New Mexico chile + cumin-spiced butternut squash tacos with cilantro-lime sauce


It was Jason’s birthday this past Saturday and we spent the entire day gallivanting around Ann Arbor, using this birthday deal Wiki page as a guide, and scored free cupcakes, cookies, and chocolates. He even got his lunch and dinner free! I’m sorta beating myself up for not discovering this goldmine sooner– we could have been milking this sucker dry for years! Oh well, I’m already planning out my birthday route and will have lots of goodies come August. Apologies if I sound like a greedy 12 year old.

I was initially planning on baking a chocolate yellow cake for Jason’s birthday (his favorite cake ever and probably would have been totally fine with a boxed mix but, eh…you feel me right?) and blogging about it today if it came out well. But since we have desserts galore in the fridge (did I mention all the free things we got?!) I thought to postpone until maybe next week.

So, instead I give you tacos. These are the kind I make for my clients all the time.  They’re super easy, fairly healthy (don’t mind all that mayo sauce…), and totally good. They’re sorta sweet and spicy from the brown sugar and New Mexico chile powder and the queso fresco and cilantro-lime sauce gives it a yummy savoriness. I’m going to insist you make New Mexico chile powder a staple in your spice repertoire because it’s seriously so dang good and makes everything taste that much better. It’s got a wonderful earthiness and spice to it which I love and I always reach for it as a dry substitute for aji colorado, a Peruvian chile base.



New Mexico chile + cumin-spiced butternut squash tacos with cilantro-lime sauce

Serves 4 people


2 3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed (about 7 cups total cubed squash)


// Preheat oven to 375 degrees and arrange grates so that they’re closest to the center.

Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and divide cubed butternut squash onto them. Measurements for spices are per baking sheet. If you’d prefer, you can dump the butternut squash into a large bowl and mix the spices in there; just make sure to double the measurements I have specified below. I like to just do them straight on the baking sheet so I don’t have extra stuff to wash later.


[Measurement amounts are per baking sheet]

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black  pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon coriander

3/4 teaspoon New Mexico chile powder

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil


// Toss butternut squash with spices until totally coated and spread out on baking sheets. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, give the squash a toss with a spatula and move baking sheets to the other grate. Cook for another 25 minutes. Toss again and let cool slightly.



For the cilantro-lime sauce:

Makes 3/4 cup


3/4 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade

1 tablespoon fresh lime  juice

1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves

1 garlic clove

1 1/2 teaspoons Cholula, or hot sauce of your choosing

1 tablespoon lukewarm water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper


// Put all ingredients into a mini food processor and give it a whir until everything is combined. Taste for seasonings. This keeps in the fridge, covered, for about a week.


Taco accompaniments:

Corn tortillas, softened and warmed through on a grill pan

Sliced red onions

Queso fresco, crumbled

Cholula sauce

Fresh lime wedges

Fresh cilantro leaves


// Serve tacos with warm corn tortillas, cilantro-lime sauce, red onions, queso fresco and cilantro. Squeeze extra lime juice and Cholula on top too if you’d like.



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  • fatpiginthemarketMay 14, 2013 - 7:14 pm

    Dry substitute to Aji Colorado…you know I’m all over that! It’s officially on my hunting list.

    p.s. I also like yellow cake with chocolate icing. It was my grandmother’s favorite and she made it as a sheet cake.ReplyCancel

    • StephanieMay 14, 2013 - 8:35 pm


      Yes! I’ve been using New Mexico chile powder A LOT lately. I’m sure you’d find all sorts of creative new ways to use it in recipes too. 🙂

      I don’t know if I’ve ever had an amazing yellow cake before but dang, now that it’s on the docket for next week I better make it amaze-balls right? Crap…the pressure is on.ReplyCancel

  • EileenMay 14, 2013 - 7:44 pm

    I could so go for a plateful of these tacos right now! Never mind that I had tacos for lunch…and tostadas for dinner last night. All tacos all the time! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • StephanieMay 14, 2013 - 8:36 pm


      I could totally live off tacos every day for life. It’s really all the sustenance we have when we go to our timeshare in Cabo every year (besides alcohol…duh… :-p). I just lounge and sit by the beach eating fish tacos all day. Oh woe is me. :-pReplyCancel

  • LindaMay 14, 2013 - 8:29 pm

    What a wonderful treatment for butternut squash! I’m not a huge fan of squash ni general because it tends to be bland and, I dunno, mealy? Mushy? What do you call that consistency? But I know it’s super healthy, and anything covered in ample spice, particularly chile powder, gets me really excited. And the cilantro lime sauce is totally something I would use as a general, all-purpose dip.

    Also, happy belated birthday to your husband! A birthday deals Wiki page?! You guys must’ve had a blast. I’m usually too bashful to redeem offers, but on my birthday, anything goes, haha.ReplyCancel

    • StephanieMay 14, 2013 - 8:39 pm


      Yeah sometimes squash can feel a bit mealy but that’s usually an indication that it’s not cooked thoroughly. They should yield quite a bit and mostly melt in your mouth. 🙂 And can you tell I love to put sauces on EVERYTHING? I’m tempted to make a spin-off blog on just that. Or just bread pudding because I love that too.

      I did feel sort of awkward asking people (I did all the asking at every stop b/c it was HIS birthday after all) if they did anything “special” for birthdays but after the 10th time, you got the hang of it. *wink*ReplyCancel

  • SarahMay 15, 2013 - 12:19 am

    YUM, this sounds so delicious. I love vegetarian tacos, and brown sugar spiced butternut squash sounds amazing! And the sauce too. Nailed it! I’m starving right now.ReplyCancel

    • StephanieMay 15, 2013 - 7:28 am

      Sarah, thanks! I always find that adding just a touch of sugar to roasting vegetables helps it caramelize a bit faster. Super yummy. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • KankanaMay 16, 2013 - 12:57 am

    This is my first time in your blog and I SO LOVE the name 🙂 Of course your photos and recipes are stunning too and that cilantro lime sauce sounds like a aioli. Absolutely delicious it sounds. So glad to find your blog 🙂ReplyCancel

    • StephanieMay 16, 2013 - 7:31 am

      Kankana, hello there and welcome! Yeah the cilantro lime sauce is pretty much an aioli– I can’t not make some sort of mayo-based sauce for every dish, I love them!ReplyCancel

  • Island VittlesMay 19, 2013 - 12:37 am

    Well if those aren’t some of the prettiest tacos I’ve ever seen! TheresaReplyCancel

    • StephanieMay 19, 2013 - 3:19 pm

      Theresa, aw shucks! I think fish tacos in particular are really easy to gussy up and make pretty.ReplyCancel

  • SimonSeptember 23, 2013 - 10:25 pm

    This was our dinner tonight and let me tell you that it was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!!! Fantastic recipe….thanks.ReplyCancel

    • StephanieOctober 25, 2013 - 7:27 am

      Hi Simon,

      Oh I’m so glad to hear they turned out well for you! These are pretty darn good– I enjoy them all the time myself.ReplyCancel

  • […] Butternut squash tacos with lime sauce? Yes, […]ReplyCancel

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