Lunch Recipes

Butternut Squash Tacos with Spicy Crema

Butternut Squash Tacos with Spicy Crema

Summer is slowly (okay, very slowly) winding down, and we’re starting to eye the flannels folded up in the back of our closets and to crave cinnamon, spice, and everything nice. But meteorologically speaking, fall is still weeks away — so in the test kitchen, we’re embracing this transition period and splitting the seasonal difference with these vegetarian butternut squash tacos.

We roast the squash with cumin and chili powder, so you get some warm, earthy spice action to complement the gourd’s natural sweetness. And then we tuck those spicy little butternut chunks into white corn tortillas (which, by the way, are delightfully thick and chewy) with hearty black beans and a bright, crunchy broccoli slaw.

In addition to fresh cilantro, we garnish the tacos with a thick drizzle of spicy, semi-homemade crema. It’s a swirl of mayonnaise, lime juice and zest, cumin, paprika, chili powder, and Cholula hot sauce — it gives the squash tacos an extra kick of heat and some much needed creaminess. (Hot tip from the test kitchen: Make the crema ahead and tuck it away in the fridge until you’re ready to go to taco town. And you might want to make a double batch, so you can drizzle the leftovers on grain bowls, chicken, you name it.)

Butternut squash tacos are a great weeknight meal: they come together with simple ingredients in about 30 minutes, but still have a lot going on in the flavor and texture departments. When we’re feeling the aftereffects of a busy day, we’ll make a few of these tacos, plop down on a kitchen counter stool, and crack open a West Coast IPA — those bitter, citrusy hops really take the tacos’ spice level up a notch.

Yield: 8 tacos


For the tacos:

  • 1 ½ lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1” cubes
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp Gelson’s paprika
  • ½ tsp Gelson’s ground cumin
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp Gelson’s chili powder
  • ½ tsp Gelson’s garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp freshly cracked Gelson’s black pepper
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 white corn tortillas
  • 1 bag broccoli slaw
  • Chopped Gelson’s organic cilantro, for garnish
  • Lime slices, for garnish

For the crema:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ tsp lime zest
  • ⅛ tsp Gelson’s ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp Gelson’s paprika
  • ½ tsp Gelson’s chili powder
  • 2 tsp Cholula hot sauce
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly cracked Gelson’s black pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.

  2. To make the tacos: In a large mixing bowl, combine the butternut squash, extra virgin olive oil, paprika, cumin, kosher salt, chili powder, garlic powder, and black pepper, and stir until the squash is evenly coated.

  3. On a large sheet pan, lay the squash out in one even layer, making sure all the cubes are lying flat. Put the squash in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they start to brown. Using a rubber spatula, toss the squash on the baking sheet and let cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until they are caramelized and fork-tender.

  4. Meanwhile, to make the crema: In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, lime juice, lime zest, cumin, paprika, chili powder, and Cholula hot sauce. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. The crema can be made ahead and stored in a sealed container in the fridge until ready to use, up to a week.

  5. Transfer the cooked squash from the sheet pan back into the large mixing bowl. Add the black beans, mix to combine, and set aside.

  6. In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm each tortilla for about 1 minute on each side.

  7. Place a tortilla on a plate, fill with the butternut squash mixture, and top with broccoli slaw, chopped cilantro, and crema. Serve with lime wedges.

Recipe source: Chelsea’s Messy Apron

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