“Winter squash” is kind of a misnomer as these veggies really come into season at the end of summer and early fall. As the season changes, we find ourselves looking for ways to use all those beautiful squash piling up at grocery stores, and luckily their buttery flavors are the perfect addition to soups, salads, and even stand up as the hero to meatless main dishes all season long. You may be familiar with butternut and spaghetti squash, but try whipping up a recipe that includes delicata or red kuri squash this fall! Here’s how to identify the seven most popular winter squash and giving you some must-try recipes below.

photography by Kristen Kilpatrick

I hit up Whole Foods and was amazed at the endless varieties of squash and pumpkins they had available. Honestly, you need a guide in order to navigate all of the options, and we’re here to help!

To tell if a squash is ripe, you’ll need to check out the exterior. The skin should be a matte color (if it’s glossy, it’s not ripe yet), and should have a hard exterior.

I picked up kabocha squash, delicata squash, a sugar pumpkin, acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and red kuri squash. I couldn’t help but resist grabbing some mini gourds and pumpkins too! These are mainly used for decoration, but can be found in some recipes.

Look how cute these mini white pumpkins are! So many DIY ideas come to mind for how to use these this fall.

So many shapes, sizes, and colors! Here’s how to identify the seven most popular winter squash:

  • Kabocha — squat, green squash with faint white lines running up and down the surface
  • Delicata — yellow cylindrical squash with green and orange stripes along the ridges
  • Sugar Pumpkin — small, almost perfectly spherical pumpkin in bright orange
  • Acorn — dark green squash with thick ridges all the way around
  • Butternut — bell-shaped squash with a light peachy yellow exterior
  • Spaghetti — round cylindrical squash with a bright yellow exterior
  • Red Kuri — warm orange squash with a lopsided shape

Try picking up a squash you haven’t tried next time you’re at the grocery store. For me, the hardest part of trying new foods is finding ways to incorporate them into recipes. Below I’ve listed out seven delicious recipes using each variety of winter squash! *cue mouth-watering*

We may need a guide to all of the different types of pumpkins too! These gray beauties are Jarrahdale pumpkins. I love their muted color palette.

Happy fall cooking!

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