Sweet, earthy fall and winter squash, like butternut, kabocha, acorn squash, and pumpkin, are some of the most rewarding ingredients to work with this time of year. Despite all that, there's a good chance that the only squash to appear on your Thanksgiving table will be puréed and poured into a pie shell. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but this year, we encourage you to dive a little deeper into the vibrant color and seasonal flavor that these vegetables can furnish when stuffed and roasted, added to soups, or even incorporated into less traditional Thanksgiving dishes—like risotto with butternut squash and nutty browned butter, or tender ravioli with blue cheese. Put any one of these 12 squash recipes on your holiday menu and you'll wonder why it took you till Thanksgiving to try it.
Make-Ahead Roasted Squash and Kale Salad With Spiced Nuts, Cranberries, and Maple Vinaigrette
Trust us: Any dishes that can be made for Thanksgiving ahead of time are your best friends, and this hearty roasted butternut squash and kale salad is a perfect candidate. After roasting, the squash and kale won't get soggy in the fridge, and the salad will actually improve with a night's rest. With chewy dried cranberries and crunchy, cinnamon- and paprika-spiced pecans adding lots of texture, and a maple-sherry vinaigrette to tie it all together, it's a dish that presents some of the best flavors of fall in a single tasty package.
Roasted Squash "Carbonara"
This inventive dish uses the ingredients of a classic Roman carbonara—egg, crispy pork, grated cheeses, and black pepper—to top sweet roasted kabocha squash instead of pasta. Diced pancetta, and the warm pork fat reserved from cooking it, turns a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar and olive oil deliciously rich. Drizzle it over the squash, add Pecorino Romano and/or Parmesan and a few grinds of black pepper, and garnish with crumbled hard-boiled egg yolks.
Warm Butternut Squash and Cheddar Dip
Turkey, stuffing, and gravy may get a lot of attention on Thanksgiving, but in my family, the appetizers are at least as important. This one—a creamy, cheesy dip made with puréed butternut squash, topped with a thick layer of cheddar and baked—is comforting and rich, and hews closely to the flavors of the season with woodsy sage and sweet caramelized onions. It takes a bit of time to make, but good news: You can prepare it a couple of days ahead of time and pop it in the oven shortly before your guests arrive.
Pressure Cooker Butternut Squash Risotto With Frizzled Sage and Brown Butter
Thanksgiving is largely a meal of side dishes, particularly starchy, carb-y ones, and this recipe makes a compelling case for skipping the mashed or roasted potatoes in favor of creamy risotto (or, hey, just making all of the above). Usually thought of as a time- and labor-intensive undertaking, risotto becomes an absolute breeze when made in a pressure cooker. This one gets sweetness and depth from roasted butternut squash and apple, brown butter, aromatic sage, and just a touch of salty miso.
Homemade Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese Ravioli With Sage Brown Butter Sauce
Making pasta by hand on Thanksgiving Day itself? Fat chance, I say. But that doesn't mean you can't plan on adding these tender ravioli to your menu—they freeze nicely, so they can be made well ahead of time. A filling of sweet butternut squash, pungent onion, fresh orange juice, and just a little funky blue cheese (or goat cheese, if you prefer something milder) gives you great complexity of flavor in each bite, and a simple sauce of sage and nutty browned butter adds to the seasonal appeal.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup With Brown Butter and Thyme
A bowl of soup is a lovely way to start a Thanksgiving meal, especially when it's as colorful and warming as this one. It's a simple recipe, calling for just roasted pumpkin, a handful of common aromatics, fresh thyme sprigs, and chicken or vegetable stock, with a little maple syrup to highlight the pumpkin's sweetness and a bit of lemon juice to balance it out. Look for sugar pumpkins, or even kabocha squash, instead of the big jack-o'-lantern specimens; the latter look impressive, but tend to lack in flavor and texture.
Miso-Squash Soup With Sesame-Ginger Apples
Focusing on the nutty, earthy flavors of squash rather than the sweet, this soup is inspired by kabocha no nimono, a Japanese dish of kabocha squash poached in a dashi-based broth. We add miso, ginger, and lemon to that combination, rounding out the dish with savory, spicy, and acidic flavors, and top off the soup with a bright-and-sweet apple-scallion salad.
Vegan Curry Butternut Squash Soup With Kale
If you want a robust soup that's less appetizer and more main course—especially helpful if you're hosting an all-vegan or vegetarian dinner—this dairy-free butternut squash soup is delicious, filling, and pretty enough to be a centerpiece. Quinoa, kale, and carrots, seasoned by warming curry powder, give it plenty of heft, and toasted pepitas add a little crunch. Even if you're serving a roast turkey alongside, the soup will stand out in your Thanksgiving spread, balancing out the conventional holiday staples with its curry spice.
Baked Acorn Squash With Wild Rice, Pecan, and Cranberry Stuffing
For many people, Thanksgiving means building a meal that's as pretty to look at as it is good to eat, and these festive stuffed acorn squashes more than fit the bill. They're filled with hearty white and wild rice, tart dried cranberries, crunchy toasted pecans, and salty ricotta salata. Each squash could be a satisfying meal on its own, so definitely cut them up into slices if you're serving them as part of a holiday feast.
The Best Squash Lasagna
No, it's not anything close to a traditional holiday dish, but this autumnal take on lasagna is darned delicious, and would make a beautiful centerpiece for a vegetarian Thanksgiving. Squash, either kabocha or sugar pumpkin, is incorporated two ways here—blended into a smooth purée with tangy cream cheese, and diced and sautéed in butter. We layer both with lasagna noodles and a creamy, rich Gruyère sauce.
Balsamic-Glazed Acorn Squash With Shallots and Rosemary
If all you want is a simple side dish of squash, there's no need to get fancy to make a good one. Just roasting squash chunks with a little olive oil is enough to turn them deeply sweet and nutty. We add shallots and fresh rosemary to our roasted acorn squash here, plus a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to make a glaze—its tanginess does a great job of complementing the subtly sweet squash.
Roasted Kabocha Squash With Soy Sauce, Butter, and Shichimi Togarashi
For another Japanese-inspired twist on simple roasted squash, try adding a powerful combination of soy sauce and butter, a great way to load up cubed kabocha squash with tons of rich, salty umami flavor. A sprinkling of shichimi togarashi, or Japanese seven-spice blend, on top adds a mild dose of heat.