Switch up your fall and winter weeknight dinner routine with this Ground Beef Butternut Squash Skillet! It’s a nourishing one-skillet meal made with a short list of whole foods. Naturally dairy and gluten free!
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Butternut squash transforms even the simplest recipes into heartwarming comfort food. In this 30-minute Ground Beef Butternut Squash Skillet, a short list of seasonal fall and winter ingredients are cooked in one pan, resulting in a warm, hearty dish that’s perfect for family meals and meal prep.
Made with butternut squash and kitchen staples you may already have, this one-skillet recipe is an excellent budget-friendly recipe you can dress up or down, depending on the occasion. Serve it solo for a low carb, high-protein dinner, or make it extra special with Butternut Squash Turmeric Soup or Roasted Butternut Squash Salad on the side.
Inspired by my Sausage Butternut Squash Skillet and Turkey Butternut Squash Skillet, this ground beef version also balances flavorful meat with sweet, naturally nutty winter squash. Every bite is downright delicious!
Ingredients and substitutions
- Ground beef – I like using grass-fed, lean ground beef because it tastes better and contains higher amounts of antioxidants and vitamins compared to grain-fed beef. If ground beef isn’t for you, you can easily substitute ground chicken, turkey, pork, or lamb in this skillet.
- Butternut squash – This is the star of the show in this recipe. Butternut squash is a nutty, brightly colored winter squash packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
- Onion, garlic, and peppers – This trio of aromatic ingredients adds deep, savory flavor and a touch of sweetness to the beef and butternut squash. I used a red bell pepper in the skillet but any color will do.
- Coconut aminos – This is a fantastic gluten free, soy free, and Whole30-compliant substitute for soy sauce. Feel free to use tamari, gluten free soy sauce, or regular soy sauce if you don’t need the recipe to be gluten free.
- Beef broth – This is the simmering liquid and the base of the simple skillet sauce. If you want to increase the nutrients, swap it for homemade bone broth.
How to make a ground beef butternut squash skillet
To set yourself up for beef skillet success, cube the butternut squash and prep the fresh produce before getting started:
Step 1: Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add the ground beef, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon. Once it begins to brown, add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper and cook until the ground beef is no longer pink.
Step 2: Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato paste and coconut aminos, followed by the cubed butternut squash and broth.
Step 3: Lower the heat, cover with a lid, and leave the skillet to simmer gently until the butternut squash is fork-tender and the sauce thickens.
Step 4: Immediately remove the skillet from the heat. Sprinkle chopped cilantro or parsley over the top, and enjoy!
How to dice a butternut squash
Why pick up storebought, dried-out cubed butternut squash from the store when you can dice it yourself? It’s easier than you may think:
- First, chop off the ends of the squash and peel it entirely with a vegetable peeler.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
- Slice each half crosswise into half-moon shapes.
- Slice the half-moon slices into thick fries.
- Dice the fries into small, evenly-sized cubes and you’re done!
Tips and tricks
- I recommend making this beef and butternut squash skillet in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a cast iron, use a stainless steel pan or Dutch oven instead.
- Cooking ground beef and vegetables together in a single skillet is a perfectly safe cooking method as long as the meat and veggies are fully cooked.
- Finishing this skillet with a handful of fresh herbs enhances every bite. Cilantro, parsley, thyme, and sage are great options.
- You can add even more toppings here, like sliced avocado, crispy fried sage, sour cream, shredded cheese, or crumbled feta or goat cheese.
- Add extra veggies – You aren’t limited to butternut squash here. Feel free to add other types of winter squash, potatoes, carrots, or sweet potatoes to the skillet. Toss in a handful of leafy greens at the end for extra color, like kale or baby spinach.
- Turn up the heat – If you love spice, add a minced jalapeno or serrano pepper when cooking the onions and garlic. Or incorporate dry spices, like smoked paprika, chipotle chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and red pepper flakes.
- For a cheesy beef skillet – Follow the recipe instructions, then finish the skillet with a layer of shredded cheddar cheese on top. Place it in the oven under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Vegetarian skillet – To make a vegetarian butternut squash skillet, use your favorite plant-based “meat” crumbles and vegetable broth instead of beef. If you don’t want to use vegan ground beef, you can use crumbled tofu, chickpeas, cannellini, or black beans instead.
This beef butternut squash skillet is a satisfying meal on its own, but if you want a little more substance, plate it with garlicky brown rice, quinoa, or al dente pasta.
Lighter sides will freshen up every bite as well. Serve the beef and squash next to cauliflower rice, roasted broccoli, cauliflower fennel soup, and a seasonal salad, like my Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Apple Salad.
Storing and freezing
To store: This recipe is perfect for meal prep because the leftovers stay fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days. Just keep them in an airtight container to maintain their freshness.
To freeze: Divide the leftovers into single-serving freezer-safe containers and freeze for 2 to 3 months. Let them thaw in the fridge before reheating them in the microwave or skillet on the stove.
Hungry for more easy one-skillet meals?
- Ground Beef and Corn Skillet
- Ground Beef Veggie Skillet
- Shrimp Corn Skillet
- Ground Beef, Kale, and Sweet Potato Skillet
- Chicken Sausage and Vegetable Pasta Skillet
Ground Beef Butternut Squash Skillet
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups butternut squash cubed small
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1/ onion dice
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos or soy
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add the beef and start to break it apart.
- Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often until meat has browned.
- Season beef with salt, pepper, tomato paste and coconut aminos (or soy). Stir well to combine.
- Next add the cubed squash and broth. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and let it cook until squash has softened (about 12 minutes)
- Remove from heat, garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.