Super sweet honeynut squash is all the rage this holiday season, and with good reason! This personal-sized hybrid butternut squash is elevated in this Spicy Roasted Honeynut Squash by a generous sprinkling of a spicy-sweet blend of brown sugar, ground cumin, ground red chile, warm cinnamon, and granulated garlic. I think you’ll find this Mexican-inspired winter squash recipe makes a perfect side with your holiday main, but it’s equally at home with your weeknight roasted chicken or air fryer chicken!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks – What is Honeynut Squash?
Honeynut squash, a modern cultivar of butternut squash, is a relative newcomer on the winter squash “scene.” I got a kick out of this description in an article from Bon Appétit:
Honeynuts wouldn’t exist without a confrontation. In 2009, Jack Algiere, Stone Barns Center’s farm director, invited a group of plant breeders from Cornell University to have Chef Dan Barber cook for them at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York. After the meal, Barber took breeder Michael Mazourek for a kitchen tour, grabbed a butternut squash and said: “If you’re such a good breeder, why don’t you make this thing taste good? Why don’t you shrink the thing?!”
~~ Alyse Whitney, Honeynut Squash Is a Tiny Squash with a Big History
Honeynut squash is similar to butternut squash in flavor, but it is sweeter and has a nicer texture. The color of the honeynut flesh is more intense that butternut, and they have twice the beta carotene. Their smaller size makes them a bit easier to break down, and their peel is thinner (and edible).
Are the squash in the photos really honeynut squash?
I have to admit to some confusion when I saw these mini-sized squash at my local Sprouts market. They are round with ridges (more like pumpkins) than a butternut squash that has more of a bulb shape. Never wanting to pass on misinformation, I did some research.
It seems honeynut squash were developed in the early aughts, and have only become more widely available in the early twenties. Horticulturists have continued developing new varieties, and the honeynut squash I purchased were also butternut squash hybrids. I am not entirely convinced they’re “honeynut” squash, but they are hybrid butternut squash.
The two that looked the most like mine were the butterkin squash (butternut/pumpkin hybrid) and autumn frost (another butternut hybrid). All of mine weighed in at 1 pound, and these two are substantially taller and heavier varieties. So for now, we’ll go with the label, and treat them like honeynut squash. In the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t that important. They’re small winter squash, and work really well in this winter squash recipe!
📋 Ingredients Notes
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
🔪 How to Roast Honeynut Squash
- Preheat your oven to 425°. NOTE: I always use convection roast for roasting vegetables. I set it for 425° on convection roast, and the oven automatically goes to 400°. This reduces cooking time by about 20%. I always give a range of cooking times when roasting vegetables as it depends on the size of your vegetables. They should be tender when pierced with a fork.
- Make the spice blend – Add the brown sugar, red chile powder, ground cumin and cinnamon, salt, and granulated garlic if using to a medium prep bowl. Stir to combine.
- Prepare the honeynut squash – I keep good, sharp knives in my kitchen, and I don’t have any trouble slicing these honeynut squash in half lengthwise. If you feel challenged, prick the squash in a few places, place in the microwave for 2-5 minutes (depending on number/weight), and allow to cool. Slice in half lengthwise. Remove the fibers and seeds. I use a melon baller with teeth for this task.
- Season the squash – Brush the honeynut squash with a generous amount of melted butter/olive oil. Pour a little in the cavity if you like. Generously sprinkle the squash with the spice blend. NOTE: If you have leftover spice blend, save it for a roasted chicken or more vegetables! Roast the squash until tender when pierced with a fork.
- Finish the roasted honeynut squash – After confirming that your squash halves are tender, garnish as desired with fresh herbs, scallions, etc. When I plated my squash, crumbled cotija seemed a nice addition as well (see plated photo below).
Because of its thinner skin, these squash don’t last as long as butternut squash. If you keep them in a cool, dark place (I store them in my pantry), they’ll last 1 to 2 weeks.
They can be. I like to use a melon baller to scoop balls of the roasted squash for this quinoa harvest salad. I will also warm a half up in the microwave for lunch.
Breaking down any winter squash can be intimidating. Make sure you have:
- A level cutting board with plenty of elbow room.
- A large, very sharp kitchen knife.
- A kitchen towel or paper towels
- A large spoon with a sharp edge or a melon baller.
You can quickly soften your squash before cutting it by using a microwave. Using a knife or fork, pierce the squash in a few places to allow steam to escape. Place the squash in a microwavable bowl and heat on high for about three minutes. Allow it to cool before proceeding.
Fall is always late to arrive in south Texas’ Rio Grande Valley (if it arrives at all!). We’re still hitting 100 degrees on a regular basis in mid-September. However warm it may be outside, I’m still ready to make the transition to the hearty fare of autumn – winter squash, soups, beans, and stews. What are some of your favorite fall dishes? I’d love to hear in the comments section below!
Spicy Roasted Honeynut Squash Recipe
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- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon red chile powder - see Ingredient Notes above
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic - or 2 minced cloves of garlic
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 4 small honeynut squash - or similar
- 4 tablespoons butter - melted
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 425°.
- Add the brown sugar, spices, salt, and granulated garlic (if using) to a medium prep bowl. Stir to combine.
- Slice the squash in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds and fibers.
- Combine the melted butter, olive oil, and minced garlic if using. Brush the squash with the mixture.
- Generously sprinkle the squash with the spice blend.
- Place in the preheated oven, and roast until tender, rotating as needed (about 25-30 minutes).
- Garnish as desired and serve.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.