This Butternut Squash Bake with Cranberries and Apples wants to be the star of your Thanksgiving or holiday table. Loaded with seasonal flavors, it’s sure to be a hit with one and all.
Awhile back I was part of a cooking club that met monthly. It was such a fun group and everyone always went all out with their recipes. This recipe is based on my friend Jenny’s. She brought a delicious, autumnal butternut squash bake with cranberries and apples. So simple, so satisfying, and the best use I could think of for all of those seasonal ingredients. This is my take on Jenny’s recipe – I’ve long since lost her actual recipe, so I made it up as best as I could remember.
Once Halloween is over and the leaves on my giant maple tree have covered my lawn in a blanket of crimson, I know it’s time to get cracking on the Thanksgiving menu. I always test out quite a few new recipes to see if we want to add it to our ever-growing menu. This year my father-in-law will be spending the week with us and I’m even more excited to stretch Thanksgiving out for as long as possible! This butternut squash bake is something that may or may not be on our day-of Thanksgiving table, but I’ve already made it a few times this season. It will for sure be made a few more times between now and Christmas. It really is Thanksgiving in every bite.
What is a “Bake” and Isn’t it Really Just a Casserole?!
Okay, yes. A “bake” and a casserole are basically the same thing. But for those averse to casseroles, bake it is! I don’t really classify this as a casserole merely because it doesn’t contain some kind of creamy sauce to bind the ingredients together. It could be made on a sheet pan. But I love the way the squash, cranberries, apples, and seasonings blend together, with the layers of flavors and textures. I like baking them in a casserole dish rather than spreading them out in a single layer. (But you totally could do that.)
I use cubed butternut here. You can use other kinds of winter squash and even cubed sweet potatoes. I’ve even made this with frozen butternut squash and frozen cranberries when neither was available fresh. Apples, of course, are always available, but this is really good with the juiciest, crunchiest apples you can find. I love this with Honeycrisp, Autumn Glory, Granny Smith, Gala, or Golden Delicious. The herbs are fresh from my humble garden. This year it fell a little short of my expectations, i.e. it was a rather busy summer and was sorely neglected! Hooray for hearty herbs that keep on growing in spite of neglect. ;) Sage, thyme, and rosemary are a must! There’s also a sprinkle of spices to go along with fresh squeezed orange juice. This has A LOT of flavors going on.
Also, this makes a TON. Like, one batch could feed a small army of hungry relatives. When I make this for my family (a much smaller, but just as hungry army), I know it will last a loooooong time. My kids aren’t the biggest fans, I’ll be honest. No worries – more for me! I love using the leftover bake on top of mixed greens, tossed with quinoa, rolled up into a wrap with turkey, etc., etc.
Must-Make Thanksgiving Recipes
To accompany this Butternut Squash Bake with Cranberries and Apples, I invite you to check out some of my other very favorite Thanksgiving and holiday recipes:
- Cranberry Ginger Chutney
- DIY Poultry Seasoning
- Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Leeks, Dried Cranberries, and Pecans (gluten-free)
- Brown Rice Dressing with Dried Cherries and Pecans (gluten-free, vegan)
- Brown Butter Rosemary Mashed Potatoes
- Brussels Sprout Potato Gratin
- Oatmeal Pecan Tart (gluten-free)
- Gluten-Free Maple Custard Tart
- Root Vegetable Mash (vegan)
- Foraged Thanksgiving Centerpiece (HelloGlow.co)
- Autumn Glory Apple Chutney Crostini
- Rustic Autumn Glory Galette
- Gluten-Free Buttermilk Pumpkin Pie
- Maple Sage Spice Rub and How To Dry Brine a Turkey
- Curried Vegan Pumpkin Pie (gluten-free)
- Gluten-Free Cranberry Lemon Curd Tart with Gingersnap Crust
- Gluten-Free Pear Streusel Pie with Dried Fruit (plus recipe for gluten-free pie crust!)
- Shaved Fennel Asian Pear Salad with Pomegranate and Watercress
Butternut Squash Bake with Cranberries and Apples
Your Thanksgiving table needs this autumnal bake loaded up with seasonal ingredients, fresh herbs, spices, and fresh orange juice.
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 mins
- Yield: 8-10 1x
- Juice and zest of 1 large orange
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for baking dish
- 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, finely minced (sage, thyme, rosemary)
- Pinch each: cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed (don’t thaw if frozen)
- 3–4 medium apples, peeled and cored, cut into cubes
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Generously grease one deep-sided 9X13-inch, or two smaller baking dishes (such as 8X11-inch or 8-inch square) with olive oil.
- In a very large mixing bowl, whisk together orange juice and zest, maple syrup, olive oil, herbs, and spices. Add the cubed butternut squash, cranberries, and apples. Toss to coat.
- Spread the squash, cranberries, and apples evenly in the baking dishes. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
- Bake for about 30-45 minutes or more until the squash is tender, the cranberries have split open and released their juice. Serve warm or room temperature.
- Makes enough for 8-10 large servings, but will go farther as part of a feast. Use leftovers the next day over mixed greens with your favorite vinaigrette and a sprinkling of toasted pecans.
Substitute other kinds of winter squash or sweet potato for the butternut.
Fresh or frozen cranberries can be used.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Category: Side Dish
- Cuisine: American
Photo from original post from January 2012. This post was updated with new photos, printable recipe, and text in November 2018.
That looks incredible. Elise at Simply recipes is probably where I found one like it.
Oh my..this looks right up my alley!!! Love all of those flavors!
Mmmm, love all of these flavors!
Made this for a side at Jojo’s blessing dinner–BIG hit. You are my favorite.
Thank you for this recipe. I am definitely going to make it this upcoming holiday season and I think I may even add some purple potatoes for some added color and pop! My intern found this and we are going to feature it on or monthly Senior Nutrition Blog!
I’d like to make this for my son’s school Xmas party pot luck dinner so I’ll need a large quantity. Can I cook this in the slow Cooker? If so, for how long?
Hi Melissa! I personally wouldn’t cook this in a slow cooker – I think the good flavor from being roasted would be lost. But you could make it ahead of time and keep it warm in a slow cooker. Or I suppose if you have one of those giant electric roasters you could put it in there. My best guess on time would be about the same for roasting in the oven. The other thing you’d want to watch out for is the squash, apples, and/or cranberries getting too soggy or mushy. That’s why I’m thinking a slow cooker wouldn’t be your best bet with this particular recipe. Hope that helps!
Hi, what would you recommend if you can’t use maple syrup as a sweetner? Also, have you ever added other veggies to this? I’m thinking parsnip might be nice.
Parsnip would be nice! You could use honey or even a sprinkle of brown sugar instead of the maple syrup, or even leave it out all together. I’ve roasted without it before and it’s still yummy.
We just had this as a side for our Rosh Hashanah meal and it was both delicious and the perfect side for the holiday! Yummy!!
Shanah Tovah! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! xo
Did you defrost the butternut squash when you used frozen? How cups of frozen squash would equal one fresh squash?
Nope! No need to defrost. There may be extra liquid that comes off the squash as it cooks, but it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. I would go for 3-4 cups or just kind of eyeball it. The amounts don’t have to be specific when it comes to the squash, apples, and cranberries. You can definitely use more or less according to your preference or what you have on hand.
We just tried this dish as we are on the run up to Christmas. Oh my goodness, it was delicious. Definitely on our menu for this year!
Hello! Can you please indicate in grams or lbs how much a medium butternut squash is? Thank you! Tatiana
I made this recipe for a light supper this evening, and it is definitely a keeper! I ate it warm with a little yogurt on top. I simplified the herbs and spices somewhat, using only nutmeg and fresh sage. The orange juice gives it such a great flavor!