12 Best Substitutes for Butternut Squash This Winter

What are the best substitutes for butternut squash? As the winter season approaches, the craving for warm and comforting dishes often leads us to reach for a healthy butternut squash. This versatile winter squash is cherished for its sweet and nutty flavour that is perfect for soups, stews, and baked dishes.

However, there could be instances where butternut squash may be unavailable or you may want to try something different but with a similar taste profile. This article will introduce you to 12 best substitutes for butternut squash to keep your winter dishes exciting and flavourful.

substitutes for butternut squash

Understanding the characteristics of butternut squash will help you make informed decisions when it comes to finding the perfect substitute.

Butternut squash has a dense texture, sweet flavour, and vibrant orange hue that contribute to its popular use in many recipes like butternut squash soup. When considering alternatives, the ideal substitutes should offer similar taste, texture, and nutritional benefits.

The list of 12 substitutes provided in this article ranges from other winter squashes to root vegetables, each offering unique flavours and textures that can closely mimic or complement butternut squash in your recipes.

By exploring these options, you can bring variety to your winter dishes while still enjoying the comfort and warmth that butternut squash-inspired meals offer.

Key Highlights

  • Discover 12 substitutes for butternut squash to diversify your winter recipes
  • Alternatives should ideally offer similar taste, texture, and nutritional benefits
  • Explore a variety of winter squashes and root vegetables to find the perfect substitute

List of Substitutes for Butternut Squash

butternut squash

This winter, if you find yourself without butternut squash or simply want to try something different, there are a variety of alternatives to choose from.

The following are 12 best alternatives  that can make excellent replacements in a wide range of recipes:

1. Acorn Squash

Similar to butternut in both taste and texture, acorn squash is an easy good substitute. It can be used in any recipe that calls for butternut squash. All types of squash cook great in the air fryer!

2. Kabocha Squash

Often referred to as Japanese pumpkin, kabocha is another good alternative. Its sweet flavour and firm texture make it a great choice in soups, stews, and baking.

3. Buttercup Squash

With a dark green outer skin and orange flesh inside, buttercup squash provides a sweet and creamy taste that complements many dishes.

4. Delicata Squash

Known for its sweet and potato-like taste, delicata squash has a similar flavour profile to butternut squash. Additionally, it is high in vitamin C and low in calories.

5. Carnival Squash

A hybrid of acorn and sweet dumpling squash, the carnival squash offers a sweet, tender flesh perfect for a variety of recipes.

6. Hubbard Squash

Less expensive and easier to find compared to butternut squash, Hubbard squash has a similar flavour and texture. It is an ideal substitute in soups and stews.

7. Pumpkin

A popular choice during the colder months, pumpkins can replace butternut squash in many recipes. The flesh is sweet and versatile, making it suitable for both sweet and savoury dishes.

8. Sweet Potato

More nutritious than butternut squash, sweet potatoes have a mild, sweet flavour and can be used as a substitute in a variety of recipes.

9. Carrots

Though not a squash, carrots can be used in place of butternut squash in many recipes due to their similar texture and sweet, earthy flavour.

10. Parsnips

While their sweet flavour profile is slightly different, parsnips offer a comparable texture to butternut squash. They can be used in soups, stews, and even roasted side dishes.

11. Turban Squash

With its colourful exterior and sweet taste, turban squash is another excellent alternative to butternut squash.

12. Sugar Pumpkin

Similar to its larger counterpart, the sugar pumpkin can be used in both sweet and savoury applications as a butternut squash replacement.

By experimenting with these substitutes, you can add variety to your winter meals and still enjoy the warmth and comfort of dishes traditionally made with butternut squash.

Understanding Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is a type of winter squash, known for its elongated pear shape and beige exterior. This nutritious vegetable has a smooth, sweet, and slightly nutty flavour, making it a popular choice for various soups, stews, and side dishes during the winter months.

The flesh of the butternut squash is bright orange, signifying its richness in essential nutrients like vitamins A and C, as well as dietary fibre and antioxidants.

Butternut squash can be prepared in a variety of ways, such as baking, roasting, or boiling. To make it even more appealing, it can be seasoned with a range of spices and herbs, which vary based on the specific goal for the dish.

However, if butternut squash is unavailable or if a cook wishes to try something different, there are numerous substitutes that can be used in its place.

Other squash varieties like kabocha, buttercup, and turban squash can also be considered viable alternatives to butternut squash, depending on the desired texture and flavour profile.

Reasons for Substituting Butternut Squash

There are various reasons one may choose to substitute butternut squash in recipes this winter.


One such reason is availability. Butternut squash, although a popular winter squash, might not always be readily available in all regions. Depending on where you are, it may be challenging to find butternut squash at your local grocery store, or it might be expensive due to high demand or transportation costs.

Taste And Texture

Taste and texture preferences also play a major role in the decision to substitute butternut squash. While some enjoy the sweet and nutty flavour of butternut squash, others might prefer a milder or even slightly different taste.

The texture of butternut squash can also be a determining factor, with some people preferring a firmer or smoother squash in their dishes.


Nutritional considerations may influence the decision to substitute butternut squash as well. Each type of squash contains different vitamins, minerals, and fibre content. By choosing a different squash or an alternative ingredient, you can customise the nutritional profile of your dish to suit your dietary needs or preferences.


Lastly, experimenting with different substitutes can enhance your culinary skills. Trying out new ingredients encourages creativity in the kitchen, allowing you to discover new flavours and combinations that you might not have considered if you were only using butternut squash.

Factors to Consider When Replacing Butternut Squash

When looking for a suitable substitute for butternut squash, there are a few key factors to take into account. These factors will ensure the chosen alternative can replicate the taste, texture, and nutritional profile of butternut squash as closely as possible.


Firstly, consider the flavour profile of the replacement. Butternut squash has a distinct sweet and nutty taste. It is vital that the substitute shares a similar flavour to allow for a seamless transition in recipes without compromising the overall taste. Some squash varieties, such as acorn squash and sweet potatoes, possess comparable flavours, making them excellent choices.


Next, textural attributes should be taken into consideration. Butternut squash has a smooth and creamy texture when cooked, which contributes significantly to its versatility in dishes, including soups, risottos, and purées.

The ideal substitute should be able to maintain similar textural properties when cooked, for example, pumpkin, which shares a similar consistency when cooked.

Health Value

Another important aspect is the nutritional profile. Butternut squash boasts a rich nutrient content, including beta-carotene, fibre, and essential vitamins. When seeking a substitute, prioritise options with similar nutritional benefits to ensure a comparable health value. For example, carrots are a great alternative in terms of nutritional content.


Lastly, consider the availability and seasonality of the chosen substitute. While butternut squash is a winter squash, certain substitutes might not be available or in season during specific times of the year.

It is crucial to take the seasonal accessibility of the chosen substitute into account to ensure it is readily available at the time of need. See the full list list of seasonal veg here.

In summary, the perfect butternut squash substitute should share a similar flavour profile, texture, nutritional value, and be readily available. By considering these factors, choosing an appropriate alternative becomes an easier and more informed process.

Crown Prince Squash

crown prince squash substitute for butternut squash

About Crown Prince Squash

Crown Prince Squash is a variety of winter squash known for its striking bluish-grey skin and deep orange flesh. This squash is not only visually appealing but also rich in nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, and fibre. It has a slightly nutty and sweet flavour, which makes it a versatile ingredient in various dishes.

Crown Prince Squash has a long shelf life, making it a perfect choice for storage during the colder months. Its thick skin helps to protect the flavourful and tender flesh, ensuring that it retains its quality for an extended period.

How to Use Crown Prince Squash

Crown Prince Squash can be used as a substitute for butternut squash in a variety of recipes. To make the most of its flavour and texture, follow these tips:

  1. Peeling and slicing: Due to its thick skin, Crown Prince Squash can be challenging to peel. To make it easier, you may want to soften the skin by microwaving it for a few minutes. Slice off the top and bottom and cut the squash in half. Then, use a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Once peeled, remove the seeds and slice the squash into evenly-sized pieces.
  2. Roasting: Roasting enhances the natural sweetness of Crown Prince Squash. Toss the squash pieces in olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast them in a preheated oven at 200°C (400°F) for 30-40 minutes, or until tender and golden brown.
  3. Mashing: Crown Prince Squash can also be used to make a delicious and creamy mash. Simply boil the squash pieces until tender, then drain and mash with butter, salt, and pepper until your desired consistency is achieved.
  4. Soups and stews: This squash adds a delightful sweetness and creaminess to soups and stews. Add it to your favourite recipes in place of butternut squash, and enjoy the rich flavour and texture it brings.

By incorporating Crown Prince Squash into your winter meals, you can enjoy a tasty and nutritious alternative to butternut squash, while also adding a touch of visual appeal to your dishes.

Acorn Squash

About Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is a popular winter squash variety, known for its distinctive acorn-like shape and dark green skin. Its bright orange-yellow flesh has a sweet, nutty flavour, making it an excellent substitute for butternut squash.

Like other winter squashes, acorn squash is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre, making it a highly nutritious and versatile ingredient.

How to Use Acorn Squash

Acorn squash can be used interchangeably with butternut squash in various recipes, especially soups, stews, and risottos.

To prepare acorn squash, simply cut it in half, remove the seeds, and then cut it into the desired shape – cubes, wedges, or slices.

You can bakeroast, or steam acorn squash for different dishes. When baking or roasting, brush the cut squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, placing the pieces on a baking tray for approximately 25–35 minutes at 200°C (400°F) until tender.

For a flavour twist, you can spice up the squash with cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup, or use savoury herbs like rosemary and thyme.

Acorn squash can also be stuffed with a variety of fillings, such as quinoa, rice, vegetables, or ground meat, then baked in the oven for a hearty meal.

Additionally, the squash can be puréed for creamy soups or mashed dishes. Regardless of the cooking method, it is essential to ensure the squash is cooked until its flesh becomes tender and easily pierced with a fork.

This type of squash is versatile, nutritious, and easy-to-use alternative to butternut squash, suitable for numerous winter recipes. Its sweet, nutty flavour and tender texture make it a delightful addition to any meal, whether as a side dish, main course, or integrated into soups and stews.

Delicata Squash

delicate squash

About Delicata Squash

Delicata squash, also known as sweet potato squash, is a winter squash that has a cylindrical shape and a cream-coloured skin with green or orange stripes.

It has a relatively thin skin compared to other winter squashes, making it easy to cut and prepare. The flesh is orange-yellow and has a sweet, slightly nutty flavour similar to butternut squash.

Delicata squash is a nutritious option, containing essential nutrients such as fibre, folate, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various dishes as a substitute for butternut squash this winter.

How to Use Delicata Squash

There are numerous ways to incorporate delicata squash into your winter meals. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Roasted: Slice the squash into half-moon shapes, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven until tender and golden brown. This method brings out the natural sweetness of the squash.
  2. Stuffed: Hollow out the squash, stuff it with a mixture of grains, vegetables, and protein, then bake it in the oven until the filling is cooked through and the squash is tender.
  3. Soup: Create a silky, flavourful soup by cooking and pureeing the squash with onions, garlic, and broth. Add spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon for a warming, seasonal taste.
  4. In Salads: Roast the squash and add it to salads for a hearty and nutritious meal, pairing it with ingredients such as kale, toasted nuts, and goat cheese.

By using delicata squash as a butternut squash substitute this winter, you can enjoy a similar texture and flavour while adding variety to your seasonal dishes.

Remember to choose firm squashes with a vibrant colour and store them in a cool, dry place to extend their shelf life.


About Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a versatile and nutritious winter squash that makes an excellent substitute for butternut squash. It comes in various shapes and sizes, with a mild, sweet, and slightly nutty flavour. Rich in vitamins A and C, dietary fibre, and potassium, pumpkins are not only delicious but also highly beneficial to one’s health.

How to Use Pumpkin

To use pumpkin as a substitute for butternut squash, select a sugar pumpkin as it is particularly suited for cooking due to its rich flavour and smooth texture.

When preparing the pumpkin, simply remove the seeds and skin, cut it into desired pieces, and cook it the same way you would with butternut squash.

Pumpkins can be used in various dishes, including:

  • Soups: Just like butternut squash, pumpkins can be the base for a hearty, warming soup. Purée the cooked pumpkin flesh and combine it with stock and seasonings to create a delightful soup.
  • Roasting: Toss pumpkin chunks in oil, salt, and pepper, then roast them in the oven until they are tender and caramelised. They can be served as a side dish or added to salads.
  • Baking: Pumpkin puree can be used in a variety of baked goods, such as pies, bread, and muffins, imparting a subtle sweetness and moist texture.
  • Stews and Curries: Pumpkin’s natural sweetness pairs well with spices and herbs in stews and curries, making it a delicious and hearty addition to these dishes.

Remember, when substituting pumpkin for butternut squash, the amounts used will be roughly the same. However, since each pumpkin variety may vary in taste, it is essential to adjust the seasonings of your dish accordingly to ensure a pleasing flavour balance.

Sweet Potatoes

About Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a versatile and nutrient-rich root vegetable, often considered a close cousin to butternut squash due to their similar taste and texture.

They are a great source of fibre, vitamins, and minerals, such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. Sweet potatoes boast a natural sweetness, which makes them a suitable substitute for butternut squash in various winter dishes.

How to Use Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be used in a variety of recipes as a butternut squash substitute. Their natural sweetness and smooth texture make them an ideal choice for soups, casseroles, and side dishes.

Baking: Sweet potatoes can be baked whole, just like butternut squash, allowing for a similar experience when preparing a dish. Simply pierce the skin a few times, bake at 200°C (400°F) for around 45 minutes, or until tender.

Mashing: For a creamy and filling side dish, mash sweet potatoes as an alternative to mashed butternut squash. Boil the sweet potatoes until tender, drain and mash with a little butter, salt, and pepper.

Roasting: Sweet potatoes make an excellent addition to winter roasts as they caramelize and develop a rich flavour when roasted. Dice the sweet potatoes into uniform cubes, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in a preheated 200°C (400°F) oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

In soups: Swap butternut squash for sweet potatoes in your favourite winter soups. They will provide a similar sweetness and velvety texture once blended.

With these methods in mind, sweet potatoes can be a perfect substitute for butternut squash in many winter dishes, offering a delicious and nutrient-rich alternative.


About Carrots

Carrots are a versatile root vegetable that can be an excellent substitute for butternut squash during the winter months. They are widely available and have a similar sweet taste and vibrant orange colour. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre, carrots provide a range of health benefits, including boosting eye health and supporting a strong immune system.

How to Use Carrots

Carrots can be used in various dishes as a substitute for butternut squash. Here are a few ways to incorporate carrots into your winter meals:

  1. Roasted Vegetables: Cut carrots into chunks and roast them alongside other vegetables, such as parsnips and potatoes, for a flavourful and colourful side dish.
  2. Soups: Replace butternut squash with carrots in soups, such as carrot and lentil soup or a creamy carrot and ginger soup.
  3. Casseroles and Stews: Add chopped carrots to your favourite casserole or stew recipe in place of butternut squash for added sweetness, colour, and texture.
  4. Purées and Mashes: Cook and purée or mash carrots for a delicious alternative to butternut squash when serving as a side dish or incorporated into main courses like shepherd’s pie.

Remember to adjust the cooking time when substituting carrots for butternut squash, as carrots typically take less time to cook. Experiment with different flavours and ingredients to find the perfect winter dishes featuring carrots as a substitute for butternut squash.

Roasting the Substitutes

When it comes to roasting substitutes for butternut squash, there are several options to choose from, each offering its unique flavours and textures. By following simple roasting techniques, these alternatives can be incorporated seamlessly into various recipes.

Roasting Substitutes

Acorn squash is an excellent choice known for its sweet flavour and additional fibre content.

To roast, cut the acorn squash into wedges, remove the seeds, toss with olive oil, seasonings, and roast at 200°C (400°F) for 25-30 minutes or until fork-tender.

Kabocha squash is another fantastic option. With its sweet, nutty flavour and smooth texture, roasting kabocha squash is easy and rewarding.

Simply cut it into wedges, remove seeds, coat with olive oil, season to taste, and roast at 200°C (400°F) for 25-30 minutes.

Some other roasting substitutes for butternut squash include:

  • Buttercup squash: With a notably sweet and creamy flavour, buttercup squash can be roasted similarly to other squashes. Cut into wedges, remove seeds, drizzle with olive oil, add seasonings, and bake at 200°C (400°F) for 25-30 minutes.
  • Delicata squash: This smaller squash has a sweet, slightly nutty taste, and its thin skin can be eaten. Slice it into rings, remove seeds, toss with oil and seasoning, and roast at 200°C (400°F) for 20 minutes or until tender.
  • Hubbard squash: With a dense, sweet texture, this large squash can be roasted in chunks. Peel and cut into pieces, coat with oil and seasonings, and roast at 200°C (400°F) for 30-35 minutes.
  • Pumpkin and sugar pumpkin: These classic choices bring a sweet, earthy flavour to dishes. Prepare by cutting into wedges, removing seeds, adding olive oil and seasonings, and baking at 200°C (400°F) for 25-30 minutes.
  • Turban squash: With a mildly sweet and nutty taste, turban squash can be prepared similarly to other types of squash. Remove the top, scoop out seeds, cut into wedges, toss with olive oil and seasonings, and roast at 200°C (400°F) for 25-30 minutes.

By understanding the unique characteristics of each butternut squash substitute and employing proper roasting techniques, anyone can create deliciously warm, comforting dishes this winter.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we have explored 12 excellent substitutes for butternut squash, suitable for a variety of dishes during the winter season.

One noteworthy substitute is spaghetti squash. It offers a unique stringy texture texture while maintaining a comparable mild flavour taste profile with butternut squash.

Another alternative, buttercup squash, shares similarities in taste and texture to butternut squash, making it an ideal replacement in many dishes. It boasts dark green skin and a sweet, creamy flavour. Moreover, its nutritional benefits including carotenoids and Vitamin C are further reasons to consider this option.

Other options, like acorn squash and Hubbard squash, bring their unique characteristics to the table while still providing the familiar taste and texture that butternut squash is often known for.

Acorn squash offers a mild, sweet taste, while Hubbard squash features a combination of flavours similar to pumpkin and sweet potatoes.

Ultimately, having a variety of substitutes for butternut squash ensures that your winter meals remains diverse and delicious even when butternut squash is unavailable or you simply desire a change in flavour.

By experimenting with different winter squash alternatives, you can confidently create delightful and nutritious dishes for you and your loved ones to enjoy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top alternatives to butternut squash in winter recipes?

There are several alternatives to butternut squash for winter recipes. Some of the top choices include acorn squash, delicata squash, sugar pumpkin, and hubbard squash.

These substitutes are widely available during the winter season and offer similar flavours, textures, and nutritional benefits to butternut squash.

Which winter squashes can replace butternut squash?

Winter squashes such as acorn squash, hubbard squash, sugar pumpkin, and delicata squash can easily replace butternut squash in many recipes.

These squashes have similar textures and flavours, making them suitable substitutes in soups, stews, roasted vegetables, and other dishes.

Can sweet potato be used as a substitute for butternut squash?

Yes, sweet potato can be used as a substitute for butternut squash. They are a nutritious and good source of vitamins and minerals, with a similar taste and texture when cooked. Sweet potatoes are an excellent option for replacing butternut squash in various recipes.

Some popular winter squash varieties include butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, kabocha squash, hubbard squash, delicata squash, and sugar pumpkin.

These squashes are commonly used in winter recipes, providing warmth, flavour, and nutrients to various dishes.

How do various squash compare in taste and texture to butternut?

Various squashes have different characteristics, but many share similar tastes and textures with butternut squash. Acorn squash is slightly more fibrous and stringy, while delicata squash has a sweet and potato-like taste. Hubbard squash has a butternut squash-like flavour and texture, and sugar pumpkin is sweeter with a slightly different texture. Overall, these squashes can be used interchangeably in many instances with butternut squash.

Are there any unique alternatives for butternut squash this winter season?

In addition to the more common winter squashes mentioned above, unique alternatives for butternut squash include heirloom squashes such as blue hubbard squash, red kuri squash, buttercup squash, and turban squash. These squash varieties may offer different colours, textures, and flavours to your dishes while still providing the same warmth and comfort during the winter season.

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