Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish and set aside for a moment.
Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Use a peeler to remove skin and white layer from squash. Rub butternut squash all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side-down in prepared baking dish.
Roast butternut squash at 400F 40-45 minutes until squash is beginning to soften and a paring knife slips easily in and out of flesh. Allow squash to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until a deep golden brown. Add maple syrup, cayenne if using, and orange zest and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
Transfer squash to a cutting board and use a sharp knife to score squash crosswise, cutting into squash as deep as possible, but not cutting all the way through.
Return squash to baking dish and drizzle with browned butter/maple sauce. Arrange thyme sprigs on top of squash. Return squash to 400F oven and roast an additional 40-45 minutes, basting occasionally with sauce until squash is tender.
Allow butternut squash to cool slightly before topping with toasted pecans and serving warm. Enjoy!