Types of winter squash- did you know there are more 100 different types of winter squash? This staple food is full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and can be used in many different recipes. Read about my top 10 favorite winter squash varieties and find a few new ones to grow- and eat!
Winter squash is a staple in our garden and in our pantry. They take longer to grow than summer squash- at least 3 months or more- and are harvested in the fall when the fruits (yes, fruits) are fully mature.
Winter squash are longer lasting in storage and can keep well through the winter. They are also more versatile in recipes. Most winter squash varieties are vining- meaning they take up more room in your garden, unless you grow them vertically.
But this calorie crop is one you should not be skipped!
Winter squash can be used for so many different recipes, but not all winter squash varieties are the same. They come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and nutritional content. Here are 10 of my favorite types of winter squash to grow in my garden and prepare in my kitchen.
RELATED READING: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Squash in Your Garden
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Spaghetti squash is one of the most popular types of winter squash.
This winter squash variety is SUPER easy to grow and very hardy. In my garden, spaghetti squash is always the last one standing after the squash bugs have come through!
Spaghetti squash gets its name from the long fibers in it’s flesh which resemble spaghetti noodles. This type of winter squash is great to use in place of wheat or grain based noodles in pasta dishes and casseroles.
Simply roast and then cut in half horizontally to preserve the length of the fibers.
Butternut squash is a staple winter squash in most gardens.
It is a tried and true variety that you just can’t go wrong with. It is pale skinned with orange flesh that has a slightly nutty flavor.
You can use butternut squash is a lot of savory dishes, but it is also great for use in things like pumpkin pie.
Pink Banana Squash
We first grew jumbo pink banana squashes a few years ago because my kids are obsessed with growing giant food.
These squashes can get about 40lbs! They are shaped, as their name suggests, like a giant pink banana!
The flesh is sweet and drier than other winter squash varieties. It is another orange-fleshed squash that can be used in soups, breads, desserts- just about anything!
Compared to the other winter squashes I have named so far, the delicata squash is small. Each fruit in only about 1-3 lbs in weight!
This squash has a whitish-yellow skin with green stripes.
These tiny squashes have a sweet, mild flavor. Delicata squash are great for roasting, stuffing, and making into soup.
The skin is tender, and you can slice, spice, and roast with the skin on for some delicious squash fries!
Acorn squash are a smaller squash named for their acorn shaped fruit. They are most often green skinned but also have varieties that are white or yellow skinned.
One thing I like about growing acorn squash is that there are many varieties that are bush as opposed to vining. Meaning they take up less room in the garden- a great plus if you are short of space!
Check out these Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipes for ideas on how to use this type of winter squash.
I feel like I should have listed this type of winter squash first. If I could only grown ONE variety in my garden, the candy roaster would be it.
This winter squash, similarly shaped to the pink banana squash, though the most common variety is slightly smaller. But what you can’t beat is the taste.
My kids adore sweet potatoes but never really liked to eat squash. Enter the candy roaster. The orange flesh is dry which gives a nice texture and it is sweet. Sweet enough that my kids will eat pureed squash for breakfast- with no sugar added!
It freezes well, bakes well, eats well. I use it in place of growing and using sugar pumpkins. It is a great squash to try if you are looking something other than butternut or pumpkins to grow!
Related Reading: Best Squash Companion Plants for a Better Harvest
The kabocha squash is a popular green-skinned Japanese squash that’s shaped like a buttercup squash, but without the “cup” on the bottom.
It has a wonderful yellow-orange flesh that is sweet, sort of fluffy textured, and nutty tasting. It is one of the most popular squash for fresh eating.
If you are looking for some fabulous recipes for using your Kabocha squash, check out this roundup some some amazing kabocha squash recipes!
Red Warty Thing
I admit it, the first time I bought Red Warty Thing seeds, it was totally because of the name!
But I loved the squash after growing it for one season. This winter squash looks exactly like it’s name. It’s a large, oblong shaped squash with reddish-orange skin that is covered with tiny warty bumps!
The squash has orange flesh like many other types of winter of squash and can be used in place of butternut, pumpkin or other similar squash in recipes.
Blue Hubbard Squash
The blue Hubbard squash is another fantastic option for both growing and eating. This squash can get big- up to about 40 lbs and has a light blue- almost greenish- tinted skin.
The flesh is a golden orange-yellow with a very smooth texture with a sweet and nutty flavor. You can use it in any squash recipe- soup, casseroles, sauteed, breads, etc.
One of the great things about this winter squash variety is it’s long shelf life. When cured properly it will store for up to 6 months in your pantry!
Upper Ground Sweet Potato Squash
And finally, #10. The upper ground sweet potato squash was new to our garden this past year, and I think it will be a new must-grow. This is a large winter squash that resembles a classic pumpkin in shape.
I found the flesh to be a bit on the watery side- not as great for just eating the puree with a spoon- but the flavor was good.
My favorite thing about the upper ground sweet potato squash is that it is very hardy. It will withstand hot, dry weather. And sometimes seems to do better when you just flat out ignore it in the garden!
So if you live in the south- that is a definite plus! I did cook the whole, huge thing in my oven- and made a huge mess- so be sure to have a big enough pan or cut it before roasting!
So there you have it! 10 winter squashes you just have to try!
What’s your favorite type of winter squash? And what if your favorite way to eat your squash?
Oh– and P.S. just in case you were wondering- a pumpkin is a squash. And you can use almost any orange fleshed winter squash in place of pumpkin in recipes. Including pumpkin pie or your very favorite pumpkin spice treat!
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