Meet the new butternut squash.

If you come across a miniature, sweet potato-sized version of butternut squash, chances are it's not butternut but its tiny cousin, honeynut. This squash's cute size may be one reason you buy it over big, bulbous butternut. Yet you'll be happy to find plenty of other reasons to cook with honeynut squash as well.

What Is Honeynut Squash?

Honeynut squash is a hybrid of butternut. If this is your first time hearing about it, that's probably because it's relatively new to the scene. Cornell University professor Michael Mazourek developed it with Dan Barber, renowned chef and owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York. Their company, Row 7 Seed Company, develops fruits and vegetables by selecting traits for flavor and deliciousness. They now sell several similar specially-bred seeds like potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and other squash varieties, among others.

Typically, vegetable breeders try to make their produce grow larger, faster, and sturdier without giving as much thought to how it tastes. Honeynut squash, the first seed Row 7 produced, tastes more delicious than other squash varieties all thanks to its genes.

pile of honeynut squash
Credit: PaulPellegrino / Getty Images

What Does It Taste Like?

Honeynut tastes like a more concentrated version of butternut. It's sweeter and darker orange, with more of the earthy, fall notes that give butternut squash its appeal.

Honeynut Squash vs. Butternut Squash

In addition to its sweeter flavor, honeynut is a lot easier to cook than butternut. If you've ever found yourself struggling with peeling, deseeding, and cutting up a butternut squash, you'll understand the appeal of honeynut. With a finer texture than butternut, they're easy to cut in half in one quick slice. Plus, you can roast them without peeling them. Instead of the thick, hard skin of a butternut, honeynut skin is more similar to that of delicata squash — totally edible and tasty.

How to Pick the Perfect Honeynut Squash

You can't tell when squash is ready to eat just by looking at its color, unless it's honeynut. In fact, the breeders chose this trait.

On the vine, honeynut squash first looks similar to zucchini with a green skin. These squash ripen over eight weeks, turning orange in the last two weeks of the process. When you're shopping, choose one that's more orange. The less green, the better.

How to Cook Honeynut Squash

How to Roast

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Cut the honeynut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the halves on a baking sheet, flesh side up. Drizzle each with 1 teaspoon of olive oil or butter, and sprinkle with salt to taste. Roast the squash for about 25 to 30 minutes until it's tender.

How to Stuff

To make stuffed honeynut squash, you can follow your favorite stuffed butternut squash recipe with slight adjustments.

First, consider doubling the number of squash the recipe calls for. This way, you can make the stuffing according to the instructions and not end up with extra.

Then, when you roast the squash halves skin side up, before filling them, cut its time in the oven in half. Once you fill the squash, cook it according to the recipe instructions so that the stuffing fully cooks.

honeynut squash halves stuffed on a wooden board
Credit: Carson Downing

Honeynut Squash Nutrition

It's also worth noting that honeynut squash is more nutritious than its larger cousin. They have more beta carotene and tons of vitamin A, so you can feel good about your delicious squash.

Where to Buy Honeynut Squash

Honeynut has only been popular among chefs since 2013 or so, but they're starting to become more and more common. You may find them at your local farmer's market, but they're also available at national grocery chains. Look out for the next permutation of honeynut squash from Row 7. They developed a smaller-still product, "898 Squash," which boasts an extended season and a slightly thicker skin, allowing for longer storage.

How to Store Honeynut Squash

Because honeynut squash was bred to have a thinner skin, these little delights won't store quite as long as other more durable squash varieties but will still last two to three months when kept in a cool dark place. Watch for wrinkling skin to know when your product is starting to dry out. Once cooked, like other leftovers, the squash should last five to seven days in the fridge. Prepared honeynut can also be frozen for up to three months which works well for diced or pureed squash.

Try Honeynut Squash in These Recipes

You can substitute an equal amount of honeynut squash in any recipe that calls for butternut. Because it's so flavorful on its own, start with a recipe for simple roasted squash, cutting it into cut into 1-inch cubes.

For stuffed honeynut squash, try our Baked Stuffed Winter Squash recipe, roasting this small squash for about 20 minutes instead of 40 minutes. If you only make one recipe, though, let it be a creamy squash soup, which will really let the honeynut's flavor come through.