How to Prepare Squash

Posted on Oct 9 2012 - 11:45pm by Demelza Young

How to Prepare Squash

Perhaps you have an abundance of zucchini from your garden, or possibly there was a particular squash at the market that seemed to be calling your name – the question, now, is how will you prepare it?  One of the wonderful things about squash is that, despite the number of varieties available, they can all be prepared in similar ways.

Summer Squash

To prepare and use summer squash:

  • Thoroughly scrub under running water until the skin feels clean.  Cut off and discard the stem end and scrape off the other end.  It is only necessary to peel the skin if it is unusually tough or the surface feels especially gritty after washing.
  • Depending on your recipe, you may grate, slice, or chop the squash.

SteamOne of the easiest ways to prepare summer squash is to steam it in the microwave.

  1. Cut the squash into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices.
  2. Place in a microwave-safe bowl, and then cover and microwave it on high for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir the squash, and then microwave it another 2 to 4 minutes until just tender.

Grill.  If you’ve planned a barbeque with the family, why not add some zucchini and yellow squash to your menu?

  1. Preheat the grill and adjust it for medium heat.
  2. Cut your squash into 3/4- to 1-inch-thick slices and skewer them. Lightly brush the squash slices with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper (you can also use a marinade).
  3. Place the squash on the rack of the uncovered grill directly over medium heat.  Grill for 10 minutes or until the squash is just tender, turning them once during the cooking time.

Baked goods. When it comes to adding some moisture and additional nutrients to cakes, breads, or bars, you can use the coarse side of a box grater to shred zucchini or yellow squash and then add them to your recipe.  Both varieties may be used interchangeably.


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cut squash into bite-size chunks and then place in a large, shallow roasting pan.  Drizzle the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, or your favorite seasoning (my family is fond of both garlic pepper and Mrs. Dash blends).
  3. Roast squash uncovered for about 15 minutes or until the squash is just tender, stirring once.


  1. Preheat the broiler and cut squash into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices.  Arrange them in a single layer in a large, shallow roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Sprinkle squash with (optional) salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.
  3. Place squash about 5 inches from the heating source and broil for 3 to 5 minutes or until just tender.

Sauté. Cook in butter over medium-high heat until barely tender. Season with herbs of your choice, salt, and pepper.

Try squash in a foil pack, lasagna, or veggie stew, for a family friendly dinnerGrilled vegetable wraps make a great vegetarian lunch.  It’s not possible for me to discuss zucchini without raving about my favorite bread recipe.  If you’re used to eating your squash cooked, it may be a nice change of pace for you to try it raw, such as in this recipe for summer squash ribbons.

Winter Squash


  1. Peel squash, remove seeds, and cut the flesh into small chunks.
  2. Cover the bottom of a pot with about 1 inch of boiling water.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt & cover tightly, bringing to a rapid boil.
  3. Add squash; cover tightly and cook for 12 to 40 minutes (this depends on the age of the squash and size of the pieces).
  4. Once desired tenderness is reached, strain the squash, mash well (or puree in a blender), and add butter or other seasonings.

For boiling: Prepare as directed above, only cover the squash chunks completely with water instead of just the 1 inch.


  1. Clean and prepare the squash by peeling the skin and removing the seeds and pulp (young summer squash can be cooked with the skin on, but wash them well first).
  2. Cut squash 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).

Microwave: Cut the squash in half and discard the seeds. Microwave on high for seven minutes per pound.


  1. Preheat the over to 400°F.
  2. Depending on the variety of squash, you may wish to cut it in half or in pieces large enough for individual servings.  After scraping out the seeds and the stringy parts, place the pieces cut side up on a large, rimmed baking pan.
  3. Dress the squash the way you would like.  For example, you may wish to drizzle it with a little olive oil, or dot each piece with a little butter (about 1 teaspoon), brown sugar, honey or maple syrup, and a sprinkle of salt.  You could also try butter, garlic cloves, and fresh herbs.
  4. Pour 1/3 cup of boiling water into the baking pan, then cover the pan with a lid or foil.
  5. Bake for about 1 hour, removing the cover for the last 20 minutes of baking.

Note:  Squashes do not require peeling before baking, but the seeds should be removed. If small squashes are to be baked whole, cut a slice off the top or end and remove the seeds.


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut squash in half, removing seeds and stringy bits, and then cut again into individual portion sizes.
  3. Coat pieces with olive oil and place on a baking sheet with the cut sides facing up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired.
  4. Roast at for one hour, turning pieces after 30 minutes (or as needed) to prevent burning.  Remove from oven once tender, scoop out the flesh, and serve.

Alternatively:  Peel the squash first, removing the seeds and stringy parts, and then cut into approximately 1/4″ slices. Proceed as above, but heating time will be closer to 30 minutes.

Peeling: Some squashes have edible skin, but when you wish to remove it peel with either a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler.  Be aware that some varieties are far more difficult than others to peel.  You may wish to cut the squash into smaller pieces before peeling, to make the job easier.  If the squash proves extra stubborn to peel, you can try heating it in the microwave or oven for a few minutes, allow it to cool a bit first, and again try peeling it.

Try some baked butternut squash fries in addition to your lunch, or a casserole for dinner.  Curry is another tasty, warming fall favorite.  If you’re looking for a breakfast dish, leftover squash is a great addition to a frittata.

As you can see, there really is no wrong way to prepare squash, and you can tell when it’s done by the fork tenderness.  Grill, steam, broil, boil, puree, bake, mash or fry them—whatever method for preparing squash you choose, the results are sure to be delicious.  Go ahead and add that beautiful butternut or striking spaghetti squash to your cart.  Your healthy eating budget won’t suffer because, after all, fall fruits and vegetables are in season.


Demelza Young is an alumni of Northern Kentucky University. She currently enjoys volunteering her time in her local community, reviewing online content with her cat, and sharing quality recipes.

33 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Sue Invegas October 10, 2012 at 10:36 am - Reply

    This is great info to know as I never know how to cook some of the different ones and would love to try them!

  2. MamaBreak October 10, 2012 at 11:34 am - Reply

    I needed this today! I have squash just sitting waiting to be made. Do you know if it can be dehydrated to make chips??

  3. jheylo October 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    this is great info. thanks for sharing. i love squash too

  4. Melinda Dunne October 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    I love all the information you post. I never know how to prepare the different types of squash I usually do most of it the same way. Thanks for posting how I should cook them! 

  5. Alaina Bullock October 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Excellent post!  I am always looking for new ways to cook this!  Thanks!

  6. Cassandra - Loving Life as Mommy October 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing. I have never cooked squash and am excited to try

  7. Kelly R October 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the post.

  8. Suzi Satterfield (@MotherhoodLooms) October 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    Thanks!  I've only made it steamed for the baby or yellow squash fried for me. 🙂

  9. Nickida October 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    Great tips for cooking squash.  I need to get my kids into squash while they are still young they need more veggies and I think the color in squash is perfect to trick them with.

  10. Angie October 10, 2012 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    Yum!! I love squash on the grill! Thanks for the great tips!

  11. Malia October 11, 2012 at 12:36 am - Reply

    Thanks for this great post, i'm not much of a cook, so this will come in handy!

  12. HilLesha October 11, 2012 at 9:29 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing! I love squash.

  13. jheylo October 11, 2012 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    i will definitely try your tips on grilling those yellow quash. i love zuccini by the way

  14. Leila October 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing! I have never made squash so this is a good reference for a newbie like me! Got anything for spaghetti squash? I have heard it is delicious, but I have no clue how to even start that!

    • Susan Bewley October 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm - Reply

      One of the best ways to cook spaghetti squash is to cut it in half, put it down a cookie sheet, and back in the oven for about 350 degrees for an hour. When you take it out, very carefully flip it over with a knife.  You should be able to scoop it out with a spoon and it will look like long spaghetti noodles. 🙂 I usually just eat it with a tiny bit of butter or if you really want to get fancy, a bit of cinnamon 😀

  15. Pam October 11, 2012 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Looks simply delcious. I love it grilled. 

  16. Ronni Keller October 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    We love grilled squash!! I think everyone should try it!

  17. Melody October 11, 2012 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    I haven't had squash since I was a kid!  Thanks for sharing!

  18. Rhonda YVSG October 11, 2012 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    Squash is one of my favorites for soup. Thanks for some great tips on other ways to prepare it. Great post!

  19. Diane @ Philzendia October 11, 2012 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    I'm not a big squash eater but if I ever feel like making it, I know where to go for some awesome looking recipes!

  20. Kallie Greenly October 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing.
    I love to add mine to vegetarian pizza. Yum!

  21. Sheila October 11, 2012 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this healthy tips about squash, my mom used to make candy squash.

  22. Denise @ BoyzRuleOurWorld October 11, 2012 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Love squash! Will definitely check these recipes out  thanks for sharing

  23. Sadie October 12, 2012 at 9:15 am - Reply

    Perfect timing on this post! We just started making spaghetti squash and my partner said she didn't like the texture. I think this post will help her!

  24. Ashley S October 12, 2012 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Thanks for these tips. I have a love hate relationship with squash. I really want to learn to cook it better!

  25. Summer Davis October 14, 2012 at 11:47 am - Reply

    I LOVE squash.  I would eat it more often but I'm literally the only person in my family of 5 that likes it.  🙁  My favorite is spaghetti squash.  I'm actually making a gingered butternut squash soup today!  YUM!

  26. Tonya November 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    Perfectly timed post… my husband's family was just discussing this topic and none of them could believe I'd never prepared (or tried) squash. Time to get eating!

  27. aimee May 23, 2013 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    This is great! I pinned it on Pinterest. For foods that I am not entirely sure about cooking, this is fabbbbbbulous! Thank you!

  28. md kennedy August 31, 2013 at 6:16 am - Reply

    This year we've been inundated with squash – and I never even thought of grilling it!  What an awesome idea to create some variety.  Thanks!

  29. Tiffany R December 2, 2013 at 10:28 am - Reply

    ive always wondered how to do this. not hard at all!

Leave A Response