbs you already have in your pantry!
Melted butter: For extra holiday vibes (as if the cinnamon and allspice wasn’t enough!), melt a couple of teaspoons of butter into the butternut squash after you’ve pan-roasted it. The resulting taste is divine!
Fresh herbs (to serve): This is definitely optional, but a small sprinkle of chopped parsley, basil, coriander or another fresh herb adds color and extra flavor.
How to make sautéed butternut squash
The step-by-step guide below should help you make the recipe perfectly first time. Scroll down to the end for the full recipe including ingredient amounts.
Firstly, heat up 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan/skillet on a medium-high heat.
Add the cubed butternut squash (in the photos below I used frozen) to the pan and stir until well coated in the oil.
Sprinkle over the dried seasonings (salt, pepper, dried spices and herbs). Then sauté for 10 to 15 minutes until tender and golden in parts. You don’t have to stir continuously, just every now and again.
Just before serving, melt in the little bit of butter and stir well. Sprinkle over fresh herbs to serve, if you like and happen to have some.
Helen’s top tips
Worth mentioning again… to make this a super easy recipe, choose pre-chopped frozen cubed butternut squash.
For best results, stir-fry until the butternut squash is not only tender but also golden brown and caramelized (at least in parts).
Bear in mind that larger cubes of squash (around an inch) will take a little longer to cook than smaller ones (1-2 cm). Both sizes are fine!
- Toss nuts or seeds through towards the end of cooking. How about pumpkin or sunflower seeds, chopped hazelnuts, flaked almonds, walnuts or pecans?
- Include some cubes of apple in the mix for extra sweetness and fruity flavor.
- Stir-fry some bacon along with the butternut squash. Pancetta or chorizo would also work. This dish has so much potential for ‘sweet and salty’ vibes!
- Sprinkle just a little crumbled feta cheese, goat cheese or blue cheese over the top just before serving.
- Serving for Christmas or Thanksgiving? How about adding some cooked chestnuts to the sautéed squash?
- Chili and butternut squash can be great friends! Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, chili flakes or a small chopped chilli as you sauté the veggies. Finish with a sprinkle of lime juice if you like.
- Stir-fry some chopped mushrooms together with the squash. You’ll be surprised by how well these two veggies pair together. Adding other veggies can work well, too, such as chopped onions or brussels sprouts.
How to serve
Try your delicious stovetop butternut squash with any kind of chicken. How about this super easy 5-ingredient lemon feta chicken, this 30-minute chicken and rice, or these easy spinach and feta stuffed chicken breasts?
In fact, I think this tasty seasoned butternut squash recipe goes perfectly as an easy side dish with any kind of meat or fish.
Keep your dinner super simple by pairing with just bread toasted with olive oil and salt, or serve with some simple potatoes – any way you like!
Leftover ideas: You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to ways to use any delicious pan-roasted butternut squash leftovers! Sprinkle them onto a pizza, or grilled cheese sandwich, toss through a salad, or add to a pie, quiche, frittata or omelette.
You want the butternut squash cubes to be browned and caramelized, but of course not burned. To achieve this, simply cook on a medium-high heat, and stir regularly while sautéing. If it’s starting to brown too much but is still not tender inside, then simply turn the heat down a little.
Yes, absolutely. Simply store covered or in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Gently reheat over medium heat in a large pan until hot and lightly crisp again.
Yes, you could freeze sautéed butternut squash for up to 2 months in an airtight container or freezer bag. When ready to eat, either defrost overnight in the fridge or simply reheat straight from frozen as described above. Remember to use a large pan and to shake regularly to avoid burning or overcooking.
Yes, it does. If using sweet potato, the cooking time may be a bit faster. It’ll be ready when tender, browned and caramelized.
More super easy side dishes
When I’m not in a potatoes, pasta or rice mood, it’s this 2-minute olive oil toast I turn to time and time again.
Or see all easy side dishes.
Easy Sautéed Butternut Squash
Equipment (affiliate links)
Ingredients (UK/Australia? Click below for grams/ml)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound butternut squash (frozen or fresh – ready-cubed and peeled) I find this is roughly around half a butternut squash.
- ½ teaspoon salt or add more to taste at the end
- ¼ teaspoon pepper or add more to taste at the end
- ⅓ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅓ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon allspice or substitute with nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs Try to choose a mix with rosemary, marjoram, thyme, sage or similar if possible, or use a mix of any dried herbs you have.
- 2 teaspoons butter (optional)
- fresh parsley, coriander or basil to garnish (optional)
- Pre-heat the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan on a medium-high heat.2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Add the frozen or fresh butternut squash cubes to the pan. Stir briefly with a wooden spoon just until the vegetables are coated in the oil.1 pound butternut squash
- Sprinkle the dried seasonings and herbs all over the butternut squash. Then sauté on a medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until the veggies are perfectly tender and caramelized. Bear in mind that smaller cubes of squash (1-2cm) will require less cooking than larger ones (1 inch for instance).½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ⅓ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs, ⅓ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Just before serving, melt the butter over the cooked butternut squash and stir well.2 teaspoons butter
- Serve sprinkled with the fresh herbs, if using.fresh parsley, coriander or basil