Types of summer squash go WAY beyond yellow squash and zucchini! Keep reading to learn how to choose, store, and cook some of my favorites.
One of my favorite parts of summer is all the types of squash that are in season. We’re not just talking yellow squash and zucchini. Head to the farmers market, and you might find Zephyr squash, Mexicana squash, patty pan squash, and more.
Below, I’m breaking down some common varieties and offering suggestions for how to cook them. If you’ve never worked with different types of summer squash before, they can seem intimidating, but I promise, they’re easy to prepare. Each of these varieties is unique and delicious. I hope you try some this summer!
How to Choose Summer Squash
When you’re looking at a display of summer squash—especially if there are types you haven’t tried—how do you know which ones to pick?
- Choose squash that feel heavy for their size.
- Make sure that they don’t have any wrinkles or soft spots, which can indicate decay.
- Select small to medium squash, NOT large ones. The bigger summer squash are, the more watery they’ll be, and they’ll have larger seeds. Smaller squash will have the best flavor and texture.
How to Store Summer Squash
To give your vegetables the longest shelf life possible, wrap them in a paper or plastic bag and store them in the crisper drawer of your fridge. The bag will help them retain their moisture (aka not shrivel), so don’t skip it!
Types of Summer Squash
If you’re familiar with any of the types of squash in this post, you definitely know zucchini. This popular veggie has dark green, thin skin and dense white flesh with a mildly sweet flavor. It’s a versatile vegetable to keep in your kitchen. You can sauté it, grill it, roast it, add it to baked goods, or even eat it raw.
Some of my favorite zucchini recipes include grilled zucchini, roasted zucchini, stuffed zucchini boats, zucchini noodles, and zucchini fritters. And I’ll never turn down a slice of chocolate zucchini bread!
Straightneck yellow squash is the most common variety of summer squash you’ll find at grocery stores and farmers markets. It has very delicate, pale yellow skin and a sweeter, fruitier flavor than zucchini. I love to sauté this squash until tender and serve it as a side dish—find my favorite method in this sautéed yellow squash recipe.
You can also add raw squash to salads (check out this pesto pasta salad recipe!), simmer it in vegetable soups, julienne or spiralize it to make veggie noodles, or add it to grilled vegetable skewers. Additionally, it’s a great substitute for zucchini in baked goods like zucchini muffins and zucchini bread.
Patty Pan Squash
I love patty pan squash because it’s just. so. CUTE! Its flesh is denser than that of zucchini or yellow squash, but it has a similar taste. Depending on the variety, its exact shape and coloring can vary. Some patty pan squashes are pale green and tulip-shaped, while others are darker and resemble a scallop-edged flying saucer. Some are the size of the palm of your hand, while others are barely bigger than a quarter.
Like other types of summer squash, patty pan is fantastic sautéed, grilled, or roasted. Check out this sautéed patty pan squash recipe to turn it into an easy side dish.
Zephyr Summer Squash
Zephyr squash, a cross between a yellow crookneck squash and a delicata squash–acorn squash hybrid, has a distinctive appearance. It’s long and slender, and while the upper half is yellow, the blossom end is generally green. But its look isn’t the only special thing about it. Johnny’s Selected Seeds, the company that first bred it, describes its flavor as “unusually delicious” and “nutty.” Prepare this unique squash as you would common yellow squash or zucchini.
Mexicana Summer Squash
This gray-green Mexican zucchini is popular among growers for its high yields, ease of harvest, and strong disease resistance, but you’ll love it for its tender flesh and nutty flavor. Try sautéing it or tossing it on the grill!
Did you know that not all zucchini look the same? They’re not pictured here, but golden zucchini are often available at farmers markets. You can identify them by their dark yellow skin and firm flesh.
Less common are striped zucchini, which include the Dario and Safari varieties (pictured above). With their white or light green stripes, these patterned squash are a treat to look at. Use them as you would regular green zucchini.
Round Zucchini and Squash
These summer squash varieties go by many names. There’s yellow One Ball squash, green Eight Ball, and pale, striped Ronde de Nice. All of them are types of round zucchini or summer squash. Their shape makes them perfect for stuffing, but you can also grill, roast, or sauté them as you would regular zucchini.
More Types of Squash to Know
I’ve highlighted some of my favorite types of squash above, but there are still others that you might find at your market or store. Look out for…
Yellow Crookneck Squash
You can recognize crookneck squash by its characteristic curved neck and bright yellow, bumpy skin. It has larger seeds than straightneck squash, but its firm flesh and rich, buttery flavor make it delicious nonetheless. Try it sautéed!
Many of the types of squash in this post look similar…not chayote squash! This pale green variety is shaped like a pear, and it has crisp, firm flesh not unlike that of a cucumber, though it’s also great cooked. Native to central Mexico, it shines in salads and sautés.
This ridged, striped zucchini is an Italian heirloom variety. It has a nutty flavor and is excellent raw or cooked. Thinly sliced, it would be delicious in a simple zucchini salad.
Hailing from the Middle East, pale green cousa squash has a sweeter flavor than regular zucchini. The small squash are short, squat, and gently tapered from stem to blossom end. Left to grow larger, they become ovular, similar in shape to spaghetti squash. The small squash are perfect for stuffing, but you can also roast or sauté them like zucchini.
What are your favorite types of squash? Let me know in the comments!