Thanksgiving Butternut Squash Cookies

Thanksgiving Butternut Squash Cookies

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From Our Easy Recipes File: Cranberries, Butternut Squash and Sage give these cookies a Thanksgiving flair!

One of the most fun things about Thanksgiving is the chance to have traditional dishes that you don’t have at other times. Stuffing? Delish. Three different types of mac and cheese? Why not! Cranberry sauce? I’m still uncertain as to whether people actually like it or just eat it out of habit, but every year it appears at the table. Sure, theoretically you can have stuffing or cranberry sauce at any time of year, but who actually does that?

I have a friend who loves (LOVES!) Thanksgiving, and although I don’t share the same unbridled enthusiasm for the holiday, in her honor I decided to extend the spirit of Thanksgiving with some special Thanksgiving themed cookies celebrating the flavors of the holiday.

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It started with a butternut squash. Why doesn’t squash appear in desserts the way pumpkin does? It isn’t that far off. Show butternut squash some love. Veggies in cookies – you could almost call them healthy.

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I included dried cranberries for tart contrast, toasted pecans for a little texture, and rolled oats to give a hearty chew. To round out the Thanksgiving flavors, just before baking I dusted them with a little ground sage – just enough to give a hint of the flavor.

Thanksgiving Butternut Squash Cookies
Makes approximately 3 dozen

Ingredients

    2 1/2 lbs butternut squash
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 c (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
    1 c brown sugar
    1 c granulated white sugar
    2 eggs
    2 c flour
    1 3/4 c rolled oats (do not use quick cooking oats)
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tbsp ground cinnamon
    1 tsp ground nutmeg
    2 tsp ground sage, plus extra for dusting
    1/3 c dried cranberries
    1/2 c toasted pecan pieces

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with foil.

2. Peel the butternut squash and cut in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds until the inside cavity is smooth.

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3. Cut the squash into 1/2 inch cubes. Try to keep the pieces uniform to help them cook evenly.

4. Pour the olive oil over the squash cubes and stir to make sure they are coated evenly.

5. Bake for 40 minutes. Be sure to stir the squash midway during baking to ensure even browning.

6. After 40 minutes, poke one of the thicker pieces with a fork. If it slides in easily the squash is done. If there is any resistance, put them in for another 5 minutes.

7. Immediately after taking the squash out of the oven, transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low until smooth. If there are any larger chunks that don’t break down, remove them.

8. Allow the mashed squash to cool for 10 minutes.

9. Turn the oven down to 350°.

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10. Beat butter into the mashed squash, then both sugars.

11. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Beat in the eggs.

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12. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, oats, baking powder, salt, and spices.

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13. Add half of the dry ingredients to the squash mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the second half of the dry ingredients. Mix just until thoroughly incorporated. It will be very sticky.

14. Stir the cranberries and pecans into the dough.

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15. Scoop into 1-inch balls and place at least two inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat. Sprinkle a little ground sage on the top of each cookie.

16. Bake at 350° for 16 minutes for soft cookies. Edges should turn golden and the centers should be set.

17. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer a cooling rack.

Tip: The cookies will keep for approximately 4 days in a sealed container.

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The flavors of these cookies make great for a winter-y treat, and they are perfect as a little Thanksgiving day appetizer. So go ahead and break a few rules with our Thanksgiving cookies. And as for those three types of mac and cheese…well, we’ll take any excuse to indulge!

we heartsters – Do you have any “non-Thanksgiving” foods that make it to your Thanksgiving table every year?

photos: Heather for we heart this

Heather is a midwesterner living in Los Angeles and enjoys concocting weird flavor combinations and exploring delicious ethnic foods. She blogs at foodforfunandpleasure and knows her way around the spice cabinet like nobody’s business.

9 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Butternut Squash Cookies”

  1. I, like your friend, LOVE Thanksgiving. Next to Halloween, it’s my favorite holiday. No presents to buy, an excuse to have 5 side dishes on your plate at one time, and PIE. What’s not to like?

    You make a very interesting and incredibly valid point. Why doesn’t butternut squash get the same sort of dessert love as pumpkin?! I have to admit, my first reaction to these cookies was “wait…what?” But when you think of them in the pumpkin vein, it makes total sense. And what’s not to love? Sweet, savory, crunchy, chewy – they really seem to have it all.

    You’re smart @heather

  2. I have been lucky enough to taste a few of Heather’s original cookie recipes and let me tell you – this lady can bake!

    I LOVE the idea behind this cookie – taking classic Thanksgiving flavors and turning them into cookie form. Seriously, butternut squash, cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg and lots of sugar? Yum. And while there’s no way I’ll be able to make these before Thanksgiving, they sure would stand out at a holiday cookie swap!

  3. I love squash, and this does sound like a bit of delicious brilliance. However, I think I may try these in a Christmas party mash-up more than Turkey day. After the pumpkin pie and bread pudding, who has room for cookies?

  4. Oh, I almost forgot to mention…my mother makes great pumpkin pies back East. But they’re actually squash pies. Yes, on the East coast (and elsewhere I’m sure, but I’ve never seen them on the West coast) we have things my mother refers to as “neck pumpkins.” Neck pumpkins look and taste exactly like butternut squash. The “necks” get longer and curlier, hence their name. I assumed for many years that she was making butternut squash pies all these years, passing them off as pumpkin, but I guess they really are a different classification. Anyway, I never thought twice about substituting squash for pumpkin in my baking since! Once again, cant wait to try these!

  5. I’m with Stef, I LOVE Thanksgiving – and I eat a ton of fresh cranberry sauce with my turkey! I must say I am intrigued by the dusting of ground sage. Thanks for the fun and unique recipe.

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