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Squash and Onions

squash and onions in a cast iron pan

Sauteeing squash and onions together was first introduced to me by my grandmother as a kid, and I still haven’t found a better way to eat squash. Sweet onions complement the squash’s subtle flavor perfectly. A little bit of butter, salt, and fresh cracked black pepper go a long way. This side dish is about as simple as it gets, and that’s probably why we love it so much.

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Equipment/tools you’ll need

What is a mandoline?

Often confused with the musical instrument, the mandolin, a mandoline is a flatbed slicer that will take a chunk of your finger off if you’re not careful. It’s super useful for turning food into even slices. Most of them have adjustable knobs so you can control the thickness of the slices and a slicing guard that holds the food in place while you’re working. Some of them are handheld and others can be propped up on a flat surface. The handheld versions are usually more affordable.

TIP: When slicing long, cylindrical items like squash, carrots, cucumbers, etc., start by cutting off the stems, then cut them in half. Trying to operate a mandoline with tall items is just unnecessarily clumsy. The closer the item is to the blade the more stable and safe the slicing process will be.

How to make sauteed squash and onions

Prep squash and onions

The key to this dish is cutting both the onions and squash into even, thin slices that will quickly saute, soften, and caramelize in the pan. They don’t have to be perfectly even, and some of the squash circles won’t be full circles, but that’s okay. Keeping the squash skin on is important for keeping them from turning into complete mush so I don’t recommend peeling the squash before cooking it this way.

Saute onions

Start with a little olive oil or butter and saute the onions over medium heat until they begin to soften and become fragrant.

Add squash and season

I like to lay the squash around the pan in a spiral, which creates layers that help the squash steam and cook. If you pour the squash in all at once, use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to spread the squash out into more even layers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Sautee and steam

Reduce the heat at this point. Add a little more butter and 2-3 tablespoons of water. Cover and let the squash cook for 7-10 minutes or until the water has evaporated. Remove the lid and stir the squash and onions to make sure all the seasoning and butter are evenly distributed. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.

squash and onions in a cast iron pan

Sauteed Squash and Onions

Fresh yellow squash paired with sweet onions, salt, pepper, and butter.
Course Side Dish
Keyword Onion, Yellow squash
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Lena B.
Cost $10


  • Cutting board and knife or mandoline
  • Saute or cast iron pan with a lid
  • Wooden spoon or rubber spatula


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 medium yellow squash thinly sliced
  • 1 sweet yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegan alternative
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


  • Wash and dry squash then cut them into thin rounds (around ¼" thick). Slice onion. Heat pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions. Cook until they begin to soften.
  • Add squash and spread out into an even layer. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Add butter and water and cover.
  • Let the squash steam for 7-10 minutes or until the water has evaporated. Remove the cover and stir. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary.
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