Just when you thought you’d run out of ideas for things bacon can make better, along comes Roasted Butternut Squash with Bacon. Be advised – this vegetable side is indulgent, if not downright decadent. Buttery and savory with an herbaceous hint of sage and subtle sweetness from maple syrup, it pairs best with pasta or a lighter “white meat” protein, like pork or chicken.
‘Tis the season, so let’s talk squash. Not the sport. (Because…honestly, what is that? Please feel free to school me in the comment section because I truly have no clue.) But rather the rockstars of the cold-weather veggie scene. Butternut. Acorn. Delicata. Spaghetti. Pumpkin. And the list goes on…
We Love Butternut Squash – And You Should, Too!
- The Taste Factor. You may think all squash tastes the same (and if by “same” you mean that all varieties are delicious, then yes, they do taste the “same”) but there are so many nuances on this delicate flavor spectrum. It’s all about finding the right way to coax out that naturally buttery, earthy, slightly-sweet flavor. (Which is sometimes as simple as just salt, pepper, and olive oil.)
- The Health Factor. Aside from the fact that winter squash is loaded with vitamins (A and C for maximum cold/flu season protection), it’s low on carbs and big on fiber. Like all other veggies, it has virtually no fat.
- The Diet Factor. Unless you’re on a No-Squash diet, squash is supremely versatile when it comes to dietary restrictions. It’s obviously vegan and gluten-free, but also fits paleo and Whole30 diets. It’s not exactly keto friendly (depending on how keto your keto is), but it has way less carbs than its vegetable cousins (corn, potatoes, and even sweet potatoes). Plus, its fibrous structure – and mild flavor – makes it a great starch “substitute” (i.e. spaghetti squash “noodles.”)
- The Cooking Factor. Yeah, yeah, the skin is hard to cut into raw (and there are ways around it…), but aside from that, it’s pretty hard to mess up cooking squash. It holds up to just about any preparation and if you do happen to overcook it, simply puree it down for ravioli filling or soup which is ALWAYS satisfying.
Butternut has always been a favorite. (I still sometimes scour freezer sections at the grocery store for those frozen bricks of mashed butternut squash that was essentially baby food for adults.)
This seasonal side dish is particularly good – rich and smoky, with a surprising hint of herb and maple – and could very well find itself in the running for a slot on the Thanksgiving dinner menu.
Do you LOVE butternut squash? Us too! Click the link to view our complete guide to butternut squash – how to select and store ripe squash, how to cook butternut squash, our favorite seasoning combinations, storage tips, and more!
How to Make Roasted Butternut Squash with Bacon
Who says you have to save the “special” sides for Thanksgiving? Winter vegetables are back in season, and Roasted Butternut Squash is always a fall fave. Saute lightly roasted cubes of butternut in bacon fat, and toss with crispy bacon, maple syrup and savory sage for a rich, bold side that’s holiday-worthy, but easy enough for a weeknight dinner.
- Roast the squash. Roast the butternut squash cubes until tender, but not fully caramelized.
- Brown the bacon. Cook the bacon until crisp, then remove and set aside.
- Sauté squash in bacon fat. Sauté the roasted squash in a bit of leftover bacon fat until the edges start to brown and caramelize.
- Sweeten and season. Return the bacon to the skillet; add maple syrup and fresh chopped sage and sauté until the flavors are melded (just a few minutes).
- Go nuts. Add optional toasted pecans, toss well, and serve immediately.
Tips for Making This Recipe Perfectly
- Use thick-cut bacon for meatier bites.
- Dice the squash into small, 1″ bite-sized pieces – this will ensure a bit of each flavor (squash, bacon, sage and pecans if using) in every bite.
- Feel free to use pre-cut store-bought butternut squash cubes, as long as they’re fresh. Dice into smaller bite-sized pieces as needed. You’ll want about 24 ounces of precut squash.
Add Pecans for Optional Crunch
Toasted pecans add great crunch and texture. Spread half a cup of whole pecans over a baking sheet, add them to the oven along with the squash. Toast 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned and very fragrant.
What to Serve with Roasted Butternut Squash
The flavor in this side dish is bold, so it’s best served with milder mains. For a mostly meatless meal, we love it with Instant Pot Risotto or simply tossed with al dente pasta.
If you want meat, stick with lighter proteins to complement the richness of this dish. Our Pecan Chicken or Oven Roasted Pork Chops would round out a meal beautifully. (Just omit the suggested sides and serve with squash instead.)
Storing and Reheating
Storage leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Leftovers are best reheated on the stove, as the bacon fat will congeal and the squash will soften. Heat in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until warmed through. Top with additional fresh sage if you have it!
More Flavorful Winter Squash Recipes
- Butternut Squash Fries with Maple Aioli
- Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Brown Butter
- Roasted Delicata Squash Salad
- Butternut Squash Noodles with Sage Butter
Did you make this Roasted Butternut Squash with Bacon and Sage? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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Roasted Butternut Squash with Bacon and SagePrint Recipe Rate this Recipe
- 2 lb butternut squash (about 3 cups cubed), peeled, cored, seeded, diced into 2” cubes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 6 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp fresh sage
- ½ c toasted pecans, optional
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, then heat to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss the squash with the olive oil and salt, then spread evenly over the baking sheet. Roast 15 minutes, then remove the baking sheet from the oven and stir/flip the squash pieces. Return to the oven and roast for an additional 15 minutes. The squash should be soft and browned in spots, but not fully caramelized.
- Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Cook bacon until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon. Pour all but 1 tbsp bacon fat from the skillet.
- Add the squash to the skillet, toss to coat in the bacon fat and sautee 5 minutes, until starting to brown and caramelize.
- Pour in the maple syrup and return the bacon to the skillet. Add the chopped sage and pecans if using. Toss and cook 2 minutes more. Garnish with additional fresh sage and serve immediately.
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