Butternut Squash and Sage Shrub Recipe

Butternut-Sage Shrub - Development Placeholder Image

The Spruce Eats / Colleen Graham

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Steep: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 25 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Yield: 2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
181 Calories
0g Fat
45g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 181
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 4mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 45g 16%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 41g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 6mg 31%
Calcium 22mg 2%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 154mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A perfect beverage for fall, the butternut-sage shrub celebrates a fantastic seasonal pairing. This flavored drinking vinegar is a refreshing afternoon pick-me-up and dinner drink when topped with water. You can also use it to create some fascinating cocktails.

Shrubs transform vinegar into a tart and sweet beverage concentrate flavored with any variety of fruits, herbs, and spices that you like. Butternut squash and fresh sage are featured in this recipe, and the sugar offsets the apple cider vinegar's acidity to make it perfectly drinkable. It's easy to make, requiring about 30 minutes of active time, and just needs a few days in the fridge for the flavor to fully develop.

While you can sip a small amount straight, shrubs are designed to be diluted, so top it with seltzer, still water, or a light soda like ginger ale. Shrubs are also wonderful cocktail mixers; try this one with vodka or light rum, or top it with sparkling wine.


  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash

  • 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves, unpacked, from about 8 sprigs

  • Cold seltzer, ginger ale, or still water, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place the apple cider vinegar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then stir in the sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring, until dissolved.

  3. Reduce the heat to low, then add the butternut squash and sage. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is softened and easily pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes.

  4. Remove from the heat. Lightly smash the softened squash with a potato masher or wooden spoon in the saucepan to release more flavor. Keep covered and allow to steep for 3 hours.

  5. Strain the squash and sage from the liquid using a fine mesh strainer.

  6. Bottle the shrub, seal, and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days before using.

  7. To make a drink, pour 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) of the butternut-sage shrub into a glass (over ice, if you like). Top with about 6 ounces (3/4 cup) of cold seltzer, ginger ale, or water, pouring more or less to taste. Stir well.

How to Store

The finished shrub should be stored refrigerated in a tightly sealed bottle. It will keep well for about one month.


  • Butternut squash varies greatly in size. You'll need about half of a large squash or a whole medium or small squash to get two cups of cubes. Be sure to scoop out the seedy pulp and remove all of the skin.
  • Tear the leaves slightly before adding them to the pan for a more robust sage flavor.
  • Switch to raw sugar for a slightly darker sweetness.
  • If bits of squash or sage are left in the shrub, strain it a second time through a layer of cheesecloth.

How to Make a Butternut-Sage Shrub Cocktail

Taste the shrub straight to get a sense of how to use it in cocktails. Vodka and light rum are the best options because they let the butternut squash and sage flavors shine with little interruption. However, tequila is an interesting alternative. You can also use a nonalcoholic rum or tequila for a tasty mocktail.

  • The simplest option is to add a shot of the liquor to the sparkling nonalcoholic drink. A nice prosecco is a good alternative to seltzers and sodas.
  • Another intriguing mix is 1 1/2 ounces each of the liquor and shrub shaken with 1 ounce of apple cider or juice. Strain it over fresh ice in an old-fashioned glass with a splash of soda.

From there, have fun exploring the possibilities of this shrub.