These butternut squash bowls are a vegan sheet pan meal that features roasted fall-seasoned squash, carrots, chickpeas, and crispy kale with a tangy tahini dressing. This recipe is great for weeknights and meal prep!
Few things beat roasted butternut squash in the fall, which is why these Butternut Squash Bowls are the newest addition to the blog alongside other favorites like butternut squash spaghetti, butternut squash soup, and even butternut squash tacos.
The roasted butternut squash in these rice bowls is seasoned with a Thanksgiving-style blend of herbs, ginger, and a pinch of cinnamon. It's served alongside roasted carrots, crispy kale, and chickpeas, all roasted on the same sheet pan.
Top it off with a zesty tahini dressing in the style of my Goddess tahini dressing for a well-balanced and nourishing fall dinner. This recipe is for those who love my sweet potato quinoa bowls, because it follows the same basic formula of delicious roasted veggies, nourishing grains, and a creamy sauce.
Why this recipe works
- Sheet pan meal: The butternut squash, carrots, and chickpeas all roast together at the same time. At the end of cooking, kale is scattered across the top of the sheet pan to make crispy kale chips.
- Warming flavors: Just a pinch of cinnamon brings cozy fall feeling to these butternut squash bowls. The zesty Goddess dressing features tahini, lemon juice, and cider vinegar for a refreshing balance of flavors.
- Versatile: This recipe is vegan as-is, but it's easy to make your own by adding additional protein, mixing up the fall vegetables, or choosing your favorite grain.
- Butternut squash: This recipe uses 1 ½ pounds of cubed butternut squash, which is about 1 small squash. See below for tips on using fresh butternut squash.
- Whole carrots: Peel and slice carrots into 3-inch wedges. I have not tested this recipe with baby carrots, but I imagine that they would work as they have a similar roasting time.
- Chickpeas: One 15.5-ounce can yields about 1 ½ cups of chickpeas. The canned chickpeas are roasted alongside squash and carrots, which makes them golden and crispy.
- Spices: Ground ginger, dry rosemary, ground thyme, and a pinch of cinnamon create a warming blend of flavors. Dry rosemary and thyme can be replaced with 3 times the amount of fresh chopped. For example, 1 teaspoon dry rosemary can be replaced with 1 tablespoon of fresh.
- Kale: One half bunch of kale is about 4-5 cups of kale or 4 ounces. Curly kale, the most common blend at most grocery stores, makes the best crispy kale.
- Canola oil: This is my go-to roasting oil. Olive oil, avocado oil, or vegetable oil also work well here.
- Tahini dressing: This is the same recipe I use for my Goddess dressing. It's a blend of tahini, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, parsley, and garlic. It is a pretty tangy dressing. Feel free to adjust ingredients to taste.
Equipment note: This recipe works with a half or full sheet pan. Note that larger (full) sheet pans allow for more crisping because they are less crowded.
Step 1: Peel the butternut squash and scoop out the stringy flesh. Dice the squash into roughly ¾-inch to 1-inch cubes. Peel the carrots, then slice them in half. Slice each half into 2-3 pieces to form wedges.
Note: For more tips on how to prepare butternut squash for roasting, check out my roasted butternut squash recipe.
Step 2: In a large bowl, drizzle the squash, carrots, and chickpeas with oil and seasonings. Toss to combine. Transfer to a sheet pan, using a spatula to spread out into an even layer.
Roast at 425F for 30 minutes total, removing from the oven to stir the vegetables at the 15-minute mark.
Step 3: Meanwhile, remove stems from the kale and tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Toss with oil and salt.
After the squash has roasted for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven. It will not be fully cooked at this point. Top the squash with the kale pieces and raw pumpkin seeds.
If using already roasted pumpkin seeds, they do not need to be added at this point.
Step 4: Return to the oven for 7-10 minutes, or until the kale is starting to become crispy around the edges.
Divide the roasted vegetables between bowls with brown rice and a drizzle of tahini dressing.
- Roast vegetables at 425F: Time and again I've found that this is the best temperature to roast butternut squash and other vegetables because it creates charring and a beautiful golden exterior. However, the vegetables should always be stirred halfway through to promote even cooking.
- The dressing should be the consistency of ranch dressing: thick but pourable. If the dressing is too thick, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time. I like to use these small whisks for dressings.
- Switch up the squash: This recipe also works well with delicata squash (see my fall grain bowls for cooking tips.)
- Switch up the grains: I know that brown rice isn't everyone's cup of tea, so note that this recipe works just as well with quinoa, white rice, or even farro.
Because packaged frozen butternut squash cooks more quickly than fresh squash, the recipe cook time needs to be adjusted slightly if using frozen squash. Add it after roasting the carrots and chickpeas for 10 minutes.
Yes, diced butternut squash freezes well and it does not need to be cooked or parboiled before freezing. Because one butternut squash yields a lot of squash, I often dice it and freeze it for later. The squash does not need to be thawed before use. Simply toss it with oil and roast per recipe instructions, adding just a few extra minutes to the cooking time.
Leftovers roasted vegetables and rice are best within 3 to 4 days. Keep refrigerated. The tahini dressing is good for up to a week. I like to store it in small mason jars.
Reheating: I like to store the vegetables and rice separately. This way, the vegetables can be reheated in a skillet over medium heat or in the air-fryer at 375F, which makes them crispy again. Otherwise, just reheat individual bowls in the microwave.
Looking for more grain bowls?
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Roasted Butternut Squash Bowls
For the Bowls
- 1 cup long-grain brown rice rinsed well
- 2 cups water
- 1 ½ pounds butternut squash
- 4 whole carrots
- 1 (15.5 ounce) can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil divided; or cooking oil of choice
- 1 teaspoon dry rosemary
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt divided
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground thyme
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon two pinches
- ½ bunch curly kale 4-5 kale leaves
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup tahini
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice from one small lemon
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- water as needed
- Preheat the oven to 425F. In a medium pot, combine well-rinsed rice with water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a gentle simmer over low and cover. Simmer until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 40 minutes.
- Peel the butternut squash and scoop out the stringy flesh. Dice the squash into roughly ¾-inch to 1-inch cubes. Peel the carrots, then slice them in half. Slice each half into 2-3 pieces to form wedges.
- In a large mixing bowl, drizzle the squash, carrots, and chickpeas with 1 tablespoon oil, ½ teaspoon salt, rosemary, garlic powder, thyme, pepper, and cinnamon. Toss to combine. Transfer to a sheet pan, using a spatula to spread out into an even layer.
- Roast at 425F for 30 minutes total, removing from the oven to stir the vegetables at the 15-minute mark.
- Meanwhile, remove stems from the kale and tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Toss with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and ¼ teaspoon salt.
- After the squash has roasted for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven. It will not be completely cooked at this point. Top the squash with the kale pieces and raw pumpkin seeds.
- Return to the oven for 7-10 minutes, or until the kale is starting to become crispy around the edges.
- Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing in a medium bowl by whisking together the tahini, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, parsley, and garlic powder. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, to thin to a thick pourable consistency.
- Assemble the bowls by dividing the rice and roasted vegetables between servings. Serve with a drizzle of tahini dressing, to taste. Enjoy!
- Leftovers vegetables are best within 3 to 4 days and leftover dressing is best within a week. Store rice, vegetables, and tahini dressing separately. Reheat vegetables in a skillet over medium heat.
- Grains: This recipe works with any kind of grain. White rice, quinoa, and farro are all great options.
- If using frozen squash: Because packaged frozen butternut squash cooks more quickly than fresh squash, the recipe cook time needs to be adjusted slightly if using frozen squash. Add it after roasting the carrots and chickpeas for 10 minutes.