12 Types of Squash All Home Gardeners Should Know
Here are some of the best squash varieties to grow throughout the year.
Gardeners know that you always either have too much squash or not enough. There’s simply no in-between. And having too much squash on your hands is always a good thing. This versatile edible can be used to make soups, stews, bread, and even desserts. And simple preparations taste great, too.
Hollow them out and stuff them, put thick-skinned winter squash on display, and share the bounty with friends and family. It’s even easy to save squash seeds for next year’s garden. Or roast the seeds for a snack.
Below, we list some of the best squash varieties for home gardeners, including both summer and winter squash types. Summer squash is thin-skinned, prolific, and fast-growing. In contrast, winter squashes take a whole season to reach maturity and have thicker skins perfect for storage.
1. Zucchini Squash
These tasty classic squash typically have a green hue and an oblong shape. Harvest them young to enjoy the tenderest squash. Or pull them when they’re bigger and scoop out the centers to make tasty zucchini boats for dinner.
These bush plants take up a fair bit of room, so make sure to space them at least 2 feet apart. Placing them too close to one another will reduce plant health and fruit production. Thankfully, they’re very easy to grow and require little attention besides frequent watering. Most zucchini varieties are ready to pick in about 60 days.
Best For: Summer harvesting and cooking
2. Yellow Squash
Zucchini is typically green, but yellow varieties also exist. The only difference between the two cultivars is their color and taste. Yellow zukes have a slightly sweeter flavor that some people describe as milder than green zucchini. The sweet-tasting flesh makes these squash great for making desserts.
Like their green-colored cousins, yellow zucchini need plenty of sun to thrive. Other types of yellow squash include crookneck and straightneck squash. Both have similar flavor profiles to zucchini. Crooknecks have a slightly curved neck with a thick bottom, while straightnecks have an overall plumper profile. Both can be sliced or stuffed.
Best For: Summer harvesting and cooking (the slightly sweet flavor lends itself well to desserts)
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3. Zephyr Squash
These hybrid summer squash are a cross between crookneck squash and another hybrid. You can tell them apart from other summer squash by their slim necks and dual coloring. The base of the squash is pale green, and the neck is yellow.
However, the color can vary depending on growing conditions. They taste best when picked young—at less than 7 inches. They taste similar to zucchini, but with herbaceous undertones. And just like zucchini, zephyr squash is super easy to grow. Just make sure to keep plants well-watered and keep them protected from frost.
Best For: Anything you’d do with zucchini or other summer squash
4. Round Zucchini
Round zucchini, also known as Ronde de Nice, is an heirloom variety of summer squash that produces orb-like fruit with a speckled green coloring. The compact bush plants are an excellent choice for small gardens and container growing.
Fruits are at their best when picked at about 3 inches in diameter. The fast-growing plants only take about 45 days to reach maturity and produce pickable fruit. Careful when picking them because their thin skin is prone to bruising. Their round shape makes them perfect for stuffing. Scoop out the tender, mild-tasting flesh, and stuff with your favorite filling.
Best For: Small spaces and particularly great for stuffing
5. Pattypan Squash
These flying saucer-shaped squash are one of the most delicious of all squash varieties. The almost-flat, scalloped-edge squash grows in a bush-like habit and produces prolifically. Pattypan squashes are also known as Peter Pan, granny, and scallopini squash. Their small size makes them great as single servings, and they look impressive and almost decorative when served whole. They also come in a variety of colors, including white, green, and yellow.
The mild, semi-sweet tasting flesh is also great sliced or chopped up and added to soups, stews, and hashes. They’re also a fun variety to grow if you have kids.
Best For: Impressing guests or kids and single servings
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6. Acorn Squash
And now onto winter squash! These acorn-shaped squash have thick skins like most other winter squash varieties, making them a great storage squash. They’re also great for stuffing. Bake them in the oven to soften the thick, orange flesh with a sweet, mildly nutty flavor.
Acorn squash has a deep green color and ribbed exterior. When put in storage, the green skin will turn orange. Once fruits start to appear, the squash takes about 50 days to reach maturity. If you plan to store them, curing them is essential to prevent spoilage. Eat them within three months of picking for optimal flavor.
Best For: Stuffing and storage
7. Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is perhaps one of the most well-known winter squash varieties out there. The pear-shaped squash typically has a beige coloring and bright orange flesh. While the plants are easy to grow, they require plenty of room due to their vining habit. And, like other winter squash, patience is needed when growing them. It can take up to 120 days until fruit matures and is ready for picking.
Butternuts are ready to harvest when you’re unable to pierce the skin with your fingernail. This means the skin is thick enough to endure storage. The sweet, nutty-tasting flesh is ideal when boiled or roasted. Purée softened butternut squash into soup or risotto. Mashed squash makes a great side dish for Thanksgiving dinner. Or simply season and roast for a tasty accompaniment with chicken.
Best For: Roasting, baking, puréeing, adding to soups
8. Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is so-named because when cooked, its flesh turns into long strings that resemble pasta. While not everyone agrees that spaghetti squash is a suitable substitute for pasta, the mild-tasting squash is still great for stuffing and eating.
Typically, this squash is yellow both inside and out. When raw, the flesh is hard. It must be cooked to produce pasta-like strands. Like butternut, spaghetti squash also stores well—for up to six months. The vining plants usually produce mature fruit in about three to four months. Most varieties produce fruit that grows to about 9 inches in length.
Best For: Using as a substitute for pasta or stuffing
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9. Delicata Squash
This cylindrical squash features tan or yellow skin with shallow-grooved stripes that are usually a deep green color. Inside, the flesh is orange. Unlike almost all winter squash varieties, delicata has an edible skin, which makes this squash great for slicing. The flesh has an almost sweet potato-like flavor.
Its vining growth habit means it’ll need lots of room in the garden to grow. However, it will also happily grow vertically on a trellis. Some bush cultivars also exist (e.g., Bush Delicata) and are an excellent choice for containers. Use this squash before all other winter varieties because its thin skin means it won’t last long in storage.
Best For: Slicing, roasting, or even frying
10. Dumpling Squash
These cute-as-can-be squashes look like a squat, round version of delicata squash. They have the same striped green grooves and pale cream or yellow green-speckled skin. At maturity, the small, pumpkin-like fruits are about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and weigh about half a pound, making them great vessels for stuffing. Expect a single plant to yield up to 10 fruit.
Unlike delicata, these thicker-skinned squashes take well to storage. They also look great paired with fall decor. Use them as decoration until you decide to cook them. Keep them inside to avoid squirrels getting to them first.
Best For: Stuffing or baking
Related: How to Get Rid of Squash Bugs
11. Sugar Pumpkin
These mini pumpkins are perfect for the home garden since they take up less room than their larger counterparts. The vining plants also grow well on a trellis. Bake these sweet-fleshed fruits into pumpkin pie, roast them for soup, or keep them as fall or Halloween decorations. And don’t forget to scoop out the seeds, season them, and roast them!
Pumpkins are ready to harvest when the skin is hard and turns orange—some varieties may have white skin. Make sure to cure the pumpkins for about a week in direct sunlight to further harden the rind.
Best For: Making pumpkin pie or soup, roasting seeds, or using as Halloween decor
12. Buttercup Squash
Buttercup squash, also known as Burgess buttercup, is a variety of heirloom squash with a thin skin and flesh reminiscent of sweet potatoes. Outside, the hard rind is dark green, while the flavorful flesh inside is a rich orange color. Fruits can weigh up to 5 pounds. Buttercups are great storage squash and can last for months if kept in the right conditions.
The squat squashes have a unique “cup” shape on the blossom end and are encircled by shallow-grooved stripes. Use the flesh of buttercup squashes as a substitute for sweet potatoes or stuff and bake them.
Best For: Storage, side dishes