Best Butternut Squash Chicken

Imagine tender, flavorful chicken pieces immersed in a savory butternut squash sauce. This Butternut Squash Chicken dish is perfect with rice, cauliflower rice, noodles, bread, salad, or other grains—a restaurant-worthy meal to enjoy at home!


How to cook butternut squash

There are various ways to cook cubed or whole butternut squash, including boiling, roasting, and using an Instant Pot for pressure cooking. Although roasting imparts a tastier, more flavorful butternut squash, my favorite methods are boiling and using the Instant Pot because they are relatively quick and efficient.

Frozen butternut squash is typically pre-peeled and quite easy to cook. Follow the instructions provided on the package. They usually involve boiling in water (for ~4-6 minutes) or microwaving (for ~7-10 minutes) with 1 tbsp. water.

To boil butternut squash:
  1. Peel and cube about 1 lb. or 1.5 cups butternut squash.
  2. Bring about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Carefully add the butternut squash and return the saucepan to a boil.
  4. Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove, drain, and allow the butternut squash to cool before blending in a food processor.

To instant pot butternut squash (for a 6 quart instant pot at about sea level):
  1. Add 1 cup cold water to the Instant Pot.
  2. Place a trivet inside the Instant Pot along with 1 lb. or 1.5 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash or about one quarter of a whole, de-seeded, unpeeled butternut squash.
  3. Set to hi-pressure cook for 13-15 minutes with a quick release.
  4. Remove and allow to cool before slicing the skin off (if necessary) and blending in a food processor. If the squash is difficult to blend, add a tablespoon of water to the blender contents.

Serves: n/a
Prep Time: 15 minutes – Cooking Time: 25 minutes – Total Time: 40 minutes

Helpful equipment

  • Dutch oven or large pot


  • Oil or butter
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced, grated, or paste
  • 2 tsp ginger minced, grated or paste
  • 1.5 cups butternut squash cooked, ground/mashed
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar or other sugar of choice
  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1-3 tsp red curry paste or to taste (optional)
  • 1/2 + 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup frozen corn
  • 1 handful basil leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • Chicken coating:
  • .75 lb. chicken cut into 1” cubes
  • oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • pinch of cardamom


Step 1
Begin by coating and searing the chicken. In a small bowl, combine salt, garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, and cardamom. Toss the chicken pieces with 1-2 tsp oil and the pre-made seasoning, ensuring they are evenly coated with seasoning. In a sauté pan with oil or butter over medium-high heat, sear the chicken pieces both sides. Set aside.

Step 2
In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, add about 1 tbsp. of oil, along with diced onions, garlic, and ginger. Cook until the onions become softened and translucent.

Step 3
Add the butternut squash to the pot. Stir in peanut butter, sugar and red curry paste if using.

Step 4
Pour in the unsalted chicken stock and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 5
Reintroduce the seared chicken into the pot and simmer another 10 minutes until the internal temperature exceeds 165F. Taste the sauce to adjust the seasoning further if needed. Stir in the corn and basil leaves, and then remove from heat.


  • Red curry paste (optional) – Red curry paste adds a kick to the butternut squash sauce; use chili powder as a substitute if preferred. For mildly spicy, start with 1 tsp, and go up to 3 tsp for spicy.
  • Frozen corn or other diced vegetables – Corn pairs well with butternut squash, but other mixtures of firm, diced vegetables are possible, such as carrots.
  • Basil leaves – Use your preferred basil. However, Thai basil imparts a really pungent, fragrant taste that makes it ideal for this dish. 
  • Coconut milk – Coconut milk in a carton like “So Delicious Dairy Free Shelf-Stable Coconut Milk, Unsweetened” works well. Similarly to half and half, regular milk with a bit of heavy cream can also substitute for coconut milk.
  • Consider brining the chicken beforehand, especially for lean cuts, to lock in moisture and flavor during simmering. For basic steps on brining meat, visit this link.
  • This recipe seemingly makes an overabundance of sauce. But it goes fast when served over vegetables, rice or other sides!
  • Do not worry if the butternut squash sauce seems watery or soupy initially–it will thicken up as it simmers; and continue to thicken over time off the burner, much like a lentil stew.
  • For a smoother sauce, or one without lumps, be sure to thoroughly blend the butternut squash before use. See above for instructions on cooking butternut squash for this recipe.

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