Winter squash might seem intimidating, but don’t let it’s unusual shape or generally tough skin hold you back from experiencing this nutrient-dense superfood! This collection of Tried-and-True Winter Squash Recipes will help you get to know the most common varieties and show you how to cook them, including how to remove the seeds and skin when necessary.
Winter squash is one of the healthiest, most nutritious produce you can purchase during the winter season. The typically bright orange hue of its flesh just screams “I’m packed with vitamins and minerals – eat me!”. And eat it we will – in every form, at every meal, using every cooking method.
Winter squash is an ideal ingredient for a variety of dietary specifications and cuisines – you’ll find it featured in lifestyles as divergent as vegan and Whole30, and used in cultures around the world to create decadent soups, rich pasta sauces, hearty stews, sweet desserts and baked goods, and so much more.
Versatile, beautiful, nourishing, and healthy, winter squash in one form or another should be on your weekly menu all fall and winter. Learn the most common types available, how to store them, and most deliciously, how to cook them!
Types of Winter Squash
This is by no means a finite list of winter squash options, but in my experience they are the most common varieties you’ll find available at local grocery stores. Seek out specialty varieties (they’re worth the hunt) at your local farmer’s market, co-ops, and specialty stores like Whole Foods and Mom’s Organic Market.
- Butternut Squash: Perhaps the most popular winter squash, recipes for butternut squash are abundant. It can be roasted, pan-seared, spiralized, baked, or boiled into a mash. Butternut squash is sweet and nutty, and a terrific substitute for pumpkin in savory recipes.
- Acorn Squash: Acorn squash is small but mighty! These squash typically range from 1-2 pounds each and have a mild flavor suitable to a variety of cuisines. Acorn squash is usually halved or sliced then roasted, but it’s also delicious blended into soup.
- Spaghetti Squash: Aptly named for the long, thin strands of flesh that release after cooking, spaghetti squash’s profile has exploded in recent years as a healthy and low carb alternative to noodles. You’ll find spaghetti squash in a variety of sizes, and once roasted it has a mild, almost neutral flavor. Larger squash are perfect as a base for hearty toppings like meat sauce, while smaller squash are a fun option for stuffing as you might an acorn squash.
- Delicata Squash: Delicata squash is probably my favorite winter squash! If you find most winter squash difficult to work with, you’ll discover a hero in tender delicata squash. It’s a breeze to prep and and a joy to cook, with a sweet and nutty flavor that totally melts in your mouth. It’s best prepared roasted with the skin intact, which is both edible and tasty.
- Sugar Pumpkins: Yes, pumpkins are a winter squash! As it’s name implies, sugar pumpkins (or “pie pumpkins”) have firm, sweet flesh and are ideal for both sweet and savory recipes. Scratch-cooked pumpkin soup is outstanding, and as you might imagine they make the very best homemade pumpkin puree you’ll ever taste.
How to Store Winter Squash
Winter squash are ideal for long-time storage, but some varieties last longer than others. Squash with heartier skins, like butternut, spaghetti, and sugar pumpkins, will last longer than varietals with edible skin, such as delicata squash and acorn squash.
- Winter squash should be stored in a cool (not cold) dry place – AKA, not your fridge!
- Do not wash before storing, as moisture can cause them to rot faster.
- Select blemish-free squash with the roots intact for best storage life.
- When purchasing squash from a chain grocery store, I typically cook it within 2 weeks since I don’t know how old it already is.
- When sourcing squash from my farmer’s market or a local farmer directly, I like to store it in an uncovered plastic tub near our back door (which is a bit drafty and keeps the temperature fairy cool).
How to Cook Winter Squash – Our Favorite Tried-and-True Winter Squash Recipes for Every Occassion
You’ll find a dish for every occasion, skill level, and dietary persuasion in this collection of easy, healthy, and delicious winter squash recipes.
If you’re a squash novice, start with easy to prepare varieties like acorn or delicata, which don’t need to be peeled. For the seasoned home chefs, you might try your hand with roasting a sugar pumpkin from scratch. And for those who want to dive in fork-first with as little fuss as possible, seek pre-prepared butternut squash (it’s often diced or spiralized) in your local grocery store or market.