Hard Squash

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Continuing with our squash series, (you can catch up on our recent Italian Squash and Yellow Squash articles here and here) we are headed into home base by digging in a discussion of hard squash. Hard squash is the most natural to think of when referencing winter squashes. We discussed how summer squashes have a bit of a more tender skin such as zucchini and yellow squash, while as the name indicates; hard squash is precisely what it sounds like – more dense skinned and fleshy varieties.


Let’s kick this off by breaking down the eleven different varieties of hard squash.

Acorn Squash


First up, you may have guessed it, is acorn squash. Acorn squash is on the smaller side of winter squashes and has dark green skin with an orange, fleshy inside. The taste is sweet and can be doctored up in many different ways to enhance the flavor one way or another.


Banana Squash


Next up we have banana squash. Banana squash is big and elongated, with the ability to grow and weigh close to 40 pounds! The outside skin is usually a smooth orange color with bright orange flesh inside. This is a squash known for being quite rich, but perfect with the right palatable combination.


Butternut Squash


Butternut squash is often pear-shaped with a smooth outside skin that is a warm cream color with the same bright orange fleshy insides. Butternut squash is quite common as it is indeed considered the sweetest variety out of all classified hard squashes!


Buttercup Squash


The sweet and creamy flavor of buttercup squash is unexpected due to its heavy, round and dense outside skin. You may recognize this squash as it has a small green rind at the top.


Delicata Squash


This small squash has a creamy-yellow outer skin, typically with green stripes. It is also referred to as “sweet potato squash.” Indeed, the taste of this beauty is very similar to that of creamy sweet potatoes.


Hubbard Squash


This may be a new one to some of you! We’ve come to one of the largest varieties out of all hard squashes. The hard outer skin can be found anywhere from dark green to a grayish blue color. Fun fact: Hubbard Squash tastes just like a pumpkin!


Kabocha Squash


Round with a broad base, Kabocha squash is referred to as dull with dark green skin, often with small bumps, while the inside boasts a bright yellow flesh. It is considered very sweet combined with a robust nutty flavor, which makes for a perfect combination winter delicacy.




The pumpkins that are everywhere out and about during the Fall months are often for decoration, while pumpkins that are meant for cooking are much smaller. These “sugar” pumpkins look the same as the large pumpkins, but they deliver potent flavors whereas field pumpkins are typically drier and therefore used most often for carving and decorating.


Spaghetti Squash


We bet you’re familiar with this variety because spaghetti squash is all the rage ever since gluten decided to go out style. More than ever, people are using this surprisingly mild squash to replace typical pasta noodles. You can easily cook spaghetti squash and fork it into short, noodle shapes and top with a Spaghetti sauce of your choice and hardly tell the difference. This is considered a great alternative to noodles because it is not sweet, which makes it perfect for more savory meals. This squash is cylindrical with a pale to yellow outer skin, and the inside is that is a vibrant orange color most winter squashes embody.


Sweet Dumpling Squash


Surprisingly, there’s no sweet dumpling flavor about it! This simple squash actually tastes very similar to corn! It has a small, orange/dark green exterior. If you’ve never tried a sweet dumpling, you definitely should at least once to experience this unique flavor.


Turban Squash


Living up to its name, Turban squash is large and in charge with what is referred to as an irregular turban shape with an orange/yellow bumpy outer skin. For as large as this squash is, it boasts mild and nutty flavors.

Phew, there are a lot of these guys! Hard/winter squashes take longer to mature than summer squash varieties and are typically ready for harvest when cooler weather settles in.


All in all, we credit these hard squashes to helping us create many winter and holiday dishes, which in turn create lasting memories. Each variety holds its own unique properties and has a purpose, just as the various summer squashes. What can we say, we LOVE variety around here!

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