Butternut Squash Gratin: A New Family Favorite Side Dish

Today’s post is going to be brief! There’s been a line-up of epic posts recently – all good things mind you, but it’s time for something short and sweet.

This butternut squash gratin is just that: uncomplicated, yet sophisticated in an understated way. We enjoyed it as one of our side dishes this past weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving, and here’s the crazy part: my kids ate it and asked for seconds. I know !

It’s not much to look at, but this autumnal casserole was the only dish that got completely polished off during our Thanksgiving feast. The squash! Talk about a testament to how good this gratin really is when it goes up against the likes of perfect mashed potatoes and wins.

No one turned down the gratin and it wasn’t just the children who were having seconds.

What’s the appeal?

From the diner’s perspective, it is light and fluffy, admittedly an admirable quality in a holiday meal, and the Parmesan seems to mellow out the strong ‘squashy’ flavor that seems to repel most kids, mine included. The early autumnal flavor of the butternut does come through, don’t get me wrong, but in the very best of ways.

From the cook’s viewpoint, this gratin is quick and easy, requires only basic pantry ingredients, and lends itself well to planning ahead. The squash can be chopped, cooked, cooled and stored the day before, leaving only assembly and baking on the big day. Alternatively, the gratin can be assembled in full, partially baked, cooled and stored; then 20 minutes before dinner, pop it in the oven to warm through and melt the cheese.

Butternut Squash Gratin

  • 3 cups butternut squash, in ¾ inch chunks
  • 1 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons mayo
  • 2/3 cup Parmesan, grated (or strong cheddar)
  • 1/3 cup Panko (or breadcrumbs)
  • Pepper to taste
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch baking dish, round or square.
  2. In a medium pot, cover squash with cold water, place a lid on top and bring to a boil over high heat. When boiling, reduce heat so that the water just simmers and cook squash for about 15 min. or until tender. Rinse under cold water; drain. (Do-Ahead: at this point the squash can be stored for up to two days until you are ready to assemble the gratin.)
  3. Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan and add onions. Sauté on medium heat, stirring often, until softened. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat egg, salt and mayonnaise together. Add 1/3 cup of Parmesan, panko, sautéed onion and squash and fold together gently to combine. Season with pepper and more salt, if needed.
  5. Spoon in to prepared baking dish and top with remaining 1/3 cup of cheese. Bake 1 hour or until heated through and cheese is slightly browned. Serve hot.

Recipe serves up to 8 people.

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Do-Ahead: Remove gratin from oven after 30 minutes and cool completely. Cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to one day. To serve: remove plastic wrap and place in hot oven. Bake for about 20 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.

Is winter squash a favorite at your dinner table?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. Butternut squash is one of my all-time favorite veggies! This recipe looks simply divine and I think my husband (who is picky about the squashy texture) would actually go for it!
    Nisha’s last post: WIMF- Noon Time Rush Weight Loss Recipe

  2. Yes! We love winter squash and eat it weekly at this time of year. My kids actually do like it (strange, I know) so we’ll be giving this a try.

  3. Ooo! I want to give this a try! Squash doesn’t really grace our table besides in the form of dessert (baked in the oven with brown sugar and butter), but I love all of these new recipes and really want to try to serve it up more!

  4. Squash is a veggie that my family really started to enjoy last year (aside from a life-long love affair with pumpkin) and butternut is one we discovered that we all enjoy. Excited to try it in this new way (and w/ my homemade mayo, too!) :-)

    Thanks for always teaching me something new, Aimee!
    Kara @Simple Kids’s last post: The Sibling Relationship- Challenging but Powerful

  5. I have this same recipe, but different name and I don’t saute my onions because I like the crunch my onions have in the dish. We LOVE this dish!! Everyone who eats it loves it and I have been known to eat it cold right out of the fridge. I plant butternut squash in my garden, although they are not very big. My husband probably wishes I would make more winter squash — he loves them, and my two young daughters usually enjoy squash also.

  6. I love squash- thanks for the new recipe!
    priest’s wife’s last post: Wordless Wednesday- Smile!

  7. I’m putting this on the Thanksgiving list! We never ate winter squash until we had a baby and started using it as the base for so many baby foods. Now, we love winter squash as the base for meatless meals – squash/sage pasta, squash lasagna, etc.

    By the way – you could have stopped the article at “my kids ate it and asked for seconds.” That’s enough of a selling point for me!
    Alissa’s last post: Kids on Vacation

  8. Denise C. says:

    I have never had butternut squash before. I’ve always seen it out at my grocery store in the fall, I just never knew what to do with it. Thanks for the yummy looking recipe! :)

  9. We all LOVE squash. Just cooked, mashed and salted, and then dotted with butter, sprinkled with brown sugar and baked.

    Also, one of my kids’ favorite pies is squash pie. I make two pies at a time and we polish off the first and put a decent sized dent in the second before calling it quits.
    Jennifer Jo’s last post: Why it aint happening

  10. Thank you for this! Now will you peel and chop the butternut for me LOL! I love the stuff but hate the work but I am going to try this – sounds wonderful!
    Jan J.’s last post: Poppy the Country Dog

  11. Is the butternut hard to chop? I normally bake a spaghetti squash whole before I cut it in half because its just so hard.
    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve never been a fan of brown sugar on squash so this sounds great to me.

    • One reason butternut is so popular is that unlike other winter squashes, you can peel it and then chop it. It’s a lot easier to work with. :)

  12. Ooh, this sounds delicious! Thanks!
    Alicia’s last post: Green craft round-up- Story cubes- milk jug storm trooper helmets and more!

  13. This looks really good!

    One thing that I would love for this site to offer is a print option. Cutting and pasting doesn’t work well because the numbering system you use doesn’t transfer over and then I also have to go around pictures.

    Thanks!

  14. Mmmmm I will definitely be making this dish this year for Thanksgiving! Well, probably sooner, since I don’t want to wait that long. We eat a lot of butternut squash this time of year – just cubed and tossed with a little olive oil, cumin, and cinnamon and then baked until tender – it’s delicious. But something like this would be great for gatherings! Thanks, Aimee!

  15. I have the ingredients on hand today and will make it for an easy dish fore tomorrow- our crazy day- anything that is make ahead but NOT in a crock pot is fine by us!
    priest’s wife’s last post: Easy Upside Down Apple Crisp

  16. I think this could quickly become a family fave too. Looks delicious!
    Kristen’s last post: Side Dish Confession Recipe- Quick and Dirty Rice

  17. I love butternut squash and it is perfect for this time of year (or really anytime!). I love how simple this recipe is, too.
    Serena @ Seriously Soupy’s last post: Vegetable Minestrone Soup

  18. This sounds fabulous! I have a bunch of squash in the cold room…must add this to the menu this week!
    Jennifer @ Maple n Cornbread’s last post: Angel Wings Southern Crescent Cookies

  19. Great idea to use pumpkin. I am sure one can season this in all sorts of ways.

  20. this looks fabulous & is going onto my “must try” list!
    Elizabeth’s last post: Butternut Squash and Ginger Bread

  21. Looks absolutely gorgeous!!
    bakies’s last post: Chocolate cupcakes

  22. Thanks for sharing this! When you said it made it less “squash-y”, I knew it was perfect. Not for kids … for my husband. ;)

  23. Mmmm, sounds and looks delicious!
    Pretty. Good. Food.’s last post: Banana Nut Bread

  24. butternut squash + gratin= oh my! I love this recipe and can’t wait to make it!
    the urban baker’s last post: National Dessert Day Florentine Chocolate Bars

  25. I was just looking for a side dish for a Thanksgiving-type dinner. I think I found what I’m making!

  26. This was yummy. Thank you. Made it tonight and my 8 month old enjoyed it as well.

  27. This recipe turned out great—very delicious! Thanks!
    Frank Farm’s last post: Sat Oct 16- I have a runny nose I thought it was from flowers but I too

  28. Oh wow. Straight up my alley, this! so simple, and yet.. it’s on my must-make list for tomorrow!
    Julie’s last post: Potato and Kale Galette

  29. Vegolicious says:

    Wow, this looks so delicious. I love gratin.

    I’d love for you to submit one of your beautiful photos, and a link to your post, to my new vegetarian food photo gallery showcasing beautiful and flavorful vegetarian food.

  30. Wow, YUM!! I made this tonight and it was soooo yummy!! My husband, who is a sworn squash hater, asked for seconds. Unfortunately my kiddos didn’t like it, but I’ll keep working on them :)

  31. I had to hop over here to see what all the buzz was about! Looks amazing. A creamy cheesy, squashy dream for sure!! xo

  32. Oh my goodness this was good. We didn’t cook the onion beforehand, just plum ran out of time. The toddlers in my life tried a bite or two here but we’ll be making this again and hopefully will learn to enjoy as well. Really, really good.

  33. This was REALLY good! Made it just as suggested but didn’t have quite enough parmesan so I used both the parmesan and cheddar. Turned out great. I’ll definitely be making this dish to take to our family Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks!

  34. I’m making this for a potluck tonight. I’m curious to see if my husband enjoys it. He has usually only been served the butter/brown sugar varieties of squash dishes, and thinks they taste horrible. I think this more savoury dish may appeal to him. We’ll see!

    I think it smells and looks fabulous, by the way! I’ve never been served a squash I didn’t like.

  35. I’ve made this probably 4 or 5 times since you posted it. It’s definitely becoming a staple in our house. So good!!

  36. Aimee: do you have any idea what the saturated fat content is of this dish? I am on a restrictive diet for a genetic issue and am wondering if I can add this to the repertoire. It seems like it wouldn’t be bad at all spread out over the whole dish! Looks positively delicious! Thanks, Susan ps: we posted your zucchini bread on our website last night. It was yummy!

  37. Hi there! First time stopping over to your site. This dish looks incredible. So much so that I felt the need to share it with my readers for my Foodie Friday feature (where I compile recipes from around the internet that i’m dying to try). Thanks for sharing this one. Be sure to stop on over to see all of the other fabulous recipes that were featured! :) http://www.dailydishblog.com/2011/09/foodie-friday-winner.html

  38. This looks so delicious, I linked it to my menu plan for this week!! Can’t wait to try it.
    Jenna @ Newlyweds’s last post: Menu Plan Monday

  39. I have just discovered this blog and am absolutely delighted! As I type this, I have your lemon oregano chicken recipe roasting in the oven and this butternut squash recipe waiting to go in! I have never roasted a chicken and just discover butternut squash these past couple of weeks! Everything looks and smells absolutely delicious! We can’t wait to eat! THANKS!! =]

  40. I spent hours searching through recipes for a side dish I could bring to Thanksgiving this year. When I stumbled on your site, I was so happy. My husband told me I had to make this. I made it for us first because I was dying to try it and it is so yummy. Thank you!

  41. Abbie Dahl says:

    Today is thanksgiving in the US and I had some leftover squash I wanted to use to make another side dish. This will be perfect! Smells great in the oven!
    Abbie Dahl’s last post: Giving Thanks

  42. Thank you! I made this for Thanskgiving and two people asked for the recipe. I’ll link to it in my blog today.
    Julie Lass’s last post: Thanksgiving Menu

  43. My kids love squash, so I’ll definitely be trying this recipe soon! In fact, my 4-month old just starting eating squash, so I can make this for the rest of the family, and puree some up for her at the same time. Thanks for the recipe!
    Lea @ gourmetmommy.com’s last post: Home Economics: The ROI of a salad spinner

  44. Making this tomorrow to bring up to my sister’s for Christmas. I accidentally grew butternut squash this year. (Plant was mislabeled). I have given away several and have at least 9 more to eat up. Have done soup and curry so far.
    Ellen’s last post: Frog Eye Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

  45. As a followup, this was the surprise hit of the Christmas side dishes. Thanks again!
    Ellen’s last post: Making Fudge: Substituting Chocolate Chips for Baking Chocolate

  46. Love butternut squash! I am always looking for new things to do with it. Never thought of it in a gratin before. Looking forward to trying this!

  47. I freaking love this recipe!
    Michelle’s last post: Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

  48. Hi! Just had to add that this dish is amazing! During the holidays I searched for sides with squash and this came up. I made it and it was such a hit that I’ve been making it since, but as a main dish. I roast the squash and onion for about 30-40 minutes in a hot, hot oven, I double the cheese-egg mixture, and some pulled pre-cooked rotisserie chicken and viola(!), an all-in-one diner dish :)

    Thanks for the deliciousness!
    Courtney’s last post: Welcome!

  49. Hi Amy,

    I’m making this recipe tonight!

    Any suggestions for an alternative for the parmesan cheese? I’m trying to introduce squash to my family, and I have a son who can’t eat dairy. I’ve only had a bit of squash, and suspect that we could all use something like the cheese to help the flavor. We’re trying little bits of goat cheese in some recipes, but so far it hasn’t been a big hit.
    Rhonda’s last post: Taking Off: Relaunch in Progress

    • Yeah, the cheese really makes the dish…Hmm, I guess perhaps a bit more mayo in the filling to make sure it’s moist. Add a little more salt, also, as the Parm provides some saltiness.

      Enjoy!

  50. I’ve been trying to incorporate squash into our diet lately. I’ll let you know when we try this one. Thanks!
    Felicia’s last post: Savory Squash Soup

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