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Grill Squash from Your Small Kitchen Garden

My small kitchen garden sometimes pushes up so many butternut squashes that there’s no chance my family will eat all of them. This inspired me to set some on the grill. Now grilled quash provides a fine counterpoint to the baked, mashed, and cubed squash dishes I’d repeated so many times over the years.

My small kitchen garden sometimes produces way more of a particular vegetable than my family will eat. Worse: when we have too much of a type of vegetable on hand, it’s easy to fall into the trap of preparing it the same way again and again.

This happened a few years ago with butternut squash, and I developed a great urge for a quick but different way to prepare it. After some thought, I decided to exercise my grill: it seemed that a big slab of squash would perform much like a slab of beef or pork. The result made me very happy and I hope it will make you happy too. Follow the instructions in the photo captions to make your own grilled butternut squash.

If you try this, please let me know what you think—or share whatever variations you feel are noteworthy. Grilled squash goes especially well with smoked poultry or just about anything else you prepare on the grill.

Before you start on the squash, start your grill and leave it on high so it’s hot when the filets are ready. A vegetable peeler removes skin from a butternut squash; it helps to rest the squash on a firm surface and draw the peeler down toward that surface. After peeling the squash, cut off the stem and the blossom scar.


To cut up a squash for grilling, it helps to have a big honking chef’s knife. Be cautious and always cut toward a cutting board with the hand that steadies the squash safely above the knife’s blade. My first cut goes down the center of the squash, but notice that I start the cut through the seed end before standing the squash up and forcing the knife down through the neck.


I scrape the seeds out of the squash before slicing it into filets. The filets are about a quarter to three-eighths of an inch thick. Notice again that I start each cut at one end of the squash, cutting down and through (I’m not pushing the knife toward my hand in the center photo… just down toward the cutting board). This first cut acts as a guide when I stand the squash on end and work the knife down through the length of the fruit.


Once I’ve cut out all my squash filets, I paint them on one side with a thin coating of olive oil (left). Then I sprinkle on cayenne pepper and black pepper (center). You could add salt at this point if you like. I finish with a light distribution of brown sugar which I press into the oil with my fingers so it will adhere when I put the squash on the grill.


I place the squash filets seasoning-side-down on my grill and immediately paint the unseasoned faces with oil. Then I season them as I did the other sides. I put the cover on the grill and let the squash cook for just three or four minutes. Then I flip the squash and cook it for another three or four minutes. CAUTION! The squash may be soft when you flip it, so work a spatula along the length of each piece before lifting it off the grill.


Grilling caramelizes the sugar, but the charring usually adds complexity to the flavor of the squash; don’t reject it just because it looks singed. If six to eight minutes on the grill doesn’t get your squash filets soft, put them back on the grill or finish them off in your microwave oven. This grilled squash is soft, sweet, and savory with a touch of heat. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


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7 Responses to “Grill Squash from Your Small Kitchen Garden”

  • Have you ever made gnocchi using butternut squash? I just heard about it yesterday over lunch on Martha Stewart radio. Apparently it’s made in Northern parts of Italy as apposed to the Southern potato gnocchi. I can’t wait to try to make it myself!

  • admin:

    Caroline: Thank you for visiting! I’ve never even made gnocchi, though it has recently bubbled up my list of foods to make. I once had some made from squash and it ranked up there with just about any food I’ve had made with squash: yummy. I’m a huge fan of squash ravioli; the noodle doesn’t overwhelm squash’s mild flavor and squash has perfect texture to make up the filling for this versatile pasta product.

  • This looks like a good way to prepare butternut squash. It’s also a good vegetarian option for grilling,which I am always on the lookout for…I eat vegetarian a lot of the time. Now, we just need to buy a new grill. lol. BTW, I put a copy of your book in my cart at Amazon, to pick up when I order my next batch of stuff. Way to go!

  • Doug:

    I had bought a butternut squash a week or so ago and started looking for a “grilled” recipe as Thursday night is my night to cook (I’m retired). Tried the recipe, and we really liked it for the slices that had a VERY LITTLE cayenne pepper on it. I think I sprinkled a little too much cayenne on it. I’ll most likely use the recipe again, but will salt and pepper it and add the light brown sugar, but leave the cayenne off.

    BTW, I brushed and treated both sides before grilling and found it a little easier to do when I got to the grill.

    Wife and I both liked it. First time we ever had butternut squash.

    Thanks for publishing the recipe…

  • admin:

    Thank you so much for letting me know about your experience. I’ve always used cayenne when I grill squash, but without it I imagine the flavor would more closely resemble traditional mashed squashes (usually they use just butter and brown sugar). I’ve grown to really like the slightly charred flavor and crisper texture where the brown sugar has turned black on the grill. I’ll have to try seasoning both sides before I set the fillets on the grill… easier is usually better!

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  • It NEVER occurred to me to do winter squash on the grill! I dunno why…we do summer squash aplenty! Being a KY girl, in re to winter squash and brown sugar carmelization….you know a splash of bourbon is mighty good. And I don’t know if sorghum is available in your neck of the woods but sorghum is AWESOME on winter squash. (Sorghum can be ordered on internet from Bourbon Barrel Foods) It’s kind of like molasses….but has it’s own flavor profile.

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