Squash is an iconic feature of the fall kitchen—your local grocery store is probably overflowing right now with fat pumpkins, butternut squash, and perhaps a few more esoteric varieties, like kabocha. Despite its seasonality and symbolism, squash isn't prominent in too many classic Thanksgiving dishes, pumpkin pie being the big exception. But there's a lot you can do with that colorful pile of gourds you've spied at the farmers market—think savory kabocha squash soup, baked acorn squash stuffed with wild rice, a thick and cheesy butternut squash dip, and even pumpkin lasagna. Below are 15 of our favorite dishes starring fall and winter squash—some traditionally Thanksgiving-y, some less so, every one of them a delicious addition to your holiday table.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup With Brown Butter and Thyme
Most Thanksgiving dinners end with pumpkin pie; thanks to this recipe, you can start the meal off with pumpkin, too. Pumpkin's mild flavor can be applied just as easily to savory dishes as to dessert. To keep this vibrant soup out of the latter territory, we flavor the roasted pumpkin with leek and onion, thyme, lemon juice, and chicken stock, balancing out its sweetness.
Classic Butternut Squash Soup
Like the previous recipe, this one calls for roasting the squash until it's deeply caramelized to bring out its natural sugars. Golden sautéed onions reinforce that sweetness, while the addition of sour cream to the cinnamon- and nutmeg-spiked whipped cream topping ensures that it's not overwhelmingly rich.
Quick and Easy Stovetop Butternut Squash Soup
If your oven will be fully booked on Thanksgiving Day, don't fret—you can still make a terrific butternut squash soup, entirely on the stovetop. We do it by incorporating browned butter, plus a little sugar to taste—some squashes are naturally sweeter than others and won't even need the extra help. Combined, those ingredients help make up for the sweetness and complexity you miss out on by skipping the caramelization step, producing a fully flavorful soup in just 35 minutes.
Miso-Squash Soup With Sesame-Ginger Apples
This stovetop soup doesn't try to emulate the sweetness of roasted squash. Instead, we play up its savory side here, poaching the butternut, kabocha, or kuri squash in dashi along with leeks and carrots, then pairing it with miso, ginger, and lemon. To add just a hint of sweetness for balance, we garnish the soup with an apple-scallion salad.
Vegan Curry Butternut Squash Soup With Kale
Don't serve this hearty soup as an appetizer—it could be a meal on its own, and on Thanksgiving, it'd make a great centerpiece dish for a vegan dinner. Quinoa, kale, and carrots pack a nutritious punch alongside cubed butternut squash, and curry powder adds a pleasant warming spice. A topping of toasted pepitas adds crunch.
Make-Ahead Roasted Squash and Kale Salad With Spiced Nuts, Cranberries, and Maple Vinaigrette
To all the Thanksgiving salad ideas we've already shared with you, here's just one more, which gets bonus points because it can be made a day ahead of time. We roast butternut squash and kale until they're tender, then mix them with chewy dried cranberries and crunchy cinnamon- and paprika-spiced pecans. It's all dressed with a vinaigrette made with sherry vinegar and—in keeping with the season—sweet maple syrup.
Warm Butternut Squash and Cheddar Dip
This creamy dip can be prepared ahead of time, too, and pairs perfectly with crispy pita chips or homemade baguette toasts. We make it by puréeing roasted butternut squash with woodsy sage and caramelized onions, then topping it off with a generous helping of cheddar cheese. After 20 minutes in the oven, it should be gooey, lightly browned, and completely irresistible.
Roasted Kabocha Squash With Soy Sauce, Butter, and Shichimi Togarashi
Roasted squash is wonderful in soups and salads, but it's delicious served on its own as well. This Japanese-inspired side dish flavors kabocha squash with a mixture of soy sauce and butter, a popular savory/nutty combination in Japan. A dusting of the Japanese seven-spice blend shichimi togarashi lends a mild but noticeable kick.
Balsamic-Glazed Acorn Squash With Shallots and Rosemary
For a more conservative, traditionally Western take on roasted squash, this recipe swaps out the soy-sauce-and-butter treatment for a tart glaze of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. We roast the glazed chunks of acorn squash along with shallots and fresh rosemary for extra flavor.
Pasta With Butternut Squash and Sage Brown Butter
Pasta may not be your first thought for a Thanksgiving starter or side, but why not? Everyone loves the stuff, and this recipe—which pairs small pasta shapes with a brown butter sauce, sautéed squash, and a handful of fragrant sage—is impossible to say no to on any occasion. The sauce is a snap to make: Once you've browned the butter, just mix in starchy pasta water to form a creamy emulsion.
Homemade Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese Ravioli With Sage Brown Butter Sauce
I know, I know—making your own filled pasta from scratch on Thanksgiving Day doesn't sound particularly realistic. Fortunately, these ravioli, packed with a creamy blend of butternut squash, chopped onion, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and blue cheese, freeze beautifully, so you can make them well ahead of the festivities. If the blue cheese feels too aggressive for your Thanksgiving crowd, feel free to replace it with goat cheese.
The Best Squash Lasagna
Tradition, schmadition: Lasagna on Thanksgiving is no more classic than other pasta dishes, but it's comforting and homey, and it makes a fantastic main dish for a vegetarian holiday meal. This version is especially appropriate, as it's bursting with fall flavors, including squash, apple, and sage. You can use either kabocha squash or sugar pumpkin here—we purée some of it with cream cheese and sauté the rest in butter before layering it all with soaked no-boil noodles and a Gruyère sauce.
Roasted Squash "Carbonara"
There's no actual pasta in this dish—we make it "carbonara" by flavoring it with all the ingredients you'd find in that namesake, including egg, crispy pork, grated cheeses, and black pepper. Rather than cook them all together, we build the dish in layers, topping roasted squash with a warm pork fat and olive oil vinaigrette, cheese, and crumbled hard-boiled egg yolks.
Pressure Cooker Butternut Squash Risotto With Frizzled Sage and Brown Butter
Risotto is known as a time-consuming dish, but using a pressure cooker makes it remarkably easy, not to mention hands-off. You can flavor risotto any way you like, but for a seasonal Thanksgiving dish, it's hard to beat this version, made with roasted butternut squash and apple, brown butter, and sage. We also sneak in a touch of miso to amplify the risotto's savoriness.
Baked Acorn Squash With Wild Rice, Pecan, and Cranberry Stuffing
We're of the mind that Thanksgiving dinner shouldn't just taste good—whenever possible, it ought to look good, too. If you're in the market for a hearty vegetarian centerpiece that also makes a lovely presentation, whole stuffed acorn squash are a perfect choice. Here, we fill the squash with white and wild rice, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, and ricotta salata. On any ordinary night, one of these alone might suffice for dinner; on Thanksgiving, cut them into slices so folks can save room.