Butternut squash is a nutritious and delicious winter squash that is a staple ingredient in many fall and winter dishes. Given its hearty, thick skin, butternut squash often keeps for several months in a cool, dry place. However, once cut and cooked, butternut squash has a shorter shelf life. Here is a guide to how long leftover butternut squash lasts in the refrigerator or freezer before it goes bad.
How Long Does Raw Butternut Squash Last?
An uncut, raw butternut squash that is stored properly can last 2 to 3 months in a cool, dry place. Do not refrigerate raw butternut squash as the cold temperature can damage the vegetable and cause it to spoil faster. Store raw butternut squash in a basket or on a shelf away from sunlight and extreme heat.
How Long Does Cut Raw Butternut Squash Last?
Once you cut into a butternut squash, it will not last as long. This is because cutting into the squash exposes the inside flesh to air and bacteria. An opened or cut raw butternut squash will only last about 7-10 days when stored in the refrigerator. Place cut raw butternut squash in an airtight container or bag before refrigerating.
How Long Does Cooked Butternut Squash Last in the Fridge?
Cooked butternut squash that is stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator will last 3 to 5 days. To maximize its shelf life, make sure to cool the cooked squash completely before refrigerating it. Do not store warm or hot cooked butternut squash in the fridge as this can raise the temperature and spoil other food. Allow at least 2 hours for cooked squash to cool before refrigerating.
How to Tell if Cooked Butternut Squash Has Gone Bad
There are a few signs that indicate your leftover cooked butternut squash has gone bad:
- Mold growth
- Shriveled or collapsed texture
- Unpleasant sour smell
- Very soft consistency
- Liquid pooling in the container
If your cooked squash exhibits any of these signs, it is best to throw it out. Consuming spoiled butternut squash can cause food poisoning.
How Long Does Butternut Squash Puree Last in the Fridge?
Butternut squash that has been cooked and pureed or mashed will keep for about 1 week when properly stored in the refrigerator. Transfer the puree to an airtight container, smooth down the surface to limit air exposure, and refrigerate immediately after cooking. Pureed butternut squash can also be frozen for longer storage.
How Long Does Butternut Squash Soup Last in the Fridge?
Homemade butternut squash soup will last 3 to 5 days when refrigerated in an airtight container. Make sure the soup is cooled completely before storing it in the fridge. The quality of the soup’s texture and flavor will start to decline after 3 days even if it is still safe to eat. Soups with meat or dairy may not last as long.
How Long Does Butternut Squash Lasagna Last in the Fridge?
A butternut squash lasagna made with cooked squash, sauce, and cheese will keep well for 3 to 4 days when refrigerated. Cover tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. The pasta may start drying out after this time but it should still be safe to eat for up to a week.
How to Freeze Leftover Cooked Butternut Squash
Freezing is a great way to extend the shelf life of leftover cooked butternut squash for several months. Here are some tips for freezing butternut squash:
- Allow cooked squash to cool completely before freezing, about 2 hours
- Transfer to airtight freezer bags or containers, leaving 1-inch headspace
- Squeeze out excess air and seal the container
- Label package with contents and date
- Freeze for up to 10 months
- Avoid freezing and thawing more than 1-2 times
How to Thaw Frozen Butternut Squash
There are a few methods to safely thaw frozen cooked butternut squash:
- Refrigerator thawing – Place frozen squash in the fridge 1-2 days before needed
- Cold water thawing – Submerge sealed bag in cold water, changing water every 30 minutes
- Microwave thawing – Microwave frozen squash in short intervals, checking often
- Stovetop thawing – Cook frozen squash over low heat in a pan with small amount of broth or water
Use thawed butternut squash within 3 to 4 days and do not refreeze thawed squash. Always cook thawed squash to 165°F for food safety.
How Long Does Canned Butternut Squash Last?
An unopened can of butternut squash will keep 2 to 5 years in the pantry. Once opened, canned butternut squash should be transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated. It will last about 4 to 7 days in the fridge before spoiling.
Signs Canned Butternut Squash Has Gone Bad
Look for these signs that opened canned butternut squash has spoiled:
- Mold growing on surface
- Very soft texture
- Strange colors or bubbling
- Unpleasant sour odor
- Rancid taste
Throw out spoiled canned squash. Do not taste test questionable squash.
Butternut Squash Storage Tips
Follow these tips to maximize the shelf life of fresh and cooked butternut squash:
- Store uncut squash in a cool, dark place around 50-55°F
- Do not refrigerate raw whole squash
- Use cut squash within 7-10 days
- Refrigerate cooked squash in airtight containers
- Allow cooked squash to cool before refrigerating
- Freeze puree and cooked squash for longer storage
- Label frozen packages with date and contents
- Store canned squash in the pantry unopened; refrigerate after opening
How to Make Leftover Butternut Squash Last Longer
You can extend the shelf life of leftover cooked butternut squash with these methods:
- Portion into small shallow airtight containers to limit air exposure
- Add a little olive oil or lemon juice to surface before storing to prevent oxidation
- Use frozen squash within 10-12 months for best quality
- Store cooked squash on ice while serving to keep cold
- Avoid introducing extra moisture or steam when reheating
- Consume refrigerated cooked squash within 3-4 days
With proper storage methods, fresh butternut squash can last for months and cooked squash can be enjoyed for up to a week after preparing. Refrigerating cooked squash leftovers in airtight containers is key to maximizing shelf life. Freezing also allows enjoying butternut squash dishes long term. Keep an eye out for signs of spoilage and practice food safety when reheating thawed squash. With some simple preparation, you can keep leftover butternut squash from going bad quickly and enjoy its sweet, nutty flavor for many meals.