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9 Types of Winter Squash & How to Use Them

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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.

This list doesn't include summer squashes like zucchini and yellow squash, but check out our guide on summer squash types to see more on those!

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Types of winter squash stacked on each other - including delicata, kabocha, butternut, acorn, pumpkin, and spaghetti squash.
Butternut Squash, Acorn Squash, Sugar Pumpkin, Kabocha Squash, Spaghetti Squash, and Delicata Squash.

Sugar Pumpkin

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.

Try using fresh pumpkin in this pumpkin minestrone soup or this marbled chocolate pumpkin bread.


Butternut Squash

Butternut squash on a cutting board.
A butternut squash on a cutting board.

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.

Use butternut squash in one of these recipes - butternut squash feta pasta or za'atar roasted butternut squash.


Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash on a parchment lined baking tray.
A halved spaghetti squash on a baking sheet.

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

Two acorn squash, olive oil, Chinese five spice, and salt on a marble background.
Two acorn squash with some olive oil and seasonings.

Acorn squash is a deep green-skinned squash variety that resembles the shape of an acorn.

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.

Try one of these acorn squash recipes - roasted acorn squash soup or roasted acorn squash.


Kabocha Squash

Kabocha squash cut in half.
A green-skinned kabocha squash that's been cut in half.

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

Delicata squash, olive oil, spices, and thyme on a marble background.
Two delicata squash with some seasonings.

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.

Try this roasted delicata squash as a side dish or this salad with roasted delicata squash and grapes.


Honeynut Squash

Four honeynut squash on a marble backdrop.
Four small honeynut squash.

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 on a marble background.
A red kuri squash with orange skin.

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

Three carnival squash on a marble backdrop.
Three carnival squash of various shapes and sizes.

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.


Squash FAQs

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.