Friday, November 4, 2016

Butternut Squash Ground Beef Casserole

In the fall you can't beat the butternut squash for its price, color and flavor. Every year I make at least two huge pots of homemade butternut squash soup. 

Each one is different as I use whatever fresh herbs are still left in my garden and whatever spices and leftover ingredients I have on hand. Note to self: start writing down some of those recipes. 

In the meantime, it was time to step out of the soup circle and create some more good things for my butternut squash recipe repertoire.

This is a quick and easy recipe to create. I spiralized the squash but you cutting it into small pieces works just as well.  

I like what the flavor of a Swiss hard cheese brings to this dish but feel free to substitute the more American style cheddar or Monterey Jack if you like. For an added crunchy touch, I roasted the seeds from the butternut squash and sprinkled them over the top of the casserole before serving.

This is a great, hearty and flavorful fall dish but I wouldn't put it past myself as serving it as a side dish for Thanksgiving as well.

Butternut Squash Ground Beef Casserole
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1+1/2 hours
Serves: 6


  • 1 red onion
  • 5 sprigs of thyme, plus a few for garnish, if desired.
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1+1/2 lbs ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 28 ounce can of tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
  • 1 butternut squash - 1+1/2 lbs
  • 1 cup shredded Emmenthaler or Swiss cheese
For the seeds:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • Peel the onion and dice into small pieces.
  • Wash and dry the thyme and remove the leaves from the sprigs.
  • Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. 
  • Add the chopped onion to the pan and stir.
  • When the onions start to turn transparent, add the ground beef and cook until just brown for another 5 minutes. 
  • Peel the whole squash, slice off the bulbous bottom part and use a Spiralizer to make the rest of the butternut squash into noodles. 
  • Peel the leftover bottom of the butternut squash. Scoop out the seeds and reserve. Dice the flesh into very small pieces and add to the meat and onion mixture. Cook for a few minutes. 
  • Alternately: If you are using a chopped squash version (not spiralized), skip down to the after the preheat directions. 
  • Add the fresh thyme leaves and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Add the can of tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil. Season again with salt and pepper, if desired. Stir the sugar.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Chop the butternut squash into rings and then cut the rings into halves and thirds. 
  • Peel the skin off of each piece and reserve the seeds.
  • Place the butternut squash pieces or the spiralized squash in a casserole dish and pour the ground beef sauce into the dish.
  • Bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly on top and bake for another 20 minutes.
  • In the meantime, line a baking sheet with foil. 
  • Rinse the butternut squash seeds, removing the stringy flesh from the seeds. 
  • Pat the seeds dry with a paper towel and place them in a bowl. Add the oil and stir to coat.
  • spread them out on the baking sheet.
  • Season with salt and pepper and toss again.
  • Spread the seeds out on the prepared baking sheet
  • Place the seeds in the oven with the casserole and roast for about 10 minutes or until the seeds begin to pop. Watch them carefully, it is easy to burn them.
  • Remove the pan from the oven, let the seeds cook on the pan.
  • Remove the casserole from the oven, sprinkle the roasted seeds over the top, garnish with fresh thyme sprigs and serve. 


  1. This truly looks yummy for a weekend winter dinner. Could you substitute the beef for ground chicken or turkey? And if so, would you need to make any adjustments to bring out the taste? Can't wait to try!

    1. Thanks for your feedback! Go ahead and substitute whatever ground meat you prefer in the recipe with no additional adjustments. Enjoy!

  2. first it says you spiralize or cut the squash into small pieces and add to the meat. then it says you slice the squash and lay it in the bottom of the pan. Which is it?

    1. Hi there. Thanks for catching the confusion. I have updated the instructions.

  3. I'm just starting getting into eating squash and I bought some that is already made into ringlets so I don't have the additional to do the extra part of this recipe. Can I make it without doing that

    1. Hi Dwyna: If you mean adding more squash pieces to the ground meat, it should work fine for you.


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