There’s no hiding my love for winter squash! I love them all and look forward to this time of year all year long to eat all the winter squash in abundance!
I actually eat winter squash year round as I love it so much, but you’ll see much more variety in the types of winter squash at your markets and grocery stores during this time of year, so I took it upon myself to try them all and let you know my thoughts and reviews of each!
There are many more types of winter squash out there than what I cover in this post, but these are the types of squash I currently had access to. As I come across new ones, I will update this post so you can use this post as a reference when trying to decide which type of squash you want to try or purchase for yourself!
First, let’s talk about kabocha, also referred to as a Japanese pumpkin. Luckily, I can always find this squash at my grocery store because I love this winter squash so much! It’s tied with buttercup as being my overall favourite!
It’s likely the sweetest tasting squash of them all and has almost a caramel-like taste to it. It’s also quite dense like a sweet potato or yam, which I love. I always buy a kabocha that feels heavy for its size and I also look for one with some orange colouring on it. I find the older it looks, the better!
I most often roast my kabocha in the oven.
Now, let’s talk about buttercup because it actually looks a lot like kabocha and even sometimes gets confused for it. However, they are two different types of squash!
Scott and I planted buttercup squash in our garden this year and we actually had a great turn out, so I’ve been eating this squash every single day for the past couple of weeks (and definitely not complaining because, as I said, it’s one of my absolute favourite types of winter squash!)
Appearance wise, the kabocha and buttercup squash are very similar, however, the kabocha squash is more pumpkin shaped while the buttercup squash has more of a box-like shape to it and not as pumpkin-y. They also have different bottoms. The buttercup squash will be bumpy or raised whereas the kabocha will not be.
Taste wise, buttercup is slightly less sweet than the kabocha, but still has a delicious and satisfying texture, much like a dense potato. Although, I do find buttercup to be slightly drier than a kabocha. Perhaps more like a white potato rather than a sweet potato or a yam. I will admit, the first buttercup I tried was hardly sweet at all, but I bought it from the grocery store when it wasn’t in season. Having said that, the buttercups Scott and I grew in our garden are incredibly sweet and very flavourful. Truthfully, it’s hard to tell the difference between it and a kabocha, but when I taste tested them side by side, the kabocha was slightly sweeter and more caramel like whereas the buttercup squash was just hearty, dense, and comfortingly sweet. I truly love them both!
Since buttercup is so much like kabocha, I cook it the same.
Following kabocha and buttercup squash, acorn squash is my next favourite. It’s very different from the first two we discussed, but still absolutely delicious, especially if you pick a good one!
When purchasing acorn squash, choose one that’s heavy for its size. This will ensure that it’s flavourful and sweet, rather than bland and somewhat bitter, which can definitely happen if you choose one that doesn’t have much weight to it. It also helps to purchase acorn squash when in season. Additionally, I always make sure to choose an acorn squash with a dark green skin with some deep orange colouring on it, as well.
The flesh of an acorn squash is more yellow than the kabocha and buttercup, which have an orange flesh. Acorn squash is also not dense and potato-like as the kabocha and buttercup squashes are. Rather, acorn squash is more water-y and has somewhat of a string-y texture. I once read the flesh of an acorn squash described to be “fibrous like a pear” and I thought that was very accurate.
Taste wise, I think acorn squash is absolutely delicious (if you choose a ripe one, as I mentioned) It’s somewhat nutty, but has a sweetness that reminds me of maple syrup or some type of cereal that I can’t quite put my finger on… Honeycomb?
My favourite way to enjoy this squash is roasted and topped with ghee or roasted and stuffed with ground meat, such as beef, pork, or turkey.
Butternut is one of the most well known types of winter squash. It’s easily found in most grocery stores and markets and it’s also a common substitute for pumpkin in any recipe that calls for pumpkin puree. It is also sometimes used in place for sweet potato, as a sweet potato hash can be just as good with butternut used instead. It’s bright orange, just like a sweet potato, and fairly dense, but not a potato-like dense. Butternut is a watery kind of dense and I don’t find it ever to be as flavourful or as sweet as I hope it to be. I personally prefer acorn squash over butternut. Although they both have a watery texture, the flesh of a butternut squash is more dense, less fibrous, and also less flavourful, in my opinion.
I personally don’t have butternut squash often as I find it just kind of boring. With that said, this isn’t a type of squash I just roast and enjoy slathered in ghee, as I do with kabocha, buttercup, and acorn. Instead, I like to “doctor up” this squash so it’s a little more fun and exciting! Butternut squash soups are a good way to make this squash a little more enjoyable, but I also recommend this butternut squash bread from my friend, Kelly.
Spaghetti squash smells like a pumpkin, is yellow in colour, and can be used in replace of regular pasta as it creates spaghetti-like strands when roasted. There’s really not much flavour to it either, so it can make a great base for whatever type of pasta sauce you choose to use! When I have spaghetti squash, my favourite way to enjoy it is under a pile of homemade meat sauce, but pesto or a cream sauce would be great options, too! Having said that, many of my friends enjoy this squash in sweet recipes rather than savoury, which is my personal preference. For an example, my friend, Liz, enjoys using spaghetti squash for a grain-free oatmeal alternative at breakfast. You can find her recipe here.
Out of all of the winter squashes available, spaghetti squash is by far my least favourite. I’ve tried time and time again to love it, but I just don’t love spaghetti squash! Not even a little bit.
Georgia Candy Roaster
Out of all of my winter-squash-seeking-years, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a Georgia Candy Roaster prior to visiting the Whole Foods in Santa Fe, New Mexico in November, 2018, which is outrageously unfortunate because this squash is unreal delicious!
When baked, it looks much like a butternut squash with a bright orange flesh. However, I find it to be much more flavourful and satisfying than a butternut squash.
The texture reminded me more of an acorn, fibrous like a pear, but had a flavour and sweetness to it unlike any other squash I had ever tried before! I thoroughly loved this type of squash and wish I had an easier time finding it local to me. I was tempted to pack one in my luggage to bring back to Canada with me, but, as you can see from the picture below, they are quite large and it would have made my luggage over the 50 lb. limit for checked luggage!
This squash would make a flavourful blended soup, but I enjoyed it simply cut in half and roasted flesh side down, just as I do when I roast kabocha.
Delicata seems to be a popular favourite amongst many of my close friends, however, I just don’t understand the hype. I love the shape, as it’s the shape of a hot dog bun and could make a great veggie-based replacement for a regular wheat bun, but the flavour is nothing amazing in my personal opinion.
The flesh is bright to pale yellow and has the texture and mouthfeel of an acorn squash, however, I don’t find it nearly as flavourful as an acorn squash. It’s quite bland and only slightly sweet, therefore, I think this particular type of squash is better used in a recipe, rather than just simply roasting it as I do with kabocha, buttercup, and acorn.
Here are a few recipes I would recommend for delicata squash: Pear, Shallot, and Delicata Soup, Roasted Delicata Squash with Garlic Cream Sauce, or simply slice in half length-wise so you are left with two hot dog bun-like shapes, scrape out the seeds, roast in the oven, and then use as a base for my friend Christina Rice’s Paleo Sloppy Joe recipe!
The texture and mouthfeel of the sweet dumpling squash is nearly identical to that of an acorn – dense, but fibrous like a pear. However, the flavour is more like a spaghetti squash, in my opinion. It’s not nearly as flavourful as an acorn squash as I found it to be quite bland like a spaghetti squash. It’s like the sweet dumpling squash is trying to be sweet and flavourful, but not having much luck. Having said that, I did enjoy this squash. It’s not one of my favourites, but I did enjoy it and what I like about it is you could easily use this squash for both sweet or savoury dishes. For an example, you could stuff this squash with ground meat and savoury herbs and spices or you could use it as the main ingredient in a grain-free squash porridge. Here are a few recipes to get you going:
Savoury: Maple Glazed Pulled Pork Sweet Dumpling Squash
Sweet: Squash Porridge (use sweet dumpling squash instead of butternut)
It’s also important to note, like a spaghetti squash, the skin of the sweet dumpling squash is very hard and I don’t eat it, whereas all of the other types of squash listed above have a skin that is edible and delicious to eat!
I would love to hear from you!
Do you have a favourite type of winter squash? What’s your favourite way to enjoy winter squash? Do you have a favourite recipe?