How to Cook Winter Squash

There are many ways to cook winter squash (and many kinds of winter squash!) In this recipe, we'll walk you through several different ways to cook them, to get them ready for whatever recipe you choose to do next.

  Winter squash (of your choice!)
  seasonings of choice


Oven Method

Which squash are good to use for oven method? All varieties, small or large! (delicata acorn, kabocha, or butternut squash, sugar pie pumpkin, etc.)

  • Delicata squash, as a smaller squash, requires less time. Here's how to bake it:
    • Preheat your oven to 420 degrees F.
    • Wash the delicata squash, and cut it into 1/4 inch slices, leaving the skin on and seeds inside.
    • Arrange the squash slices on a baking sheet (lined with parchment or foil, if you have it).
    • Drizzle with olive oil (or any other oil)
    • Sprinkle the squash with salt and other seasonings of choice
    • Place the baking sheet on the upper 1/3 section of the oven.
    • Check after 30 minutes. Remove the slices from the tray that are caramelized and have golden brown seeds.
    • Continue roasting pieces that are undercooked, watching carefully so they do not burn.
    • Serve as is for a sweet and salty side dish, or enjoy as a crunchy topping on a fresh salad.


  • Whole Sugar Pie Pumpkin (or other large squash)
    • Preheat your oven to 420 degrees F.
    • Using a fork or a sharp knife, prick multiple holes around the pumpkin (to help let out steam as it bakes).
    • Place the pumpkin on a lined sheet tray and place the tray on the lower ⅓ rack of the oven.
    • After 1 hour, check if the pumpkin is done with a knife. If the knife slips through the pumpkin flesh easily and the outside skin looks dry and crispy, it is finished cooking.
    • Remove cooked pumpkin from the oven and allow to cool before handling.
    • Peel off the skin to expose the pumpkin flesh. Cut into the pumpkin to expose the seeds in the center. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
    • Discard seeds or roast in the oven with olive oil and salt for a crunchy snack.
    • Use a fork or a blender to mash the pumpkin. You now have pumpkin puree that can be used for baking, soups, sauces or sweet breads.
    • Refrigerate any leftovers and use within one week, or freeze to use another time.


Stovetop Method:

Which squash are good to use for stovetop method? All varieties, small to medium in size, such as sugar pie pumpkin, spaghetti squash, kabocha, honeynut, or acorn squash, and others.

  • Begin by washing any excess dirt off the squash.

  • Prick holes in squash (to let it release steam while cooking) and place in a large pot with 2-3 cups of water. Place the lid on the pot. Note: even if the lid doesn’t completely cover the pot, due to the size of the squash, it’s best to still use something to cover and trap in the steam.

  • Set the burner to high and bring water to a boil. Then lower the heat to keep it just at a simmer. Keep a close eye on the pot and make sure there is always water in the bottom throughout this process, continue adding more as needed.

  • After 25 minutes, rotate the squash carefully using tongs. Continue cooking, covered, until the squash is tender enough for a knife to easily slip through.

  • When the squash is cooked, remove the pot from the heat and allow time for the squash to cool enough to handle safely.

  • Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds from the center. Discard, or save for roasting. For a stringy squash like spaghetti squash, it can be helpful to use scissors to separate the seeds from the squash, so that you don't waste more of the spaghetti squash strands than necessary.

  • Enjoy steamed squash with butter and sea salt. Dense, orange squashes are great in stews. Varieties like spaghetti squash pair well with tomato sauce or pesto. Release the spaghetti squash strands from the squash with a fork, and dress it up like you would spaghetti! 


Rice Cooker Method

Which squash are good to use for rice cooker method?  Any small variety (such as honeynut or acorn squash)

  • Begin by washing any excess dirt off the squash. Cut squash in half* (*Note: if you don’t have a sharp knife, you can prick holes in the squash with a fork and cook it whole instead. This may require more water and a longer cooking time.) 

  • Drizzle oil into the bottom of the rice cooker pot and add the squash, cut side down. Add about ½ cup water into the pot, cover, and set to “cook”.

  • Continue cooking until the water evaporates and the rice cooker setting flicks to “warm”. Check if the squash is done by cutting into it with a knife. If the knife slips through easily, it is done. If it still needs to cook, add another splash of water to the pot and turn the setting to “cook”.

  • When the squash is done, remove the pot from the heat, and give the squash 5 minutes to rest. Then remove the squash from the pot.

  • Enjoy with butter and salt, or incorporate into salads, sweet breads, soups or rice dishes.