Illustrations by Kaitlin Kostus
Winter squash is always a pain to prep because it's so tough to cut through, but butternut squash isn't just tough to cut, it also has a weird shape. Butternut squash is a beast! But it's a delicious beast! So it's important to learn to conquer it.
No tutorial on how to cut butternut squash would be complete without a discussion of equipment. A sharp, strong chef's knife is absolutely essential. If you don't have a budget for a full set of high quality knives, at least buy a good chef's knife — it's kind of life-changing. Without a sharp knife, you'll find yourself sawing and hacking and that's when accidents are likely to occur. A stable cutting board is important too — you want a board that will stay in place, rather than sliding all over the countertop or rocking back and forth while you cut.
You'll also need a sturdy peeler, because butternut squash skin is tough. While some people leave the skin on butternut squash (it is edible), I find it unpleasant to eat, so unless you know for sure that you like it, I'd error on the side of peeling.
There are two parts of a butternut squash — the neck and the body. The neck is the thinner part that ends with the stem. It can vary in length and width, but you can usually tell where it starts because the squash begins to taper in size at that point. Holding the squash firmly in place, cut the neck from the squash.
What you do next depends on the recipe you're making. Because most recipes call for cubed butternut squash, we're going to focus on that. Cut the neck into thick rounds, then lay each round flat on the cutting board and cut them into cubes. You can stack 2-3 similarly sized rounds and cut them at the same time, or cube them one at a time if it's easier for you that way.