Versatile, good for you, and delicious, these winter squash recipes will wow your family and friends! From basic how-to recipes to surprising entrées, you’ll be enjoying winter squash often.
Winter squash can be cooked so many ways. Once you master the basic cooking methods which I have described below, you will be able to roast, bake, mash, stuff, freeze, and purée to your heart’s content, turning this versatile squash into mouth-watering treats.
Common Varieties of winter squash
Usually harvested in the fall, winter squash usually have orange flesh, with the exception of spaghetti squash.
Some varieties you may be familiar with are: acorn, buttercup, butternut, delicata, Hubbard, kabocha, pumpkin, spaghetti, sweet dumpling, and turban. There are others available, but these are the most common.
What is the difference between winter squash and summer squash?
- Summer squash are usually harvested in the summer! They include varieties such as zucchini, yellow squash, or crooknecks. Summer squash will have a soft, edible skin, and the seeds are small and soft. They are best stored in the refrigerator for a week or less. You’ll find that summer squash are very easy to slice, unlike their winter cousins, and are usually sautéed, broiled, or grilled.
- Winter squash are harvested in the fall or autumn but are called “winter squash” because they’ll keep for 3 to 6 months (most of the winter!) in a cool, dry place (not refrigerated). They have a hard, usually inedible skin. See the section below to learn how to cut winter squash.
Most winter squash recipes call for longer cooking methods, like braising, roasting, baking, or steaming. Keep reading for mouth-watering winter squash recipes.
How to Cook Squash
Squash can be baked, mashed, roasted, stuffed, made into casseroles, soups, breads, and served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Tips for Preparing a Winter Squash
- Wash the squash well to remove any gritty dirt. We use a vegetable brush for this task.
- Place it on a large cutting board that isn’t going to slip around on you. A steady surface is essential.
- You’ll need a sturdy, sharp knife. Make sure your knife is long enough to go through the squash. No flexible or serrated knives here!
- Cut the tough woody stem end off. It also helps to cut a slice off the bottom of the squash, in order to stabilize it on your cutting board.
- Cut the squash vertically, from top to bottom. If the squash is very large or extremely hard, put the whole squash into the oven for 10 minutes at 375º to soften it, or heat it in the microwave for 5 minutes or so. Use oven mitts to handle it and let it cool a bit before cutting it.
- Once the squash has been halved, scoop out the seeds. We love using a grapefruit spoon for this task.
Basic How-To Recipes
- Acorn Squash: Cut this popular squash in half and bake it two different ways, sweet or savory.
- Butternut Squash: Learn more than four ways to cook butternut squash: roasted in halves, roasted in cubes, cooked in a slow cooker, and cooked in an Instant Pot (three different ways). There are also step-by-step photos to teach you how to peel and cut this type of squash.
- Delicata Squash: This is one squash that you won’t have to peel. The outside rind becomes soft and delectable when cut into slices and roasted. Dumpling squash is shaped differently, round and plump, but the cooking process is similar.
- Spaghetti Squash: Learn five easy ways to cook this versatile squash, video included. Anyone can do this!
- Kabocha Squash: I’ll show you three ways to cook delicious kabocha squash.
How to Freeze winter squash
Winter squash can be frozen for up to a year. These two methods will work with larger, orange flesh squash, like butternut or pumpkin. I wouldn’t recommend it for the smaller squashes, like acorn or delicata, or spaghetti squash. Here’s how to do it:
- Raw: Cut peeled, raw squash into one inch cubes, put on a cookie sheet in your freezer until the cubes are frozen, and then place into freezer-safe containers or resealable bags and pop them into the freezer. You can toss the frozen cubes into soups or stews, or roast them, unthawed, on a baking sheet with a little olive oil and salt.
- Cooked (preferred): Cook the squash and purée or mash it. Put it into ice cube trays or muffin tins and freeze it until it’s solid. Place it into a freezer safe container or bag. Use cooked squash to make soups or thaw, heat, and eat it as is.