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What to Use Instead of Butternut Squash For Recipes

Can you substitute any foods for butternut squash in a recipe? You sure can! Here is a list of foods with similar taste and texture.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons when it comes to food. I’m all about the pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and squash. And it definitely helps that they’re at their cheapest, because they’re in-season!

I use butternut squash a lot in the Fall, for a variety of recipes. They have a nice nutty flavor and can be used in various dishes, both sweet and savory. But I’ll be honest- sometimes cutting up that sucker is a huge ordeal. I have ADHD, so I’m always looking for shortcuts and ways to make cooking easier.

A butternut squash cut in half. Text says "Substitutes for butternut squash".

Whether you’re using butternut squash for a puree or just dicing it up to roast, you can use a few different foods as a good substitute. Maybe you just don’t like peeling and chopping the squash, or maybe you can’t find one at the grocery store. Either way, the following foods can easily be a butternut squash substitute!

Best substitutes for butternut squash

A sliced sweet potato on a round cutting board

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are really similar to butternut squash in both taste and texture, and I actually use them interchangeably at times. They’re an amazing source of Vitamin A and are a bit easier to prepare. When I puree them, they have a super creamy texture!

Nutrition-wise, sweet potatoes are a bit higher in calories and carbs. 100 grams of sweet potatoes have 90 calories and 20 grams of carbs; while butternut squash has 45 calories and 12 grams of carbs.

If you’re not picky about that, you can easily use sweet potatoes instead. My favorite way to interchange these two is in this Black Bean and Butternut Squash Skillet!

An acorn squash, sliced in half. The seeds have been scooped out and are next to the squash.

Acorn squash

This is a pretty small squash, and can range in color from white to dark green skin. They’re sweet with a slightly nutty taste, and are high in Vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.

You can roast or puree acorn squash and use it in place of butternut squash in pretty much any recipe.

A pile of small orange pumpkins

Pumpkin or pumpkin puree

My other Fall favorite, and has a similar flavor to butternut squash! Pumpkins come in many shapes and sizes, usually with bright orange flesh, and all of them are technically edible. I suggest using a pie pumpkin though (Also called sugar pumpkin), as those usually have more of a sweet flavor and even more flavorful than the others.

Pumpkin has almost double the daily value of Vitamin A, which helps with vision and your immune system. It’s an excellent substitute for butternut squash, both diced/roasted and pureed. I like putting pumpkin puree into soups and chilis for extra fiber. And, obviously, pumpkin bread.

Note that pumpkin pie filling is not the same as pumpkin puree! The pie filling typically has added sugar to make it more sweet.

A closeup of a bunch of carrots


Would you ever think of using carrots as a substitute? Honestly, carrots are similar to all of the above options. They’re low-calorie, have a sweet taste and mild flavor, and are a good source of Vitamins A, K, and several B.

I’ve never diced up carrots as a substitute, but I’ve pureed carrots and added them to sauces and soups. Carrots give a lot of the same benefits as butternut squash!

A pile of cubed butternut squash

Canned and frozen butternut squash

If you truly like to save time (Like I do), then canned and frozen butternut squash is the way to go. There’s nothing wrong with using shortcuts, and the canned/frozen varieties are just as nutritious as fresh. And it cuts down on cooking time!

The frozen butternut squash cubes are excellent for roasting; or you could boil and then puree them for butternut squash soup. When you buy the canned version of butternut squash puree, try looking for ones that have just squash as the ingredient.

What they all have in common

One thing that the above foods have in common is that they’re all high in dietary fiber! Fiber keeps you regular in the bathroom and assists in other digestion functions. In general, we typically don’t get enough fiber in our diet so adding any of these can help.

They’re all also high in nutrients. Some of them have more of one kind than another, but they’re all super nutritious. There’s really no “bad” choice here, because they all have health benefits!

Other types of squash

Here are some other types of squash out there:

  • Buttercup squash
  • Hubbard squash
  • Delicata squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Kabocha squash
  • Yellow squash

Some of them may not be as good a substitute, like the yellow squash and spaghetti squash. But generally, each type of winter squash tastes about the same.

When it comes down to it, it’s all about your personal preference and what’s available at the time. Some of these vegetables do better diced, while others are better pureed. Either way, they’re all a great substitute for butternut squash in some fashion!

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