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Butternut Squash Fries with Lemon Aioli

Mike Smith / TODAY


  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium lemon, finely zested
  • teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped sage
Lemon-Parmesan aioli (makes 2 cups)
  • 4 lemons, finely zested
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons yellow miso paste
  • teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 3 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the fries
  • Canola or peanut oil, for frying
  • cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup seltzer water
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

Chef notes

Swapping butternut squash for potatoes makes these fries more nutritious and flavorful. The savory citrus lemon-Parmesan aioli pairs perfectly with the natural sweetness of the crispy squash.


For the squash:


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.


Peel the squash and cut it in half crosswise between the neck and the bulb. Cut the bulb in half, scoop out the seeds, and cut the flesh into 1/2-inch wedges. Cut the neck into fries about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch thick.


In a mixing bowl, combine the oil, salt, pepper, lemon zest, red-pepper flakes and sage and stir to combine. Add the squash and toss well to coat (you want the spices to stick to the squash).


Arrange the squash on the prepared baking sheet and roast until just tender when pierced with a paring knife, 20-25 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature (the roasted squash can be made ahead and refrigerated for a few hours).

For the aioli:

In a blender, combine the lemon zest and juice, vinegar, miso, salt, pepper, rosemary and cheese. Blend until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add drizzle in the olive oil. Refrigerate until ready to use (the aioli can be made up to two days ahead).

To cook and serve:


Add 2 inches of oil to a medium saucepan and heat the until it reaches 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer.


In a medium bowl, whisk together the 3/4 cup flour and the cornstarch. Combine the vodka and seltzer in a mixing cup and whisk the liquid into the dry ingredients until smooth.


Place the remaining flour in a shallow bowl. Working in batches, dredge the roasted squash in the flour, then dip them in the better, letting the excess drip off. Fry the squash, stirring frequently, until crisp, 1½-2 minutes per batch (the batter will not brown very much).


Transfer the fried squash to paper towels and sprinkle with salt and chopped parsley. Let the oil return to 375 degrees between batches to ensure even doneness. 


Transfer the squash to a platter and serve with the lemon-Parmesan aioli on the side.