How to Cook with Winter Squash

Favorite recipes to help you make this the most satisfying squash season ever.



No other vegetable ushers in autumn better than squash. They’re so decorative I sometimes hesitate to cut into them and cook them, but they’re so delicious I eventually do. I love the way their naturally sweet flesh pairs with the flavors of the season: sage, thyme and maple, and especially those warming spices cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg.

Winter squash are so beautiful it’s hard to resist them. If you’re like me you’ll probably find yourself with several different types waiting to be used. The good news is you can store them right on your counter for a week or two, enjoying their festive looks while anticipating their culinary glories. And better yet, when it comes time to cut them up, all you need to do is watch this easy How to Cut Winter Squash video, then get out your heaviest, sharpest knife.

And now for some delicious inspiration! Here are some of favorite recipes to help you make this the most satisfying squash season ever.


This is the workhorse of the squash family, generously sized and fairly easy to cut, peel and seed, although you usually find it already prepped in the produce department if you’re looking for a shortcut. True to its name, this squash is buttery and nutty, and it goes brilliantly with both sweet and savory flavors.

Butternut is a standard for roasting: Its dense flesh caramelizes extremely well, taking on deep sweetness and nuttiness. Try this brilliant recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage and Cranberries, a show-stealing side dish. Butternut is also a go-to squash for soups, a seasonal staple. Their gorgeous color and mild, apricot-like flavor dresses up perfectly in this Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Cardamom. Or make Classic Butternut Squash Soup for a serious crowd pleaser.
It doesn’t get a lot of press this, but butternut is also a must-try ingredient for adding to baked goods and desserts. Use it in these festive Butternut Squash Rolls, or as a secretly healthful ingredient in this unique recipe for Chocolate Mousse.


This classic baking squash is honey-sweet, and small size (usually a pound or two) means it’s easy to halve or quarter. Acorns have deeply ridged shells, making them difficult to peel them while they’re raw; it’s best to peel them after cooking if your recipe requires it.

For a super-easy preparation that’s an ideal seasonal side, try luscious Golden Glazed Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Cinnamon; this recipe could also work with other small squash varieties like Carnival and Sweet Dumpling.

Acorns are a favorite for stuffing, becoming a dish in its own edible bowl. Roasted Acorn Squash with Squash Risotto is fabulous recipe for this, yielding a dish that’s impressive enough for a dinner party or holiday table.


The small, super-tasty Delicata sports attractive green and yellow stripes and creamy, dense flesh with hints of caramel. It’s one of the stars of this Vegan Harvest Vegetable Tart, a recipe that takes advantage of the squash’s uniquely tender shell–it’s one of the few varieties that can be enjoyed skin and all.

Vegan Harvest Vegetable Tart

Vegan Harvest Vegetable Tart

Spaghetti Squash

These yellow football-shaped squash are a bit of an anomaly in the winter squash family: Where as most varieties have smooth, silky flesh, the spaghetti squash is bred to be fibrous. The result is a squash that separates into long strands after cooking, making a famously low-calorie, gluten-free substitute for pasta.

Learn to Cook: Spaghetti Squash walks you through all the basics of preparing this fun vegetable. You can also make this squash the centerpiece of your whole meal with aromaticRoasted Spaghetti Squash with Almond Curry, a terrific vegan recipe.

Kabocha, Hubbard and Pumpkin

These big, colorful squashes can grow extremely large and are all delicious, but large specimens may have skin that’s so thick that cutting into them is difficult. And big pumpkins in particular are not very flavorful–save those monsters for decorating the porch. This recipe for creamy Kabocha and Spinach Soup is perfect for any of these varieties, including small baking pumpkins.

And don’t throw out the seeds! Save large seeds from any of these varieties (not just pumpkin seeds) for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, a crunchy, nutty snack or garnish.