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How to Use Squash and Recipe Round Up (includes Instant Pot!)

Weird Veggies Squash

When winter squash are suddenly everywhere in the fall, acting like they’re all gourmet or something – what’s a home chef to DO with them? Especially if…you don’t like mushy orange vegetables but you know they’re good for you! And what are the different kinds of squash anyway? Interested in cooking squash in an Instant Pot? Want to get more veggies at breakfast? Keep reading!

You can find whole squash in most grocery stores year round – and often more than one variety! You can purchase pre-cut cubed squash in the refrigerated and frozen sections. And of course, you can always find squash in the canned section of your grocery store (that’s right, canned pumpkin – I’m looking at you).

A Little Bit About Squash Varieties – So Many Different Ones!

There are two genres of squash: summer squash (such as zucchini or yellow squash) and winter squash (such as acorn or butternut). While summer squash needs to be eaten soon after harvest, winter squash can last months if stored in a cool environment.

Today I’m going to focus on winter squash – which are identified by their hard exterior, long shelf life, and hollow center with large seeds.

Did you know you can turn these seeds into a healthy snack? Some grocery stores sell pumpkin seeds at a high premium – but when you buy a squash, you get them for free! Check out how to make pumpkin (or butternut) seeds into a tasty treat.

Winter squash are an excellent vegetable to add to your diet. They are an excellent source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C – and  can even provide a nice boost of Vitamin B to your diet. Additionally, squash can be purchased inexpensively – especially in the fall when squash is in season. I love it when I can get nutrient-dense food at budget prices!

Don’t forget — I’ll have a squash recipe round up at the end!

There is also great variety among squashes. When it comes to many vegetables (like carrots or celery) there aren’t many options easily available. But just this past week I was walking through my grocery store and saw six different squash types for sale – including two I had never heard of before!

Weird Veggies Squash

So let’s take a look at some of the more well-known winter squashes.

Baking with Real Pumpkins

Perhaps the most famous member of the squash family is the pumpkin.

While you can find giant pumpkins every fall, those aren’t the best to use for cooking and baking. Don’t get me wrong – you can absolutely eat them (and I most certainly have!). But just like there’s a significant taste difference between a Red Delicious and Pink Lady apple, the difference between an ornamental pumpkin and a sweet pumpkin are noteworthy.

Look for sweet pumpkins or pie pumpkins. Or head over to the baking aisle in your grocery store and snag a can of pumpkin. Be sure to check out this round up of 20 ways to use that random half cup of pumpkin.

Spaghetti Squash - winter squash round up with recipes and tips

How to Use Spaghetti Squash

This squash is most certainly unique. Rather than a creamy flesh, the spaghetti squash has a stringy nature. Once the squash is cooked, simply take a fork and shred the inside into strings.

This makes it GREAT for a lasagna or pasta substitute (hence the name – spaghetti squash), though it can be a little watery. I you find you don’t love the taste of spaghetti squash plain with butter, try it with sausage and spaghetti sauce. Add cheese if you need it – eventually you’ll find a way to use this amazing grain-free pasta substitute!

Here’s how to bake and use spaghetti squash.

RELATED: Chicken piccata with spaghetti squash

Acorn Squash - winter squash roundup with recipes and tips

Time to Try Acorn Squash

This green-exterior, heart-shaped squash has a beautiful yellowish inside. It’s a very delicate flavor and is absolutely delicious. It gets its name from its acorn-esque shape.

Acorn squash tend to be smaller, which makes them perfect for stuffing.

Butternut Squash - winter squash round up with recipes and tips

Butternut Squash May be Your New Favorite

If there was a holy grail in the squash world, this is it.

The long straight neck is perfect for easy cubing and the bright orange flesh is equal parts sweet and nutty. This is my favorite squash (and I think it makes for a better pumpkin pie than actual pumpkin does! But don’t tell anyone…)

It’s very easy to find butternut squash pre-cut in the refrigerator section of your grocery store. While it’s not as economical as buying an uncut squash, it’s a wonderful grab-and-go time saver. My favorite use for butternut squash right now is this Panera copycat recipe for Paleo Butternut Squash soup. Or try a simple framework recipe with chicken broth, seasonings, and maybe some cream. If you do like squash, this is a perfect fall opener for dinner.

You can also cube the squash to add to roasted veggies like these or even make gluten-free biscuits with hidden squash.


No, this is not a backyard game (although that has potential). The number one way I use squash is in anything, by the cube. I bake a butternut squash, puree it in a blender, and make “ice cubes” out of it, just like I used to do for baby food. I toss a few cubes into spaghetti sauce, casseroles, soups, and meatloaf. I get to boost our orange winter veggie intake, and I don’t get complaints from the peanut gallery.

Bake with squash

I pretty much treat all orange veggies the same – roast, puree, and use in recipes like:

How to Cook Squash

Now we get down to the fun part. As I mentioned before, winter squash are very hard. Hard enough, that it’s tricky to cut them open. Personally, I use my largest chef knife  and rubber mallet to help me whack the squash open – otherwise, your knife might get stuck.

Weird Veggies Squash

Some people like to peel their squash, roast it, and then use it in baked goods. Personally, that was too much time intensive work. We used to roast the squash and scoop out the flesh.

Here’s How to Roast a Squash:

  • Wash the outside.
  • Cut it in half (unpeeled)
  • Scoop out the seeds (save them to make crispy “pumpkin” seeds!)
  • Place halves face down in a 9×13 pan and add 1cm or so of water.
  • Bake in a 400F oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • When you can pierce the skin easily with a fork, it’s done.

However, that has allllllllllll changed since I got my Instant Pot. Now, I can cook a whole squash in 8 minutes!

How To Cook Squash in the Instant Pot in 8 Minutes

Squash In The Instant Pot

A quick note about the recipe. It is CRUCIAL that you use a trivet with this method. Selecting the “steam” function causes the pressure cooker to heat to a high temperature quickly. If you have your squash touching the bottom of the pot, it could burn.

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8 Minute Squash in the Instant Pot

  • Author: Bethany Wright
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 8 mins
  • Total Time: 13 mins
  • Yield: 1 squash 1x


Don’t have an hour to roast squash in your oven? No problem! Perfectly cook squash in 8 minutes in your Instant Pot!


  • 1 squash (butternut, spaghetti, acorn, etc)
  • 1 cup water

ship kroger


  1. Using a rubber malletand sharp knife, cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard (or turn into a crispy snack!).
  2. Quarter your squash if it is large (so it can fit in the Instant Pot).
  3. Place a metal trivet in the liner of your pot and add 1 cup of water. (You must use the trivet for this method!!!)
  4. Arrange your squash quarters on the trivet.
  5. Put on the lid and make sure the nozzle is set to seal.
  6. Select the STEAM button (not Manual!) for 8 minutes.
  7. Once it has finished cooking do a natural release or quick pressure release. The flesh will fall away from the peel without any effort.
  8. Enjoy plain, with a splash of butter and salt, or use in your favorite recipe.

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You’re Just *7 Days* Away From Easier Meals with Your Instant Pot

Whether you have a few fav meals in your Instant Pot or still aren’t using it regularly yet, I can show you the secrets to SAVE time (and money) with my favorite appliance!

May I send you my best hacks to maximize my fav appliance so you can spend more time with your family AND nourish them well?

Get IP hacks in short emails and transform the way you serve dinner:

Here’s more ideas on cooking squash in the Instant Pot from Katie. 

Winter Squash Recipe Round Up (includes plenty of Paleo!)

Weird Veggies Squash

Don’t forget, you can use pumpkin and butternut squash pretty interchangeably in most recipes!

grain-free pumpkin pancakes - get veggies in breakfast!
Allergy Free Pumpkin Muffins
Healthy Pumpkin Pie
What’s your favorite way to use squash?
=Traditional Cooking School Instant Pot Sourdough Cornbread Pressure Cooker Recipe

My dear friend Wardee at Traditional Cooking School can do just about anything with her Instant Pot – cakes, bread, main dishes, veggies, even “stacking” multiple kinds of food at once!

She’s offering a free sourdough cornbread Instant Pot recipe!

This cornbread is delicious, nutritious, super easy to make, and it only needs 12 minutes of cook time.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

6 thoughts on “How to Use Squash and Recipe Round Up (includes Instant Pot!)”

  1. I recently tried a recipe for a whole pie pumpkin in the instant pot and it totally worked! No need to fight to cut it in half, just put the whole thing on the trivet for 12 (I think) minutes and it falls right apart! We like it for pumpkin muffins and Katie’s pumpkin pancakes.

  2. One of the benefits I find with squash (of any kind) is the versatility! It will take on the flavor of nearly anything you pair it with, sweet or salty. Purée winter squash varieties to thicken your soup. I never buy pasta anymore and instead use squash of some variety for the ‘noodles’. Make a dish of lasagna both ways and taste the difference. You’ll be amazed how much more flavor there is with zucchini noodles (just remember to decrease the liquid ingredients with squash)! Another favorite is cubed squash in chili with avocado. Short on meat or extra guests arrive for dinner? sauté a summer squash variety seasoned with your favorite steak or chicken seasoning and toss it in your tacos, casserole or skillet dinner! Wa-la! Also it’s easy to add it in your muffins, pancakes or cookies to disguise it from a picky eater!

  3. I often roast an acorn squash (or two or three) in the oven, scoop out the flesh, and then use my immersion blender to mix it with applesauce. With a little cinnamon for those who like it, it’s an easy way to cut down the natural sugars of applesauce, and get some extra nutrients in kids and adults alike. We mix applesauce with cooked oatmeal to sweeten it up, and this works just as well – orange veggie for breakfast, anyone? 😉 I’ve also used it in various recipes that call for applesauce (baked goods, pancakes, etc.) and didn’t have any trouble.

  4. Its only recently I figured out that the squash I came across in some recipes was actually butternut pumpkin! Thanks for this post, who would have thought there is so much to learn about squash!

  5. Squashes are of two types, starchy and lowcarb. Spaghetti, patty pan, yellow summer squash and zucchini are all lowcarb. They don’t keep longterm. Pumpkin and the rest are starchy and good keepers. These squashes are as health-filled as tubers like beets, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, carrots, etc. Add some fruit and beans to the list and you’d never miss the carbs from grains, if you had to forgo them.

  6. Becca @ The Earthling's Handbook

    My favorite unusual way to use squash is in burritos! I had a very tasty sweet potato burrito in a restaurant that inspired me to figure out how to make that at home, and when it turned out to be easy, I started experimenting with other orange vegetables. Squash or pumpkin needs to be browned longer that sweet potato so it isn’t too wet, but in the end it tastes just as good with Mexican seasoning.

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