Want a unique butternut squash recipe? Try these butternut squash nachos with cranberries and spinach! This meal is perfect for fall and winter in New England, and provides a nice way to utilize fresh, local produce.
These can be made as a meal for lunch or dinner, or can also be made as a great football appetizer. Nachos are always the perfect game day food, but you can get out of your comfort zone this year by topping ‘em with veggies.
Here’s a quick overview of everything you’ll need to make this recipe, along with helpful info about a few ingredients:
- Butternut squash – If you’ve never worked with fresh butternut squash before, you just need to peel it, cut it in half, remove the seeds, and then chop it up. The skin on squash is thick but a standard kitchen peeler works just fine.
- Olive oil
- Spices – chili powder, salt, pepper
- Cranberries – During winter here in Massachusetts, we always have local fresh cranberries available. But if you want to whip up these nachos in the middle of summer, feel free to grab some frozen cranberries instead. You might just need an extra minute or two when cooking.
- Brown sugar – It sounds a bit strange to add brown sugar to nachos, but this helps sweeten up the tart cranberries.
- Spinach – You can substitute this for any green you enjoy, like kale, microgreens, or swiss chard.
- Tortilla chips
- Cheddar cheese
Step by Step Instructions
You’ll find the full recipe amounts and instructions in the recipe card below, but here are some helpful step-by-step tips and photos.
You’re going to start by prepping your butternut squash. Once it’s chopped up, you’ll toss it with olive oil and spices, then pop that in the oven to roast.
While that’s cooking, you’ll sauté your cranberries on the stovetop with a little olive oil. Then, add in brown sugar and spinach and cook it for another minute. You want the cranberries to be soft and the spinach to just start to wilt.
Load up a baking sheet with about half a bag of tortilla chips, and then add your squash and cranberry/spinach mixture on top. Now sprinkle your cheddar cheese on top of that – here’s what it’ll look like before you pop it in the oven:
Go ahead and put that in the oven. It usually takes less than 10 minutes for the cheese to melt. When that happens, pull them out and dig in! Here’s what the final dish looks like:
Here are some common questions that may come up as you prepare these butternut squash nachos:
- What type of tortilla chips should you use? The big restaurant-style chips work best for this recipe, but any standard tortilla chip type or shape will do!
- Can you use another type of cheese? Yes! Use the cheese you love best. We prefer to use a sharp cheddar since it contrasts the sweet squash —but feel free to experiment with your favorites. Pepper jack could be a fun choice!
- How should you store leftovers? These are best eaten right after preparing. If you have leftovers, though, you can store them in a food storage container in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or oven. Keep in mind that the leftover chips may not have an ideal texture.
- Can you make this in advance? If you choose to make this dish for a party or gathering, consider roasting the squash and sautéing the cranberries before guests arrive. Then all you have to do at serving time is layer the chips with your toppings and cheese, and pop it in the oven for a few minutes. This makes preparation much faster when everything else starts getting busy, as you don’t have to cook everything at once.
- Is this recipe gluten free? Yes. As long as you are using corn tortilla chips, it should be gluten free (always double check labels though).
- Can these be made into a vegan recipe? Sure. All you need to do is substitute your favorite dairy-free cheese shreds or a vegan nacho sauce.
You might be thinking – “a nachos recipe from a dietitian?!”. But these nachos are elevated with their fruit and veggie topping, leading to a meal that actually packs in wide variety of vitamins and minerals. It’s comfort food at its best!
Here are a few nutrition highlights from this recipe:
- Provides 15% of your daily iron needs, which is very important for active women. Iron is involved in transporting oxygen to your muscles (essential during exercise).
- Has more than an entire day’s worth of Vitamin A, which is involved in eyesight and immune health.
- Contains 35% of your daily Vitamin C needs, which is involved in skin health, collagen formation, and immune health.
- Provides 32% of your daily calcium needs, which is key for bone health.
- Contains 26% of your daily magnesium needs. Magnesium is involved in energy production, muscle and nerve contraction, and may play a role in exercise recovery or muscle health.
- Contains key phytochemicals, like lutein and zeaxanthin in spinach, and proanthocyanidins in cranberries, all of which are health-promoting nutrients.
I hope you enjoy these butternut squash nachos! If you get a chance to try them, feel free to leave a recipe rating or comment below. If you’re looking for more butternut squash recipes, definitely try this vegetarian butternut squash and quinoa chili, as well as these unique butternut squash brownies.
Sheet Pan Butternut Squash Nachos
- 3 cups chopped butternut squash (½ inch cubes)
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 ¼ cup fresh cranberries (or frozen*)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 ½ cups raw spinach, roughly chopped
- ½ bag of corn tortilla chips (half of an 11-12 oz bag)
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the butternut squash on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then add the chili powder, salt, and pepper. Toss everything together to evenly coat.
- Bake the squash at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until squash is soft and cooked through. When done, set squash aside for now and leave oven on.
- Meanwhile, about 10 minutes before the squash will be done, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the cranberries and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the brown sugar and spinach to the pan and cook for another minute, until cranberries are soft and spinach is starting to wilt.
- Spread the tortilla chips onto a baking sheet. Top with the butternut squash and cranberry/spinach mixture. Add the cheddar cheese on top of that.
- Bake the nachos in the oven at 400 degrees F for 7 to 9 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Dig in and enjoy!
- Frozen cranberries can also be used, but may require a slightly longer cooking time until they soften.
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