If you’ve ever felt like squash was available year-round, you wouldn’t be wrong. In fact, there are more than 100 types of squash. The most common varieties of squash are categorized seasonally, either into summer or winter, depending on when they thrive. In the summer, produce stands are stacked with yellow squash and zucchini, while pattypans and chayote debut in farmers’ markets and specialty stores. After the weather cools down, supermarkets become stocked with pumpkin, butternut, and spaghetti squash that are just begging to become a hearty meal.
With a few exceptions, most squash tastes nutty or mild, but paired with the right elements, their flavor becomes as vibrant as their hue. Here, we break down 15 common summer and winter squash varieties and highlight the best ways to prepare them.
Easy never tasted so awesome.
Yellow squash are some of the most common types of squash and can come with straight or crooked necks. Although they’re available year-round, they’re considered a summer squash because they peak during warmer months. They’re so mild in flavor that they almost taste sweet, and their inner sugars emerge when cooked. tktkt
Recipes to try: Spiralized Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette, Squash Casserole, Tilapia and Summer Squash Tacos.
The name of this summer squash comes from the Italian term for squash, zucca. Zucchini is primarily light or dark green, although a golden hybrid variety exists as well. Zucchini is usually harvested before it reaches maturity, and a full-grown zucchini can measure more than a meter. Baby zucchini is preferred as it has a sweeter flavor and more navigable texture. Although it’s a staple in savory sides and salads, zucchini also works well in baked goods such as bread.
Recipes to try: Zoodles with Shrimp and Green Goddess Dressing, Tuscan Pignoli-Orange Zucchini Bread, Zucchini Pie.
Also known as eight-ball zucchini, round zucchini are pretty much identical to generic zucchini aside from their spherical shape. Treat them the same way you’d treat their closest relatives, or slice the tops off and stuff them like you would with winter squash.
Recipes to try: Eight-Ball Zucchini Parmesan.
Also known as scallop squash, pattypan squash are a summer varietal with a shape that’s entirely distinct from its closest relatives. The pattypan is rounder and flatter, and can be yellow, green, white, or multicolored. While smaller pattypans can be prepared like yellow squash or zucchini, larger pattypans work best when they’re stuffed.
Recipes to try: Stuffed Pattypan Squash with Beef and Feta, Pattypan Squash with Eggs, Indian-Spiced Grilled Baby Squash.
This lime green summer squash, also known as a mirliton or pear squash, is native to Central America. It’s used in a number of American and Asian cuisines, including Brazilian, Cajun, Filipino, Burmese, and South Indian. Its taste is mild to the point where it’s almost bland, and its texture is starchy like jicama.
Recipes to try: Creamy Poblano Tacos, Chayote Salad, Southwestern Squash Stew.
Acorn squash has a tough, pine green exterior and golden, almost-orange flesh that’s slightly more robust than other types of squash. It’s easy to grow and bakes like a dream, especially when it’s glazed with brown butter or maple syrup (or both!) and topped with fresh sage.
Recipes to try: Chili-Roasted Acorn Squash, Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing, Acorn Squash and Kale over Penne.
Don’t judge butternut squash by its dull, flesh-colored exterior. Cut it open and you’re greeted with a vibrant orange flesh that’s almost as buttery and sweet as pumpkin. A fall favorite, butternut squash is often pureed for silky smooth soup, but it’s also delicious sauteed, roasted, or pressure cooked, or in a carb-heavy dish like lasagna or casserole.
Recipes to try: Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna, Instant Pot Butternut Squash, Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage.
Buttercup squash is squat and stout, typically weighing at least three pounds and boasting a 7-inch diameter. Like other winter squash varieties, it has a deep golden interior and mildly sweet taste that’s likened to sweet potatoes. The skin is inedible, so you’ll want to peel it beforehand. Buttercup squash is delicious roasted, whether it’s cubed or stuffed.
Recipes to try: Buttercup-Hominy Stew.
Also called blue hubbard squash, this winter squash has a slate-toned skin and teardrop shape. The hubbard’s interior is sweet, and it’s often used as a substitute for pumpkin. Hubbard squash has a tough exterior and a fine-grained, often mealy texture, so it’s best pureed or mashed.
Recipes to try: Winter Squash Risotto with Radicchio, Hubbard Squash and Pinto Bean Stew.
This winter squash has a cream-colored exterior with either green or orange stripes and accents. Also known as peanut or sweet potato squash, delicata squash is typically baked and stuffed and has a gentle flavor and creamy texture. Its seeds are edible and are often toasted.
Recipes to try: Squash-and-Kale Toasts, Spiced Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze, Sumac Hummus with Kale Ribbons and Roasted Delicata Squash.
Everyone’s favorite gourd comes in a spectrum of colors including orange, white, and light blue. You’ll also find pumpkins in a variety of sizes from palm-sized to colossal. Once September rolls around, puddmpkins are associated with sugar, nutmeg, and pie, but they also pair well with more robust flavors like turmeric, cumin, or chili flakes.
Recipes to try: Scalloped Pumpkin and Spinach, Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes, Pear-and-Pumpkin Tart.
Spaghetti squash gets its name from its interior, which takes on a noodle-like appearance when cooked. As a result, spaghetti squash is often utilized as a healthy and high-fiber pasta alternative, but it’s also tasty fried as fritters.
Recipes to try: Mushroom Bolognese over Spaghetti Squash, Spaghetti Squash Fritters with Sriracha Mayonnaise, Curried Spaghetti-Squash-and-Chickpea Toasts.
Dumpling squash is small and round with a mottled white exterior featuring green, yellow, or orange stripes. The pale orange interior is sweet, which makes sense given this variety is also called a sweet dumpling squash. Like other winter squash varieties, it works well in both sweet and savory dishes.
Recipes to try: Cheese and Squash Souffles, Sweet Dumpling Squash with Citrus-Herb Sauce.
Also known as Japanese pumpkin, kabocha squash has a knobby green exterior and intensely orange flesh. The kabocha is sweet its flavor is often described as a combination of pumpkin and sweet potato. Kabocha squash is primarily grown and eaten in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and the United States.
Recipes to try: Kabocha Squash Puree, Kabocha Squash with Dukkah and Cider Molasses, Roasted Kabocha and Kale Salad.
Squash blossoms are the edible flowers of summer and winter squash. While every type of squash produces flowers, the ones you’ll find at the farmers market or grocery store most likely come from zucchini. Squash blossoms are incredibly delicate, with subtle flavor, and are often flash-fried or stuffed, often with a soft cheese. They’re also made into fritters or soups.
Recipes to try: Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms, Stuffed Squash Blossom Bruschetta, Squash Blossom, Avocado, & Butter Lettuce Salad.
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