This Mashed Butternut Squash Recipe is perfect for a fall weeknight dinner side, or as a simple, kid-friendly Thanksgiving side dish. The recipe is both healthy and decadent, and is sure to be a hit with the whole family. While the mashed butternut squash with brown sugar and honey is on the “sweet enough” side, you can happily serve it to your family without the guilt! We offer alternatives below for making this recipe healthier.
The Perfect Holiday Side Dish
Call me a weirdo (though, rude) but even as a kid I loved butternut squash. My mom made it pretty much poached in butter and brown sugar, which took it from a “slightly sweet, relatively healthy vegetable” to “this might as well be candy, but I mean, it’s a vegetable soooo…”. But at that time, no one really cared.
My parents divorced when I was 10, dividing our holiday meals in two. Some years we would do Thanksgiving with my mom, who would pull out all the stops with (no lie) ten or more sides, a solid five or six appetizers, and countless desserts. Having married an Italian-American, we knew how to put food down so we started with a full antipasto, moved on to stuffed mushrooms, and then the food just never ended. We ate leftovers for a full week after.
Year after year despite all the changes, one thing that was always on the table was that roasted butternut squash. So. Stinking. Good.
It was a kid-friendly Thanksgiving recipe that was at every fall gathering. My mother would cook it all down so that the buttery, brown sugar syrup was more of a glaze, and she served it alongside similarly sugary brown sugar-honey carrots.
We didn’t mess on Thanksgiving, guys!
Obviously, I wouldn’t call it a very healthy vegetable side, but for a once-a-year dish? Ehh, could be worse.
Regardless, I still get a craving occasionally. But Thanksgiving only comes around once a year, and I just can’t justify it much more often than that. So I’ve been on the hunt to find something that was equally as tasty and decadent, but not nearly as coronary-inducing.
A Healthier Mashed Butternut Squash
Thankfully, I came around to this mashed butternut squash recipe – equal parts decadent and (relatively!) healthy and also, super kid-friendly.
My boys refuse to eat most vegetables on premise – like most kids. I’ve had to learn ways to make them more exciting, palatable, and kid-friendly so that the battle isn’t so bad. This butternut squash recipe? Totally hits all of the perfect points.
If you’re looking for a tasty vegetable side dish for a weeknight dinner or a memorable kid-friendly Thanksgiving side, I’ve got you!
Notes about this Recipe
- Add some more savory flavor by swapping out the water with a cup of chicken stock.
- Sweetener can easily be reduced or increased – totally work on your family’s tastes!
- This recipe is for mashed butternut squash with brown sugar, but fee free to use all honey for a more natural sweetener. If you are serving to babies, use all brown sugar and skip the honey.
- The large butternut squash I used was about 4 cups, but the bigger the better – it tends to cook down a lot!
- This mashed butternut squash recipe doubles easily.
- Even better – you can make it ahead of time and reheat. Save room on your Thanksgiving table by making it ahead of time.
I promise – your family is going to adore this Recipe
How to Cook Mashed Butternut Squash
- 1 large butternut squash peeled and cut
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup water
- 3 TBS butter
- 2 TBS brown sugar
- 2 TBS honey
- tsp cinnamon
- Optional: 2-3 tablespoons of heavy cream
- Boil chopped butternut squash over medium heat in milk and water for 15 minutes (or until very soft)
- Remove lid and continue to cook down while mashing.
- When most of the liquid is cooked out, add butter, brown sugar, honey and cinnamon. Cook another 2-3 minutes. If desired, stir in heavy cream before serving.
This is definitely a meal your kids can help you make. Feel free to have them mash the butternut squash with a potato masher (keep a close eye and make sure you take it off the heat!) or stir in the butter and seasonings.
Looking for more ways to get all the little hands on deck when cooking this holiday season (and beyond!)?
Check out my favorite post about cooking with kids in the kitchen which lays out over 20 kid-friendly kitchen tasks!
I hope your kiddos love this recipe as much as mine do. The last time I made this mashed butternut squash recipe, I barely even got a bite between my two guys inhaling it!
What was a memorable side dish you enjoyed as a kid? Have you tried to make it yourself? Let me know in the comments!