15 Common Types of Squash—and What to Do With Them
There's a lot of squash out there, so we broke down 15 common varieties.
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.
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
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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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.