Grilled butternut squash may, upon first thought, seem something of a non sequitur. After all, it’s a fall and winter vegetable. And for most of us, grilling happens predominantly during spring and summer. But the beauty of life lies largely in the unexpected, the uncommon, the daring to do something different than what most of the world does in a trance day in and out. So go on. Grill some winter squash. Not just because it’s a legitimately unexpected and badass approach to an everyday vegetable. But because the brown sugar gets all caramelized and a touch scorched in the most sweetly bitter magnificent way imaginable. And c’mon, it’s a vegetable so, you know, it’s good for you.Renee Schettler Rossi

A pile of grilled half-moon slices of butternut squash.

Grilled Butternut Squash

5 / 3 votes
This grilled butternut squash with brown sugar is sweet and spicy and will surprise and satiate.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories358 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 to 3 pounds butternut, delicata, or acorn squash, seeds removed, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch half-moons (about 4 medium)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn into thin strips
  • 1 ounce shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges


  • Preheat the grill to medium-high (about 450°F or 230°C).
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, coconut or brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper until smooth.
  • Brush both sides of the squash slices with the coconut sugar mixture. Place the squash on an oiled grate, and grill, uncovered and turning often, until tender and golden brown, 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness. To prevent the sugar from burning, rotate the squash pieces, as needed, from hot to cool spots on the grill.
  • Transfer the squash to a platter, sprinkle with the pine nuts, basil, cheese, orange zest, and, if desired, red chile flakes. Serve with the lemon wedges.
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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 358 kcalCarbohydrates: 39 gProtein: 4 gFat: 23 gSaturated Fat: 4 gMonounsaturated Fat: 15 gCholesterol: 3 mgSodium: 475 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 19 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2017 Sam Talbot. Photo © 2017 Time Inc. Books. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I loved the idea of caramelizing sugar-coated squash on a hot grill and adding fresh herbs, nuts, citrus zest, and a touch of salty cheese for added depth of flavor. And don’t forget that touch of spice at the end with chile flakes. This recipe, for me, had all of the elements that a tasty side dish should have. The use of coconut sugar here was a really nice touch; you could swap in brown sugar but I like the nutty, almost graham-cracker scented flavor from the coconut sugar. It adds a nice sweetness, but it’s not overly sweet, which was perfect. I really loved the combination of flavors on the tender, grilled squash! A touch of spice, sweetness and saltiness. Yum yum.

This is a fantastic recipe for grilling that is a little different than your typical barbecue fare. The sweet yet nutty coconut sugar combined with the smoky grill marks and the acid of the citrus was so delicious. I served this with some grilled lamb and it made for such an easy, yet beautiful weeknight dinner. This is being added to my list for impressive and deceptively easy dinner party recipes.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I LOVED the marinade on this – olive oil plus coconut sugar and salt and pepper is a total win. The orange zest on top was kind of shocking in a bad way and didn’t seem to meld with the other flavors.

    At least this recipe gave us a way to use our butternut squash when our oven broke!

    1. Kate, glad you liked (most of the) recipe! As always, we encourage tweaking a recipe to your desire. And yes, how lovely is it to not heat up the kitchen in the middle of summer? I live in Phoenix and just turning on the stove to fry a couple eggs in the morning heats the house up too much so I pretty much do all my cooking on the grill come summer. Glad you liked and hope you’ll experiment a little more with our grilling recipes!