Common Types of Squash
Whether roasted, puréed, or sautéed, winter squash can be prepared in endless different ways. Explore the unique characteristics of these common types of squash, then try one of these comforting, delicious squash recipes.
Shaped like its namesake, this small, dark green, orange, or buff-colored squash has a ribbed rind and a moist yellow or orange interior that is loaded with fiber. When halved for roasting, acorn squash can be used as a natural bowl for fillings, such as apples, currants, and chestnuts.
Great for: Roasting. Peeling is difficult, so cut it in half or slice (the skin is edible).
One of the most common winter squash, this foot-long, bell-shaped variety has thin, butterscotch-colored skin and sweet, nutty flesh. Its smooth, thin skin makes it easier to peel than many other squash varieties. For the most abundant flesh, look for butternut squash with a long, thick neck. Dense and creamy, it pairs well with a variety of flavors, including smoky bacon, cinnamon, and balsamic vinegar. It also has the highest doses of vitamins A and C.
Great for: Roasting and soups.
Long popular in the Caribbean, calabaza squash (also called West Indian pumpkin) has a sweet, juicy golden orange flesh similar in taste and texture to butternut squash. Getting to it can be difficult, however, thanks to its super-tough tan, green, or red orange rind. Use a cleaver, or look for cut-up pieces at Latin markets. Look for pieces with tightly grained flesh and no wet spots. Whole squash will keep up to 6 weeks in a cool, dry place; cut pieces should be refrigerated and will last for a week.
Great for: Baking.
Also called sweet potato squash because of its creamy flavor and texture, delicata squash resembles a giant, fat cucumber (it typically weighs 1 to 2 pounds) and has pale yellow skin and dark green pinstripes. Popular in the early 1900s, this heirloom variety is enjoying renewed favor thanks to its fine, creamy flesh, which tastes similar to sweet potatoes and butternut squash. And, yes, you can eat the skin (no peeling necessary).
Great for: Roasting and stuffing.
One of the largest winter varieties, Hubbard squash typically weighs 8 to 20 pounds and range in color from orange to grayish blue. Hidden beneath the hard, nubbly skin is a delicious yellow flesh that’s both savory and sweet. The flesh is high in sugar but sometimes mealy, which means it’s best pureed (as a pie filling) or mashed. A whole squash will keep for up to 6 months in a cool, dry place. It’s also sold cut up.
Great for: Pie filling, purees, and mashes.
This pumpkin-shaped Japanese squash (typically 2 to 3 pounds) is fairly new to the U.S. market but has caught on quickly due to its subtle, honeyed sweetness and smooth, almost fiberless texture. The jade green exterior has light green stripes, and the meat is a pale orange. Drier and denser than most squashes, the kabocha can be baked or steamed, like acorn squash, or pureed to give soups a buttery richness.
Great for: Soups.
With their bright orange skin and light orange flesh, round 2- to 8- pound specimens are best for cooking. Pureed, pumpkin is a tasty, healthful addition to soups, sweet breads, pancakes, and risottos and makes a good filling for ravioli. Pumpkins have a mellow sweetness and dense flesh that’s perfect for autumn baking. (The bigger, Halloweeny guys tend to be watery and less flavorful.) Varieties to look for include Small Sugar, New England Pie, Baby Pam, and Pik-A-Pie.
Great for: Pies, quick breads, pancakes, risottos. Roast or steam, puree, then add to recipe. For more ideas, find delicious pumpkin recipes here.
This oval yellow squash contains a surprise: a stringy flesh that, when cooked, separates into mild-tasting, spaghetti-like strands. Exceedingly mild, spaghetti squash is often dressed with tomato sauce like pasta, or it can be simply enhanced with butter and herbs. Spaghetti squashes typically weigh 4 to 8 pounds; squashes on the larger side will have the best flavor and thicker “noodles.”
Great for: Roasting. Scrape out the strands and dress with butter or pasta sauce.