Your Guide to Winter Squash: Acorn, Butternut & Spaghetti

Get to know some of our favorite varieties, plus try easy recipes that showcase them.

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Coats, scarfs, tall boots — and winter squash. From acorn to butternut to spaghetti, winter squash holds a steady place on the top of fall’s must-eat food lists. At Whole Foods Market, you’ll find a wide variety of winter squash (with plenty of organic options) in our Produce department.

We know you have questions. How do you tell a kabocha squash from a hubbard squash? And what can you make with them? Use this guide to learn about the various types of winter squash — then visit your nearest store to stock up.

Butternut Squash

This generously sized squash has it all: a buttery texture, slightly sweet and nutty flavor, and it pairs well with a wide range of sweet and savory flavors. Although it’s fairly easy to cut, peel and seed, you can likely find it already prepped in the Produce department, which can be a great time-saver. It’s ideal for roasting because its dense flesh caramelizes extremely well, taking on a deep sweetness and nuttiness. Then once roasted, serve as is or purée and make a soup, dip, pie, cake, brownies, rolls and even chocolate mousse. Yes, really.

Acorn Squash

This honey-sweet squash with a green exterior and sunny-colored flesh is a classic for baking. Its small size (usually a pound or two) means it’s easy to halve or quarter before baking. After baking, you can use it for a soup, casserole, hearty salad or grain bowl. And thanks to its bowl-like center, acorn squash is also perfect for stuffing. Tip: Its deeply ridged shell makes peeling it raw difficult, so it’s best to peel after cooking. Or, if you like, leave the skin intact — it’s perfectly edible when cooked.

Spaghetti Squash

Its name doesn’t lie: When baked or steamed, the flesh of this football-shaped yellow squash separates into long strands, very much like spaghetti. You can stuff the squash halves or substitute for pasta and top with tomato sauce or butter and cheese. It’s also a great paleo-friendly substitute for traditional spaghetti.

Delicata Squash

The small and mild delicata is marked with green and yellow stripes on its shell and creamy, dense flesh with hints of sweet caramel. Take advantage of this squash’s uniquely tender shell — it’s one of those varieties that can be enjoyed skin and all when baked. Super tasty simply with just a little butter and sea salt.

Kabocha, Hubbard and Pumpkin Squash

These big, colorful squashes can be delicious, but save the carving pumpkins for jack-o’-lanterns (the texture and flavor are not good for cooking). Smaller pie pumpkins, also called sugar pumpkins, are good for baking, soups and stews. Kabocha and hubbard are wonderful roasted for fall salads and pilafs.

Try them in:
Kabocha and Spinach Soup opens in a new tab
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds opens in a new tab
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie opens in a new tab

And about those smaller, sometimes knobby, decorative gourds that you see everywhere: Think of them as winter squash’s hard-shelled — and inedible — cousin. Keep those for well, you guessed it, decorating.

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