From Acorn to Spaghetti, Here Are the 9 Most Common Types of Winter Squash
Interestingly, winter squash is not actually grown in the winter. Harvested in the fall, winter squashes tend to have a thick skin, which allows them to be stored for several months, so they can be enjoyed throughout the winter.
Not only is winter squash a sweet, rich addition to your menu, it’s also loaded with nutrients, fiber, and healthy omega-3 fat. Ranging in size, shape, color, and flavor, winter squash can be prepared in endless different ways. You can sautée or roast squash for an easy side dish, purée it into soup, bake it into a pie, or add it to pizza. You can even eat the skin of some of the squash varieties.
Explore the unique characteristics and flavors of the nine most common types of squash, then try one of these comforting, delicious squash recipes.
RELATED: How to Prepare Squash
For the longest spaghetti-like strands, halve the squash crosswise (rather than lengthwise), since strands form a circular pattern. Remove seeds and roast. Serve the “spaghetti” with Chicken Parmesan Meatballs, toss with red sauce and grated cheese, or use instead of rice noodles in Asian-style dishes.
Great for: Roasting. Scrape out the strands and dress with butter or pasta sauce.
Recipe to try: Spaghetti Squash Parmesan
You can cut this buttery squash into wedges for roasting, but it’s also ideal for grain bowls. Halve it, remove the seeds, brush cut sides with oil, and season. Roast, cut sides down, on a baking sheet until tender. Stuff the halves with cooked vegetables and grains, herbs, nuts, and dried fruits, then enjoy the whole package.
Great for: Roasting. Peeling is difficult, so cut it in half or slice (the skin on this type of squash is edible).
Recipe to try: Goat Cheese and Mushroom-Stuffed Acorn Squash
With its large size and mild flesh, butternut squash is especially versatile. Pick a heavy one with dark beige skin. To prep, remove the skin with a Y peeler, then cut the neck from the body before seeding and cubing. Add roasted chunks to tacos or pizza, or puree them into hummus, soup, or lasagna filling.
Great for: Roasting and soups
Recipe to try: Creamy Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup
This newer squash variety might look like a mini butternut, but the flesh has a honeyed, more concentrated flavor and a darker orange color. The seeded halves (brushed with oil and seasoned with salt) roast much faster too—and the skin is deliciously edible.
Recipe to try: Roasted Squash
Also known as Japanese pumpkin, kabocha has a dense texture and a nutty depth. The skin is edible when cooked, though you might opt to peel it if it’s especially bumpy. Use your biggest chef’s knife (or a cleaver) to halve the squash, then cut it into wedges. Roast for curries, rice bowls, or salads, or simmer in a brothy soup until tender.
Great for: Soups
Recipe to try: Roasted Pumpkin Soup With Harissa and Chickpeas
When sliced crosswise into rings and roasted, delicata is a delicacy, with a rich, sweet flavor and tender, edible skin. Roast it with hearty herbs, like rosemary or thyme, then fold it into a creamy pasta or layer it with winter greens, nuts, and cheese in a salad.
Great for: Roasting and stuffing
Recipe to try: Butternut Squash Salad With Hazelnuts and Blue Cheese
Long popular in the Caribbean, calabaza squash (also called West Indian pumpkin) has a sweet, juicy, golden orange flesh that's 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 calabaza squash will keep up to six weeks in a cool, dry place; cut pieces should be refrigerated and will last for a week.
Great for: Baking
One of the largest winter varieties, Hubbard squash typically weighs 8 to 20 pounds and ranges 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 six months in a cool, dry place. It’s also sold cut up.
Great for: Pie filling, purees, and mashes
Yes, pumpkin is a type of squash. With its bright orange skin and light orange flesh, a round 2- to 8- pound pumpkin squash is best for cooking. Puréed, 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, Halloween-y 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, purée, then add to recipe.
Recipe(s) to try: 22 Perfect Pumpkin Recipes You’ll Want to Eat All Year Round