Butternut Squash Bread with Pecan Streusel

Instead of pumpkin, try naturally sweet and moist butternut squash in this flavorful quick bread. Lightly spiced with a crisp and nutty pecan streusel top, serve it for breakfast with coffee and tea.

Butternut Squash Bread with Pecan Streusel
Side view of butternut quick bread with pecan streusel with slices cut in front of the loaf.

As soon as fall arrives, I go into a quick bread frenzy until springtime. I cycle through every kind of muffin and loaf imaginable, like this Butternut Squash Bread with Pecan Streusel, dazzled by their simplicity and comforting flavors and textures.

While pumpkin gets all the attention in sweet dishes, butternut squash is actually better in many baked goods. It’s naturally sweeter and creamier and adds a moist richness to this delightful bread.

Butternut squash bread hits all the right notes for a breakfast loaf—moist but tender, sweet but not too sweet. It has just the right amount of spice, enough to celebrate the season without overpowering the squash.

Equal parts oil and butter ensure a flavorful loaf that will stay moist for days. And with a crispy and nutty streusel top, it’s pretty enough for a bakery shop window. It’s a low key, low stress weekend project or weeknight bake (especially since it tastes even better the next day). Paired with tea or coffee, there’s nothing better on a chilly morning.

How to Make Butternut Squash Purée

I like to roast butternut squash when making purée for a few reasons. It’s easy and largely hands-off, results in the best flavor, and gives a nice texture to the finished bread. You could boil or microwave cubed squash instead, but these methods often introduce unwanted moisture into the purée and can make the bread gummy.

Luckily, you can roast the squash up to two days ahead of time. Cool and tightly wrap the halves in plastic wrap. Or go ahead and make the purée and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.

Side view of butternut quick bread with pecan streusel with slices cut in front of the loaf.

How to Use Leftover Butternut Squash Purée

This recipe calls for roasting a whole butternut squash. However, you won’t end up using all of it. It’s easy to double the recipe if you’d like to make two loaves and use most of the roasted squash. Otherwise, there are plenty of delicious ways to utilize the leftovers:

Leftover butternut squash purée also freezes well for up to three months, so you can save the excess to make bread another day.

Using Canned Purée

While the recipe calls for roasting the squash, you can use canned butternut squash purée. Canned pumpkin will also work in a pinch, although I think the flavor, texture, and color of butternut squash is superior in this bread.

Butternut bread with a crunchy nut topping sliced and topped with butter.
Alison Bickel

Recipe Variations

This recipe is easy to adapt to your own personal tastes. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • No Nuts: If you have a pecan allergy or simply don’t care for them, leave them out. The streusel top without the pecans will still add a crispy element.
  • Extra Nuts: If you’re on the other end of the spectrum and love nuts, you can add more chopped pecans to the batter (up to 1/2 cup). Fold them in at the end. Walnuts also work well in the topping and the batter.
  • No Topping: For a less sweet, more traditional loaf, leave off the streusel topping. I recommend adding another 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and, if you’d like a bit of texture, add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts to the batter.
  • Chocolate Chips: For an extra decadent bread, fold in up to 1/2 cup of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips.
  • Non-Dairy: To make this bread dairy-free, swap the butter in the bread for equal amounts of oil, and swap the butter in the topping for non-dairy butter (or leave off the topping). I don’t recommend swapping out the oil in the batter with butter, because an all-butter bread loses its moisture quickly.

Storage Instructions

To keep the topping crisp, let the bread cool completely before wrapping it for storage. It will stay moist for about four days at room temperature.

You can also freeze it, but the topping gets a bit soggy once defrosted. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and place it in a zip top freezer bag, squeezing out all the air. Freeze it for up to two months. Defrost it in the fridge before serving.

Side view of butternut quick bread with pecan streusel with slices cut in front of the loaf.

More Quick-Bread Recipes to Try

Roast the squash:

Preheat the oven to 350°F with the oven rack set to the middle. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out using a large spoon. Rub both halves with the oil and place them cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet.

Roast the squash until you can easily pierce the thickest part with a sharp knife, 40 to 50 minutes. Carefully flip over the squash and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Leave the oven on.

Butternut squash cut in half and the seeds removed to make Butternut bread with a crunchy nut topping.
Alison Bickel
Butternut squash cut in half and the seeds removed to make Butternut bread with a crunchy nut topping.
Alison Bickel
Roasting halved squash to make butternut bread with a crunchy nut topping.
Alison Bickel
Roasted squash on a baking tray for butternut quick bread with pecan streusel.
Alison Bickel

Purée the squash:

Scoop out the flesh and add it to a food processor. Discard the peel. Purée the squash, scraping down the sides once or twice, until smooth. Measure out 1 cup (250g) for the recipe and store the rest for another use.

Return the 1 cup of squash to the food processor for the bread. Set this aside while you make the streusel.

Make the streusel:

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, mix in the melted butter until a crumbly dough forms. Add the pecans and use your hands to toss and distribute evenly. Set it aside.

Making the streusel topping for butternut quick bread with pecan streusel.
Alison Bickel
Making the streusel topping for butternut quick bread with pecan streusel.
Alison Bickel
Making the streusel topping for butternut quick bread with pecan streusel.
Alison Bickel

Prepare the loaf pan:

Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and line the bottom and sides with a strip of parchment paper, forming a sling. Make sure the paper hangs over both sides—this will make removing the bread from the pan easier.

The loaf pan lined with parchment to make butternut quick bread with pecan streusel.
Alison Bickel

Mix the wet ingredients:

To the 1 cup of butternut squash purée in the food processor, add the sugar, brown sugar, oil, melted butter, eggs, water, and vanilla. Process to mix, scraping down the sides once.

Combining butternut squash and ingredients in a food processor to make butternut quick bread with pecan streusel.
Alison Bickel

Mix the dry ingredients:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to break up any lumps.

Whisking dry ingredients for butternut quick bread with pecan streusel.
Alison Bickel

Combine the wet and the dry:

Add the butternut squash mixture into the flour mixture. Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to mix just until combined. A few small lumps of flour are fine.

Mixing the batter for butternut bread with a crunchy nut topping.
Alison Bickel

Assemble and bake the bread:

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top.

Bake it until well-risen and the streusel has browned, about 1 hour. A cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center all the way to the bottom should emerge clean without any liquid batter. A few crumbs are okay.

Butternut bread with a crunchy nut topping in the pan and ready to be baked.
Alison Bickel

Cool and serve:

Let the bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Use the parchment sling to lift it out and onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before serving.

Side view of butternut quick bread with pecan streusel with slices cut in front of the loaf.