Buttercup Squash Casserole {keto, paleo, Whole 30, AIP}

buttercup squash casserole
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If you are looking for a fun new dish to try with squash this fall season, you have to try this buttercup squash casserole!

I don’t know if squash has gone on sale where you live yet, but our stores are starting to have organic squash on sale for 99 cents!

Fall is my favorite time of year, mostly for the cool weather.

But I also love the foods that are in season in the fall.

Apples are probably my favorite fall food (which are also in this dish!).

And as a close second, all the winter squashes!

I mean, pretty much all of the foods in the store turn into pumpkin spice flavors in the fall, so I know it’s not just me that looks forward to those fall flavors.

Which if you are looking for some pumpkin spice recipes, you have got to try out some of our favorites:

However, pumpkin isn’t the only great squash available in the fall.

One of my new favorite squashes that I discovered through a local farmer is buttercup squash.

If you have never tried it, you have got to find some to try!

It’s a great hearty textured squash with a nice sweet flavor.

I enjoy making casseroles and soup from it, but it’s also great to eat roasted with butter on it!

Besides the farm down the road, I have also seen this type of squash at Whole Foods.

If you are having a hard time finding buttercup squash though, don’t worry, you can use pumpkin, butternut, or acorn squash in this recipe instead!

beef casserole with plate of cheese and the cheese grater sitting off to the side

How to Roast Buttercup Squash in the Oven

I actually use this method for almost all my squash since it’s so easy.

Pumpkin, butternut, acorn, spaghetti, buttercup, delicata – if it’s a squash, this is pretty much how I cook them if I’m not in a hurry.

I just like the roasted flavor better than say Instant Pot cooked squash.

Cooking a squash in an Instant Pot might be fast, but the texture comes out kind of watery.

Plus it’s so hard to cut up raw squash, especially when they are really large.

And some of the buttercup squashes I get from the farmer down the road are large and very odd shaped.

I’m always afraid my knife is going to slip and take off one of my fingers!

It takes some time to roast squash in the oven, but the flavor is totally worth it!

Just pick a nice, cool fall day when you can open the house up and don’t mind running the oven for an hour or two.

So, let’s oven roast some squash!

baking dish full of buttercup squash with half smashed by a fork laying in pan

Oven Roasted Buttercup Squash Directions:

Turn the oven on to 350 degrees and put a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any squash drippings.

Wash the squash off with a brush and water.

Once the squash is clean, put it in the oven (even if it’s still preheating), and set a timer for 1 hour.

After an hour, see how soft the squash is by pressing on the skin with a fork or knife.

If the fork slides all the way in, it’s time to pull it out!

For small squashes, such as acorn or delicata, an hour might be all it needs.

For larger squashes, like a butternut or a buttercup, you might need up to 2 hours of bake time to cook it all the way through.

Once you pull the squash out of the oven, you will want to let it cool off for a good 30 minutes before slicing it open.

And once you slice it open, let it cool off further before handling.

Burning your fingers is no fun!

Remove the seeds and set aside if you want to roast them another time.

Scrape out the squash flesh and place it in a baking dish.

Use a fork to break up any clumps.

For the keto folks, add some butter! (omit for paleo, Whole 30, and AIP)

I use about 4 Tablespoons of butter cut into smaller pieces so that it melts easier in the squash.

Now stir the squash mixture to make sure the butter is well incorporated.

Spread the squash in an even layer in the bottom of the dish.

pan with buttercup squash spread in the bottom of it

How to Make Buttercup Squash Casserole

So now that your squash is all perfectly oven roasted, how do you make the rest of the buttercup squash casserole?

Start with dicing the onion and garlic.

Get them sautéing in a large frying pan or pot.

While the garlic and onion cook, start dicing the green bell peppers.

After about 5-10 minutes, once the garlic and onion have softened and are really fragrant, add the beef, salt, and Italian seasoning.

Break the meat into small pieces as it cooks.

I like using a metal spatula to do this, but a wooden spoon works well too.

Cook this altogether until the beef is no longer pink.

While the meat is browning, work on coring and dicing the apples.

You can peel the apples if you want, but I prefer to leave the skin on for the extra nutrients.

I also think using a red skinned apple adds a nice pop of color.

But if your kids will freak out if the skin is still on the apples, by all means peel that apple skin off!

Once the meat has browned, add the diced green bell pepper and the apples.

Cook another 5-10 minutes or until the peppers and apples have softened.

pot filled with casserole meat mixture

Spread the meat mixture over the buttercup squash in the baking dish.

If desired, you can spread some shredded cheese over the top of the casserole.

The cheese is totally optional though, so if you are eating paleo or Whole 30, dinner is ready!

If you want to add the cheese on top, sprinkle it over the top of the beef mixture.

shredded cheese sprinkled on top of buttercup squash casserole dish

Put the casserole in the oven on broil.

Closely watch for the cheese to melt and remove the casserole when the cheese has browned to what your family likes.

Now enjoy your buttercup squash casserole!

buttercup squash casserole with cheese melted on top


Is Buttercup Squash Keto Friendly?

I know a lot of websites suggest avoiding squashes when you are on the keto diet.

But is this really necessary?

I think it depends on how much you are eating.

For example, this recipe calls for one medium buttercup squash for the whole recipe which makes 12 servings!

One medium buttercup squash should give you about 4 cups of squash.

Divide that by 12 and that means per serving, you are eating about a third cup of buttercup squash – aka NOT MUCH!

Looking at the carbs in buttercup squash, you can see that one cup of cooked squash has 9 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber.

So PER CUP, we are talking about 6 net carbs.

Divide that by 3 since you would only be eating a third cup per serving and that means you are only getting 2 NET CARBS PER SERVING from the squash.

For me, it is SO WORTH 2 net carbs to be able to enjoy winter squash.

When I enter the buttercup squash casserole recipe below in a recipe nutrition calculator like on verywellfit.com, I calculate that there are 8.5 grams of carbs per serving with 1.7 grams of fiber (6.8 grams net carbs).

I don’t know about you, but that seems pretty low!


If this doesn’t work for you, there are 2 VERY EASY recipe modifications that you can make that will lower the carbs even further.

Optional Keto Recipe Modifications for Buttercup Squash Casserole:

  1. Completely leave out the squash. This baked beef dish with the apples and peppers will still be great covered in cheesy goodness! When I recalculate the carbs for the recipe without the squash, I get 6.2 grams of carbs per serving with 1.4 grams of fiber (4.8 grams of net carbs)
  2. Swap the squash for riced cauliflower. Use 4 cups of cooked riced cauliflower (or about 2 packages of frozen riced cauliflower). When I recalculate the recipe with riced cauliflower, the recipe shows 7.9 grams of carbs per serving with 2.1 grams of fiber (5.8 grams net carbs)


Quick and easy swaps to makes this recipe super low-carb!

And feel free to add butter to increase the fat in this recipe!

Especially if you decide to use the squash or riced cauliflower – both of those taste great covered in butter!

Just mix in half a stick of butter cut into Tablespoon sized pieces when you are spreading out the base layer.

So even if you follow a very strict keto diet, you can still enjoy this fabulous fall recipe!

meat mixture in pan next to casserole dish



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bowl of buttercup squash casserole

Buttercup Squash Casserole {paleo, Whole 30, AIP}

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  • Author: Monster Cookie
  • Total Time: 2 hours (including time to oven roast squash)
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x


If you are looking for a fun new dish to try with squash this fall season, you have to try this buttercup squash casserole!


  • 1 medium buttercup squash or 4 cups of squash (see note below) – for keto, please see discussion above
  • Optional: 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed and finely diced
  • 2 pounds beef
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 2 apples, cored, and diced (use any type of apple that your family likes!)
  • Optional: 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roast the buttercup squash in the oven until it is soft and the skin is easily pierced with a fork. This should take about one hour to two hours. For full directions on how to roast a squash in the oven, see above. Remove from the oven and let it cool off until you can safely handle it. Cut it in half. Remove the seeds and scrape out the flesh. If you are using the optional butter, mix it in while the squash is hot so that the butter melts and can be mixed into the squash. Evenly spread out the squash over the bottom of a 9×13″ pan.
  2. Add the diced onion and garlic to a large frying pan. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until they start to soften and are fragrant.
  3. Add the beef. Sprinkle in the salt and the Italian seasoning. Cook until the meat is cooked all the way through.
  4. Add the green bell peppers and apples. Sauté everything for about 5 minutes or until the peppers and apples are starting to get soft.
  5. Add the meat mixture on top of the buttercup squash.
  6. If you are using the cheese, top the casserole with shredded cheese. Put the casserole in the oven on broil. Carefully watch and remove once the cheese has melted.
  7. Enjoy!


Sourcing: If you are having a hard time finding buttercup squash, feel free to substitute with pumpkin, butternut, or acorn squash.

Storing: This casserole can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Freezing: This casserole is excellent for freezing. Store in a casserole dish or in smaller portions in airtight containers. Use within 6 months for best freshness (although it will be safe to eat indefinitely).

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1.5 hours

buttercup squash casserole pin

  1. Debbie
    September 22, 2020 at 8:13 am

    Can’t wait to try this!

    • Monster Cookie
      Monster Cookie • Post Author •
      September 24, 2020 at 9:50 am

      Thanks Debbie! I hope you enjoy this yummy casserole!

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