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15 Types of Squash and the Best Ways to Use Them

Squash 101

There’s a lot to love about squash. It’s delicious, nutritious, and wonderfully versatile. Squash dinner ideas use pretty much all methods of cooking—you can serve it sauteed, baked, roasted, grilled, and boiled, just to name a few. Oh, and get this: Although squash is eaten as a vegetable, it’s actually a fruit! In fact, squash is technically a berry, which is defined as a fleshy fruit with many seeds. Who knew?

Botanical definition aside, squash is enjoyed as you would other veggies: layered in sandwiches, tossed with pasta, or blended into savory soups. In other words, it’s not difficult to find a meal that would benefit from squash! There are also two main categories to choose from: summer and winter squash, which are classified based on the season they peak in.

Ready to explore the scrumptious world of squash? You’ll have variety—and vitamins.

Health Benefits of Squash

Each type of squash offers its own unique set of standout nutrients and benefits. But overall, summer squash varieties contain an impressive blend of essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, and vitamins C, A, and B6. Vitamins C and A are also antioxidants, meaning they protect your cells from oxidative stress (read: damage).

As for winter squash? These varieties hold a similar nutritional profile, along with ample amounts of beta-carotene. This is a yellow-orange plant pigment that’s responsible for the bright hue of winter squash’s flesh. Also, in the human body, beta-carotene turns into vitamin A, a nutrient that’s vital for healthy vision. Needless to say, the benefits of eating squash are deliciously impressive!

15 Types of Squash and Their Uses

One more botanical note: Squashes and gourds are part of the same family, and their primary distinction comes from whether they’re known for being edible (squash) or decorative (gourd). Pumpkin straddles both categories, so we’ve included it here. Whatever their lineage, the 15 squashes below are known for being delicious.

1. Zucchini

Known for its deep green hue and cylindrical shape, zucchini is the ultimate summer veg. It can be enjoyed raw or cooked, depending on your mood. For example, if you’re craving a crunch, eat zucchini raw in salads or as noodles, aka “zoodles.” Alternatively, to bring out its sweetness, you can cook the squash until al dente. We’re particularly big fans of stuffing zucchini with tasty ingredients like grains, meat, or cheese—or all of the above, as with these Chicken Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini Boats.

2. Yellow Squash

Yellow squash looks like zucchini, but with a pale-yellow color. It’s sometimes simply called “summer squash,” as it peaks during the warmer months. Yellow squash can be found in two varieties: straightneck, which has a wide bottom and tapered neck, and crookneck, which has a curved banana-like shape. The flavor of yellow squash is on par with zucchini; it’s mild, slightly sweet, and irresistibly delicious, making it an intriguing choice for one of our favorite dinner recipes, Yellow Squash Flatbreads. Use ’em just like you would green zucchini or serve them together for a colorful summer meal.

3. Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is shaped like—you guessed it—an acorn. It has deep ridges and a dark green rind that hides a bright orange flesh. Compared with other winter squashes, the acorn variety has a drier and denser texture, though it’s just as tasty. It’s also on the smaller side, so it can be halved and stuffed to create two perfectly portioned edible “bowls,” as with this Southwestern-Stuffed Acorn Squash.

1. Zucchini

Known for its deep green hue and cylindrical shape, zucchini is the ultimate summer veg. It can be enjoyed raw or cooked, depending on your mood. For example, if you’re craving a crunch, eat zucchini raw in salads or as noodles, aka “zoodles.” Alternatively, to bring out its sweetness, you can cook the squash until al dente. We’re particularly big fans of stuffing zucchini with tasty ingredients like grains, meat, or cheese—or all of the above, as with these Chicken Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini Boats.

2. Yellow Squash

Yellow squash looks like zucchini, but with a pale-yellow color. It’s sometimes simply called “summer squash,” as it peaks during the warmer months. Yellow squash can be found in two varieties: straightneck, which has a wide bottom and tapered neck, and crookneck, which has a curved banana-like shape. The flavor of yellow squash is on par with zucchini; it’s mild, slightly sweet, and irresistibly delicious, making it an intriguing choice for one of our favorite dinner recipes, Yellow Squash Flatbreads. Use ’em just like you would green zucchini or serve them together for a colorful summer meal.

3. Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is shaped like—you guessed it—an acorn. It has deep ridges and a dark green rind that hides a bright orange flesh. Compared with other winter squashes, the acorn variety has a drier and denser texture, though it’s just as tasty. It’s also on the smaller side, so it can be halved and stuffed to create two perfectly portioned edible “bowls,” as with this Southwestern-Stuffed Acorn Squash.

4. Round Zucchini

As the name suggests, round zucchini are circular varieties of green zucchini. They’re also known as tatume squash and are staples in Mexican cuisine. About the size of a baseball, a round zucchini looks like a shrunken green pumpkin. Their round, small shape makes them perfect for slicing, grilling, and serving as patties—great for a true veggie burger.

5. Butternut Squash

If you love sweet potatoes, you’ll adore butternut squash. Its flavor is comparable to sweet potatoes,but with a more butterscotch-type taste. The bell-shaped winter squash also has a bright orange flesh that caramelizes beautifully when roasted or baked. From there, you can mash it up and enjoy as is—or, if you’re feeling creative, in a quesadilla with smoked gouda and sliced apples, or in a taco with crispy cauliflower.

6. Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash might be one of the most interesting veggies. It has a mild-tasting flesh that, once cooked, separates into stringy spaghetti-like strands. Unsurprisingly, the squash is also known as vegetable spaghetti, and is often enjoyed like noodles. Try tossing cooked spaghetti squash with your go-to pasta sauce, like marinara or pesto, or whip up our simple Creamy Spaghetti Squash Noodles With Mushrooms, Zucchini, and Oregano.

4. Round Zucchini

As the name suggests, round zucchini are circular varieties of green zucchini. They’re also known as tatume squash and are staples in Mexican cuisine. About the size of a baseball, a round zucchini looks like a shrunken green pumpkin. Their round, small shape makes them perfect for slicing, grilling, and serving as patties—great for a true veggie burger.

5. Butternut Squash

If you love sweet potatoes, you’ll adore butternut squash. Its flavor is comparable to sweet potatoes,but with a more butterscotch-type taste. The bell-shaped winter squash also has a bright orange flesh that caramelizes beautifully when roasted or baked. From there, you can mash it up and enjoy as is—or, if you’re feeling creative, in a quesadilla with smoked gouda and sliced apples, or in a taco with crispy cauliflower.

6. Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash might be one of the most interesting veggies. It has a mild-tasting flesh that, once cooked, separates into stringy spaghetti-like strands. Unsurprisingly, the squash is also known as vegetable spaghetti, and is often enjoyed like noodles. Try tossing cooked spaghetti squash with your go-to pasta sauce, like marinara or pesto, or whip up our simple Creamy Spaghetti Squash Noodles With Mushrooms, Zucchini, and Oregano.

7. Pumpkin

Pumpkins have become synonymous with fall, and for good reason too. During the cooler months, you can find the winter squash in myriad recipes, from pumpkin spice latte to warm pumpkin pie. But why limit yourself to the sweet stuff? Pumpkins also work well in savory applications, like pasta sauce or soup, such as this Pumpkin and Cauliflower Soup with Coconut Milk, Coriander, and Cilantro. For ultimate fall vibes, try pairing it with hardy fall herbs like sage, rosemary, and oregano.

8. Pattypan Squash

It’s hard to not love the pattypan squash. For starters, it has a fun name—and it looks like a flying saucer. (Well, if flying saucers had scalloped edges, anyway.) Compared with other types of squash, the pattypan has a tougher flesh, so it’s ideal for high-heat cooking. The funky-shaped veggie also boasts a delightfully mild, buttery flavor that works well with crowd favorites such as pasta and cheese.

9. Chayote Squash

Chayote—which is also known as vegetable pear, mango squash, and mirliton—is a summer squash native to Guatemala. This squash can be cooked or otherwise prepared in numerous ways: Enjoy chayote raw in salads, blended into soups, pickled in brine, or even baked like apple pie.Or if you need a break from zoodles, the light green squash can be spiralized into veggie-based noodles. (So…choodles?)

7. Pumpkin

Pumpkins have become synonymous with fall, and for good reason too. During the cooler months, you can find the winter squash in myriad recipes, from pumpkin spice latte to warm pumpkin pie. But why limit yourself to the sweet stuff? Pumpkins also work well in savory applications, like pasta sauce or soup, such as this Pumpkin and Cauliflower Soup with Coconut Milk, Coriander, and Cilantro. For ultimate fall vibes, try pairing it with hardy fall herbs like sage, rosemary, and oregano.

8. Pattypan Squash

It’s hard to not love the pattypan squash. For starters, it has a fun name—and it looks like a flying saucer. (Well, if flying saucers had scalloped edges, anyway.) Compared with other types of squash, the pattypan has a tougher flesh, so it’s ideal for high-heat cooking. The funky-shaped veggie also boasts a delightfully mild, buttery flavor that works well with crowd favorites such as pasta and cheese.

9. Chayote Squash

Chayote—which is also known as vegetable pear, mango squash, and mirliton—is a summer squash native to Guatemala. This squash can be cooked or otherwise prepared in numerous ways: Enjoy chayote raw in salads, blended into soups, pickled in brine, or even baked like apple pie.Or if you need a break from zoodles, the light green squash can be spiralized into veggie-based noodles. (So…choodles?)

10. Kabocha Squash

If you love Japanese food, you’ve likely had your fair share of kabocha squash. It’s a Japanese variety of winter squash and tastes similar to roasted chestnuts. In fact, in Japan, it’s also known as “chestnut squash.” The veggie grows in myriad colors—including gray-blue, dark green, and red-orange—and looks like mini pumpkins.

11. Hubbard Squash

As one of the larger winter squashes, the hubbard weighs about 15 to 20 pounds. It’s found in many colors, including light blue-green, dark green, yellow, and orange. The flesh tastes similar to other winter squashes (think: butternut or acorn squash), though it’s known to be a bit grainy. To minimize this, enjoy hubbard squashes in the form of blended soups.

12. Delicata Squash

Though not as popular as butternut and acorn squash, delicata deserves a place on your autumn menu. The winter squash, which is shaped like a cucumber, has an attractive yellow and green skin that works brilliantly with the color palette of fall. It also tastes super sweet and somewhat nutty, so it can easily shine on its own in dishes—as evidenced with this dinner recipe for Roasted Delicata Squash with Wheatberries, Pickled Red Onion, and Fresh Ricotta

10. Kabocha Squash

If you love Japanese food, you’ve likely had your fair share of kabocha squash. It’s a Japanese variety of winter squash and tastes similar to roasted chestnuts. In fact, in Japan, it’s also known as “chestnut squash.” The veggie grows in myriad colors—including gray-blue, dark green, and red-orange—and looks like mini pumpkins.

11. Hubbard Squash

As one of the larger winter squashes, the hubbard weighs about 15 to 20 pounds. It’s found in many colors, including light blue-green, dark green, yellow, and orange. The flesh tastes similar to other winter squashes (think: butternut or acorn squash), though it’s known to be a bit grainy. To minimize this, enjoy hubbard squashes in the form of blended soups.

12. Delicata Squash

Though not as popular as butternut and acorn squash, delicata deserves a place on your autumn menu. The winter squash, which is shaped like a cucumber, has an attractive yellow and green skin that works brilliantly with the color palette of fall. It also tastes super sweet and somewhat nutty, so it can easily shine on its own in dishes—as evidenced with this dinner recipe for Roasted Delicata Squash with Wheatberries, Pickled Red Onion, and Fresh Ricotta

13. Honeynut Squash

At about 6 inches tall, the honeynut squash looks like a mini version of the butternut. But don’t be so quick to compare them; thanks to its smaller size and lower water weight, the honeynut is more concentrated in flavor. It’s said to be so sweet that it resembles caramel (yum!), which works well in autumn recipes such as warm salads and creamy squash soups.

14. Carnival Squash

Here’s another squash with a fun name: The carnival squash is a cross between the acorn and sweet dumpling squash, a type of delicata. It’s also super eye-catching, thanks to its vibrant yellow-orange rind and dark green spots. That said, you might be tempted to keep carnival squash as a fall centerpiece, but trust us—you’ll want to add it to your recipes. When cooked, the yellow flesh tastes like sweet potatoes and works magnificently with ingredients such as cinnamon or paprika.

15. Zephyr Squash

The colorful zephyr is a hybrid of three different squashes: the yellow crookneck (mentioned above), yellow acorn squash, and delicata. The result is a long, light-yellow squash that looks like its base has been dipped in green dye. This particular two-toned veggie, which peaks in the summer months, can be prepared just like zucchini and yellow squash.

13. Honeynut Squash

At about 6 inches tall, the honeynut squash looks like a mini version of the butternut. But don’t be so quick to compare them; thanks to its smaller size and lower water weight, the honeynut is more concentrated in flavor. It’s said to be so sweet that it resembles caramel (yum!), which works well in autumn recipes such as warm salads and creamy squash soups.

14. Carnival Squash

Here’s another squash with a fun name: The carnival squash is a cross between the acorn and sweet dumpling squash, a type of delicata. It’s also super eye-catching, thanks to its vibrant yellow-orange rind and dark green spots. That said, you might be tempted to keep carnival squash as a fall centerpiece, but trust us—you’ll want to add it to your recipes. When cooked, the yellow flesh tastes like sweet potatoes and works magnificently with ingredients such as cinnamon or paprika.

15. Zephyr Squash

The colorful zephyr is a hybrid of three different squashes: the yellow crookneck (mentioned above), yellow acorn squash, and delicata. The result is a long, light-yellow squash that looks like its base has been dipped in green dye. This particular two-toned veggie, which peaks in the summer months, can be prepared just like zucchini and yellow squash.

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