13 Unique Squash Varieties to Grow & Eat

Winter squash is a versatile and nutritious addition to your garden and kitchen. With their vibrant colors, unique shapes, and diverse flavors, these squashes can transform your meals and provide a reliable food source throughout the colder months.

Each variety offers something special, from the sweet, nutty butternut squash notes to the noodle-like spaghetti squash strands. Whether you’re a gardener looking to diversify your harvest or a cook eager to experiment with new ingredients, this guide will introduce you to some of the most popular and interesting winter squash varieties. Discover how to grow, store, and enjoy these exceptional vegetables all season.

Growing Winter Squash is a Smart Idea

Assorted types of winter squash.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Growing winter squash is a fantastic idea due to its impressive storage capabilities. Once harvested and properly cured, winter squash can last for several months in a cool, dry place. Some varieties can be stored for as long as two years. This means you can enjoy homegrown, nutritious vegetables well into the winter, reducing the need for store-bought produce and contributing to food self-sufficiency.

Nutritionally, winter squash is a powerhouse. It’s rich in vitamins A and C, essential for immune function and skin health. The orange flesh is packed with antioxidants, which help fight free radicals in the body, and it’s a good source of dietary fiber.. Including winter squash in your diet can contribute significantly to your overall well-being.

In the kitchen, winter squash shines with its versatility. It can be roasted, pureed into soups, stuffed, or used in baking. Its natural sweetness and hearty texture make it a favorite in various dishes, from savory mains to sweet desserts. Whether making a creamy butternut squash soup, pumpkin risotto, or a spiced pumpkin pie, winter squash adds a delicious element to your meals.

Winter squash plants are easy to grow. Once established, they require minimal care and can thrive in various soil types as long as they receive adequate sunlight and water. Their sprawling vines can also help suppress weeds, making garden maintenance easier. With its numerous benefits, growing winter squash is a rewarding endeavor for any gardener.

Let’s look at some of the most popular, delicious, and interesting winter squash varieties to grow.

Acorn Squash

Acorn squash.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Acorn squash is a small, distinctive variety named for its resemblance to an acorn, featuring deep ridges and dark green skin often accented with shades of orange. Its mildly sweet and nutty flavor and slightly fibrous texture make it a versatile ingredient in the kitchen.

Acorn squash is excellent for roasting, as the caramelization process enhances its natural sweetness. It’s also a popular choice for stuffing with a mix of grains, meats, and vegetables, providing a hearty and nutritious meal.

Pureeing acorn squash into soups adds a creamy consistency without the need for dairy, and its mild flavor adapts well to sweet and savory dishes. Properly stored in a cool, dry place, acorn squash can last up to two to three months, making it a reliable winter vegetable that adds flavor and nutrition to your meals.

Blue Hubbard Squash

Blue hubbard squash.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Blue Hubbard squash is a standout variety due to its large size and distinctive bumpy, blue-gray skin. Its dense, dry flesh has a mildly sweet flavor that deepens with cooking. This squash is particularly well-suited for roasting, where its sweetness is amplified, and the flesh becomes tender and flavorful.

Pureeing Blue Hubbard squash into soups creates a rich, velvety texture perfect for winter comfort food. Additionally, it can be used in baked goods such as muffins and pies, adding a unique twist to traditional recipes. Blue Hubbard squash’s tough, thick skin makes it highly durable, allowing it to be stored for up to six months if kept in a cool, dry environment.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash on a wooden table.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Butternut squash is renowned for its bell shape, smooth tan skin, and vibrant orange flesh. Its sweet, nutty flavor intensifies when roasted, making it a favorite in many kitchens.

Butternut squash is incredibly versatile and can be used in various dishes. Roasting it brings out its natural sweetness, while pureeing it creates a silky, smooth soup. It can also be mashed as a side dish, incorporated into casseroles, or even used in baking.

Butternut squash’s rich and creamy flesh makes it a suitable substitute for pumpkin in many recipes. It pairs beautifully with various spices and herbs, enhancing its flavor profile. When stored properly in a cool, dry place, butternut squash can last up to three to six months, ensuring a steady supply of this delicious and nutritious vegetable throughout the winter.

This extended storage life and culinary versatility make Blue Hubbard squash a valuable addition to any winter pantry.

Related: 14 Expert Strategies to Grow Your Best Butternut Squash Ever

Carnival Squash

Carnival squash in a basket.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Carnival squash is a festive variety known for its vibrant, multicolored skin adorned with green, yellow, and orange stripes. Its flesh is sweet and nutty, similar to butternut squash, but with a slightly drier texture.

This squash is perfect for roasting, as it develops a rich, caramelized flavor that pairs well with sweet and savory ingredients. Carnival squash can also be stuffed with a variety of fillings, making it a versatile main or side dish. Its bright and attractive appearance makes it popular for fall displays and holiday meals.

Despite its decorative appeal, carnival squash is also highly practical, as it can be stored for up to three months in a cool, dry place, providing both aesthetic and culinary value.

Delicata Squash

Delicata squash on a rustic farm table.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Delicata squash, or “sweet potato squash,” is easily recognizable by its creamy yellow skin with green stripes. Its rich, sweet flavor is reminiscent of corn and sweet potatoes, making it a favorite among squash varieties.

One of the unique features of delicata squash is its thin, edible skin, which simplifies preparation and cooking. Delicata squash is ideal for roasting, as its flesh caramelizes beautifully, creating a sweet and savory dish. It can also be stuffed, added to gratins, or sliced and used in salads.

This squash’s delicate texture and flavor make it an excellent addition to various meals. While delicata squash doesn’t store as long as some other varieties, it can last up to a month when kept in a cool, dry place, providing a delicious seasonal treat.

Kabocha Squash

Kabocha squash.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Kabocha squash, often called Japanese pumpkin, has a dark green, bumpy skin and dense, sweet, and nutty flesh. Its texture is similar to a sweet potato’s, making it a versatile ingredient for many dishes. Kabocha squash is excellent for roasting, where its sweetness intensifies and its flesh becomes tender.

It can also be steamed or pureed into soups and stews, adding a rich, creamy consistency. The sweet flavor of kabocha pairs well with both savory and sweet dishes, making it a popular choice for many cuisines. Kabocha squash can be stored for up to four to six months in a cool, dry place, ensuring a long-lasting supply of this delicious and nutritious vegetable throughout the winter.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin growing in the garden.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Pumpkins are perhaps the most recognizable of the winter squashes, with their bright orange skin and sweet, slightly earthy flesh. Make sure you choose a variety intended for culinary preparations versus decorative ones.

While often associated with pies and desserts, pumpkins are also great for a variety of savory dishes, including soups, stews, and roasted vegetable medleys.

Pumpkins are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, making them a nutritious addition to your diet. When stored properly in a cool, dry place, pumpkins can last for up to three to six months, making them a reliable and long-lasting pantry staple.

Related: 20 Savory Pumpkin Recipes

Red Kuri Squash

Red kuri squash.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Red Kuri squash is a teardrop-shaped variety with vibrant red-orange skin and a sweet, nutty flavor. Its smooth, creamy texture makes it ideal for various culinary uses, including soups, purees, and roasting. Red Kuri squash’s rich, chestnut-like flavor enhances sweet and savory dishes, making it a versatile addition to any kitchen.

It pairs well with various spices and herbs, creating flavorful and nutritious meals. When stored properly in a cool, dry place, Red Kuri squash lasts up to four months, providing a colorful and delicious option throughout the winter.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Spaghetti squash is unique among winter squashes for its flesh, which, when cooked, separates into strands resembling spaghetti. Its mild, slightly sweet flavor pairs well with various sauces, making it a popular low-carb alternative to traditional pasta.

Spaghetti squash can be baked, microwaved, or steamed and then scraped with a fork to create the noodle-like strands. It can be topped with marinara sauce, pesto, or seasoned with olive oil and herbs.

The versatility and health benefits of spaghetti squash make it a favorite among those looking to reduce their carbohydrate intake. This squash can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to three months.

Sweet Dumpling Squash

Sweet dumpling squash.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Sweet Dumpling squash is a small, round variety with cream-colored skin and green stripes. Its flesh is sweet and tender, making it perfect for roasting, baking, or stuffing.

The individual serving size of Sweet Dumpling squash makes it an attractive and convenient option for meals, especially when stuffed with grains, meats, or vegetables.

This variety is also delicious when simply roasted and seasoned with herbs and spices. Sweet Dumpling squash can be stored for up to three months, maintaining its sweet flavor and tender texture throughout the winter.

Turban Squash

Male farmer holding turban squash on the farm.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Turban squash is known for its distinctive, turban-like shape and colorful skin, which can be a mix of green, orange, and white. It has a mildly sweet and nutty flavor with a dry texture, making it suitable for baking, stuffing, and using in soups.

The unique appearance of Turban squash also makes it a popular decorative squash, especially during the fall season. Despite its decorative appeal, Turban squash is highly practical in the kitchen, where it can be roasted, pureed, or incorporated into a variety of dishes.

This squash can be stored for up to six months, providing both aesthetic and culinary value throughout the winter.

White Acorn Squash

White acorn squash on the wooden table.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

White Acorn squash is similar to the traditional acorn variety but features a pale, creamy skin. It has a slightly milder flavor than green acorn squash but still offers a sweet and nutty taste. This variety is excellent for roasting, baking, and stuffing, providing a visually appealing alternative to its darker counterparts.

White Acorn squash can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, making it a versatile addition to your kitchen. When stored properly in a cool, dry place, White Acorn squash can last for up to two to three months, ensuring a steady supply of this unique and flavorful vegetable.

Futtsu Squash

Futsu Japanese squash.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Futtsu squash, a traditional Japanese variety that dates back nearly five centuries, is easily recognizable by its warty, ribbed skin that changes color from green to a deep purple and chestnut brown as it matures. Its flesh is dense, sweet, and nutty, similar to a pumpkin, but with a richer flavor.

Futtsu squash is ideal for roasting or simple steaming, where its sweetness intensifies and the flesh becomes tender and flavorful. The skin is tender and thin enough to be eaten. It can also be used in soups, stews, and baking, adding a unique and delicious element to various dishes. The distinctive flavor and texture of Futtsu squash make it a favorite among chefs and home cooks alike. This squash can be stored for up to six months, offering a long-lasting and flavorful addition to your winter pantry.

Grow Summer Squash — Zucchini

Ripe zucchinis in the garden.
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Summer squash can be harvested throughout the summer.

Learn More: Grow Amazing Zucchini With These Advanced Tips and Secrets

Grow Perennials

Jerusalem artichokes.
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Every gardener should grow more perennials.

Learn More: 19 Edible Perennials To Grow For Self-Sufficiency

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