Instant Pot butternut squash is among the quickest recipes that you can do with this delectable winter squash. The cooker’s high pressure can soften up the squash’s tough flesh in as little as 20 minutes.
You can make Instant Pot butternut squash as a simple side dish for your salads. But you can also seamlessly incorporate it into grander recipes such as butternut squash enchilada or butternut squash casserole.
Here’s everything you need to know.
How to Prepare Butternut Squash
1. How to Tell if a Butternut Squash Is Bad and Select a Good One
For starters, you need to get your hands on some quality butternut squashes. There are a few things to look out for that can help you determine a good one from a bad one.
First, the coloring. Most butternut squashes have a tan or beige color. Pick the squashes with the brightest, most vibrant coloring. Avoid those with darker shades.
You should also avoid squashes that have green patches on their skin. Green patches mean the squash hasn’t fully ripened. It’s okay to eat unripened butternut squash. However, because it tastes savory rather than sweet, accidentally picking an unripened squash can ruin the recipe you’re aiming for.
Secondly, take the texture of the skin into consideration. It should not feel waxy or look shiny. Once again, this means that the squash was harvested too early and it is not at its prime just yet. Pick ones that have a matte finish.
The toughness of the skin is the third thing. Dig your fingernails slightly into its skin. If the squash gives easily, it’s not ripe yet. After all, butternut squashes are notorious for their tough outer skin. Something is definitely not right if the skin is soft and pliable.
Weight is the last thing to look out for. A ripened butternut squash is quite heavy, so you should choose the squashes that feel heavy for their size.
Lastly, give the squash a light knock. A ripe butternut squash will sound hollow instead of solid.
2. How to Peel a Butternut Squash
Butternut squash has very tough flesh and can be challenging to cut even with a well-sharpened knife. As such, exercise caution while you’re prepping it to avoid injuries.
First, lay the squash on its side on a cutting board. Slice a ¼-inch portion off the bottom of the squash. Cut off the stem end in the same manner (¼ inch).
Stand the squash upright and cut off the skin using a sharp vegetable peeler.
If you don’t have a vegetable peeler at hand, you can do it with a knife. It’s similar to peeling a watermelon. Find the point where the skin meets the flesh and cut downward.
Some of the flesh will come off alongside the skin, but that’s to be expected.
How to Soften Up the Skin of the Butternut squash
If your butternut squash is too tough for you to cut, don’t proceed any further. You may injure yourself in the process.
Instead, there is a small trick that you can use to soften it up.
Use either a fork or the tip of a small knife to pierce holes in the outer skin. Then, place the squash into the microwave for about 2 minutes. After the short stint in the microwave, it should have softened considerably.
Cut as you normally would.
3. How to Cut a Butternut Squash
Once the tough outer skin is off, stand the squash upright to see if it is stable. If it leans to one side or is wobbly, carefully cut a small portion off the bottom to even it out.
With your knife, cut the squash in half right down the middle. This part can be rather difficult to do as butternut squashes are tough. If you have difficulty cutting it, tap the knife with a rubber mallet. That should give the knife the force it needs to cut through the squash.
There will be a cavity at the core of the squash. Use a spoon to scoop out all of the seeds and the pulp.
When the squash is hollowed out, lay each squash half on the cutting board.
At this point, you have two options. The first option is to put both halves into the Instant Pot as they are. This takes less work, but the cooking time is going to be a bit longer.
Your second option is to cut up the squash into 1-inch cubes, making it much easier to cook in the Instant Pot. To do this, cut the two squash halves into slices lengthwise. Each slice should have a width of 1 inch.
Lay the slices on a flat surface. You can also stack two or three of them on top of one another to make the process quicker.
Cut crosswise in 1-inch segments and you have yourself some cubed butternut squash ready to cook.
How to Cook Instant Pot Butternut Squash
You can actually try two recipes with an Instant Pot. The first is the classic pressure-cooked butternut squash recipe. Since this is the default cooking mode of the Instant Pot, most people just refer to it as “Instant Pot butternut squash”.
But an Instant Pot typically has several cooking modes, one of which is slow cooking. So, you can also try slow-cooked butternut squash if you’re up for it.
1. Instant Pot Butternut Squash
Use this recipe if you decide to leave your butternut squash in two halves.
Take out a steamer basket and lay it at the bottom of your Instant Pot. Then, put your two halves of butternut squash side by side in the basket.
Pour 1 cup of water into the pot.
On the High Pressure setting, cook the squash for around 12 minutes.
After that, let the pressure release naturally by waiting for 10 minutes. Once that time has elapsed, you can go ahead and do a quick release by turning the venting knob.
Drop a steamer basket down into the inner pot of your Instant Pot and put your cubed butternut squash in it. Add 1 cup of water.
Use the High Pressure setting and, depending on how you want the consistency of your squash to be, you can pick different cooking times. If you want it to be semi-solid, cook for 3 minutes. If you want it to be soft and mashable, cook for 4 minutes.
Do a Quick release when the cooking phase is complete.
2. Slow-Cooked Butternut Squash
In order to make this recipe, your Instant Pot must be large (8 quarts). This is because you will be cooking the entire squash as it is. Yes, without peeling.
As long as your Instant Pot is large enough, you will be able to make this recipe. All Instant Pots (even the cheapest ones) come with a slow-cooking option.
Place the butternut squash (unpeeled) into the Instant Pot. Select the slow-cooking mode on the Instant Pot’s control panel.
On the High setting, it may take 3 to 4 hours to cook. On the Low setting, the cooking time may extend to 5 or 6 hours.
How Long to Cook Instant Pot Butternut Squash
1. Halved Butternut Squash
Altogether, it takes roughly 25 minutes to cook this recipe, Including the five minutes of preparation time.
2. Cubed Butternut Squash
This method is quicker, with the cubed squash needing only around 5 minutes to cook. Because you don’t need to wait for the cooker to naturally release, there’s no extra time added on either.
Preparation can take a little bit longer because of the cubing process. Possibly 5 to 10 minutes. But this recipe shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes to complete.
3. Slow-Cooked Butternut Squash
Obviously, this is the slowest of the three recipes. At the quickest, it’s going to take you 3 hours. If you have more time and cook on the Low setting, the cooking time may go up to 6 hours easily.
We hope you found these Instant Pot butternut squash recipes interesting. Go on and try your hand at making them! You won’t regret the time and effort spent.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.