The Roasting Tip To Caramelize Butternut Squash From Frozen

Do you love roasted butternut squash but not all of the prep work that's involved? One great workaround is to use frozen squash that's pre-diced, effectively taking the peeling and cutting off your to-do list. But there is one thing you have to be sure to do to ensure your frozen squash becomes caramelized and creamy rather than bland and mushy — roast it on the bottom rack of the oven.

Frozen vegetables tend to become waterlogged, resulting in a rubbery, unappetizing mess. That's because the water from the ice doesn't evaporate quickly enough, making them steam rather than roast. To ensure caramelization, you need to evaporate the ice as quickly as possible and to do that, you have to blast the veggies with intense heat. Since the bottom rack of the oven is typically the closest to the heat source, it will result in crisper caramelization. Sliding your tray there will ensure the squash gets enough heat to evaporate moisture quickly and brown.

Other ways to ensure caramelization

If you really want to foolproof this method, consider preheating your pan in the oven. Frozen veggies contain a significant amount of moisture and when they are placed on a cold baking tray, the water can pool together and create steam. So the trick is to ensure that water dries before it has the chance to puddle. By preheating the baking sheet, the droplets will evaporate when they touch the hot surface, encouraging the squash to crisp instead.

A hot baking tray also encourages better browning. Much like a hot pan when cooking meat, it provides a heated surface for the squash to make contact with, creating a quick sear. This direct contact promotes rapid caramelization, resulting in a more flavorful bite. Not only that, but it can also promote more even cooking. The initial contact with the hot surface helps to rapidly transfer heat to the vegetables. This jump-starts the cooking process and promotes even and efficient roasting. It's a win-win move.