Todd and Diane’s Guide to Winter Squash and Pumpkins
All our winter squash guide and pumpkin varieties guide images here are works of Todd Porter and Diane Cu-Porter and are protected by copyright law. Please do not use, distribute, reproduce, sell, re-purpose or take these images. Thank you!
Different Varieties of Winter Squash and Pumpkins, so little time…
We’re obsessed with winter squash and pumpkins. Maybe a little too obsessed because we keep scouring farmers markets and farms that are local and beyond to learn and discover new varieties. Our research started in 2014 during our ambitious attempt at creating a quarterly magazine focused on individual ingredients. Though that magazine project never finished, we haven’t given up! We decided to share all this content on our website and so far it keeps growing. So keep checking back on our obsessed winter squash guide and pumpkins because we want to be the kids who have eaten the most winter squash and pumpkins.
All these hard-skinned beauties beauties are known as squash or specifically winter squash, which include everything pumpkin and related. They’re harvested in late Summer, early Fall and can be stored for long periods, and then eaten during the Winter. Common winter squash such as butternut squash, spaghetti squash and acorn squash are culinary highlights to holiday menus, but what’s commonly known as “pumpkins” often barely make it past the jack-o-lantern or holiday-design stage.
Are different varieties of Pumpkins edible? Edible winter squash?
Yes, pumpkins are as edible as any other common winter squash. Some pumpkin varieties are best left to carving because they are more pretty than they are flavorful. Some can be quite watery and tasteless. The same goes for different varieties of winter squash. However there are exceptions to the misconception about how edible these pumpkins and winter squash are. Many of them are quite delicious, rich in flavor and sweetness. Some are watery, soft and very delicate on flavor.
Whatever we or others call these gorgeous winter squash, they’re all edible and unique on their own with different levels of sweetness, flavor and texture. No need to argue. Be on the lookout for all these amazing different varieties of winter squash to enjoy! So let’s get started on our obsession with this winter squash guide to share what we’ve been able to find, cook and enjoy. Can’t wait to keep adding more to our winter squash guide for winter squash varieties and pumpkin varieties!
Winter Squash Guide and Pumpkin Guide with Pictures
Common Name(s) and Other Names: Acorn Squash, Pepper Squash, Royal Acorn, Table King, Table Queen (aka ‘Des Moines’, ‘Danish’). There’s so many varieties and colors of acorn squash and here’s another good link.
- Green Acorn Squash (when ripened or left out for a while it’ll turn orange-ish, but not to be confused with Gold Acorn Squash)
- Gold Acorn Squash
- White Acorn Squash
What Does Acorn Squash Taste Like?
Acorn Squash Flavor and other notes: Acorn squashes are one of the most well known and popular of all hard winter squashes because they’re so easy to cook and eat! When you’re in a bind and want something quick to eat, you can easily microwave an acorn squash with some butter, brown sugar and maple syrup for a quick vegetable side dish. Cut it in half, stuff it with your favorite meat or grain fillings and voila! After baking it in the oven, a fabulous dinner is served. They’re mildly sweet and nutty flavor with edible skin and orange flesh. They seem to last for months in a cool area on the counter top.
Sweet Dumpling Squash
Common Name(s) and Other Names: Sweet Dumpling Squash, Dumpling Squash
What Does Sweet Dumpling Squash Taste Like?
Sweet Dumpling Squash Flavor and other notes: We found these little beauties at a farmers market in Montana and were super excited to find such fresh-off-the-vine sweet dumplings! Sweet, tender orange flesh. Edible skin. Easier to cut than an acorn squash. White and green stripes. Other similar looking varieties are Harlequin, Sweet Lightening and Heart of Gold but are slightly different in color. We’re on the hunt for those varieties!
Common Name(s): Carnival Squash
What Does Carnival Squash Taste Like?
Carnival Squash Flavor and other notes: When Mommy and Daddy Acorn and Sweet Dumpling squashes have babies, they’re called carnival squash. Ok, maybe not exactly like that but you get the idea. Technically speaking, carnivals are a hybrid between the Acorn and Sweet Dumpling SquashesTheir flavor is nutty and mildly sweet and flesh is like a sweet potato and butternut squash. The skin is tender and edible. Vibrant patterns of orange and green colors and stripes. We’ve heard of other similar varieties called Festival and Celebration, but are they the basically same thing? And climate and regional growing conditions just make then “look different”? But do these varieties actually taste different? Don’t know, we’re still trying to figure this one out.
Common Name(s): Buttercup Squash
What Does Buttercup Squash Taste Like?
Buttercup Squash Flavor and other notes: Part of the turban squash family, this variety usually has Dark green skin with a light green to gray turban cap. We first discovered this variety in Montana during our fly fishing trip and were thrilled to find such a cute winter squash! When cut in half, their cross section definitely looks like a bon bon without the chocolate. More great info and other variations of the buttercup squash here. This is the variety that we discovered and ate.
Buttercup Squash Recipe ideas: Vegetarian stuffed butternut squash
Common Name(s) and Other names:: Turban Squash,Turks Cap, Turks Turban, French Turban
What Does Turban Squash Taste Like?
Turban Squash Flavor and other notes: Part of the turban squash family, this one is large and has a top “turban” with multiple colors. They look almost fake because of their odd top and bottom shape, but it’s totally edible! It has a very mild flavor, but with some extra spices it can be super delicious. Think cumin, paprika and other potentially flavorful spices to add to this squash. It’s fantastic as a decorative centerpiece or fancy soup bowl. This heirloom dates back as early as the 1820’s. It’s an oldie but goodie! More info and history here.
Turban Squash Recipe ideas: Turban Squash Soup
Common Name(s): Butternut Squash
What Does Butternut Squash Taste Like?
Butternut Squash Flavor and other notes: Sweet and nutty. Tan skin, orange flesh, hour-glass shape. You all probably know this squash already, if you don’t then you are definitely must be living in a cave. Just kidding! This is one of the sweetest and most tender winter squashes and honestly, you can most likely find it year round, everywhere. If you’re a fan of Thanksgiving dinner, you’ve most likely had it because it’s a popular potluck dish because it’s super delicious and easy to prepare with endless possibilities. Rumor has it that the longer you store butternut squash, the sweeter and nuttier the flavor becomes.
Common Name(s) and Other names: Tahitian Butternut, Melon squash, Tahitian squash,
What Does Tahitian Butternut Taste Like?
Tahitian Butternut Flavor and other notes: One of the most common and popular winter squashes. Size is from big to gigantic. One of the sweetest winter squashes, with excellent flavor. Here’s more info and here they show the a lot of the different shape variations. Try our butternut squash and cauliflower curry.
Common Name(s) and Other names: Spaghetti Squash,Vegetable spaghetti, noodle squash, vegetable marrow, gold string melon
What Does Spaghetti Squash Taste Like?
Spaghetti Squash Flavor and other notes: When cooked separates into strands like spaghetti. Can be baked or microwaved and topped with sauce, cheese and meatballs to satisfy you when you’re craving pasta/spaghetti but without the carbs! Other varieties we’re on the lookout for is Stripetti, which is a cross between a Delicata and Spaghetti squash. We’ve also heard of the “small wonder” which is a smaller, personal sized version with outer skin that looks like an orange pumpkin.
Common Name(s) and other names: Chilacayote, Fig Leaf Gourd, Malabar Gourd, Seven Year Melon
What Does Chilacayote Taste Like?
Chilacayote Flavor and other notes: It’s more of a Summer squash, but it’s cool looking, so we wanted to add it to our list. One of our local farmers grows it in fall and it stores really well like a winter squash. On the outside it looks like an oblong watermelon. But it’s a green-looking Spaghetti Squash that separates into strands just like common yellow spaghetti squash when cooked. The texture is watery and flavor is very zucchini-like. Depending on the maturity level of the fruit, the seeds will be black as the fruit is more mature. Ours was still young and thus, white seeds. It was our least favorite to eat plain, but maybe with some parmesan cheese and bolognese sauce, it just might top our culinary charts! More cool info here and here.
Green Kabocha Squash
Common Name(s) and Other names: Kabocha (Green), Hoka, Hokkaido, Ebisu, Japanese Pumpkin
What Does Green Kabocha Squash Taste Like?
Green Kabocha Squash Flavor and other notes: We love eating these family of squashes, but they’re firm and can be tough to cut. But when you get past the knife action, you’ll be in love with the taste. Just stab it and crack it and cook it up! Sweet and flesh is a little drier and denser than most squash. Skin is soft edible if cooked long enough. We’ve had delicious Japanese miso stewed kabocha with the skin-on.
Blue Kuri Squash
Common Name(s) and Other names: Blue Kuri,Blue hokkaido squash, Blue Kuri Kabocha, Blue Kabocha
What Does Blue Kuri Squash Taste Like?
Blue Kuri Squash Flavor and other notes: 2-3 pounds, very similar to green kabocha but with blue hues. This was a little jewel we found at a farmers market in Missoula Montana and carried it all the way home. Now we’ll wait to eat it because it traveled so far.
Orange Kabocha Squash
Common Name(s) and Other names: Orange/Red Kabocha or Ambercup Squash , Sunshine Hybrid, Sunshine Kabocha Squash, Amber-Cup
What Does Orange Kabocha Squash Taste Like?
Orange Kabopcha Squash Flavor and other notes: One of the best tasting Kabocha varieties, super sweet and delicious. Skin is totally edible and overall, a fantastic squash to eat. We’ve only been able to find these at farmers markets and when we do find them, we want to hoard them because they store for months in a cold fridge. More info here and here.
Red Kuri Squash
Common Name(s) and Other names: Red Kuri,Orange Hokkaido Squash, Japanese squash, Baby red hubbard, Uchini Kuri squash, Potimarron in France and Onion Squash in the UK.
What Does Red Kuri Squash Taste Like?
Red Kuri Squash Flavor and other notes: Shape is fig or tear-drop shaped.This is a smaller hubbard squash variety. Edible skin, chestnut like flavor, sweet and delicious. Has a pointy tip at one end. Some of the red kuri’s don’t have the signature tip, so we’re wondering if they were just picked too soon? Or maybe they’re actually an orange kabocha instead of a red kuri? We’re still investigating. Hmmm…..
Gold Nugget Squash
Common Name(s) and Other names: Gold Nugget, Golden nugget squash, oriental pumpkin
What Does Gold Nugget Squash Taste Like?
Gold Nugget Squash Flavor and other notes: We LOVE this pumpkin and even have a roasted recipe in our Bountiful Cookbook. We are always amazed at how tender the skin and flesh are. The flavor is fantastic and it’s the perfect size for stuffing too. This is one of those squashes that you definitely want to eat the whole thing. More info here.
Blue Ballet Squash
Common Name(s): Blue Ballet
What Does Blue Ballet Squash Taste Like?
Blue Ballet Squash Flavor and other notes: It’s a smaller version of a blue hubbard, but with smoother skin. Big hubbards commonly have tough, bumpy grey-blue skin. Both shapes are tear-dropish . They’re chunky, clunky looking but always a favorite. We can’t wait to get our hands on another true hubbard this season because they’re so “ugly-cute” and last forever in a cool dry spot in the house. More info here on blue ballet squash.
Common Name(s) and Other names: Delicata,Peanut squash, bohemian squash or sweet potato squash
What Does Delicata Squash Taste Like?
Delicata Squash Flavor and other notes: Skin is super tender when baked and perfect for stuffing. It’s definitely one of our favorite squashes because of the flavor and also it’s thinner skinned and easy to cut. Try stuffing it with meat, quinoa or any other grains with cheese. It’s fantastic! There’s many color variations and sizes to delicata squash. And we have a stuffed delicata rings recipe in our Bountiful cookbook. (shameless self promotion)
Delicata Squash Recipe ideas: Roasted Delicata squash with rosemary
Common Name(s) and Other names: Banana Squash, Jumbo pink banana squash
What Does Banana Squash Taste Like?
Banana Squash Flavor and other notes: Long and large, often sold in pieces with different color varieties. Can weigh 10-40 pounds! For such a huge squash, it has few and small seeds. There’s many different cultivars, including pink, blue, hybrid/rainbow varieties. One average banana squash probably feeds 50. Great info and growing guide here.
Common Name(s): Sparkler Pumpkin
What Do Sparkler Pumpkins Taste Like?
Sparkler Pumpkin Flavor and other notes: Small, decorative looking, but definitely edible with a sweet pumpkin flavor. The long stem definitely makes them unique looking and easy to pick out in a crowd of mini pumpkins. Use them just like you would the tiger stripe pumpkins. More info here.
Tiger Stripe Pumpkins
Common Name(s): Tiger Stripe
What do Tiger Stripe Pumpkins Taste Like?
Tiger Stripe Flavor and other notes: Most commonly found as decorative centerpieces. It contains little flesh, but it’s edible and perfect as a soup bowl or stuffed and baked. Even if you don’t eat the whole thing, they’re perfect for table-top food displays and vessels for dips and soups.
Common Name(s) and Other names: Sugar Pumpkin, Sugar Baby, Sugar Pie, Pie pumpkins
Sugar Pumpkins Flavor and other notes: There’s many different varieties and different names, but overall, the flesh and sweet and commonly used for pumpkin pies for their superb flavor and texture. You’ll be able to spot them right away because they’re much smaller than the traditional Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin but they’re definitely tastier! Try our roasted pumpkin ice cream recipe and pumpkin spice bread pudding recipe.
Flat White Boer Pumpkin
Common Name(s) and Other names: Flat white Boer pumpkin, Flat White boer ford
Flat White Boer Pumpkin Flavor and other notes: Bright orange flesh interior, aromatic and sugary. They’re subtle and elegant and perfect for carving, then eating. One of these years we want to go all-out and line the whole front of our house with these gorgeous specimens. More info here.
Common Name(s) and Other names: Fairytale Pumpkin, Castilla
What Does Fairytale Pumpkin Taste Like?
Fairytale Pumpkin Flavor and other notes: Seriously, this is probably one of our favorite pumpkins to cook because not only is it easy to find in our markets during the Fall season, but they’re sweet and delicious! Many of these varieties like Dickinson, Chelsea and Kentucky are used to make canned pumpkin puree because their flavor is fabulous. Some say this variety and the long island cheese pumpkin truly makes the best pumpkin pie. We believe them and are total fans of making this one of our top-eating pumpkins!
Common Name(s) and Other names: Cinderella pumpkin, Rouge vif d’Etampes
What do Cinderella Pumpkins Taste Like?
Cinderella Pumpkin Flavor and other notes: Gorgeous French heirloom with Glowing orange/reddish outside and large pumpkin that is a show stopping color for fall decor. It’s round and squat and looks like the Cinderellas coach in the fairy tale story. And it’s definitely edible! Don’t be fooled by it’s beauty. Cinderella pumpkins are super popular for decorating, but when you’re hungry, just know it’s a delicious dinner option. More info here and here.
Common Name(s) and Other names: Peanut-Shell squash, Galeux D’Eysines Squash
What Does Peanut-Shell Squash Taste Like?
Peanut Shell Squash Flavor and other notes: This French heirloom might look odd with it’s bumpy outside “peanut-shell” covering, but it’s delicious! The peanut shell looking warts are cause by sugar in the skin. Sweet, great for baking and desserts. They’re definitely stunning in their own way and if we had more backyard space, we’d love to try to grow it and have tons of these for cooking and sharing on our winter squash guide. More info here.
Knuckle Head Pumpkins
Common Name(s) and Other names: Knuckle Head Pumpkins,Warty Goblin (orange pumpkin pictured here with the green warts), Red Warty Thing (red pumpkin pictured here with red warts)
Can You Eat Knuckle Head Pumpkins?
Flavor and other notes: Sure, they’re edible but on the watery side with very mild flavor. They might look scary and warty, perfect for spooky Halloween, but their value goes into the culinary realm. Generally, any pumpkin with warts or knobby rough skin are called “knuckleheads” at markets. We’ve had these pumpkins for a few weeks at our studio and everyone who passes by them think they’re the most cool looking species ever. They have their own fan base now and it’s hard for us to eat them just yet. More info here and here.
Marina di Chioggia Pumpkins
Common Name(s) or Other names: Marina di Chioggia, Sea Pumpkin
What Does Marina di Chioggia Pumpkins Taste Like?
Marina di Chioggia Flavor and other notes: Don’t judge this squash by it’s cover. Named after the italian coastal town of Chioggia, just south of Venice, they’re a show stopper. Italians love to cook it for gnocchi and ravioli and also love grilling them because of their rich and superb flavor! Colors range from rich dark gray-green with gorgeous deep ridges. Make sure to flip to look at it’s underside and you’ll see that it’s truly in the turban family of pumpkins. Sure, they’re bumpy, rough, squat and funny looking but they’re beautiful in our eyes and definitely one of our favorite to have on the countertop. More info here.
Common Name(s) and Other names: Jarrahdale, Blue pumpkins, Gray Pumpkins
What do Jarrahdale Pumpkins Taste Like?
Jarrahdale Pumpkin Flavor and other notes: Super cool looking with grey/blue coloring and it’s delicious. They’re an heirloom originating from Australia and even across the world, they’re one of the most popular for design and decorative purposes. But definitely give them a taste and you’ll be wowed by their sweet flavor and awesome texture! Go ahead and cut a wedge out of this beauty and you’ll see why it’s delicious. Want to grow these blue beauties? More info here.
Speckled Hound Pumpkins
Common Name(s) or other names: Speckled Hound
What do Speckled Hound Pumpkins Taste Like?
Speckled Hound Pumpkin Flavor and other notes: These beauties are just stunning! Texture is a little drier, but still sweet and delicious. It has a cute stem that is depressed into the squash. Texture is similar to a butternut squash. If you want to grow this beauty, here’s some info here.
Speckled Hound Pumpkin Recipe ideas: Speckled Hound Squash Coconut Soup
We really enjoyed researching and photographing this winter squash guide. The fun hasn’t ended because we’re going to keep adding new winter squash as they come into our kitchen. Let us know if you’ve come across any other interesting varieties. Coming up next, our sweet potato guide! Stay tuned…
-Todd and Diane
This pumpkin varieties guide post was originally published in 2016. All images here are works of Todd Porter and Diane Cu-Porter and are protected by copyright law. Please do not use, distribute, reproduce, sell, re-purpose or take these images.
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