Everything You Need to Know About Squash

The Kitchen crew gives us shopping, prep and recipe tips for their favorite fall squash.

Episode: Pick Your Own
Related To:

Sugar Pumpkins

No need to feel intimidated by the idea of cooking with a whole pumpkin. Sugar pumpkins are one of Carla Hall's favorites because she believes they have the most flavor. They are small, sweet, and very easy to work with, and they're not just for pumpkin pie. Sugar pumpkins are very versatile, and can be used for both sweet and savory dishes.

Carla likes to roast them to make them into savory soups. She also roasts them whole with apples inside and adds cream, butter and cinnamon, sort of like a pumpkin pie with even more fall flavors. The sugar pumpkin becomes the serving vessel, with all that sweet goodness inside. You can also roast and eat the seeds. They add texture to soups and salads and are great for a crunchy snack.

Kabocha Squash

Look for a squash that is heavy for its size; the heavy weight indicates that it has more water in it and is less likely to be too dried out and fibrous. Don't be thrown off by bumpy skin or if they're a little misshapen, but make sure there are no soft spots. Bumpy skin is a totally normal characteristic of kabocha. Alex Guarnaschelli says, "That's just mother nature making things delicious."

To break them down, carefully insert a sharp chef's knife along the equator and gently whack the kabocha onto the cutting board or counter, turning it slightly as the knife goes through. Doing it this way is a good way to keep your hands out of the way. (Let the knife and gravity do the work.) When you get enough of it open, you can split it open fully and remove the seeds with a spoon.

The flavor is great when you roast it, perfect for so many savory dishes. Katie Lee Beigel loves to use them in curry, and Alex even recommends juicing them in the juicer for a nutty flavored alternative to your usual juicing routine!

Acorn Squash

Like with kabocha, you want to buy acorn squash that are heavy for their size. Look for smooth, dull skin. If they're too shiny, that means they've been picked too early. A little orange on the skin is okay, but not a lot. (Too much orange means they're overripe.) Avoid acorn squash that are larger than 3 pounds, since they were likely picked past their prime and could be dry, stringy and unappetizing.

GZ loves to think of acorn squash as a great "intro squash." They're easy to handle and easy to cook. He loves them because they are "the workhorse of squash." For easy prep, GZ cuts the acorn squash into small slices, removes the seeds and hits them with a little honey, brown sugar and maybe even a little cayenne pepper. Another great way to enjoy them is to roast with garlic, bay leaves or sage. The key is, the smaller you cut them, the quicker they cook. You can even leave the skin on and eat that too, since it softens when it's cooked.

Next Up

Beyond Butter and Salt: Corn 5 Creative Ways

Get five fresh corn-based how-tos — one from each co-host of Food Network's The Kitchen — to learn top picks for putting this summer staple to work.

Here's How to Use Up All That Corn

Marcela and GZ show off their signature takes on this abundant summertime ingredient.

Save the Seeds After Carving Your Pumpkin — Here's What to Do with Them

Learn three new ways to flavor this fall-favorite snack.

Secret Ingredient Sides

Jazz up your Turkey Day sides with unexpected ingredients. Forget same old, same old sides, The Kitchen's got three new ideas to perk up your Thanksgiving feast.

A Pizza That Looks and Tastes Like a Pumpkin

See how Jeff Mauro creates a too-cute pizza that both looks and tastes like a pumpkin.

5 Must-Know Tips About Kabocha Squash

Jet Tila will teach you everything you need to know, from how to pick the best squash to how to cut and roast it to perfection.

Everything You Need to Know About Tapioca Starch

This versatile starch comes from a tropical root vegetable and is a key ingredient in tapioca pudding and much more.

This Hack for Cutting Bell Peppers Changes Everything

No more pesky seeds all over your cutting board, people!

Stream discovery+

Your favorite shows, personalities, and exclusive originals. All in one place.

Subscribe Now

What's New

Latest Stories

Related Pages