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Mediterranean Diet

Give Your Butternut Squash the Crispiest Crust

Roast first, sear second. You won’t be sorry. 
By Published Mar. 1, 2022

The best part of a perfectly seared steak is arguably that crispy crust. The best way to achieve said crispy crust? A technique known as reverse searing. 

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The concept is simple: Cook the meat first in a low-temperature oven, and then finish with a hard sear on the stove. The benefits? Tender meat and a great crust. Talk about a win-win situation. 

It turns out that this method also works really well on a slab of butternut squash.

Butternut squash is the perfect candidate for reverse searing. The squash’s dense texture gives it a meaty bite. And its sweet, mild flavor can also handle a liberal coating of bold seasonings (much like a beef steak). 

Exhibit A: Butternut Squash Steaks with Honey-Nut Topping. This recipe comes from our More Mediterranean book, and it is a mouthful of crispy-crunchy butternut deliciousness. Utilizing the neck of the butternut squash allows us to cut it into long, flat planks. Here, we cook our squash in the oven until it's almost tender and finish it with a hard sear on both sides. Those flat surfaces provide maximum surface area for maximum crust. Yum and yum. 

So go ahead and give your butternut squash a reverse sear. You won’t regret it.  

Butternut Squash Steaks with Honey-Nut Topping

Serves 4

These squash steaks pair nicely with a number of steak accompaniments, though we particularly like them with a simple side of couscous. 

Garlic Yogurt Sauce

  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1 garlic clove, minced


Butternut Squash Steaks

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground dried Aleppo pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 (3-pound) butternut squashes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped toasted pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon torn fresh mint


  • Lime wedges 


1. FOR THE YOGURT SAUCE: Combine all ingredients in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.)

2. FOR THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH STEAKS: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine 3 tablespoons oil, sugar, cumin, garlic powder, salt, Aleppo pepper, coriander, cinnamon, and pepper; set aside. 

3. Working with 1 squash at a time, cut crosswise into 2 pieces at base of neck; reserve bulb for another use. Peel away skin and fibrous threads just below skin (squash should be completely orange, with no white flesh), then carefully cut each neck in half lengthwise. Cut one ¾-inch-thick slab lengthwise from each half. (You should have 4 steaks; reserve remaining squash for another use.) 

4. Place steaks on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and brush evenly with spice mixture. Flip steaks and brush second side with spice mixture. Roast until nearly tender and knife inserted into steaks meets with some resistance, 15 to 20 minutes; remove from oven. 

5. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Carefully place steaks in skillet and cook, without moving them, until well browned and crisp on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip steaks and continue to cook until well browned and crisp on second side, about 3 minutes. Transfer steaks to serving platter. 

6. Sprinkle steaks with pistachios and sesame seeds. Microwave honey until fluid, about 10 seconds, then drizzle evenly over steaks. Sprinkle with mint and serve with yogurt sauce and lime wedges. 

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