Though colorful winter squashes like acorn, butternut, and pumpkin make for cozy cold-weather meals, they can be kind of daunting (and dangerous!) to cut into. If the idea of slicing one up leaves you scratching your head, we’ve got an easy trick to get you started.

Wash and thoroughly dry your squash and place it on a foil-lined baking sheet. Pop it into a 350-degree-Fahrenheit oven for 15 to 20 minutes, just until the skin of your squash has a little bit of give. Use a fork to gently test it, and continue checking every five minutes until ready. Softening up the squash a tad will make it way more workable.

If a recipe calls for you to peel your squash before cutting, the easiest way to do so is with a standard vegetable peeler (pre-roasting will make peeling easier too). For any chopping, use an eight-to-10-inch chef’s knife to get the job done. Start by slicing off the stem and bottom end of the squash so that you have some flat sides to work with. Then, slice in half lengthwise, scoop out any seeds, and continue on your merry way. Always make sure you’re working on a stable surface by anchoring your cutting board with a damp dish towel or a piece of non-slip shelf liner. You’ll also want to use a sharp knife — a dull knife is more likely to slip and cause accidents.

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(Photos via Johannes Hofmann / Unsplash, Gemma Evans / Unsplash, Timothy Eberly / Unsplash)