Save on Pinterest

9 Types of Summer Squash (and How to Cook Each One)

Think outside the zucchini! There are many different types of summer squash, each with a unique texture and flavor.

1 / 12
Summer SquashIvana Lalicki/Shutterstock

Selecting Summer Squash

Most summer squashes have tender, glossy skins, although a few varieties do have a firmer texture. If you’re harvesting your own, pierce the skin with your thumbnail to see if the squash is ready. (Skip this step at the market, though. It’s just one of those things every farmer wishes you knew!)

2 / 12
Squash summer squash on display at the farmers marketZigzag Mountain Art/Shutterstock

What Size Should You Choose?

Summer squashes come in all shapes and sizes. Baby squash is super tender, with tiny seeds and nutrient-dense flesh. Because of their small size, pattypan squash is perfect for cooking whole. Larger squash, like zucchini, tends to lose its flavor and become watery—making them better suited for baked goods or soups. No matter which type or size you choose, there are hundreds of ways to cook summer squash.

3 / 12
Summer squash harvestStudio Barcelona/Shutterstock

Storing Summer Squash

When you get back from the market, pop the squash in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator and plan to use it within a week. They’ll last longer if you place them in a plastic bag with a corner open to promote air circulation and humidity. You can also freeze grated squash in freezer-safe bags for about 12 months. Here’s how long other fresh produce lasts.

4 / 12
White zucchini in the garden, hanging in the airsellenelles/Shutterstock


It’s easy to confuse cousa with spaghetti squash—they look nearly identical! However, cousa’s flesh and seeds are edible. This Middle Eastern variety has very thin skin and it’s a touch sweeter than a zucchini. Because of their oval shape, these summer squashes are perfect for making garden-stuffed squash boats.

5 / 12
Fresh yellow zucchini on woodenami mataraj/Shutterstock


Crookneck squash are usually bright yellow and have the best texture when they’re shorter than 6 inches long. Their bulbous bottoms and long, slender necks make them difficult to cut into perfect rounds, so we like dicing them instead. Flavorwise, they’re pretty similar to zucchini and they mix well with green squashes, like in this summer squash gratin.

6 / 12
Pattypan Squashes on white board.All Simple/Shutterstock


This UFO-shaped vegetable might be the cutest variety of summer squash! They come in all colors and sizes, although we like the baby sizes for grilling whole, like in this grilled pattypan recipe. Pattypan squash larger than a few inches wide have tougher skin, but it’s still edible. They’re best quartered, chopped or sliced for grilling, roasting or sauteeing.

7 / 12
Zucchinis the stuffed CouscousYevgeniya Shal/Shutterstock

Round Zucchini

These grapefruit-shaped summer squash taste exactly like regular zucchini, but their shape makes them more fun. Use them instead of peppers to create cheesy stuffed squash. You can also remove the top, spoon out the insides and use them as a serving bowl for soup. Look for softball-size squash for the most tender eating experience.

8 / 12
Fresh sliced raw bio zucchini and dill on wooden background.GK1982/Shutterstock


This Mexican heirloom squash (also called calabacita) is firmer than other types of summer squash, but it’s sweeter and more flavorful. They’re usually shaped like paler green zucchini, although sometimes they’re spherical. Use them in any of your favorite zucchini recipes to give the dish a flavor boost.

9 / 12
Close up of a Trombonchio summer squash.Eag1eEyes/Shutterstock


This Italian heirloom variety got its name because of its unique shape. They can grow to a massive size, but we like them best when they’re about a foot in length. You’ll notice they have fewer seeds inside and a firmer texture. They taste fantastic when chopped up and sauteed for a quick summer squash side dish.

10 / 12
Hybrid green golden zucchini


These two-tone squash are yellow on top and pale green on the bottom. Their straight-neck shape makes them perfect for slicing into rounds or turning into zucchini noodles. While their skin is slightly tougher than a zucchini, they’re soft and tender inside with a pleasant, nutty flavor.

11 / 12
Fresh zucchini with basil on wooden table close upAfrica Studio/Shutterstock


Zucchini is the poster child when it comes to summer squash. Small, 4- to 6-inch zucchini taste fantastic raw when shaved into ribbons for zucchini carpaccio. You can halve larger squash for the grill, saute chopped-up zucchini or grate them for making quick breads. They even make great pickles!

12 / 12

Chayotes In The SupermarketWagner Campelo/gettyimages


Summer squashes are technically fruits, so it’s no surprise that chayote has a slightly sweet, apple-like taste. But just like the rest of the squashes on this list, chayote is still prepared like a vegetable. Toss it into a salad, marinate it or pickle it.

Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.