23 Types of Squash

32

This post may contain affiliate links | disclosure policy

There’s more to this veggie family than yellow squash and green zucchini. Though they’re pillars of the produce aisle, there are several types of squash to know and love.

Different types of squash on a table.

First, to settle the debate: Is squash a fruit or a vegetable? Because we tend to cook squash, many assume it’s a vegetable. However, squash is a fruit because it contains seeds, which flower.

Now for another conundrum. Gourds, pumpkins, and squash are often lumped into the same category, and that’s because they come from the same plant family: Cucurbitaceae. However, while pumpkins may be a type of squash, gourds are not. 

Squash is grown mostly in late spring and early summer, and depending on the variety, it takes between 50 and 100 days to mature. While there are summer squash and winter squash, both are warm-weather plants, and many types are available year-round.

So, what are some fun ways to cook with squash? It makes a delicious sauteed side. You can roast it, grill it, and even puree it into soup. Of course, you can also spiralize summer squash into zoodles, a popular health hack. Let’s explore the main types of squash.

Types of Winter Squash

Acorn Squash

Acorn squash

One of the first, if not the first, types of squash in America, acorn squash grows to be between 1 and 3 pounds. As the name indicates, it’s shaped like acorns. Its skin is a combination of yellow and deep green. A good balance of both colors means it’s fresh; too much yellow, and it may be overripened. Here’s how to cook acorn squash.

Banana Squash

Banana squash

Banana squashes are cylinder-shaped and light pinkish-orange in hue. They are available year-round but are considered in season during the fall and winter. They can grow up to 3 feet long. The thick skin is discarded before eating or cooking; only the flesh is edible.

Buttercup Squash

Buttercup squash

Yes, buttercup, not butternut (we’ll get to that next). Also named after their shape, resembling a peanut butter cup, buttercup squash has orange flesh and green skin. Their flesh is sweet, and it’s excellent to puree for making soup. It’s also often sliced and roasted for a delicious side dish.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash

As one of the more popular winter squash varieties, butternut squash is available year-round, with a peak season in the winter and fall. Its skin is light beige and slightly orange, while the flesh is deep orange. Here’s how to cook butternut squash.

Carnival Squash

Carnival squash

Their green and orange specks define carnival squash, which you might say looks like a party. Their unique and fun appearance is why they’re often used as centerpieces, but they are also delicious to eat, with a sweet and buttery flavor.

Delicata Squash

Delicata squash

This is another cylinder-shaped squash, but it’s a little more unique, with thin green stripes through its ridges. You don’t need to peel the skin before cooking, so it’s one of the more low-maintenance types of squash. Slice it up and make roasted delicata squash, and the sweet flavors come out to play.

Kabocha

Kabocha squash

Also known as a Japanese pumpkin, the kabocha squash is a smaller variety with green skin. Its flavor is similar to butternut squash and acorn squash, with buttery tones that stand out. It is often sliced in vegetable tempura, and the skin can be eaten. I enjoy making roasted kabocha squash.

Hubbard

Hubbard squash

The tough skin of a Hubbard squash makes it challenging to cook with, but once you crack into it, you’re rewarded with its sweet flavor that’s perfect for soup. The flesh’s texture makes it a good candidate for pureeing or mashing. On the larger side, they can grow up to 15 pounds.

Honeynut Squash

Honeynut squash

Honeynut squash looks like mini butternut squash, and that’s exactly what it is. It evolved from the seeds of butternut squash and has only recently become popular in the kitchen. Because it’s more concentrated in its smaller size, roasted honeynut squash has a richer and sweeter flavor.

Pumpkin

pumpkin

Not all pumpkins are edible pumpkins. Some are simply decorations or carving pumpkins, like Jack O’Lanterns or Baby Boos. Popular edible types include Sugar Pie (great for pumpkin pie!) and Cinderella pumpkins (great in savory dishes!). You may also see New England Cheddar pumpkins and Long Island Cheese pumpkins during the fall season.

Red Kuri

Red kuri

Red Kuri is part of the same squash family as Hubbards. This squash is medium-sized, round, and has a deep red-orange hue. Its shape resembles an onion, and it tastes best in soups and casseroles. Like most squash varieties, you can roast it, grill it, or bake it to bring out the great flavor.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash

Named after its fleshy filling, which, once shredded, resembles spaghetti noodles and is often eaten like spaghetti, this squash is a popular choice for those looking to make simple, healthy swaps. It is oval and yellow, and you can find it in stores year-round (though its peak season is fall). Here’s how to cook spaghetti squash three ways.

Sweet Dumpling Squash

Sweet dumpling squash

A small whitish-yellow squash with green coloring, sweet dumpling squash resembles a small pumpkin and usually weighs less than a pound. It’s sweet, as the name implies, with a mild flavor.

Turban Squash

Turban squash

Part of the same family as kabocha, buttercup, and Hubbard squash, Turban squash can grow up to six pounds. They have a unique appearance, looking like a pumpkin with another small pumpkin growing out of its head. The top is colorful with green and white stripes. Its flavor is milder than other squash.

Types of Summer Squash

Cousa

Cousa squash

Cousa squash looks like a stouter, shorter zucchini. The color is lighter, and it has a mildly sweet flavor. Compared to winter squash varieties, Cousa squash (and most summer squashes) have a thin skin that’s easy to peel and cut through.

Chayote (mirliton)

Chayote (mirliton) squash

Chayote squash is green with ridges and a bumpy texture, but that doesn’t really do it justice. In the produce aisle, you could easily mistake it for a pepper, but it’s also casually referred to as a vegetable pear. Its appearance is unique, to say the least.

Crookneck Squash

Crookneck squash

It’s easy to spot this type of squash because it tapers and curves at one end. Typically it’s canary in color and has a similar mild flavor to yellow summer squash. Some varieties have a bumpy surface, while others are smooth. It’s great to slice or chop for soups, sautéed vegetables, or stir-fries.

Patty Pan Squash

Patty pan squash

It’s not an exaggeration to say that patty pan squash looks like mini spaceships. They’re flat and oval with small spikes around the edge. You may find green or yellow patty pan squash, and you can cook them just like any other squash. When eaten fresh, you may notice more of a bite or crunch to the texture.

Round Zucchini

Round zucchini

Round zucchini is also referred to as eight ball zucchini, and they are very similar to classic zucchinis. The flavors match up, but round zucchinis are more ideal for recipes that involve stuffing them with cheese, more veggies, or other delicious ingredients.

Squash Blossoms

Squash blossoms

Not precisely a type of squash or even a type of vegetable, squash blossoms are the flowers that bloom on the squash plant. They are usually orange or yellow but are most popular eaten breaded and fried.

Yellow Squash

Yellow squash

The good ole’ reliable yellow squash you see in stores comes in two forms: crookneck and straight neck. Crookneck is defined by its curved neck with a wider base. Straight necks still have a wider base than the neck, but the curve is less pronounced.

Zephyr

Zephyr squash

The zephyr squash is a three-way cross between yellow crookneck squash, delicata squash, and yellow acorn squash. It’s cylinder-shaped and yellow, but it can have some green at the base. It has a sweet and nutty flavor.

Zucchini

Zucchini

Even though zucchinis are available all year long and are a staple in the produce aisle from January to December, they taste best and freshest when they peak in the summer. They are great raw in salads or sauteed in a skillet. I prefer either roasted zucchini or grilled zucchini with salt and pepper.

Selecting and Storing

When selecting a squash, the heavier, the better. Avoid squash with soft spots or bruises, which are clear signs the squash is past its prime. Whether it’s winter or summer squash, they should be firm without any shriveling. 

Winter squash varieties can last for up to several months if they are appropriately stored in a cool and dry area that’s well-ventilated. But once peeled or cut, it may only last up to five days. Summer squash should be refrigerated and eaten within a week, whether it’s whole and unpeeled or peeled and cut. 

Ways to Cook Squash

There are so many ways to cook with squash. It can be sauteed, roasted, baked into muffins and desserts, and added to savory casseroles and soups. They can add a crunchy texture when you need it or be pureed to provide a smooth and creamy consistency. Keep in mind that you can eat summer squash varieties raw, but winter squash should be cooked.

Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

Quick & Easy Meals in Under 30 Minutes!
Get 25 simple meals your whole family will love.
Jessica Gavin standing in the kitchen

You May Also Like

Reader Interactions

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

32 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Jill Zinner says

    We went to Catalina Island last week during the week. Most of our favorite restaurants were closed. We did discover one place where we thought it was a “grill” type so expected meat on the menu. However I had what I am pretty sure was a whole Delicata squash. Roasted and just so good…it was stuffed with spinach and and a seed maybe sunflower seeds and mushrooms and beets and some onion (of course) and butter and some kind of yummy sauce and well WOW! The skin was edible but the texture on the inside was kind of like spagetti squash but NOT…Thank you for this article/post on squashes…I think the Delicata was what I ate…such a surprise. Someone saw my plate and told the waitress “I’ll have what she has” just like in the movie!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow, that squash dish sounds amazing! It’s easy to make delicata squash and it’s in season right now.

      • Keith Wheatcroft says

        Thank you for your post about squash varieties. I found 3 types in a field today that was cutting for harvest . In a yellow bean field for seed for next years crops .
        I picked them all up that I saw last night.
        So this shouldn’t happen again in a different field for human consumption.
        Going to cook them up one at a time and see how they are on the dinner plate

See More Comments