Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Butternut Squash is an easy, delicious, and healthy side dish (no roasting or boiling needed) that you can make for any holiday meal.
Mashed butternut squash is constant on our holiday table. It’s something I have been watching my mother make for years and after thinking I didn’t like it growing up, now it’s a dish I look forward to and that we all love. She normally roasts her squash with a touch of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and then mashes it until it is super creamy and delicious. And while this method definitely works, I have come to rely on my slow cooker to do the hard work for me. Not only does this free up some oven space, which I desperately need during any holiday meal, it also means I can basically dump everything into the slow cooker and not worry about it. You can even make it a few days in advance.
Before we get into the recipe, I want to share a few tricks for peeling and cutting butternut squash. Butternut squash is one of those vegetables that can feel not only intimidating, but dangerous to peel and cut. I can’t tell you how many times I have fought with a butternut squash and almost lost fingers before learning this trick. To loosen up the skin and make the squash both easier to peel and easier to cut, all you are going to do is pop it in the microwave for a few minutes first. Start by piercing it all over with a knife or fork and then microwave it for 2-3 minutes. This loosens up the skin. Then you can easily peel the squash and cut it. It really works and there is a video below showing you just what to do.
Now on to the recipe. To make the squash really sing, I like to add butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. These are the holiday flavors I grew up with and it just doesn’t feel the same without them. The butter adds richness, the sugar adds sweetness, and the cinnamon brings everything together and reminds me of the holidays. Luckily you don’t need very much so this recipe is still on the healthy side and you could always leave it out, depending on your needs. Everything cooks together in the slow cooker, no boiling or roasting, and that’s it. Mash it with a potato masher or immersion blender and they’re ready to go.
Tips for Making Slow Cooker Butternut Squash:
- Depending on how much time you have, you can start with a whole butternut squash or you can buy pre-cut squash if you are in a rush. For a whole butternut squash, make sure to watch the video below to learn a simple kitchen hack that makes peeling and cutting the squash so much easier.
- Butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon are what reminds me of home when it comes to holiday butternut squash. However this dish can be made without the butter or brown sugar for a lighter and healthier version. To make sure the resulting mash is creamy, you may want to add some broth, milk, cream, or coconut milk once the squash finishes cooking. Some people like to add nutmeg to the dish as well.
- This recipe also works great with thickly sliced carrots. It’s another holiday favorite around here.
- This dish can be made 2-3 days in advance and stored in the fridge.
Looking for more butternut squash recipes?
- Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup
- Butternut Squash Fries
- Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate
- Roasted Paprika Butternut Squash with Quinoa and a Fried Egg
- Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Apple Hash
Here are some tools and products I used to prepare this dish:
- Slow Cooker: There are so many different slow cookers on the market but I personally use this one that allows me to brown, sear, or saute in the same pan. Plus I find the cooking temperature to be really even and consistent.
- Mashing: I love this potato masher and use it constantly for mashed potatoes, cauliflower, and squash. For a creamier consistency, you could also use an immersion blender.