Butternut squash gratin is everything you’d want in a cozy casserole dish. Cheesy, creamy, flavoured with thyme and garlic and extremely delicious!
Let’s talk about everything that is warm, cozy and comfy because our life demands it right now. With summer receding and autumn closing in, this season can have a bit of melancholy about it.
But it also means that some of my favourite produce is now in season, and with that, I get to have some fun with some all timers like butternut squash. And making the most of seasonal butternut squash is what this recipe is all about!
Baked butternut squash recipe
This creamy butternut squash casserole ticks all the boxes. The inspiration came to me via my favourite potatoes au gratin recipe.
This recipe is actually closer to potatoes dauphinoise. Although there are a lot of similarities, potatoes dauphinoise are distinguished by the use of raw rather than cooked potatoes. Traditional dauphinoise recipes don’t use cheese, but I thought that a bit of cheddar was worth adding.
The dish comes from the Dauphine region of France and is made from sliced and layered potatoes cooked in butter, heavy creamy and garlic. I decided to lighted up the recipe by using butternut squash instead of potatoes.
We loved this version even more than the traditional one. The sweetness of butternut squash complimented by nutmeg and countered by the garlic was no match for plain potatoes. The flavour was far richer and more complex.
How to make it
The method for making this gorgeous dish is very straightforward. Mix cream with nutmeg, crushed garlic clove, thyme sprigs and bay leaves and bring it to a boil. Take off the heat and let infuse for 10-15 minutes. Peel, deseed and slice butternut squash and layer in a buttered dish.
Pour the herb and garlic infused cream over the squash, cover with a tin foil and bake at 350F/ 180C for 30 min. Uncover and sprinkle with any type of sharp cheese. I used mature white cheddar. Bake for 30 minutes longer uncovered.
Recipe tips and notes
- Use a large and shallow baking dish for this recipe. A rectangular 9 inch X 13 inch works well. Butternut squash tends to release too much liquid during the baking and is not nearly as starchy as potatoes. So if it is stacked high, the liquid doesn’t evaporate, which throws off the creamy consistency. I would avoid deep dishes for this recipe.
- Avoid the temptation to substitute heavy cream for single or half and half cream. The full fat cream is needed to thicken properly as the casserole cooks and to avoid curdling.
- Slice the butternut squash thinly, approximately a quarter inch thick. It should not be cut into cubes.
- You can make this casserole a day ahead and reheat it shortly before you are ready to sit down to dinner. Cover it with aluminium foil and heat for 10 minutes at 400F/200C, then uncover heat for 10 minutes longer.
A gratin casserole like this is a hefty side dish, so it goes best with a robust piece of meat or other main dish. It’s not difficult to guess this baked butternut squash goes with almost anything but let me highlight my favourite pairings.
For other times of the year, try this amazing spatchcock roast chicken with potatoes, which will go wonderfully with a creamy dish like this butternut squash. Or this one pan rosemary chicken and potato dish will also compliment my creamy squash bake.
Storage and leftovers
The leftovers will keep fresh in the fridge up to 5 days. The flavours can even improve over time as they have more opportunity to meld together.
I recommend reheating in an oven preheated to 400F/200C for 10 minutes covered with aluminium foil. Then remove the foil and cook it uncovered for another 10 minutes.
Butternut Squash Casserole (Gratin)
- 400 ml /1 ¾ cups double cream/whipping cream no half and half or single cream
- 2 bay leaves
- a few thyme sprigs
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 lbs large butternut squash peeled and thinly sliced
- 100 g /1 cup mature white Cheddar or your favourite cheese grated
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Mix the heavy cream with nutmeg, crushed garlic clove, thyme sprigs and bay leaves and bring it to a boil. Take off the heat and let infuse for 10-15 minutes.
- Peel, deseed and slice a large butternut squash and layer half of it in a large and shallow buttered dish. Pour half of the herb and garlic infused cream over the squash. Then add the second layer of butternut squash and cover with the remaining cream. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350F/ 180C for 30 min.
- Uncover and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes longer uncovered until the cheese is melted and golden and cream is bubbling around the edges.
- Do not substitute heavy cream with half and half or single cream.
- I recommend using a large and shallow baking dish for this recipe. A rectangular 9 inch X 13 inch works well.