Velvety Butternut Squash

This is the third of a handful of Thanksgiving recipes I’m posting this week. If you missed the others, check out Paleo Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake with Maple-Vanilla Frosting and Cranberry Waldorf Salad.

I’m delighted to share this recipe because it’s one of the new ones I created for my cookbook Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love To Eat. This is the page from the cookbook; pretty cute, right?!

And here’s another sneak peek for you! This is the complete recipe from the cookbook… Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!

Velvety Butternut Squash

The word “casserole” is so unassuming, so indicative of “stuff from cans,” it hardly seems appropriate for this dish. An almost confection made of pillows and clouds and whispers, it starts as a purée that, while not bad on its own, is still just squash. But lovingly stir in a touch of coconut milk, Ras el Hanout, and an egg, and what you remove from the oven a short time later is smooth, spicy-sweet, and so far beyond a casserole, it deserves a new name.

Prep 5 minutes / Roast 50 minutes / Bake 30 minutes
Serves 4

2 1/2 pounds butternut squash
2 tablespoons water
1 head garlic
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout
1 large egg
1/4 cup pecan halves, chopped (reserve a few unchopped for garnish)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place cut-side down on the baking sheet and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water onto the paper around the squash.

2. Peel the loose, papery skin off the garlic, and wrap it in a piece of aluminum foil. Put the baking sheet of squash and the foil packet of garlic in the oven. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, until the squash is tender. Set both aside until they’re cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.

3. Increase the oven temperature to 400 F.

4. When the squash is cool, use a spoon to scoop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor. Separate the garlic cloves and squeeze the roasted pulp into the bowl with the squash. Process the mixture to a smooth puree, then add the coconut oil, coconut milk, salt, and Ras el Hanout. Taste and adjust seasonings.

5. Beat the egg in a small bowl. Scrape the purée into a large mixing bowl and stir in the beaten egg with a wooden spoon until combined.

6. Grease the inside of a 3-cup casserole dish or individual ramekins with a little coconut oil, then add the squash purée. Top with chopped pecans and bake in the 400 F oven for 25-30 minutes, until the edges are a little bubbly and the top is golden brown.

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99 Responses to “Velvety Butternut Squash”

  1. AustinGirl says:

    I am SO excited about your cookbook!! It’s on my “must buy” list for a bunch of my friends!!
    Speaking of which, I went by the new Penzey’s in Austin yesterday and name-dropped your blog like a champ. Apparently, I am not the first person to do this, and the saleswomen were very interested in checking your site out.
    Since you’ve introduced so many of us to the wonders of Penzey’s, have you ever thought about seeing if they’d make a “Clothes Make the Girl” box? Maybe they’d be willing to give 10% of sales to a pet charity of yours?

    • Mel says:

      YAY! Thanks for being excited — that makes ME excited.

      Right on! I love the idea of you creating a Mel buzz at Penzeys. SO awesome.

      I have them on my list of people to contact when the cookbook is done. At the very least, I’d love to do an event at the store — but it would be awesome to partner with them somehow.

  2. SnazzyGina says:

    I’m SO excited about the book AND this recipe. Thanksgiving food is by far the easiest to paleo-fy. So much healthy basics to start with. Sweet potatoes, squash, turkey, pumpkin, etc…

    I’m making the ambrosia salad for our family’s dinner. Can’t wait. Thanks for sharing all of your recipes. For this busy mom of four, they are LIFESAVESRS. I’m starting a 60 day Whole 30 challenge after thanksgiving at our gym. First prize is $1000!! Cash incentive is always a good motivator. :D

  3. Cate says:

    I love these Thanksgiving recipes you’re posting! Do you by chance have any thoughts on how to make a dressing without any bread? I’m not trying to be whole30 compliant on Thanksgiving, but I also don’t want to feel awful. Soooo, I’m thinking of making an oyster dressing without the bread….so far I’ve come up with extra mushrooms and maybe a kabocha squash as things to hold it together. Any ideas???

    • Mel says:

      How about some grated cauliflower to help hold things together. I bet if you used a few cups of grated cauliflower mixed with a few egg whites, it would be perfect “glue” to make the stuffing hold together nicely.

  4. Amanda says:

    Any ideas on what to substitute the ras el hanout if you don’t have any on hand or a penzeys nearby?

  5. Carrey Bull says:

    Looks delicious enough to try out, and I hate (harsh,but true) butternut squash!

  6. Sarah says:

    The layout of the cookbook looks beautiful and well organized! I have been looking forward to the cookbook coming out, and now that I see what it is going to look like I am extra excited (I am a graphic designer too:))! I love your site and your recipes are what keep me motivated to stick with paleo. Thanks for all the time you put into this.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Sarah! We’ve spent the weekend proofing and polishing… and I’m SUPER excited. I think you guys are going to love the look of the book — Kathleen has done a brilliant job. It’s so pretty and handmade and playful and scientific. RAD!

  7. Paula Rode says:

    Hi, love the look of this recipe as it is and plan to try the pumpkin gingerbread cake soon, but wonder what you would think of this as a dessert? Maybe add some maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg? Do you think 3-4 T of maple syrup? Any other suggestions?

    Also, would you say this is about 2 cups of squash? I like to bake a big one and have lots in the fridge!

    • Mel says:

      I think you could totally make this into a dessert! The maple syrup should do it, for sure. Definitely eliminate the Ras El Hanout and replace with cinnamon and nutmeg — maybe a tiny pinch of cloves?

      • Brandy says:

        Made this last night with the following:

        1/2 tsp (rounded) Allspice
        1/2 tsp (rounded) Nutmeg
        1 tsp (rounded) Cinnamon
        2-3 Tbsp Honey (basically I just squeezed a glob in there)

        – the Garlic
        – the Ras el Hanout

        Tastes like punkin pie! Crazy delicious and satisfying.

  8. Chowstalker says:

    Mel, I just love the playful, quirky, creative layout…you’ve hit this one out of the park!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Patty! Kathleen is a genius designer, and she really put herself into it. She hand-designed every page, so they’re all slightly different and hand crafted. Can’t wait for everyone to see it!

  9. Jena says:

    Just made this – it was delicious. Seriously amazing. A little surprised at how good it was. Thank you for the recipe!!!

  10. Meredith says:

    Mel, what would you think about making this with yams? I remember a delicious yammy sweet potatoey souffle that a friend’s dad made once. This looks kinda like that.

    I would make it with squash but I already stocked up on yammies! So any recommendations to modify to make it work?



    • Mel says:

      I think you should be able to do a 1:1 substitute with yams for squash and it should work just fine! Since the yams might be *slightly* heavier than the squash, you might want to whip the roasted yams,coconut oil, coconut milk, salt, Ras el Hanout, and eggs in a mixer instead of the food processor so it gets some air incorporated into it. But I bet it will work OK if you just follow the instructions above, too. Let me know how it works out!

      • Meredith says:

        Mel. OMG. This was an amazing success. We baked up those yammies and followed your recipe, using a mixer instead of a food procesor, and DAAANG! We couldn’t get enough. So tasty. And I’m glad I went the distance to make the whole Ras el Hanout recipe!

        This recipe is a keeper for sure; can’t wait to try it with squash. It was a silky velvety yammy Thanksgivingy comforty mouthsplosion. Thanks!

  11. Laura says:

    Yum! I cannot wait to make this-do you think I can make it ahead, put it in the fridge overnight, and do the cooking part tomorrow? So do everything up to the last step of putting it in the oven. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Laura, that’s what I’m going to do! Prep everything up to the last baking step, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate, then tomorrow, cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for the remaining 15-20 minutes. Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. […] The food reward arms race I (dis)like wallballs! Emotional eating: using “later” to overcome “now” The truth on genetics and athletes Cranberry Waldorf salad / Velvety butternut squash […]

  13. Tina says:

    Holy mother of everything, that was awesome. A total keeper that we’ll be making again and again. Good job, lady.

  14. Danielle says:

    This was a huge hit at our Thanksgiving table! Thanks for developing and sharing.

  15. whitney says:

    i’m a winter squash fan from way back, and this was THE MOST DIVINE squash experience i’ve ever had! rave reviews from the entire family, including my three hobbitlings (ages 6, 4, and 17mo.) thank you for a new staple in our dinnertime repertoire of awesomeness!

  16. […] article: the problem with antibiotics recipe: velvety butternut squash […]

  17. Roberta says:

    What if I needed to make this without the garlic? Would that ruin everything?

    • Mel says:

      Roberta, you can absolutely omit the garlic, and it will still taste good — lots of warm seasonal flavors in the Ras el Hanout. Enjoy!

      • Roberta says:

        Thanks for the reply. I’ll try it. I have to go a couple weeks without onions and garlic to see if they are messing with my stomach. It’s really hard to imagine life without garlic and onions!

        I’m going to try your rogan josh tonight!

  18. Mel says:

    Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to come back to my blog to let me know you like the recipe. What a nice Thanksgiving gift! You guys really are the sweetest readers around.

  19. Rob says:

    Cookbook looks awesome! Does it have a breakdown of each recipe? Not many do.

  20. tony g says:

    Nectar of the Gods! I used a stick mixer instead of a food processor. We loved it. I didn’t have any coconut oil so used olive oil. It was good enough to cause me to get your cookbook!

  21. […] my kitchen. O no. Just last night I roasted spaghetti and butternut squash for Melissa’s Butternut Pecan deliciousness, whipped up a batch of rotkohl, seared salmon, and whisked a batch of Elana’s gingerbread men […]

  22. Pooja A says:

    I made this pie for Thanksgiving 2011. OMG!! we loved it. My husband ate all the pie leaving only 2 slices for me. It was too yummy!! I will be making this again for Christmas :)
    Thank you so much.
    Love your site.
    Happy Holidays!!

    • Mel says:

      Love this story, Pooja! Thanks so much for letting me know you liked the recipe. Happy Christmas to you! And best wishes for an awesome 2012.

  23. Ruth Ann says:

    I just stumbled upon your website and you are my new hero!!! I love it and can’t wait to try the recipes. i have been doing the paleo challenge at our local crossfit for the past five days and so far so good!!! Seriously i can’t go to bed and now i won’t get the points for eight hours of sleep-wah…. anyhow thanks!!! I love to cook and i love to dress lovely… love love love the blog!!!

  24. Laura says:

    Fantastic! I am cooking my way though this awesome cookbook. And thanks again for the revised PDF format; it works beautifully onmy Ipad.

  25. Michelle says:

    This was insane! I forgot to roast the garlic, so I decided to use chai spices instead of ras el hanout to make more of an unsweetened dessert. It was the perfect Whole30 treat!

  26. […] Acorn Squash Sweet Potato, Apple, and Bacon Hash Braised Cabbage Velvety Butternut Squash Paleo Herb Gravy Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Maple Sauce Roasted Sweet Potatoes with […]

  27. Anne says:

    I love the texture of this but the ras el hanout isn’t really for me…any suggestions for what to add (if anything…) to make is on the sweeter side?

    • Michelle says:

      I loved it with chai spices. Or I bet pumpkin pie spice would be awesome.

    • Mel says:

      Michelle’s comment is right on: pumpkin pie spice would be really good! You can also go with just cinnamon or apple pie spice.

      Try 1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg — and because the Ras el Hanout includes salt, you should add a 1/8 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon salt to the squash, too.

  28. […] added in some roasted garlic that I made for the velvety butternut squash (which I actually used sweet potatoes for this time.. and forgot to take a […]

  29. Cheryl says:

    I bought your book the other day and just made this dish this morning. Wow! I don’t know why it is sweet but it is. I’ve never had butternut squash before either. This recipe is theeee best evah.

    • Mel says:

      Hooray! I’m glad you liked it. Butternut squash is naturally pretty sweet, and then the cinnamon in the Ras el Hanout highlights the sweetness, which is why the whole thing tastes kinda sweet, even though it’s low in sugar.

  30. TakuanDaikon says:

    I tried this for the first time tonight, and I felt compelled to come here and let you know that the whole family loved it. I even enjoyed it myself, even though I’ve never been a fan of any type of squash in the past. Recipes like this are winning me over, hehe. We will definitely be enjoying this again in the near future.

    For that matter, every recipe I’ve tried in the book has been a hit with the family.

  31. Laney says:

    I started making this with cinnamon and chili powder as the flavoring elements and it is out of this world. Might try it with sweet potatoes instead of the butternut for a more dessert-like spin. This is definitely on the menu for Thanksgiving.

  32. Ursula says:


    So anyway week one of my primal journey and I thought..I need to try this. I have to admit after the blending I was a bit sceptical, but put in in the fridge. Tonight I looked at it and thought, oh my, so not sure. SO I made up my Grassfed Buffalo, coconut milk, red wine yumminess casserole and had a bowl. Then I took this out of the oven…made just as you said and OH MY GOSH! It works just like that as pudding. OH MY GOSH. Yumminess supreme. And so light. And fluffy. And…its a keeper for sure! Thank you for this!

    • Mel says:

      Oh, ye of little faith! I’m glad you stuck it out and the squash won you over in the end ;-)

      • Ursula says:

        This recipe is a keeper. I’ll be buying the book come pay day. Oh my. I’ve started a blog…like today… to log all my favorite primal recipes (I’m not brave enough to ditch the dairy yet)…I hope you don’t mind that I’ve put in on there.

        I changed the quantities (I made half) and I also put the UK info and conversions in (since I live here).

        I linked back to you, but if you mind..I’ll take it down!

  33. MrsC says:

    Hi Mel! I just got your cookbook last week and want to try this asap! Could you do this with can pumpkin? If so, how many cans of pumpkin would you use?

  34. Vicki white says:

    I don’t really care for squash but this recipe is amazing!! Since butternut squash was so cheap at our farmer’s market, I figured I had nothing to lose. I’ve been making it every week for the last month! Yesterday I even bought a Hubbard Gray squash which I had never heard of and made 2 batches! I ate some for breakfast, lunch and dinner:) Mel, your cookbook is my favorite cookbook by far! Everything I’ve tried has been good! Thank you so much!

  35. Vani says:

    Hi! This looks fantastic, but I’m allergic to eggs. Would an egg substitute work here? or should i use a gelatin type thing- like agar agar?

    • Mel says:

      You can use an egg substitute if it doesn’t include junky ingredients… or you can just skip the eggs. The texture won’t be *quite* as light/smooth, but it will still taste really great.

  36. erika says:

    Did you use canned coconut milk or from a carton to prepare the butternut squash recipe?

    • Mel says:

      Always use coconut milk from a can — the kind in the carton usually includes added, junky ingredients. If you can find canned without guar gum, that’s best — but if you can only find it with guar gum, that’s OK.

  37. […] meal. This recipe is grain-free, dairy-free, legume-free and sugar-free. Thanks to Melissa from The Clothes Make the Girl for this delicious recipe! So what’s the secret that makes it so special? A Middle Eastern […]

  38. Brad Rutledge says:


    I’ve had Well Fed for a while but just got around to making this for the first time. Holy Poop it’s good. What an explosion of flavors. I think about all those poor souls who think sweet potatoes and marshmallow casserole is the bomb. They don’t know what good health can taste like. Thanks for all you do.


    • Mel says:

      I’m so glad you liked it! And I’m with you — this is way, WAY better than sweet spuds with marshmallows. I’ll take savory-sweet over sugary-sweet any day!

      Thank you for letting me know you like it!

  39. […] 2x hardboiled eggs and chorizo Handful seeds/nut mix Lunch – BbQ beef with bagged salad (sigh!) and Velvety Butternut Squash, made with sunflower seeds (didn't have pecans) Dinner – Paleo Double down with my homemade bacon, […]

  40. […] Potato Casserole or Butternut Squash Bake *Contains eggs, and I would recommend adding pecans to the sweet potato […]

  41. Heather says:

    Would a blender work for mixing this?? In batches?

  42. krista says:

    I made this for a Thanksgiving side dish (basically so that I was guaranteed to be able to eat something on the table other than just turkey) and everyone LOVED it – literally, it was all gone so quickly. (And this is a family of complete non-paleo people, they were all eating bread, potatoes, some dish with cheesyness, etc.) Delicious.

  43. annemarie says:

    Just made this tonight and it was stunning!! So sweet, spicy and definitely velvety! Thanks!!

    • Mel says:

      Hooray! Glad you liked it! I have the last of my leftovers in the fridge, and I’m eating them during Thanksgiving, Part 2 this afternoon.

  44. thatgirljj says:

    OK… scaling help needed. I made this for Thanksgiving and it was very popular! But we’re having a lot more people for Christmas and I need to scale it up. I started with 7lbs of butternut & red kuri squash. Should I just triple all the other ingredients? That’s what I had though, but now I’m staring down an overwhelming NINE CUPS of roasted squash flesh I’m almost wondering if I should quadruple it?

    • Mel says:

      You can’t go wrong by adding a little extra Ras El Hanout, but I don’t think you need to add extra coconut milk… Maybe triple all the ingredients and add an extra egg. I recommend you bake it in two casserole dishes, instead of one, since there’s so much more volume. Separate dishes will ensure it sets up properly.

  45. Stephanie says:

    This dish was amazing!!! The best butternut squash dish ever! This will definately be in rotation at my house. A good sign of a good dish is when my husband asks, “Is there more?” Is there anything you can suggest to make this dish sweeter? The only edit I made was swapping out the pecans for almonds since im not a fan and it worked perfectly.
    Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      If you’re not opposed to sweeteners, you could add a little honey, but then it wouldn’t be Whole30 approved (if you care about that). Alternately, you could use sweet potato instead of butternut; sweet spuds are much sweeter than the squash.

      You could also skip the ras el hanout and just use cinnamon instead, which will make it taste sweeter instead of spicy.

  46. […] tenderloin for two days. This afternoon, I baked up a butternut squash and roasted some garlic for The Clothes Make the Girl’s Velvety Butternut Squash, vacuum-sealed the tenderloin and plopped them into my Sous Vide Supreme […]

  47. AHKeatley says:

    I made this on Sunday and it is soooo good!!! I love it and totally love the tip about making it with sweet potatoes. Just so you know…I am the girl that cannot cook and yet I am cooking and it is actually good. :)

    • Mel says:

      If you’re roasting garlic and making Ras el Hanout, I don’t think you can call yourself “the girl that cannot cook” anymore YAY! Glad you like it!

  48. Ryan says:

    I am trying to find your book on iTunes but I have had no luck. Where can I buy it?

    THANK YOU!!!

  49. Amy Ayers says:

    I am making this now to bring over to a friends as a side dish for Easter dinner. Got a good deal on sweet potatoes, so I’m using those instead of butternut squash. The taste test before going into the oven to bake was fantastic!! I can’t wait until it’s done. And I will have to use butternut squash next time.

    I also love that this will work as leftovers for me since I am starting a Whole30 tomorrow. YUM!!!

    • Mel says:

      Right on! Glad you liked the taste test. I really like to have it for breakfast!

      • Amy Ayers says:

        I just made another batch, but this time with butternut squash. It came out just as yummy as the batch made with sweet potatoes. As for leftovers from Easter, those didn’t happen. Friends LOVED it!! I barely had any to bring home.

  50. Danielle B. says:

    Um….pretty amazing. I can’t stop eating it!

  51. […] Potato Casserole or Butternut Squash Bake *Contains eggs, and I would recommend adding pecans to the sweet potato […]

  52. […] this Velvety Butternut Squash | theclothesmakethegirl and without salt and garlic and change the spices to cinnamon cloves and allspice, its dessert! […]

  53. vegan_zombie says:

    HI! I really wanna try this recipe and I skimmed through all the comments so forgive me if you already answered this but is there any substitute for eggs?

    • Mel says:

      If you’re avoiding eggs, just omit them — no need to replace with anything else. The texture will be slightly different than the egg version, but it will still taste great.

  54. […] are things I eliminated from my diet that last month before my competition.  She recommend the Velvety Butternut Squash so I’ll be trying that out.  It’s good to eat seasonal, so look for pictures on […]

  55. I make this EVERY WEEK. Hubz absolutely goes crazy for it.

    • Mel says:

      WOOT! I had a stretch where I was making it every week and eating it for breakfast. I might need to start doing that again :-)

      • I’m back to report that not only has this remained our favorite Paleo/Whole30 dish of all time, I even used it as part of my fueling strategy for the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance race.
        And by the time the race was over, 29+ hours later? STILL NOT TIRED OF IT.

  56. Patti says:

    Made this on a 10 degree day to warm up with those awesome spices! This is heaven! So many layers of flavor and a bit of a kick! I was lucky my neighbor had some ground clove and I live in a great neighborhood. Also made the meat and spinach muffins with ground lamb! Yummy but paper muffin cups didn’t do well. Next time I’ll try foil ones.

  57. […] Potato Casserole or Butternut Squash Bake *Contains eggs, and I would recommend adding pecans to the sweet potato […]

  58. Dizz Integrator says:

    Sigh. I made this. It looked as lovely as the picture.

    I actually did not like it at all. Enough that I tried to eat it again and had to throw it out. I felt like the seasonings completely ruined the awesome butternut squash flavor. I’m not sure if I hate the spicy/sweet flavor or just the Ras el Hanout.

  59. Sarah says:

    Dear Melissa,

    I LOVE your recipes, thank you so much for sharing. After 4 years of eating paleo, I really need some inspiration now and then (to keep myself from eating oven roasted broccoli ALL THE TIME) :)
    One question though, what kind of protein/meat would you recommend serving with this? I love ras el hanout, but I am not too sure what accompanies it well. Beef stew maybe? Or grilled chicken breasts? I really don’t know, and I was very much hoping that you and your awesome creativity could help me out here! xoxo

    • Aw. You’re so nice… thank you!

      This tastes really good with meats I think of as “fall flavored”: roasted chicken, grilled chicken thighs, pot roast, pork roast. Also good with salmon. The Ras el Hanout is spicy-sweet and a little earthy.

  60. Amy says:

    Just found out I will be having Thanksgiving at my house this year for the first time in 8 years. HELP! I look forward to trying these recipes before then and would LOVE to win the turkey from Tendergrass Farms too!

  61. Leslie Currie says:

    Melissa- these recipes look amazing. I am allergic to coconut unfortunately. Do you think it is possible to substitute almond milk for any of the recipes – especially the desserts? I know the consistency is totally different. Thanks and I look forward to your reply.

    • For this recipe, you can use almond milk as long as it doesn’t have any mystery, added ingredients. (If you can’t find clean almond milk, just skip the coconut milk in this recipe; it will still taste good.) For whipped cream, I’m not sure if almond milk will work. I’ve never tried it. Good luck!

  62. Rebecca Clark says:

    I was a bit hesitant at first; this was my first (like, ever) experience with butternut squash. But I’m trying to branch out, so…
    I cooked the squash in my crockpot (living in Arizona, it’s already too warm to turn the oven on for very long but the crockpot works gloriously!). I forgot to buy a head of garlic, so while i was scooping and mashing the cooked squash, I “simmered” already-minced garlic in the coconut oil, low and slow. Also I subbed the Ras al Hanout with pumpkin pie spice and cumin (single mom + teacher’s salary = grocery budget) I was relieved and pleased; it was tasty and my daughters liked it. I’m currently having the leftovers for breakfast with sausage – nice break from eggs! Thanks for the recipe, I love your style!

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