This Butternut Squash Casserole is filled with tender roasted butternut squash, thick-cut maple bacon, spiced apple, kale, and plenty of cheese. Topped with buttery panko breadcrumbs and baked until golden brown, this comforting casserole is rich, festive, and delicious – the perfect autumn comfort food.
Winter squash is by far the best part of the cool fall and winter months and butternut squash is my favorite. From simple roasted butternut squash to creamy butternut squash soup, the many ways to enjoy this delightful vegetable are endless.
Today, we’re adding tender roasted butternut squash to the most delicious and comforting fall casserole dish. Made with crispy cooked bacon, tender kale, sweet apple, crushed pecans, and melty cheese and topped with crunchy golden panko breadcrumbs, it’s the perfect weeknight dinner or holiday side dish.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Butternut Squash: No surprise, butternut squash is the most important ingredient in this recipe. For amazing flavor with every bite, the squash is roasted in the oven first and then added to the casserole mixture. Feel free to substitute with another type of squash like acorn squash or delicata squash, or replace the squash with sweet potatoes.
- Seasoning and Spices: Dried thyme, dried sage, paprika, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg.
- Bacon: For a bit of added protein and a whole lot of flavor. Delicious alternatives include pancetta or ground sausage.
- Kale: The perfect, hearty, leafy green veggie for any casserole, but especially this one. You can leave it out or substitute it with spinach if you dislike it.
- Pecans: Nuts like pecans and walnuts are a fall and winter staple in all recipes, from salads to casseroles. They add a nice texture and earthy flavor.
- Apples: The apple adds just a hint of sweetness. If you don’t have any apples, dried cranberries make a fantastic alternative.
- Cheese: This butternut squash casserole tastes great with mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, or even smoked gouda (shown in the images). Cheese helps balance all of the savory flavors and adds a bit of creaminess. Add more or less to taste.
- Brown Sugar and Maple Syrup: A little sweetness to balance the savory, salty flavors that we have going on. We’re not adding a lot – just enough.
- Panko Breadcrumbs: Who doesn’t love a crispy, brown sugar buttery topping? The ultimate panko topping.
How to Make Butternut Squash Casserole
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large-rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
2. Prepare the butternut Squash: Peel and chop the squash into small 1-inch pieces (learn all about butternut squash here), then gently toss the squash in oil on the prepared baking sheet. Meanwhile, combine the dried thyme, salt, sage, paprika, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg in a small bowl. Sprinkle the herbs and spices over the squash and carefully toss to coat the squash with the herbs.
3. Roast the squash: Transfer the baking sheet with the butternut squash to the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes or until fork tender.
4. Sauté the bacon: Place the bacon in a large skillet set over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crispy, stirring as needed. Once cooked, drain all but two tablespoons of bacon grease from the pan.
5. Add the kale, pecans, maple syrup, salt, and cinnamon: Add the kale to the same pan as the bacon and cook until tender. Once cooked, stir in the chopped pecans, maple syrup, salt, and ground cinnamon. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool for 10-15 minutes.
6. Prepare the breadcrumbs: As the butternut squash and bacon mixture cools, combine the breadcrumbs and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Once combined, stir in the melted butter and set aside.
7. Combine the squash mixture: In a large bowl, gently combine the roasted butternut squash, the bacon mixture, chopped apple, and one and a half cups of cheese.
8. Prepare the casserole dish: Grease a large 9×13-inch baking dish. Pour the prepared squash mixture into the baking dish and arrange the remaining half cup of cheese over the top. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top.
9. Bake: Transfer to the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top turns golden and crispy. Garnish with fresh oregano or fresh sage, if desired.
What to Serve with Butternut Squash Casserole
What you choose to serve with this comforting casserole depends on whether you’re planning to enjoy it as a main dish or a side dish.
If serving as a main dish – Enjoy it with a simple green salad dressed in a light vinaigrette like this spinach, pear, and feta salad or this arugula salad with shaved parmesan. Include your favorite roasted or steamed vegetables (green beans, Brussels sprouts, or asparagus), and add some buttery garlic bread or dinner rolls.
Leftovers and Reheating
- Storing: Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Reheating (from frozen): If you are reheating from frozen, it’s best to allow the casserole to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. Prepare the fresh breadcrumb topping up to one day in advance. Keep stored in an airtight container. Just before baking, sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the thawed casserole and top with the remaining cheese. Bake in a preheated 400℉ oven for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.
- Reheating: You may use the microwave or oven.
Can You Freeze This Butternut Squash Casserole?
Yes. This butternut squash casserole can absolutely be frozen. However, I recommend freezing before adding the breadcrumb topping and before baking. If you are freezing leftover casserole after it’s been baked, divide the casserole into smaller portion-sized amounts and place them in airtight containers or freezer-safe bags. Transfer to the freezer for up to 3 months.
More Butternut Squash Recipes
- Air Fryer Butternut Squash
- Butternut Squash Soup (Stovetop and Slow Cooker)
- Butternut Squash Tacos
- Easy Chicken and Butternut Squash Recipe with Mushrooms
- Butternut Squash Lasagna Recipe
- How to Roast Butternut Squash
If you try making this Butternut Squash Casserole Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
Butternut Squash Casserole
For the Roasted Butternut Squash
For the Casserole
- 1 pound Thick-sliced maple bacon - roughly chopped
- 2 cups kale - woody stems removed and roughly chopped
- 1 cup pecans - chopped
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- ¼ cup butter - melted
- 1 large gala apple - cored and diced
- 2 cups smoked gouda or mozzarella cheese - cut into 1-inch cubes, divided
- Preheat oven to 400℉ and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Toss the squash and olive oil together on the prepared sheet pan. In a small bowl, combine the dried thyme, salt, dried sage, paprika, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg. Sprinkle the herbs and spices over the squash and gently toss to coat the squash with the herbs.
- Transfer the butternut squash to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, gently toss and continue to bake until fork-tender, approximately 10-15 minutes more.
- In the meantime, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy. Drain most of the fat from the pan, leaving only about 2 tablespoons.
- Add the kale and cook until it is tender, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Then, stir in the chopped pecans, maple syrup, salt, and cinnamon. Remove from heat and allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes.
- Combine the breadcrumbs and brown sugar in a medium bowl, then stir in the melted butter and set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss together the roasted butternut squash and bacon mixture, along with the chopped apple and ¾ of the cheese.
- Grease a large 9×13-inch casserole dish and pour the filling into the pan. Arrange the remaining cheese pieces around on top, then sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top turns golden and crispy. Garnish with fresh oregano if desired.
- Keep leftovers stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. I do not recommend freezing this squash casserole.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)