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Butternut Squash Pie

A “pumpkin” pie made with butternut squash is more delicate in texture and nuanced in flavor than a pie made with pumpkin.

One 9-inch pie


About 1½ hours to bake the squash and process it, 10 minutes to make the filling, and about 1 hour to bake the pie


Yes, we make our pumpkin pie with squash. A pumpkin is just a squash with a cute name, but butternut squash puts pumpkin to shame when it comes to pies. Think of the average pumpkin pie: dense, gluey, vegetal, almost bitter. An army of dried spices can’t rescue that. Canned pumpkin might be the culprit: no great pie filling starts in a can.

 But butternut squash is better even than a fresh pie pumpkin. Besides its delicate tremor and satiny mouthfeel, butternut squash offers advantages based on its physicality alone: its long, elegant neck is all virgin flesh unfettered by seeds or webbing, and its relative paucity of slippery round contours makes the initial knife work far less precarious. Additionally, butternut squash is widely available and instantly recognizable as an eating squash—you never have to wonder, “Would this be better for carving?” (We’ve made pies with pumpkins that really should have been made into jack-o’-lanterns—even though they were labeled “for pies.”)

Baking Notes

The long neck of a butternut squash prompted us to reconsider how to cook it. Instead of baking the neck as a single piece, we chose to slice it, skin-on, so the flesh would cook more quickly and dry out in the oven. The skin is easily removed with a paring knife when the squash is finished.

You may cook and purée the squash a day or two in advance of using it in the pie. The squash purée may also be frozen for up to 2 months before using.

We’ve been in some of our friends’ cupboards lately and feel compelled to offer a comment: for the filling to be really first rate, the spices should be fresh—fresher than last Thanksgiving, at the very least.

Time the baking of the crust with the preparation of the filling—it is important to fill the pie shell while it is still hot.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a rimmed baking sheet; parchment paper; a heavy, well-balanced chef’s knife; a spoon for scraping out the squash seeds; aluminum foil; a paring knife; a food processor; a rubber spatula; a 1-quart liquid measuring cup or similarly sized pitcher; and a wire cooling rack.

    • 1
      (3-pound) butternut squash, scrubbed
    • 2
      large eggs
    • 2
      large egg yolks
    • 4
      ounces (½ cup packed) dark brown sugar
    • 1.75
      ounces (¼ cup) granulated sugar
    • teaspoons vanilla extract
    • teaspoons ground ginger
    • teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • ½
      teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • Pinch of cayenne pepper
    • ¼
      teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 10
      ounces (1¼ cups) heavy cream

    Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a heavy, well-balanced chef’s knife, slice off the stem end of the squash, then cut the squash horizontally, separating the neck from the bulbous portion. Cut each piece in half lengthwise. Working with one length at a time, lay the neck pieces flat side down and cut them into 1-inch-thick half-moon slices. Arrange pieces close together on the prepared baking sheet. Using a spoon, scrape out and discard the seeds and “cobwebs” from the bulb ends. Cut the bulb ends into 1-inch-thick slices and arrange them on the baking sheet. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake, checking occasionally, until the squash is tender, about 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue baking until the slices dry out some (but don’t allow them to brown), 30 to 40 minutes longer, turning the pieces once halfway through baking. 


    Let the squash cool slightly, then trim away the skin with a paring knife. Process the flesh in a food processor until smooth, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Measure out 11 ounces of purée, or 1½ cups, packed, and return this amount to the food processor. Add the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, spices, and salt and process until smooth. With the machine running, pour the cream through the feed tube and process until combined. Scrape the filling into a 1-quart liquid measuring cup or similarly sized pitcher. (The filling can be covered tightly and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Allow it to come to room temperature before using.) 


    After prebaking the pie shell, leave the oven rack with the pizza stone at the lowest position, but reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. (If the pie shell is no longer hot, warm it in the oven on the pizza stone for about 5 minutes.) Set the pie shell on the pizza stone if it’s not already there, and then pour in the filling. Bake the pie until the filling is set two-thirds in from the perimeter and the center still jiggles, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the pie the oven and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

A version of this recipe by the same author, Kay Rentschler, originally appeared in the New York Times Dining Section.