By Carl Hanson

Winter squash aren't just beautiful centerpieces, they're also some of the healthiest, most delicious vegetables to grace our dinner tables.

Parmesan Roasted Acorn Squash | Photo by Allrecipes

If you've never handled one of those thick-skinned winter squashes before, the idea of actually cooking with it can be a little intimidating. Many recipes call for pre-cooked squash. Learn how to make the most of the creamy flesh of winter squash.

Baking Method

Cut smaller squash (like acorn squash) in half; scoop out the seeds. Place 2 teaspoons honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup and 1 tablespoon butter into their centers. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for about 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Beef and Veggies | Photo by Allrecipes

Roasting Method

Cut in half and seed squash. Place the squash halves, cut-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub the flesh with softened butter or oil, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with brown sugar, maple syrup, or orange juice. Flip the squash over and roast them for 40 to 45 minutes in a preheated 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) oven. Roast the squash until the skin is blistered, browned, and the flesh is tender. Insert a fork or knife under the skin to test that the flesh is tender. When the squash has cooled the skin should peel off easily.

Roasting squash helps to maintain squash's delicate flavor. Once roasted and cooled, there are a plethora of cooking options available. One option is to mash the squash and use it in any recipe calling for squash purée. Roasted squash freezes extremely well and reheats easily. Don't be afraid to roast several squash at once and freeze it for use during the holidays; it'll cut down on some of the cooking crunch come November and December!

See How to Make Sausage and Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Boiling Method

Cut the squash in half and discard the seeds. Peel and cut the squash into chunks. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the squash is tender. Let the chunks cool, then purée the flesh in a food processor or mash. To use the purée in pies, pass it through a strainer or sieve to remove any fibers or chunks.

Roast Pumpkin and Feta Risotto | Photo by Jamie Justice

Microwave Method

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

Butternut Soup | Photo by thomas ford

For more on the different kinds of winter squash, check out Winter Squash Varieties and 4 Ways to Cook Them.

Explore our complete collection of Winter Squash Recipes -- including acorn, butternut, delicata, pumpkin, and spaghetti squash recipes.

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