Simple Guide to Pumpkin & Winter Squash + Recipe Ideas

Today, we are covering pumpkin, also known as winter squash! It seems to be everywhere at the moment, so I thought I’ll go over different types of pumpkin/squash and give you some ideas of what to do with it in the kitchen.
All pumpkins are a type of winter squash, and are also related to zucchini. It’s a very versatile vegetable, used all around the world, and is super popular around Halloween and Thanksgiving. Most of the pumpkin parts can be used: sweet and nutty orange flesh, the seeds, flowers, and even the skin is delicious when roasted.

Most Common Pumpkin Varieties 

Butternut Pumpkin, also known as butternut squash outside of Australia and New Zealand has mildly sweet and nutty flavour and bright orange flesh.

Queensland Blue has tasty, deep orange flesh and keeps really well. It can be roasted, boiled and mashed. A common variety is Ironbark.

Spaghetti Squash is oval and pale yellow, and when raw, the flesh is solid like other raw squash. When cooked, the flesh falls away from the fruit in strands like spaghetti, hence the name. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavour and goes great with sauces.

Golden Nugget has a mild flavour and a high ratio of seeds to flesh making it ideal for carving and hollowing out. It can be stuffed and baked.

Kent Pumpkin also known as Kabocha or Jap/Japanese pumpkin is sweeter than most other varieties. I personally love this variety the best. It’s great in soups and salads.

Gem squash is more of a summer squash and is also known as cannon balls. These are more common in South Africa and can be stuffed and baked, boiled and roasted.

Basic Ways To Cook Pumpkin

Most pumpkin varieties can be cooked using the following methods:

Roasted or baked:  whole and unpeeled squash for about 1 1/2 -2 hours; cut up and peeled for about 30 minutes, both at 175-190 C / 375-390F.

Grilled: peeled and cut into 1-2 inch slices or cubes should be cooked for about 20 minutes.

Boiled: whole for 1 hour or cut up and peeled for 10-15 minutes.

Mashed, pureed, used in baking:  grated raw or added as cooked puree and in stewed dishes like curries and casseroles – 10-15 minutes for the pumpkin to cook.

Then there is also spaghetti squash, which when cooked can be scraped into translucent, mild-flavoured, spaghetti-like strands. You can cook it by baking, steaming or boiling the whole squash in the skin and then cutting in half, removing seeds and scraping the ‘noodles’. Baking is probably the best – at 190 C / 375 F for about an hour.

Learn how to make spaghetti squash using an Instant Pot pressure cooker.


Pumpkin Nutrition

Pumpkin is very nutritious and contains lots of be beta-carotene, which is converted to a form of Vitamin A in our bodies – a powerful antioxidant. It’s also full of dietary fibre, vitamins C and E and potassium. Fresh pumpkin is always best but naturally preserved canned pumpkin is a great alternative and still contains many of the nutrients.

Season for pumpkin in Australia – summer and autumn (Dec – May), in USA and Europe  –  northern autumn and winter.

Everyday Pumpkin Recipes & Ideas

Simple roasted winter squash

Peel (or leave the peel on) and cut the squash/pumpkin into 1 cm wedges;  toss in some melted ghee or coconut oil, about 2 tablespoons, sea salt, ground black pepper and rosemary. Place on a tray lined with baking paper – 1-2 cm apart – and roast for 30 minutes, flipping over half way. You can try it with other hardy herbs like sage or thyme instead of rosemary. I like to throw in a few unpeeled cloves of garlic at the same time.

Healthy & Fabulous Pumpkin Salads

Spicy pumpkin soup with coconut milk

Pumpkin & cauliflower ‘dal’ (legume free)

Pumpkin & Beetroot Salad with Oregano Chicken

Dukkah crusted pumpkin with sliced beef, rocket salad and tahini dressing

Pumpkin & halloumi salad with pine nuts


Peel and cut pumpkin into small cubes and pan fry in some coconut oil or ghee for 4-5 minutes on each side, over low-medium heat. Remove to a plate and add a small handful of pine nuts to the same pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, or until slightly browned and toasted. Toss pumpkin and pine nuts with fresh rocket/arugula, grilled halloumi or aged grated Parmesan cheese (omit, if avoiding dairy), add some finely sliced Spanish onion and dress it all up with mustard, lemon and olive oil dressing. Super simple!

Roasted spiced pumpkin with sun-dried tomatoes 

Cut up half a pumpkin into wedges and roast as per instructions above.  Once roasted, sprinkle the wedges with dukkah spice (I get a pre-made mix) and finely sliced semi-dried or full sun-dried tomatoes and pumpkin seeds.

Garlic spaghetti squash with herbs from Pinch Of Yumgarlic-spaghetti-squash-recipe

Pumpkin & sage mash

Peel and dice 1kg of pumpkin and place in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat and cook on medium for 12-15 minutes, until tender. Drain and return to saucepan.

While pumpkin is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a small frying pan, until medium hot. Add about 15 fresh sage leaves and 2 cloves of garlic, and cook until the sage leaves turn crispy. Season with a little salt and nutmeg. Remove the leaves, and add the ghee with garlic to the cooked pumpkin. Mash together and season with a little extra salt and pepper. Add the leaves to the mashed pumpkin and stir through. You can add a little crispy bacon on top.

Fast & Easy Pumpkin Chicken Curry 

Creamy garlic spaghetti squash casserole from Real Simple Good

Paleo pumpkin & spring onion frittata from Nourish Every Day

Paleo pumpkin chilli from Wicked Spatula

Paleo pumpkin & carrot muffins from Nom Nom Paleo

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes from Fit Foodie Finds

Paleo pumpkin bread from The Healthy Chef or  Gluten free, paleo pumpkin bread by Against All Grain

Pumpkin pie energy bites from Paleo Grubs

Paleo pumpkin pie smoothie from The Civilized Caveman

Paleo pumpkin swirl cheesecake squares by Vanessa from Clean Eating With A Dirty Mind (as posted on Paleo Parents)

Pumpkin custard chocolate brownie pie from PaleOMG 

Paleo pumpkin pie pudding from Paleo Leap

How about that? Do you have a favourite recipe using pumpkin/winter squash or spaghetti squash? Share with us in comments.

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20 Awesome Paleo Pumpkin Recipes + simple guide to pumpkin and winter squash


  1. Beautiful squash fall is the best time of year I love it. I have been addicted lately to spaghetti squash. On Sunday I made shrimp scampi (no wine in the sauce) over the squash “noodles” it was most delicious served with a nice green salad. Irey you have introduced me to some new squash I wasn’t familiar with at all like Kent and Golden Nugget. I’ll be looking at my local farmers market. This was great I’ve seen most varieties but had no idea what to do with them. Excellent post 🙂

  2. Great guide to pumpkin and it’s uses. However, as one of the few Australian paleo blogs I was disappointed to see the temperatures in farenheit instead of celseuis for some of the recipes. I love your recipes and that they cater to Australian tastes rather than the plethora of American paleo recipes.

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