The 9 Best Ways to Cook Summer Squash (2023)

It is possible to cook vegetables deliciously. Don't listen to picky eaters or the self-proclaimed vegetable-averse. So, how to cook squash during the summer so it's something everyone will want to eat? Summer squash's tender flesh and mild flavor can make it seem less exciting than the nutty, sturdier fall squashes like butternut, acorn, and honeynut. But we're wild about all of these ways to cook summer squash and firmly believe that once you realize how versatile and tasty it is, you'll be pro-pattypan, zucchini, crookneck, and yellow squash.

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The 9 Best Ways to Cook Summer Squash (1)

Low-calorie summer squash, which is a close relative to pumpkins, cucumbers, and melons, grows on bushes rather than on vines, like winter squashes. As you learn how to cook yellow squash, remember that you can trade in zucchini or a summer squash variety. Just be sure to eat the skin, as this is where most of the fiber and vitamins A, B6, and C live. (Which means it's one of the best foods to eat for clear skin.)

From the air fryer to the oven, you'll want seconds of these easy seasonal recipes and tasty ways to cook summer squash.

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The 9 Best Ways to Cook Summer Squash (2)

1. How to Roast Squash

It might take a little extra time to roast summer squash, but the delicious caramelization added to the veggies by roasting is oh, so worth it. If you're seeking a hands-off cooking technique, this is one of the best ways to cook summer squash and zucchini. Add any seasoning you like before roasting, but try not to use too much olive oil, or your squash can get soggy.

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Use a knife to cut squash into bite-size chunks or cubes.
  • Place squash in a large shallow roasting pan or sheet pan.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and, if desired, another spice blend. (We're obsessed with the elote seasoning mix from Trader Joe's ($2).)
  • Roast, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until the squash is just tender, stirring once.

2. How to Cook Squash on the Stove Top

Steaming summer squash can be as quick as boiling and retains a lot of flavor and nutrition. Remember to season your squash once it's finished steaming for the best result.

  • Use a mandoline ($46, Target) or a knife to slice uniformly sized ¼- to ½-inch thick coins.
  • Insert a steamer basket into a saucepan.
  • Add enough water to the saucepan, so the level is just below the bottom of the basket.
  • Bring water to boiling.
  • Add the sliced squash to the steamer basket.
  • Cover and steam 3 to 5 minutes or until the squash is just tender.

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3. How to Cook Squash in the Microwave

If you don't have time to wait for water to boil, try steaming your summer squash in the microwave. (By the way, here's how to *finally* get that appliance squeaky clean.) The cooking time is a little longer, but this way is quicker, overall, than boiling or stovetop steaming, since you don't have to boil a whole pot of water.

  • Use a mandoline or a knife to slice uniformly sized ¼- to ½-inch thick coins.
  • Place squash in a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Cover and microwave on 100% power (high) 4 to 6 minutes or until the squash is just tender, stirring once after 2 minutes of cooking.

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The 9 Best Ways to Cook Summer Squash (3)

4. How to Grill Squash

When asked how to cook squash in summer, we have one answer: on the grill! For a super-delicious side, toss skewers or slices of squash onto the grill at your summer cookout for serving alongside burgers, chicken, and barbecue.

  • Preheat your grill and adjust for medium heat. (If you need a refresher, here's how to control grill temps.)
  • Use a mandoline or a knife to slice uniformly-sized ¾- to 1-inch thick coins and thread them onto skewers. Or cut the squash in half lengthwise into ¼-inch planks.
  • Brush the squash lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Or brush on a marinade.
  • Place the squash on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium heat. Grill 10 minutes or until the squash is just tender, turning once.

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5. How to Sauté Squash

You need just one skillet for this fast way to cook summer squash. In about 10 minutes, you can have a fresh vegetable side dish ready to share.

  • Use a mandoline or a knife to slice uniformly sized ¼- to ½-inch thick coins.
  • Place the slices in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and allow them to stand 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
  • Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet on medium-high.
  • Allow the squash slices to turn golden brown on one side (this should take about 5 minutes), then flip and cook about 3 more minutes or until the other side is golden brown.

Test Kitchen Tip

Don't crowd the skillet, or the slices won't cook evenly.

6. How to Boil Squash

Boiled summer squash is a quick and flavorful addition to soups, stir-fries, and pasta entrées. In just a few minutes, the squash is tender and ready to blend into a soup, toss into a wok, or fold into a bowl of pasta.

  • Use a mandoline or a knife to slice uniformly sized ¼- to ½-inch coins.
  • In a saucepan, bring lightly salted water to boil.
  • Add the sliced squash to the boiling water.
  • Cover and cook 3 to 6 minutes or until the squash is just tender. Drain well.

7. How to Broil Squash

If you don't have time to roast your squash, and the weather isn't prime for grilling, broiling summer squash is another great method. Prep your vegetables just as you do for roasting.

  • Preheat the broiler.
  • Use a mandoline or a knife to slice uniformly sized ¼- to ½-inch thick coins.
  • Arrange squash slices in a single layer in a large shallow roasting pan or sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat.
  • Broil the squash about 5 inches from the heat for about 3 to 5 minutes or until it's just tender.

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8. How to Cook Squash in an Air Fryer

Interested in cooking summer squash in an air fryer? We like to prep it similarly to our fan-favorite Air Fryer Pickle Chips for a crowd-pleasing party snack.

  • Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
  • Use a mandoline or a knife to slice uniformly sized ¼- to ½-inch thick coins.
  • Place the squash slices in a colander and sprinkle them with salt. Allow them to stand 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
  • In a shallow bowl, mix cornstarch, salt, and pepper.
  • In another shallow bowl, mix buttermilk and any additional desired flavoring ingredients, such as Sriracha.
  • Mix panko (or other desired coating) and oil in a third shallow bowl.
  • Working in batches, dust dried squash slices with cornstarch mixture, shaking off excess, then dunk in buttermilk mixture. Roll in panko to coat evenly.
  • Place breaded squash slices in the air-fryer basket, taking care not to overfill. Cook 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Keep the cooked slices in a 200°F oven while finishing the remaining slices.

9. How to Bake Squash for Breads, Cakes, or Bars

Adding shredded summer squash to baked goods helps ensure moist, tender results. Using the coarse side of a box grater, shred zucchini or yellow squash for baking.

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Selecting and Storing Squash

Summer squash hits its peak from early to late summer. Look for small- to medium-size squash with brightly colored skin. Avoid any with soft spots, dents in the skin, or bruises. Summer squash is highly perishable, so store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days. If you need more time, here's how to freeze the fresh produce to use later.


Do you peel summer squash before cooking? ›

There is no need to peel your squash before cooking, however, I definitely recommend washing it clean before cutting.

Do you remove the seeds from summer squash? ›

Summer squash are a little different. The seeds and skin are soft and fully edible. They are sometimes referred to as “soft shell squash” and as such, can be cooked or eaten raw. The entire squash is edible, versus the winter squash's hard seeds and shell that needs to be removed.

How do you cut and cook summer squash? ›

Use a mandoline or a knife to slice uniformly sized ¼- to ½-inch coins. In a saucepan, bring lightly salted water to boil. Add the sliced squash to the boiling water. Cover and cook 3 to 6 minutes or until the squash is just tender.

What is the easiest way to peel summer squash? ›

Microwaving the squash will make it much easier to peel. Simply slice off the top and bottom, poke the squash all over with a fork and microwave it on high for about 3 minutes. When it's cool enough to handle, peel the squash. The softened flesh will make peeling (and slicing) way easier.

Do you need to remove seeds from yellow squash? ›

The seeds in summer squash are tender and small so they don't typically require removal but again, if you are averse to them just scoop them out with a spoon! Now you are ready to use the yellow squash in your favorite recipes!

Do you wash squash before cooking? ›

Summer squash should not be washed until you are ready to use it. Because of its soft skin, the summer squash does not need to be peeled. Before cooking the squash, prepare the squash as instructed below. Wash the squash under cool running water and cut both ends off.

Is yellow squash and summer squash the same? ›

Popular summer squashes include pattypans and yellow squash. Like zucchini, yellow squash is commonly called summer squash, adding to the entire squash confusion. As zucchinis belong to the same family, they are harvested when they're immature and their skin is still soft.

Can I cook squash with peel? ›

"It's edible." If you are cooking with the skin on, no need to make seasoning adjustments; just cook according to the recipe directions.

Why is my summer squash so hard? ›

Overly mature yellow squash develops a hard rind and seeds, which compromises both the texture and flavor of the vegetable.

What does squash do for your stomach? ›

Squash are good sources of vitamin A, C, and B vitamins; they're high in antioxidants; and they're rich in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and manganese. And, of course, as whole plant foods, they're also rich in fiber and water, making them both hydrating and good for the gut.

How do you cook squash without losing nutrients? ›

If the squash is cooked in too much water, the water-soluble vitamins – C, folate and B6, along with potassium, will be diminished, but if the water is saved to use in soups the nutrients can be transferred instead of lost.

Why is squash a superfood? ›

Like sweet potato and carrots, squash is high in beta-carotene and vitamin A, which can reduce the risk of certain cancers. Load up on this fiber-filled food this fall or pair it with corn and beans all year round!

How do you clean and cook squash? ›

How Do You Cook Squash?
  1. Wash the outside of the squash.
  2. Remove the stem and blossom end.
  3. For yellow squash, no need to remove the skin or seeds.
  4. Cut into disks and then halve or quarter to make bite sized.
  5. Cook by Sauteing in oil or butter over medium heat and then add seasonings.

Do you eat the skin of yellow summer squash? ›

The peel is edible and mild. Squash can be eaten raw or cooked. Try yellow squash: Baked into your favorite desserts for extra moisture.

How do you wash squash? ›

Wash any unblemished squash in a 4:1 solution of vinegar and water or a sink full of water with a tablespoon of bleach. Submerge the squash or dip a towel in the solution and wipe each squash off. Let the squash dry completely before storing.

How long will yellow squash last after you pick it? ›

Storing and Handling Guidelines

Store squash ideally between 41 to 50 °F with a relative humidity of 95%. Under these conditions, squash is acceptable for up to 2 weeks. Squash stored at refrigeration temperatures of 41 °F should have a shelf life of 4 days.

Can dogs eat yellow squash? ›

For dogs, it is important to add healthy foods to their diet to keep them strong and well. Yellow squash is just one of the vegetables that have many benefits for your furry friend. Adding it to their diet will help keep them in good shape.

Should you wash squash? ›

Always wash away the dirt, grime and mildew, before storing, and many “experts” suggest you wash your pumpkins and squash in a very mild chlorine bleach solution consisting of 2 TBS of bleach to one gallon of water.

Why do you salt squash before cooking? ›

Vegetables with high water content tend to become mushy and bland if they aren't rid of excess moisture before cooking. To do that, you need two things: salt and time. Salting these watery vegetables draws out extra water and flavor molecules.

Should squash be refrigerated before cooking? ›

You should store summer squash (like zucchini) in the fridge, but thick-skinned squash like acorn, butternut, or kabocha should stay at room temperature. This is partially to preserve their texture, but it's mostly because squash tend to take up a lot of real estate in the drawers and on the shelves of your fridge.

Is it OK not to peel squash? ›

All squash skin is edible. But in the same way you're going to toss that banana peel, edible doesn't necessarily mean you want to eat it. Some squash has thin skin that's tasty and tender, while others have a tough shell that, even cooked, offers a stringy, chewy bite we opt to avoid.

What is the best season for summer squash? ›

We recommend planting zucchini and summer squash from late May to early July, depending on the season's temperatures and rainfall. It's a warm season crop, so it needs warm air, warm soil, and no chance of frost.

Can you cut mold off yellow squash? ›

Like the hard cheeses made without mold, dense fruits and vegetables are not easily penetrated by mold. The same rule of thumb applies to firm produce: cut off at least an inch around and below the mold spot (again, not touching the mold with your knife) before using.

What is an interesting fact about summer squash? ›

Summer squash grows on a bush or vine. Summer squash are a fruit since it flowers and contains seeds. American Indian tribes refer to beans, corn, and squash as the “Three Sisters.” • Squash is in the same family as melons, pumpkins, cucumbers, and gourds.

What is the healthiest squash to eat? ›

1. Butternut Squash. One of the most popular varieties of squash, it can be use in so many ways. It's one of the most rich in Vitamin A, boasting over 400% of the recommended daily value per cup, in the antioxidant form of beta-carotene.

What is the most popular summer squash? ›

Zucchini and yellow crookneck squash are the most common, but hopefully after reading this article you will find a new type to try in your garden this summer.

What is the disadvantage of summer squash? ›

Summer squash is known for its prolific production in a short time span, but its drawback is a short shelf life after harvest. Winter squash is the other and is known for its holding capacity in storage through the fall and winter.

Can you freeze raw yellow summer squash? ›

Yes! The squash can last up to 10 months in the freezer! Whether you choose to thaw it or cook from frozen, just note that the texture of frozen summer squash might not be exactly the same as fresh squash. For that, you'll have to wait until the next summer!

Can you eat overgrown summer squash? ›

The younger, smaller squash are more tender and flavorful. So try to choose small to medium squash for most preparations. Larger squash that are a little overgrown can be salvaged by using in breads where they are grated. Look for unblemished squash that are firm (not wilted) to the touch.

Can dogs eat squash? ›

Dogs have the easiest time digesting squash that has been steamed or roasted, advises Dr. Klein. Squash being fed to dogs should be plain, without any butter mixed in. You'll also want to avoid feeding your dog any squash seasoned with onion, salt, and garlic salt, which are toxic for dogs.

What can I do with squash skin? ›

It turns out that the skin of kabocha and acorn squash is great for roasting and snacking. These crispy squash skin chips are perfect for seasoning and snacking. Seasoned with salt and a tiny bit of cumin and cinnamon, they make a perfect savory fall treat.

Do you peel squash before slicing? ›

This one-two-three method for prepping the squash will leave you with slices and cubes.
  1. Remove the ends first. Choose a large, heavy, sharp knife to pierce the skin. ...
  2. Peel the squash. Grab a sharp vegetable peeler that fits comfortably in your hand. ...
  3. Halve the squash and remove the seeds.
Aug 26, 2022

What happens if you overcook squash? ›

Overcooked squash has a spongey texture instead of the slightly crisp crunch of properly cooked squash. Since squash will continue to soften after cooking, it can be helpful to remove the squash from the heat source just before it's fully cooked, letting the residual heat bring it to the perfect doneness.

How long before summer squash goes bad? ›

Store fresh squash in the refrigerator crisper in plastic storage bags or rigid containers to retain moisture. Stored in this manner, squash will maintain quality for 5-7 days. Avoid storing fresh squash in areas that might freeze.

How hot is too hot for summer squash? ›

Summer squash withstands temperatures up to 100°F, but growth and fruiting may be diminished at temperatures above 85°F. It does not require as much heat as other members of the cucurbit family, such as watermelon and cantaloupe. Most varieties grow slowly or not at all at temperatures below 60°F.

Does squash reduce belly fat? ›

There are plenty of advantages to playing squash. It's a lot of fun, it's good for your losing belly fat, a great way to unwind, tone muscles, and burn calories. Squash can burn plenty of calories and get you that flat stomach you're after.

Is squash anti-inflammatory? ›

The anti-inflammatory activity of squash is due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, as well as somewhat unusual anti-inflammatory polysaccharidescalled homogalacturonan.

Is yellow squash good for your kidneys? ›

Squash is fine for earlier stages of CKD and kidney transplant when potassium is well-managed without dietary restriction. With concern for potassium levels, consider having squash in small amounts.

Which is the best way to cook? ›

Steaming and Boiling

The takeaway: These methods are both healthy options. Moist-heat cooking methods, such as boiling and steaming, are the healthiest ways to prepare meats and produce because they're done at lower temperatures.

Is roasting vegetables in olive oil healthy? ›

Roasting and baking is another healthy way to fix your vegetables. Again, adding some healthy fat such as olive oil is a great idea, Magee said, as many of the vitamins and nutrients in vegetables are fat soluble, meaning your body absorbs them better in the presence of fat.

Can diabetics eat squash? ›

People with diabetes who eat a high-fiber diet tend to experience improved blood sugar levels. Squash is also rich in healing antioxidants and Vitamin A — which can improve insulin production — and Vitamin C, which has been shown to reduce blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes.

How often should you eat squash? ›

Squash is so versatile that you could really eat it for every meal of the day. That's right, you can eat squash for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Does squash help with brain health? ›

Winter squashes like butternut squash are full of beta carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, antioxidants, and niacin. They offer a lot of brain and body health benefits while adding few calories to your diet.

Do you take the skin off yellow squash? ›

Zucchini, yellow squash, and crookneck squash all have completely edible skin and seeds. Pattypan squash generally has edible skin, but the larger the squash the tougher the skin is. Take the time to roast a larger pattypan so the skin becomes softer, and you may want to remove the large seeds.

Can you eat the skin of summer squash? ›

Yep, you can eat the skin on summer squash.

Does yellow squash raise blood sugar? ›

Squash is also rich in healing antioxidants and Vitamin A — which can improve insulin production — and Vitamin C, which has been shown to reduce blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes.

What is the difference between yellow squash and summer squash? ›

Zucchini is actually a part of the summer squash family, which also includes crookneck, pattypan, and yellow squash. All zucchini are summer squash, but summer squash defines a larger group of seasonal gourds with edible skin and tender flesh.

What is toxic squash syndrome? ›

Cucurbit poisoning, often referred to as toxic squash syndrome, is an uncommon illness that can result in severe hair loss and symptoms similar to food poisoning. Cucurbitacins are compounds that can be found in the Cucurbitaceae family, which also comprises of cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and squash.

What health benefits does yellow squash have? ›

The vegetable is high in vitamins A, B6, and C, folate, magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus, and potassium. That's a serious nutritional power-packed veggie. Yellow squash is also rich in manganese. This mineral helps to boost bone strength and helps the body's ability to process fats and carbohydrates.

Is yellow squash healthier raw or cooked? ›

And that's a good thing, since cooked squash is incredibly more nutritious (this includes all kinds of squash, like zucchini and acorn), says Bazilian. Pumpkins, like carrots, are rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene, which are much easier to absorb once they have been heated.


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