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This Squash Apple Cranberry Bake dusted with cinnamon and nutmeg and baked in brown butter is the perfect holiday side dish. Tart cranberries compliment sweet squash and apples perfectly. 

This is a dish that was inspired by my sister. She brought this one year and now no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without it.

squash apple cranberry bake topped with toasted pine nuts

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I’m sure you can figure out why, the food of course!

I know the Roasted Turkey is supposed to be the star of the show, but how about those sides? The Green Bean Casserole, the Cranberry Sauce, the Sweet Potatoes… I’m getting hungry.

We’re using buttercup squash in this dish because of its sweet flavor and creamy texture. 

Ingredients

  • buttercup squash- this is a variety of winter squash that starts early fall and lasts through winter.
    • It looks like a small pumpkin with green skin and orange flesh. 
    • The taste and texture are similar to butternut squash, but they look completely different on the outside. Buttercup squash is a little sweeter.
    • butternut squash works well as a substitute if desired.
  • apples- a sweeter apple that cooks down easy is preferred. I use honey crisp.
  • fresh cranberries– this will give it tartness. Find these in the produce section of your grocery store.
  • butter
  • maple syrup– only the real stuff here! 100% pure.
  • ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground allspice– perfect warm fall spices.
  • pine nuts- toasting these bring out the flavor. you could also use slivered almonds. Pine nuts do tend to be pricey.

Helpful equipment

Instructions

There are only a few steps to making this dish come together. Below I will go into more detail for each step.

  1. Cut the squash and apples
  2. Make the brown butter
  3. Assemble the ingredients and bake
  4. Toast the pine nuts and garnish

How to cut the squash

There are several ways to prepare buttercup squash, but today’s recipe calls for cutting it into cubes. We’ll need to both cut it and peel it. 

Here’s what I found to be the least complicated.

  •  Cut it in half stem to root. Cut it a little off-center, not right through the stem.
  • Once you get your big kitchen knife firmly in there, keep pushing the knife down, with a flat hand to protect those fingers! (If it’s really tough, I have been known to pick it up–squash, knife and all– and give it a good whack, then another to cut it through).
  • Scoop out the seeds, then turn it flesh side down and cut it into slices.
  • Then cut the flesh away from the skin, as if you are taking the rind off of a watermelon.
  • Then cut it into bite-size pieces.

Tips for working with squash

  •  Put the squash in the microwave for a few minutes to soften the skin. 
  • Use an ice cream scoop with a flat edge (like the one shown) to scoop out the seeds. Life-changing!

Make the brown butter

Brown butter is the secret ingredient that takes this dish over the top. It has a lovely nutty flavor.

  • Melt one stick of butter on medium heat in a small saucepan. Make sure your pan isn’t a really dark one so you can see the color of the butter. 
  • It will foam up, let it continue to cook, stirring occasionally until you have a nice golden brown color, about 3 minutes.
  • You’ll get some solid bits on the bottom of the pan. To get rid of those, run it through some cheesecloth, or a fine mesh sieve. If you don’t have either of those a coffee filter will do. 

Assemble the ingredients

  • Combine the cut squash, apples, and cranberries in a large bowl.
  • Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, and brown butter and stir to combine.
  • Transfer the mixture to a 9×13 dish and bake at 375° for 35-45 minutes, until the squash is tender.
brown butter being poured over cut squash, cut apples, and cranberry mixture

Toast The Pine nuts

You can toast the pine nuts either in a small pan over the stove or in the oven. They’ll take about 5-10 minutes.

On the stovetop: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, toss occasionally, until they start to deepen to a nice golden color and release a nutty aroma.

In the oven: Place the pine nuts on a baking sheet, place in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove, give them a toss, and return to the oven for another 3-5 minutes. They will deepen to a nice golden color and release their nutty aroma.

Keep in mind, ovens vary, so the times may vary as well. To keep things low maintenance, after the squash is finished, remove it from the oven, and put the pine nuts in. Let them toast, garnish, and serve.

Tell me! What are your favorite Thanksgiving Dishes? What makes it to your table year after year?

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squash apple cranberry bake topped with toasted pine nuts

Squash Apple Cranberry Bake

Buttercup squash, apples and cranberries drizzled with brown butter and dusted with cinnamon and nutmeg, topped off with toasted pine nuts
3.34 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate Save
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 221kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 medium buttercup squash peeled and diced
  • 3 apples peeled and diced
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 8 tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbs pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted (slivered almonds can be substituted)

Instructions

  • Toast pine nuts, place in a small fry pan over medium heat, tossing every couple of minutes. Alternatively, place them on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes.
  • Brown the butter: Place 1 stick of butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Allow the butter to foam and continue cooking, stirring occasionally. After 5-7 minutes, the butter should be a nice golden brown color. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove solid bits at the bottom of the pan.
  • Combine squash, apples and cranberries in a large bowl.
  • Pour browned butter, maple syrup and spices over top and toss to coat well.
  • Place mixture in a 9×13 casserole dish and bake at 375 until squash is tender, about 45 minutes.
  • Sprinkle toasted pine nuts on top and serve.

Notes

Butternut squash can be substituted for buttercup squash if desired.
Tips for working with squash:
  • put it in the microwave for a few minutes to soften the skin, which makes it easier to cut and peel
  • Use an ice cream scoop with a flat edge (like in the picture) to scoop out your seeds. This is a game changer! 

Nutrition

Calories: 221kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 91mg | Potassium: 881mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 3411IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 2mg
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14 Comments

  1. I really loved it too! I just figure I get an extra work out in–haha! Butternut isn’t the easiest thing to peel either, but it’s good to work for food, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I just recently discovered buttercup squash, and aside from the difficulty cutting it open, I think I prefer it to the butternut. I roasted mine in those pretty C shapes. Happy Holidays!

  3. Nikki, you are so sweet! And so is buttercup squash! I found it in the produce section at my local meijer by the other squashes–acorn, butternut, etc. They kind of look like a green pumpkin. Be prepared to ‘work for your food’. LOL. So good though.

  4. Chellie, this looks so good, I could eat the entire dish! The colors and the textures, oh my! I have never tried Buttercup Squash, where did you find it? I think I gotta try anything with the name Buttercup!!! I love it! LOL I am so pinning this recipe, I gotta try it and I can’t wait! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! xx

  5. Thanksgiving the rest of the month–love that idea! Really, we need that, how can we possibly eat it all in one day?! So good to see your beautiful face! Miss my chopped con friends!!

  6. This sounds like such an amazing dish – all those great flavors together! Very festive and very perfect for Thanksgiving. I mean, really, what more could you ask for in a side? Can’t wait to try this – may just have to celebrate Thanksgiving for the rest of the month ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. 4 stars
    that was suppose to be a 4 star…not 5 only because I haven’t actually tried it yet but I’m sure it’s 5 star!!

  8. 3 stars
    This looks so good! I am like you. I totally push myself over the edge trying to make the Holidays perfect. At least my sister and I are on the same page when it come to food we go all out. We take turns hosting ๐Ÿ™‚