These crispy butternut squash tacos combine spicy Mexican street corn with roasted butternut squash for an outstanding vegetarian taco feast. Topped with guacamole, cabbage, cilantro, and sour cream, these tacos are ludicrously good–and vegan.
These crispy butternut squash tacos ingeniously meld spicy and sweet in the form of roasted winter squash and elote, or Mexican street corn, which is corn on the cob coated with dried chiles, cheese, and lime. And it’s ludicrously good. More tradition enters in the form of guacamole, purple cabbage, cilantro, and creamy sour cream topping and your Taco Tuesday—actually, any day—is looking and tasting mighty fine, indeed.–Jenny Howard
Butternut Squash Tacos
For the roasted butternut squash
- 1 medium (1 lb 12 oz) butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder
For the Mexican sweet corn
- 4 ears sweet corn husked, or 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
- 3 scallions thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 small jalapeño pepper seeded and finely chopped
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan Cotija, or queso fresco (or substitute non-dairy cheese)
For the guacamole
- 2 large ripe avocados
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Juice of 1 to 2 limes
- Crushed red pepper flakes
For assembling the tacos
- 4 to 6 corn or flour tortillas depending on the size
- Purple cabbage thinly sliced
- Large handful cilantro leaves coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (or substitute unsweetened non-dairy yogurt)
Prepare the roasted butternut squash
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- To soften the skin of the butternut squash and make peeling easier, use the tines of a fork to poke several holes in the squash and then cook it in a microwave for 2 minutes. (You can skip this, although rest assured, it truly does make the squash easier and safer to peel.)
- Use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to carefully remove the peel. Carefully cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out any seeds. Cut each half crosswise into slices 1/2 inch (13 mm) thick.
- Place the sliced squash in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with the oil and agave nectar. In a small bowl, combine the salt, garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder. Sprinkle the spice mix over the squash and toss to combine. Rearrange the squash in a single layer and roast until tender, 20 to 22 minutes.
Make the Mexican sweet corn
- While the squash is roasting, if using ears of corn, carefully slice the kernels from each cob into a large bowl.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the scallions, garlic, and jalapeño and stir briefly. Add the fresh or thawed frozen corn and cook, without stirring, for 2 minutes. Give the mixture a quick toss to combine and continue to cook until the corn begins to brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the cheese and remove the skillet from the heat.
Make the guacamole
- In a medium bowl, use a fork to mash the avocados. Stir in the salt, cumin, and the juice of 1 lime. Taste and, if desired, add additional lime juice. Season to taste with red pepper flakes. Scoop the guacamole into a small bowl.
Assemble the tacos
- Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and warm them in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes.
- On each tortilla, arrange some of the roasted squash, corn mixture, and a small scoop of guacamole. Garnish each taco with purple cabbage, cilantro, and a drizzle of sour cream or yogurt. Serve immediately, passing any remaining guacamole on the side.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Not only were these Mexican squash tacos delicious, they were also extraordinarily pretty on the plate, confirming that you also eat with your eyes.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the combination of ingredients and was hopeful that the squash would roast to a nice sweetness, which it did. I microwaved the squash for 2 minutes and that did indeed make peeling a snap. It also seemed to soften the squash up just enough to make slicing it easy as well.
I used 1/2 teaspoon chili powder but would probably use a full teaspoon next time to increase the heat. It was spicy as prepared, but we wouldn’t have minded a bit more heat in the end. The roasted butternut squash was tender and sweetly flavorful and a great counterpoint to the elote.
The flavor of the corn was so appealing I could have eaten it by the spoonful by itself. My only quibble with the recipe was the amount of lime juice in the guacamole. The lime flavor was a little too dominant, but it was good overall and the quantity of juice will be easy to adjust the next time. This butternut squash tacos recipe is definitely one to share and repeat.
In a little over an hour, we had a flavorful dinner with lots of textures: smooth, creamy, crunchy. My carnivorous husband would have preferred that some meat was part of the meal but he agreed that the tacos were good. The elote by itself was very good.
I did try the microwave method to soften the squash and it seemed a little easier to peel. The next time I’m cooking butternut squash, I may try the method again. The disadvantage is that squash juice bubbles from the marks made by the fork.
Originally published April 30, 2019