Roasted butternut squash with orange-maple candied walnuts, cinnamon, and crispy sage. This show-stopping side dish is holiday-worthy, yet easy enough for weeknight cooking.
This holiday-worthy recipe starts with cubes of butternut squash (buy pre-cubed to make your life easier!) roasted with a trio of spices (smoked paprika, cinnamon, and ginger). It's topped with a sticky-sweet maple walnut topping embellished with fresh sage and an invigorating hit of citrus.
The maple syrup compliments the sweetness of the squash, while sage and smoked paprika give the dish a savory backbone. If you and your family appreciate a kick of heat, you can substitute the smoked paprika for a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Walnuts add rich taste and crunchy texture, plus a hit of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids (a key nutrient you typically won't find in abundance among standard holiday fare).
This recipe masters the balance of sweet and savory with the perfect accents of smoky, earthy flavor. I'm kind of going nuts over it (pun intended) and I know your tastebuds will too.
How to Make Roasted Butternut Squash with Candied Walnuts
Butternut squash browns beautifully when roasted, enhancing its sweet, nutty flavor. You truly can't beat this ingredient lineup for fall dining.
Serve alongside roasted turkey or chicken, brown butter scallops, or a hearty piece of fish.
- Butternut Squash: You need 6 cups of cubed squash, which amounts to 1 medium butternut squash. To cut back on prep time, look for the containers of peeled and chopped butternut squash in the produce section.
- Walnuts: For a lofty dose of heart-healthy fats, candied walnuts create a rich, crunchy topping. Alternatively, you can use chopped pecans.
- Spices: I love using a mix of smoked paprika, cinnamon, and ground ginger for a bold, earthy flavor profile.
- Maple Syrup: A mix of maple syrup and fresh orange juice create the glaze for the walnuts. I do not suggest using honey in place of maple syrup, which is too thick, and runs the risk of burning.
- Orange Juice: You need 2 tablespoon of fresh OJ from either 1 small orange or ½ large.
- Sage: Sage has a pronounced herbal flavor that is earthy, slightly peppery taste. It's a lovely compliment to the sweetness of the squash. Alternatively, you can use fresh chopped rosemary.
Step 1: Roast the Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Toss the squash with olive oil, smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon of the cinnamon, ginger, and salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until soft and caramelized.
Step 2: Prepare Candied Walnuts
During the final 5 minutes of roasting, begin preparing the walnuts.
Toast walnuts in a dry non-stick skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. (Watch closely to avoid burning).
Combine maple syrup, orange juice, sage, vinegar, and remaining ¼ tsp. cinnamon in a small bowl. Pour into skillet with walnuts, and cook, stirring often, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture thickens and coats the walnuts. Season with a pinch of salt, and remove from heat.
Step 3: Assemble and Serve
Assemble roasted butternut squash on a serving platter, and scatter candied walnuts overtop.
How to Cut Butternut Squash for Roasting
While it may seem intimidating, butternut squash is much easier to peel and chop than it appears!
- Start by selecting your squash. I find ones with longer necks are easier to peel and handle.
- Use a SHARP chef's knife to cut off both the top and bottom of the butternut squash, about ½ of an inch from the end (this helps stabilize the squash while you peel and cut).
- Using a durable vegetable peeler (either swivel peeler or a Y-Peeler) or a sharp chef's knife, peel off the outer skin of the butternut squash.
- With the same chef’s knife, cut the squash crosswise where the neck of the squash meets the rounder base end. Stand each of the pieces upright on your cutting board and make a cut down the middle from top to bottom. You’ll now have 4 pieces.
- Use a spoon to remove the seeds and stringy parts from the inside the base of the squash.
- Lay your halves cut side down, and cut each half into 1-inch wide slabs. Next, cut your slices crosswise in 1-inch wide cubes. (You should end up 1-inch pieces.) Note: not all of the pieces will be a perfect cube (the base end ones are especially oblong), however you can further trim them depending on your desired shape/size.
How to Make-Ahead, Store, and Reheat:
- To Make Ahead: Squash can be peeled and cubed 1 day in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
- To Store: Store leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for 4 days.
- To Reheat: Reheat over medium-low heat in a skillet on the stovetop, or in the oven at 350ºF. Alternatively, you can nook in the microwave, however the oven and stovetop yield the best consistency.
What to Serve with Roasted Butternut Squash
- Roasted Turkey or Chicken: Perfect holiday spread!
- Brown Butter Scallops: The rich, nutty flavors will compliment each other beautifully.
- Meatloaf: Highly recommend trying my recipe for The Best Vegan Meatloaf!
More Butternut Squash Recipes to Try:
Roasted Butternut Squash with Candied Walnuts
- Large rimmed baking sheet
- Non-stick skillet
- 6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (from 1 medium squash)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- ½ tsp. cinnamon, divided
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice (from 1 small orange)
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage (sub rosemary)
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- Preheat oven to 425°F.Toss the squash with olive oil, smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon of the cinnamon, ginger, and salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until soft and caramelized.
- During the final 5 minutes of roasting, begin preparing the walnuts.Toast walnuts in a dry non-stick skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. (Watch closely to avoid burning). Combine maple syrup, orange juice, sage, vinegar, and remaining ¼ tsp. cinnamon in a small bowl. Pour into skillet with walnuts, and cook, stirring often, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture thickens and glazes over the walnuts. Season with a pinch of salt, and remove from heat.
- Assemble roasted butternut squash on a serving platter, and scatter candied walnuts overtop.