Originating in the Americas, squashes are among the oldest known crops. Some estimate even claim they’ve been cultivated for over 10,000 years! There are many different varieties of squash that feature different colours, shapes and sizes. There are the tender summer squash varieties (including, among others, courgettes) whose skins are soft and usually edible. Winter squash varieties usually feature tougher skins. Though technically all squash types are edible, the tough texture of some winter squash skins means they’re not really edible in practice.

Although related, different squashes have different flavours and are prepared differently. If you’re wondering what to make with a particular squash or whether or not you need to peel it, look no further! Our handy squash guide below will introduce you to the usual suspects and the best way to prepare and consume them. In all cases, remember to remove the seeds. For inspiration on what to make with different summer or winter squash, check out our growing list of squash recipes.


Summer squash varieties


Patty pan squash

patty pan squash








Edible skin: yes

Also known as sunburst squash, this small, round squash looks a bit like a flying saucer and can be yellow, green or white. It’s similar in flavour to a courgette and can be used as an alternative in courgette recipes: boiled, roasted, steamed or fried. There is no need to peel this squash. Patty pans can also be stuffed and roasted whole or try them in this squash summer tart for a cheerful main.


Crookneck squash

crookneck squash








Edible skin: yes

So named because of its tapered, curved neck, this variety is usually picked when immature and can be eaten raw or steamed, boiled, roasted, etc.


Winter squash varieties


Butternut squash

butternut squash









Edible skin: yes, if roasted

A familiar favourite, this versatile squash will keep for up to a couple of months. It can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes and is a good alternative to pumpkin in soups,pies, curries and even cake. It’s easy to peel, though if you roast it the skin becomes soft enough to eat. Try this festive butternut squash wellington recipe for a special occasion!


Acorn squash

acorn squash








Edible skin: yes, when roasted.

This tough-skinned squash is sweet and mild inside. It’s good for stuffing, or you can quarter it and roast it in the oven. It’s extremely difficult to peel, so don’t bother!


Gem squash

gem squash









Edible skin: yes. It becomes tender after cooking.

This small squash can be boiled, baked, roasted or stuffed. It has a smooth, creamy texture and a sweet, nutty taste.


Carnival squash

carnival squash









Edible skin: no

Also known as celebration squash or festival squash, this mellow-tasting squash is a cross between delicata and acorn squash. Great roasted and looks particularly impressive stuffed because of its stripy skin.


Kabocha / Green hokkaido squash








Edible skin: yes

Also known as Japanese pumpkin, these can be either green or orange, with orange flesh. Can be steamed, mashed, baked, stir fried and even deep fried, as these Japanese squashes are used for dishes such as vegetable tempura.


Uchiki kuri / red kuri / red onion squash

red kuri squash









Edible skin: yes

This small squash has a mellow flavour with a hint of chestnut. It’s great roasted, mashed, or turned into soup like this spicy Mexican soup. It even works well in cakes or bread or in salad.


Harlequin squash

harlequin squash











Edible skin: yes

A festive-looking type of acorn squash. It’s great roasted baked or stuffed, but can also be used for stews, soups, curries and mash. Keep in mind that these small squashes don’t have that much flesh in them, though. Try it in this roast squash and kale salad recipe.


Spaghetti Squash

spaghetti squash








Edible skin: no

Mild tasting with distinctive stringy flesh. The skin is hard but can be softened by scoring the squash in a few places and microwaving for 3-4 minutes. After that it’s easier to cut. Best baked in the oven  (olive oil and salt are great for bringing out the flavour) and can also be easily cooked in a microwave. Once cooked you can scrape the flesh with a fork to give it its famous “spaghetti” texture.


Turban / Turk’s turban squash

turban squash











Edible skin: no

This strikingly beautiful member of the squash family is notoriously hard to peel so is best roasted, as you can then scrape off the flesh to use in recipes. Its flavour and texture are similar to pumpkin or butternut squash. Because of its unique appearance, it’s a great candidate for stuffing and makes an impressive centrepiece.


Crown prince

crown prince squash










Edible skin: yes, but tough.

With its bright orange interior and greyish-white skin, this distinctive large squash can keep for up to three months and is usually sold or delivered in pieces. It’s great in stews, soups, chilli or risotto or can be easily oven roasted as a side dish. It also works beautifully in this falafel dish. While the skin is edible, it’s normally removed. You can leave it on while roasting this squash and eat it.


Sugar pumpkin

sugar pumpkin








Edible skin: yes, when roasted.


Smaller, sweeter and less fibrous than your usual pumpkin, these can be carved like larger pumpkins and used for the same things (pies, soups, curries, etc.).


Delicata squash

delicata squash









Edible skin: yes

A versatile squash with a creamy texture and a nutty flavour. Doesn’t keep for very long. Great for roasting (halved or sliced) and stuffing.


Baked potato squash

baked potato squash










Edible skin: yes

Along with the similar “mashed potato squash” this winter squash looks and tastes a lot like a potato and makes a good low carb, high fibre alternative to the latter. It can be baked, roasted and mashed.


Image credits:

Patty pan by Tim Sackton CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Crookneck squash by F Delventhal  CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Butternut squash by Jeffery Martin, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Acorn squash by Christopher Sessums CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Carnival squash by Dyogi CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Crown prince squash by Fireside fortune
Delicata squash by , CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons