Winter squash is the best! There is such a bevy of types of squash in the fall and winter, with unique flavor profiles, colors, and uses.
Here's how to use the most common types of winter squash in your kitchen.
Squash are dense, intensely flavorful, and incredibly versatile. You can blend them and use them in baked goods (like pies, bread, and cookies), roast them for a side dish, or add them to soups and salads.
For our purposes, I will only be sharing types of commonly available squash that you can find either at the grocery store or farmer's market.
Sugar pumpkin (also called pie pumpkin and sweet pumpkin) is probably the most popular of the winter squashes - it's what we use in pumpkin pie, pureed pumpkin, and pumpkin soup.
They're globe-shaped and have bright orange skin with bright orange flesh. They're smaller and sweeter than the pumpkins we used for decorations and jack-o-lanterns.
Sugar pumpkins have a rich, buttery flavor and flesh that can be roasted to a smooth texture. Like all squash, it has a dense texture.
Butternut squash can be used as a substitute and in fact, many companies that sell canned pumpkin puree use butternut squash or a hybrid instead of sugar pumpkins.
Butternut squash is a popular winter squash with a rich, sweet, nutty flavor and deeply colored orange flesh. Butternut squash are usually long and have a bulbous end with a more slender top.
Butternut squash, like pumpkin, can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. It can be used in soups, salads, baked goods, casseroles, pies, or served as a side dish.
It is often used interchangeably with pumpkin and many popular canned pumpkin purees are actually butternut squash.
Butternut squash skin is typically peeled, the squash is halved, and the seeds scooped out. Technically you can eat the squash skin, but butternut squash is better without the skin.
Spaghetti squash is an unusual, oblong winter squash with stringy flesh. It's popular because when it's roasted or steamed, you can pull the strands apart to create a squash noodle that resembles spaghetti.
Spaghetti squash come in a variety of colors - they're often yellow, but the skin may also be ivory or orange.
Spaghetti squash has a mellow, slightly sweet flavor. The mild flavor makes it a great accompaniment to strong flavors like meat and sauces.
Here's how you can roast spaghetti squash in the oven to get nice long noodles.
Acorn squash is typically a deep green-skinned squash variety that resembles the shape of an acorn. However, heirloom acorn squash can sometimes be white or orange.
They have noticeable exterior ridges and may have a splotch of bright orange on their skin. They have a rich, yellow-orange flesh that's great for roasting.
They're mild, slightly sweet, and nutty flavored. They are a great shape for stuffing and are often filled with mixtures of rice, quinoa, meat, spices, dried fruit, or nuts.
Acorn squash is also delicious when roasted with maple syrup or brown sugar and served as a side dish or on top of a salad.
Kabocha squash is a type of Japanese pumpkin. They'll either have dark green, bumpy skin (like the photo above) or bright orange thick skin.
Kabocha squash tastes like a cross between pumpkin and sweet potatoes - it has a sweeter flavor than many other winter squash varieties.
Kabocha can be roasted or steamed and the skin is edible. It's often used in Japanese curry.
Here's a delicious simmered kabocha squash recipe you can try.
Delicata squash are cream-colored (with splashes of orange and green) cylindrical squash that have delicate, thin skin.
They're also called peanut squash, sweet potato squash, and Bohemian squash.
Delicata squash are often sliced into rounds or half-moons and roasted. The seeds can be scooped out and they can be stuffed with rice or meat.
Honeynut squash is a blend of butternut and buttercup squash created in the 1980s, however, it reached the mainstream market in 2015.
It's a similar shape to butternut squash but much smaller and with a more golden-orange skin. It's incredibly sweet and has three times more beta-carotene than butternut squash.
Honeynut squash is great for roasting or stuffing, but it's also sweet enough to be used in a pie.
Make this roasted honeynut squash with miso maple butter for a real treat.
Red Kuri Squash
Red kuri squash is a small, pumpkin-shaped squash with orange skin and creamy, yellow flesh. It has a delicate, chestnut flavor.
It's a type of Hubbard squash, although it's not as mealy as regular Hubbard squash.
It's great in baked goods, roasted and served on a salad, or blended into a soup.
They're slightly difficult to peel, so it's recommended that you cook them with the skin on and scrape out the flesh after baking, roasting, or steaming.
Carnival squash is a hybrid of acorn and sweet dumpling squash. It has bright, colorful skin and rich, sweet flesh.
Carnival squash tastes similar to butternut squash but is slightly sweeter.
It has maple, butter, and nutty undertones - making it excellent in salads, soups, or roasted as a side dish.
Carnival squash skin is edible, but you can roast the squash and scoop the flesh out of the skin as well. The skin will become papery when roasted.
Try this roasted carnival squash for an easy, delicious side dish.
These large squash come in an array of beautiful colors like light green, light blue, yellow, and orange.
While they're originally from the Caribbean, they're named after one of the first farmers to grow squash in the US.
Hubbard squash can be stored for up to 5 months, and become sweeter and less mealy over time - so it may be worth it to store them for a few months!
They have thick, bumpy skin (which I don't recommend eating). Hubbard squash is best in soups and mashes.
Candy Roaster Squash
These large squash live up to their name - they're incredibly sweet when roasted!
It's an heirloom squash originally bred by the Cherokee nation in the 1800s. It's most commonly found in the Southeast United States, but you might get lucky and find it at your farmer's market.
Candy Roaster squash can grow up to 15 pounds! They're great for pies and other baked goods.
Sun Spot Squash
Sun Spot squash are a cultivar of buttercup squash and are slightly smaller than a typical buttercup squash.
They look like small pumpkins or kabocha squash. They have a drier flesh, but lots of great squash flavor.
They're good in curries, soups, or roasted.
When are winter squash in season?
Many types of common winter squash are available year-round, but they are at their peak in November and December.
Personally, I like to enjoy squash from mid-fall through winter.
How long will squash keep?
Whole squash will keep for a surprisingly long time when stored in a cool, dry place. Uncooked, whole winter squash will keep for 1 to 3 months in a root cellar or refrigerator.
If the squash is cut or cooked, it will keep for 2 to 5 days in the refrigerator depending on the variety.
What's the best way to cook squash?
There are so many ways to cook squash but one of the best is to roast them. In general, you can roast all types of winter squash by halving them, scooping out the seeds, rubbing them with a little olive oil, and baking them on a sheet pan for 40 to 60 minutes at 400 degrees F.
How to tell if a squash has gone bad?
The easiest way to tell if squash has gone bad is to check for any soft spots, cracks, or bruising.
A squash past its prime that has dried out will be very light for its size. There might be obvious cracks in the skin and when you cut it open the skin will be dry.
A rotting squash will have soft spots and discoloration of its skin and flesh.
Which squash have edible skin?
All squash skin is technically edible, however, some squash have better tasting skin than others.
Generally, delicata skin is the lightest and least noticeable to consume. Honeynut and kabocha skin also taste good.