From a centerpiece stuffed pumpkin to cozy simmered butternut.

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Squash
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Melissa Grey / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Until last fall, my go-to squash recipe was roasted diced butternut, like clockwork.

And while yes, it's reliably delicious, I was fast approaching butternut burnout. Then one cool fall Saturday, as I was wandering through my local farmers market, I found myself surrounded by squash: comically large blue Hubbards, jack-o'-lantern-ready pumpkins, and gourds in countless shades and shapes—green, orange, and yellow; oblong, round, and hourglass-shaped, with whimsical, knotty stems and stripy skin. My curiosity was piqued—what had I been missing? Inspired, I gathered a cornucopia of gourds, pumpkins, and squash and lugged them back to my apartment. After diving into gardening guides, seeking advice from chefs, and cooking joyfully for days in my tiny kitchen, I discovered a wide world of flavor, texture, and delicious possibility beyond my beloved butternut.

With heirloom varieties and new breeds like honeynut moving from the farm stand to the grocery aisle, there's never been a better time to get to know squash better. While the nutty, sweet flesh of most varieties bakes into beautiful pies and blends into silky soups, there's a broad range of ways to enjoy them. Grab a hefty Cinderella pumpkin for a stunning Greens-and-Cheese-Stuffed Pumpkin that stands up to turkey on any holiday table. Velvety kabocha gets delightfully crunchy in Kabocha Squash Fritters. Stewed in spiced syrup, the Candied Pumpkins with Piloncillo and Cinnamon don't need a crust to sate any pie cravings. Even my overfamiliar butternut squash took on fresh life when simmered in an aromatic, brothy soup with ground pork­­ and brightened with sliced chiles and cilantro. And don't limit your quick pickling to crisp cucumbers: Pickled Garlicky Spaghetti Squash is refreshingly crunchy and piquant. We've even cracked the code on what to do with all those leftover seeds, blitzing them for a spice blend that offers a whole new take on "pumpkin spice."

Break It Down

Zap It

Microwave winter squash to soften the tough skin before cutting. Using a paring knife or chef's knife, score squash about 1/4 inch deep once around the circumference, and then prick skin with a fork. Microwave in a baking dish on HIGH for 5 minutes.

Slice It

Transfer squash to a cutting board, holding squash in place with a kitchen towel. Starting at the stem end, cut squash lengthwise with a sturdy, sharp chef's knife. Let gravity and the knife's heft help cut through the dense flesh.

Scoop It

Remove any stringy flesh and seeds from each half with a large spoon; discard flesh, and reserve seeds for the Squash Seed Flour recipe. Flip squash halves cut sides down, and break down as specified for your desired recipe.

Squash School

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Delicata Squash
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Delicata

This pale yellow-and-green-striped oblong squash belongs to a group of less common winter squashes with thin, deliciously tender skin (hence the name) and a creamy interior that's similar to a sweet potato in flavor.

Butternut Squash
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Butternut

A great, nearly all-purpose squash, this supermarket staple boasts a high moisture content, making the flesh slightly watery, but it remains very sturdy, keeping its shape even when thoroughly cooked.

Honeynut Squash
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Honeynut

A petite cousin of the butternut, honeynut squash were bred to yield a more concentrated sweet and nutty flavor and a higher dose of nutrients like beta-carotene.

Red Kuri Squash
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Red Kuri

With vibrant orange-red skin and a teardrop shape, red kuri are smoother than classic ridged pumpkins and are nicely dense, dry, and sweet, with a cooked-chestnut-like texture. ("Kuri" is Japanese for "chestnut.")

Spaghetti Squash
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Spaghetti

Prized for its stringy, fibrous strands that easily pull apart once cooked, spaghetti squash is a member of the same subspecies as delicata, and it features a similarly thin skin, with mild, watery flesh that's lightly savory and easily absorbs strong flavors.It's ideal for quick-pickled squash.

Kabocha Squash
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Kabocha

Sometimes called Japanese pumpkin, this dry-fleshed squash has a rich, sweet flavor. It takes on moisture well, becoming almost custardy when braised and velvety and smooth when roasted.

Acorn Squash
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Acorn

Particularly hardy and dense, acorn squash is the perfect storage squash, keeping well in a cool pantry for one to two months. Its acorn shape and thick skin make it ideal for stuffing with sweet or savory fillings.

Jarrahdale Squash
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Jarrahdale

These extra-large winter squash have a pale blue skin that is thick and hardy, protecting a dry but sweet flesh that cooks super creamy with almost no stringiness. It's ideal for pies or purees.

Sugar Pie Pumpkin
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Sugar Pie Pumpkin

Tiny, moist, and fine-fleshed, these little pumpkins are perfect for pies, as their name suggests, because they bake up smooth, sweet, and buttery, plus they take on the flavor of warming winter spices well. They're suited for more than purees: try them in the Candied Pumpkins with Piloncillo and Cinnamon.

Recipes

Greens-and-Cheese-Stuffed Cinderella Pumpkin

Greens-and-Cheese Stuffed Cinderella Pumpkin
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Inspired by Cassie Piuma's squash spanakopita at her restaurant, Sarma, in Somerville, Massachusetts, this stuffed pumpkin is filled with a nutty, creamy blend of Gruyère and feta cheeses; sweet, anise- scented fennel; and hearty green lacinato kale for a stunning vegetarian main dish fit for any holiday table. After roasting and before stuffing, scrape the inside of the pumpkin to loosen about 3 cups of the sweet, tender flesh to yield a flavorful base for the kale filling. Use a gentle hand when scraping to leave the pumpkin walls intact.

Get the Recipe: Greens-and-Cheese-Stuffed Cinderella Pumpkin

Candied Pumpkins with Piloncillo and Cinnamon

Candied Pumpkins with Piloncillo and Cinnamon
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Calabaza en tacha, a Mexican dessert traditionally prepared for Día de los Muertos, was the inspiration for these candied pump- kins drenched with a rich syrup made from piloncillo cones, an unrefined, molasses-laden Mexican cane sugar. Small sugar pie pumpkins have more concentrated sugars, making them perfect for this simple dessert. As the pumpkin wedges cool, they soak up the syrup, resulting in custardy bites laced with cinnamon, clove, and a hint of orange. Serve leftovers mashed in a yogurt or ice cream parfait, churned into pumpkin ice cream, or alongside ginger- bread cookies with crema drizzled on top.

Get the Recipe: Candied Pumpkins with Piloncillo and Cinnamon

Butternut Squash and Pork Soup with Fish Sauce and Tender Herbs

Butternut Squash and Pork Soup with Fish Sauce and Tender Herbs
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

In Vietnam, kabocha squash is simmered with pork to make a soup called canh bi do thit heo. This riff on that classic dish swaps in mild butternut, which holds its shape well and absorbs the rich flavors of the broth and pork while cooking quickly. Filled with tender ground pork marinated in fish sauce and sugar, this aromatic, brothy soup comes together in under an hour for a light and satisfying meal.

Get the Recipe: Butternut Squash and Pork Soup with Fish Sauce and Tender Herbs

Kabocha Squash Fritters with Yuzu-Garlic Dipping Sauce

Kabocha Squash Fritters With Yuzu-Garlic Dipping Sauce
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Japanese korokke are the basis for these cheesy squash fritters, which can be made with freshly steamed kabocha squash or canned pumpkin puree. A drier squash, kabocha has a sweet flavor and cooks down into a custardy texture that's still dry enough to fry into these crispy two-bite appetizers. Serve them with a shortcut dip- ping sauce, a blend of fresh garlic, bright yuzu juice, and silky Kewpie mayo.

Get †he Recipe: Kabocha Squash Fritters with Yuzu-Garlic Dipping Sauce

Pickled Garlicky Spaghetti Squash

Pickled Garlicky Spaghetti Squash
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Strands of mild, lightly savory baked spaghetti squash get the quick-pickle treatment in a punchy brine packed with thyme, rosemary, garlic, and chile. The squash keeps its pleasant bite, resulting in a slaw-like crunch perfect for a cheeseboard or a roast pork sandwich. For the longest strands, cut the squash into rings and pull them apart by gently picking at the strands rather than scraping.

Get the Recipe: Pickled Garlicky Spaghetti Squash

Spicy Squash Seed Sprinkle

Spicy Squash Seed Sprinkle
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Made from Squash Seed Flour and a balanced blend of smoky paprika, complexly savory garam masala, salt, and pepper, a dash of this seedy sprinkle adds a smoky flavor and pleasant crunch to popcorn, polenta, chicken, and salads. It's a great way to use up pumpkin or squash seeds.

Get the Recipe: Spicy Squash Seed Sprinkle