These Butternut Squash Crostini are the perfect mix of sweet and savory in a cozy appetizer. With roasted butternut squash, shallots, and fresh ricotta or goat cheese, you'll love this vegetarian recipe.
Inspired by ABC Kitchen's Butternut Squash Toast with fresh ricotta, these crostini are smaller versions that are more appetizer or party-friendly. Ideal for holidays, fall or winter dinner parties, or just a great snack or light dinner.
You can even make these butternut squash crostini dairy and gluten free - I'll show you how below. Pair these appetizers with a delicious dinner like roasted Pork Loin, a Dutch Oven Pot Roast, or Pepita Crusted Salmon.
The Best Butternut Squash Appetizer
These aren't just roasted butternut squash on top of little slices of bread with some ricotta cheese, but a flavor explosion in a really small bite.
Roasted butternut squash is combined with red pepper flakes, which give it some spiciness, and that's balanced with honey to bring out the sweetness of the squash. When shallots are cooked down like this they also become a little sweet and jammy.
Fresh ricotta cheese lends a savory, creamy flavor. To cut the heaviness, fresh mint is used to tie everything together.
You'll love these butternut squash crostini because:
- Easy to make - The butternut squash and shallot topping is so easy to make ahead for a party so all you have to do is assemble.
- Perfect for holidays - If you need a vegetarian appetizer with tons of flavor, this is the best one besides my endive appetizer.
- Adaptable - These crostini are easy to make dairy and gluten free with some minor changes for any guests with allergies.
- Butternut squash - I sometimes use a whole butternut squash but if you want to save time, use pre-chopped and seeded.
- Shallots - Yes, you have to use shallots! No substituting onions in this recipe! The flavor is more refined.
- Honey - This can also be substituted with maple syrup.
- Apple juice - Any plain apple juice will work. I used a honeycrisp apple juice.
- Vinegar - Distilled white vinegar brings a little acidity. If you're not following a migraine diet or have reintroduced aged vinegars, apple cider vinegar would also work here.
- Bread - Generally crostini is made with a sliced baguette, but you can use your favorite style of bread. I recommend if using a sandwich bread to at least slice in half and trim the crust for a more elegant look. However, if you're just eating at home, it's great as a toast.
- Ricotta - It's essential to buy a good quality ricotta. This means ones without gums or carrageenan, which often yield a grainy texture. My favorite brand is Calabro - SO creamy. But Liuzzi is another good option. You could also use creamy, fresh goat cheese.
- Fresh mint - I recommend at least trying one with fresh mint because it pairs better than you think it will. But if you're completely against it, you could also use fresh rosemary, thyme, or sage and all the flavors would work well.
How to Cut a Butternut Squash
- Peel the squash by thinly slicing along the outside or using a vegetable peeler.
- Cut the squash in half.
- Scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Then cut into slices with a chefs knife.
- Cut slices into smaller cubes.
How to Make Crostini
- Roast the butternut squash - Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place diced squash on a sheet pan covered with parchment and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and crushed red pepper. Toss everything together and roast for roughly 30-35 minutes until squash has softened. Use a spatula to flip the squash at least once halfway through baking.
- Make the jammy shallots - Add olive oil to a medium skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add thinly sliced shallots, cooking on one side till they begin to brown. Flip them over, reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking till they soften and become "jammy". This should take about 15 minutes.
- Mix the butternut squash topping - Add the apple juice, honey, and vinegar, stirring till well-combined. Mix this into the butternut squash and use a potato masher to combine everything.
- Make the crostini - Spread thinly sliced bread pieces on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Place under the broiler on high heat for about 2-3 minutes, watching carefully and removing when they turn golden brown and crispy. Turn to the other side and toast till just golden brown. Allow them to cool and then spread with ricotta cheese.
- Finish the butternut squash crostini - Spoon the butternut squash mixture on top of the crostini and then sprinkle with fresh mint. Serve warm!
Prepping in Advance
If you're planning to serve this butternut squash appetizer for a party, here's how to prep it in advance.
- Make the squash and shallot topping, mash it together and leave in the fridge till you're ready to serve. This will actually give the flavors time to combine and can even make it more delicious. You can prep this up to 2 days in advance or freeze it.
- When ready to serve - toast the crostini, top with ricotta cheese, and place the squash on top. You don't want to toast the crostini too far in advance or else it may get stale.
- The butternut squash topping can be served warm or at room temperature. I recommend microwaving in 30 second intervals, stirring between each till warmed through.
If pairing these butternut squash crostini with a full meal, I recommend the following recipes, especially for holiday dinner parties.
Because these are so flavorful, they're best served with a hearty dish with a lot of cozy flavors. I recommend doing something without a lot of cheese, except for the Boursin pasta, which just pairs well with anything.
- Herb Crusted Pork Loin
- Pepita crusted salmon or shrimp stuffed salmon
- Boursin Pasta
- Dutch Oven Pot Roast
- Roast Chicken
- Short Ribs
- Maple syrup can be substituted for honey.
- Goat cheese can be substituted for ricotta cheese.
- You can use mashed sweet potato instead of butternut squash, but this is best with butternut squash.
- Rosemary, thyme, or sage can be substituted for the fresh mint.
Frequently Asked Questions
The butternut squash topping is delicious and flavorful even without the ricotta.
Yes! Use your favorite gluten free bread. I know Canyon Bakehouse is a favorite with many of my readers. Using sandwich-style bread also doesn't take as long to toast as a baguette.
For more delicious recipes like these butternut squash crostini, see these appetizer recipes! Most fit a vegetarian diet as well.
Butternut Squash Crostini
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for brushing bread
- 2 lb butternut squash peeled and cut in ½ inch cubes *You can buy the pre-cut kind to make life easier
- ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper
- kosher salt and pepper
- 2 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon organic apple juice
- 2-3 tablespoons honey
- 6-8 slices of bread or baguette
- ½ cup fresh ricotta cheese or goat cheese
- 2-3 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped
- Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and toss cubed squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, chili flakes, kosher salt and pepper. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, place the butternut squash cubes on the baking sheet, and roast 20-30 minutes, flipping about half way through.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the chopped shallots with a little bit of salt. Cook until it begins to soften and brown. This should take around 10 minutes. Add vinegar, apple juice, and honey and reduce the heat to medium. Continue stirring as the mixture becomes thick, about another 10 minutes.
- To make the crostini - Cut bread into roughly ¼-1/2 inch slices and brush with olive oil. Spread on a sheet pan and place under a broiler on high heat for about 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown on top (watch carefully!). Flip and toast on the other side till light brown as well. Set aside.
- Remove the squash from the oven and mash together with the jammy shallots. Spread ricotta (or goat cheese) on toasted bread.Top with chopped mint.
- To make these gluten free, use a favorite gluten free bread.
- To make these dairy free, leave off the ricotta cheese. You can also substitute goat cheese too here.
- If prepping ahead, make the butternut squash topping and store in the fridge till ready to serve. Toast bread before serving.
- See the post for other substitution ideas!
This post was originally published November 19, 2020 and has been updated with new photography and recipe tips.