4 Easy Ways To Cook Squash: {Plus Tips}

Squash is one of the most delightful vegetables and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Both summer and winter varieties are prepared by similar methods but some of the summer varieties, when very young and tender, require only a short cooking time.

HalvedThe yellow meat squash are especially rich in essential vitamins and their flavor is also more pronounced than other varieties.

Here’s a handy tip sheet that details how to prepare it four different ways (boiled, sauteed, baked and roasted)…I also have a few tips listed at the bottom.

Getting Started: Prepping Tips

  • Very young summer squash (like the marrows and some others), do not require peeling before steaming or cooking in a small quantity of boiling water (wash well and cut off the ends first). Larger ones, such as the winter varieties, do require peeling.
  • For baking, none require peeling however seeds should be removed. If small ones are to be baked whole, a slice is cut off the top or end and seeds removed.

Steaming or Boiling Method

  • Peel, remove seeds and cut meat in small chunks.
  • Cover bottom of pot with boiling water to depth of 1 inch; add 1/2 teaspoon of salt & cover tightly to bring to a rapid boil.
  • Add prepared pieces; cover tightly and cook for 12 to 40 minutes (depending upon age and size of pieces).
  • Once it’s done to desired tenderness, strain then mash well and add butter and seasonings (salt & pepper).

Pan Fried (Sauteed): Basic Recipe

  • Clean and prepare by peeling skin and removing seeds and pulp (young summer squash can be cooked with its skin on but wash well first).
  • Cut into slices or chunks then cook in butter over medium-high heat (uncovered) until pieces are fork tender. Season with salt, pepper or choice of herbs (you can also add thinly sliced onion).
  • Remove from heat and serve.

Baked Method

  • Depending on the variety, cut in half or in pieces large enough for individual servings.
  • Scrape out seeds and stringy parts.
  • Place pieces cut side up on large baking pan.
  • On each piece place 1 teaspoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of sugar or honey or corn syrup, and a sprinkle of salt. Or try butter, garlic cloves and fresh herbs.
  • Pour a third of a cup of boiling water onto the baking pan. Cover pan with lid or foil.
  • Bake in a moderately hot oven (400°F) for about 1 hour (remove cover for the last 20 minutes of baking).

Baked & Stuffed:

For small varieties, try baking them stuffed!

  • Remove one end (save this piece) and clean out seeds and stringy bits. Fill with a bread and meat stuffing (meat should be cooked first), pack into squash lightly, replace the end piece and tie together with string, wrap each piece with greased paper. Place in a baking pan, add 1/3 cup boiling water to the pan and bake at 400°F for about 1 hour (time depends on size and age of squash). To serve, cut in slices.

How To Roast

  • Cut in half, remove seeds and stringy bits, then cut again into individual portion sizes.
  • Coat pieces with olive oil then place on a baking sheet with the cut side facing up. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper if desired.
  • Roast at 400°F for one hour, turning pieces after 30 minutes or as needed to prevent burning.
  • Once it’s tender, remove from oven, scoop out the flesh and serve.
  • Alternate Method: You can also peel first, remove seeds and stringy bits, then cut into 1/4″ slices (approximately). Proceed as above but heating time will be closer to 30 minutes or so.


  • 1 large acorn squash will yield 2 servings. Allow about 1/2 lb. per serving for other varieties.
  • How to tell when it’s done: when it is fork tender throughout.
  • How to peel? You can peel them with either a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, but you’ll find some varieties are far more difficult than others to peel. To make the job easier, try cutting the vegetable into smaller pieces before peeling. For especially stubborn toughies, try heating it for a few minutes in the microwave or in the oven (allow to cool a bit first before trying to peel so you don’t burn yourself).
  • Winter varieties include: Acorn, Autumn cup, Buttercup, Butternut, Hubbard, Spaghetti
  • Summer varieties include: Pattypan (or scallop), Yellow crookneck and Zucchini

Source: Some of the information above is from the booklet “Vegetable Cook Book” by McFayden Seeds (1948)

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    • Kathy Coons

    For a delicious dish that cooks up quickly. Cut an acorn squash in half. Scoop out the stringy, seedy innards. Place halves on a microwave safe plate hole side up. Put a chunk of butter in each half, sprinkle on about 1½ tsp. of brown sugar, sprinkle with cinnamon, then add a tsp or 2 of chopped pecans. Microwave on high for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove with potholders and let it cool until you can handle it. Scoop out the flesh and smoosh it all up and serve.

    • Mike Scully

    Truly a lovely how to for my first ever squash cooking endeavor. I steam vegetables almost every day, so I was glad to read the “steaming” section. I surfed how to cook squash and here I found. Simple, easy to learn, and most appealing. Lovely presentation indeed. Thanks ‘n thank ya. Mike : )

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