Roasted Butternut Squash with Brown Butter Hazelnuts, fresh thyme, and pomegranate. A holiday-worthy side dish that's also simple enough for weeknights.
Today’s Roasted Butternut Squash recipe takes a signature side—roasted butternut squash cubes—and transforms it into a dish that’s worthy of a special occasion.
While it may start like any other roasted vegetable recipe—olive oil, salt, and pepper—the additions of brown butter, hazelnuts, and thyme elevate it with festive flair.
Butter in most applications is good (Julia Child can confirm), but brown butter is better. Worlds better.
Cooking the butter until the milk solids brown and become caramelized gives the butter a toasted, nutty flavor and more complexity. A general rule of thumb: the deeper the color, the deeper the flavor.
For this squash recipe, the sultry signature flavor of brown butter gets an aromatic lift from garlic and fresh thyme.
Hazelnuts amplify the nutty goodness, complementing the honey-like sweetness of the squash like a dream.
- Butternut Squash: Butternut squash is brimming with eye-healthy vitamin A, and an excellent source of immune-supporting vitamin C. It also boasts an army of B vitamins plus a decent punch of potassium.
- Hazelnuts: Hazelnuts add heart-healthy unsaturated fats plus magnesium (an often overlooked mineral that helps manage blood pressure) to the mix. Alternatively, you can use pecans.
- Butter: I suggest using salted butter here.
- Thyme: For a woodsy, aromatic lift. Alternatively, you can use fresh or rosemary - whichever you have on hand!
- Garlic: Optional, however I struggle to find a savory dish not made better by garlic.
- Pomegranate: For a punch of acidity and brightness, plus some festive flair.
For a complete list of ingredients and quantities, see the recipe card below.
Substitutions and Additions:
- Use Sweet Potato: This recipe also works beautifully with sweet potato. Simply peel and cut into chunks.
- Make Nut-Free: If you're cooking for someone with a nut allergy, you can swap the hazelnuts for pumpkin seeds.
- Make Dairy-Free: While vegan butter does not brown the same way dairy butter does, you can still melt it for similar effect.
- Use Different Herbs: The beauty of this recipe is how versatile it is. You can use any woodsy herb you have on hand, such as rosemary or sage.
Step 1: Roast Butternut Squash
Peel and slice the squash into 1x1-inch cubes. Place on a baking sheet, and toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes, tossing once midway through.
Step 2: Prepare Brown Butter Hazelnuts
Meanwhile, melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the foam subsides, the milk solids turn golden-brown and it smells nutty, about 3 minutes.
Stir in hazelnuts, garlic, and thyme and cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat, and season with a pinch of salt.
Step 3: Assemble
Arrange squash on a serving platter and spoon brown butter hazelnut mixture overtop. Garnish with pomegranate arils.
This simple side dish makes a fantastic addition to your Thanksgiving or holiday spread. It pairs well with turkey, chicken, red meat, and even salmon.
Here are a few of my favorite pairings:
- Chicken: Roasted chicken, grilled chicken, or this easy Chicken Cashew Salad.
- Salmon: Especially this citrus and rosemary-infused Slow Roasted Salmon.
- Meatballs: Classic beef meatballs, Chickpea Meatballs, or these lentil Moroccan Meatballs.
- Salad: Especially this hearty Broccoli Quinoa Salad or Brussels Salad with Pear.
Butternut squash is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as many B-vitamins and potassium. It's a nutritious vegetable to support your immunity and eye health.
Roasting is the best way to cook butternut squash because it renders it tender, caramelized, and ultra sweet. It's also super simple, and takes minimal preparation time.
The key to avoiding mushy butternut squash is to not overcrowd the pan. If the squash don't have ample space on the pan, they will steam instead of roast, which inhibits proper caramelization.
How to Store and Reheat Butternut Squash:
- To Make Ahead. Peel and slice the squash into cubes 1 day ahead. Store cubes in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to roast.
- To Store. Store leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
- To Reheat: Gently reheat over medium-low heat in a skillet on the stovetop, in a 350ºF oven, or in the microwave until warm. (I prefer the stovetop, personally!)
I hope you add this incredibly flavorful side to your holiday spread this season, or simply serve it for dinner this week. With minimal ingredients and maximum enjoyment, It will surely become a favorite!
More Butternut Squash Recipes
5 Ingredient Butternut Squash with Brown Butter Hazelnuts
- 5 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (from 1 medium-large squash)
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. salted butter
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
- 2 Tbsp. pomegranate arils
- Preheat oven to 425ºF.Arrange butternut squash cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet, and toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes, tossing after 20 minutes.
- During the final 10 minutes of roasting, prepare the hazelnut mixture.Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the foam subsides, the milk solids turn golden-brown and it smells nutty, about 3 minutes.Stir in hazelnuts, garlic, and thyme and cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat. (Note: if you're using unsalted butter, season the mixture with a pinch of salt.)
- Arrange roasted butternut squash on a serving platter or in a bowl. Spoon hazelnut mixture evenly overtop, and garnish with pomegranate arils.