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8 winter squash recipes to make this autumn

Wood baskets filled with delicate, acorn, and butternut squashes

After a multiday team meeting, our group went out to dinner. A special at a local restaurant was a whole pumpkin, scooped out and filled with mashed pumpkin, seafood, veggies, and sauce. It was a hit!

While they're tasty and make for festive decorating, I find winter squash intimidating to cut up since many varieties of winter squash don't have flat surfaces to place securely on a cutting board. Haven't cut myself yet, thankfully.

Nutritionally, one cup of cubed butternut squash contains around 82 calories, 22g carbohydrates, and 7g fiber, and contains vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and K, multiple B vitamins, and magnesium. Butternut squash is not a significant source of fat, protein, or sodium. (This nutrient profile is similar in most winter squash.)

  • Types: Common winter squash in stores are butternut, acorn, and spaghetti. Local farms might sell other varieties, such as delicata, buttercup, and kabocha squash. And, of course, classic orange pumpkins.
  • Buy: Look for winter squash that are firm and heavy with a deep-colored skin. The exterior should be hard, without soft spots, mold, or broken areas. (Be aware that not all winter squash are tasty once cooked. Check with your local Extension office or an area pumpkin farmer to learn about edible varieties.)
  • Price: Winter squash averages $1.20 per pound, according to USDA Fruit and Vegetable Prices
  • Store: Whole winter squash store for a long time - from weeks to months - in a cool, dry location.
  • Prepare: Wash under cool water and prepare per recipe. This might be cooked whole or cut into pieces. If cut, remove rind with a knife or vegetable peeler, scoop out seeds with a spoon, and cut into the size pieces called for in the recipe. Watch our video - Cooking with Winter Squash - for more instructions.
  • Preserve: While there are no USDA or Extension tested recipes for canning pureed winter squash, National Center for Home Food Preservation shares instructions for canning cubed squash, freezing winter squash, drying pumpkin seeds and drying the flesh
  • Eat: Use winter squash in sweet and savory recipes. Popular recipes include mashed, roasted, and in soups. Or keep the skin intact for stuffing with squash and other ingredients. 
Crescents of delicate squash in a circle shape on a red and yellow plate on a green placemat

Roasted Delicata Squash Print recipe | Watch video
Serves 2

Acorn squash half filled with apples on white square plate and green placemat

Apple-Stuffed Acorn Squash | Print Recipe
Serves 4

Cubes of butternut squash on a rectangular white plate on a green background

Roasted Butternut Squash with Cherries Print recipe 
Serves 4

Small bowl of mashed "potato" white acorn squash topped with a square of butter on a blue placemat

Mashed “Potato” Squash | Print recipe | Watch video
Serves 2

Meatballs and sauce on top of cooked spaghetti squash sitting on a white place on a light wood background

Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs | Print Recipe
Serves 6

Squash soup in a red mug with a blurred background of a butternut squash

Butternut Squash-Carrot Soup | Print Recipe | Watch Video
Serves 4

Glass casserole dish filled with squash, apples, and dried cranberries

Squash, Apple, and Cranberry Casserole | Print Recipe | Watch Video
Serves 6

Spaghetti squash and alfredo sauce on white plate on dark wood background

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo | Print Recipe 
Serves 4


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Post originally published in 2014; content updated in 2022.


Healthy Eats and Repeat
How much difference is there between canned and frozen foods? How should you cook venison? When is the best time to buy avocados? Get answers to these questions as well as other tips, tutorials and recipes for common kitchen foods and items with University of Illinois Extension Nutrition & Wellness Educator Caitlin Mellendorf. Build your best life. Trust Extension to help.

Caitlin Mellendorf is an Illinois Extension Nutrition and Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon and Piatt Counties in Central Illinois. She is a Registered Dietitian and her work focuses on helping community members gain the knowledge, skills and tools to live healthier, more nutritious lifestyles. This includes providing programs and answering questions about heart health, diabetes, food safety, food preservation, grocery shopping and cooking. You can reach Caitlin by email at or call 217.877.6042.