8 Common Types of Winter Squash—From Acorn to Spaghetti

Did you think there were only a few types of squash? There are actually many kinds, and we've got recipes for several of them.

Types of winter squash - picture of squash variety
Photo: Adam Cruft

You're probably familiar with some of the most common types of squash—acorn, spaghetti, butternut, and pumpkin (yep, it's a squash!)—but there are many other winter squash varieties worth adding to your grocery list.

Interestingly, winter squashes are actually grown in the summer and harvested in the fall. They tend to have thick skin, allowing 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, but 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 sauté or roast squash for an easy side dish, purée it into soup, bake it into a pie, or make mini calzones. 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.

01 of 08


Types of winter squash - Spaghetti Squash illustration
Adam Cruft

For the longest spaghetti-like strands, halve the squash crosswise (rather than lengthwise), since the 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

02 of 08


Types of winter squash - Acorn squash illustration
Adam Cruft

You can cut this buttery squash into wedges for roasting, but it's also ideal for grain bowls. Halve it, remove the seeds, brush the cut sides with oil, and season. Roast, cut sides down, on a baking sheet until tender. Stuff the halves with cooked vegetables, grains, herbs, nuts, and dried fruits; then enjoy the whole package.

Great for: Roasting. Peeling is difficult, so cut it in half or slice it first. (The skin on this type of squash is edible.)

Recipe to try: Goat Cheese and Mushroom-Stuffed Acorn Squash

03 of 08


Types of winter squash - Butternut squash illustration
Adam Cruft

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 purée them into hummus, soup, or lasagna filling.

Great for: Roasting and soups

Recipe to try: Creamy Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup

04 of 08


Types of winter squash - Honeynut squash illustration
Adam Cruft

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.

Great for: Roasting

Recipe to try: Goat Cheese and Mushroom-Stuff Squash

05 of 08


Types of winter squash - Kabocha squash illustration
Adam Cruft

Also known as Japanese pumpkin, kabocha squash 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, and salads, or simmer in a brothy soup until tender.

Great for: Soups

Recipe to try: Kabocha Squash Sticky Buns

06 of 08


Types of winter squash - Delicata squash illustration
Adam Cruft

When sliced crosswise into rings and roasted, delicata squash 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: Slow-Cooker Squash Lasagna

07 of 08


Types of winter squash - Calabaza squash illustration
Wacomka/Getty Images

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. You'll want 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

Recipe to try: Wild Rice and Butternut Squash Bake

08 of 08


Types of winter squash - Pumpkin squash illustration
Evgeny Borisov/Getty Images

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 bread, 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 a recipe.

Recipes to try: 25 Perfect Pumpkin Recipes You'll Want to Eat All Year Round

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