Pattypan Squash: A Versatile Summer Vegetable

Pattypan squash, also known as scalloped squash, custard squash, sunburst squash, or cymling squash, is a unique and flavorful summer vegetable that is often overlooked in favor of its more common cousin, zucchini. However, pattypan squash offers a distinct taste and texture that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.

Identifying Pattypan Squash

Pattypan squash is characterized by its distinctive UFO-like shape, with a flattened top and scalloped edges. It comes in various colors, including white, green, yellow, and even multi-colored varieties. The size of the squash can range from a few inches to over 6 inches in diameter.

Choosing and Cutting Pattypan Squash

When selecting pattypan squash, look for smaller specimens with tight skin and no bruises. Smaller squash have a more delicate flavor and smaller seeds, making them ideal for treating like zucchini. For larger squash, consider using them for stuffing or baking whole.

To cut pattypan squash, follow these steps:

  • Small squash (less than 1 inch): Cook whole or remove the tough edges before treating like zucchini.
  • Medium squash (1-4 inches): Remove the tough ends and cut the squash in half from the stem. For smaller pieces, cut the halves in half again.
  • Large squash: Cut the bottom to create a flat base and remove the stem and top skin. Scoop out the seeds, leaving a thick wall of squash.

Cooking Pattypan Squash

Pattypan squash can be cooked in a variety of ways, similar to zucchini. Here are a few ideas:

  • Grilling: Cut the squash into quarters, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic, and grill over medium-low heat until slightly browned on both sides.
  • Sautéing: Dice the squash and sauté in a pan with olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper until golden brown.
  • Pickling: Follow a traditional pickling recipe, using a brine of salt and water and adding spices like dill, garlic, and horseradish.
  • Stuffed pattypan squash: Cut the top off the squash, scoop out the seeds, and bake for 10 minutes at 350°F. Fill with your desired stuffing and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Flavor and Texture of Pattypan Squash

Pattypan squash has a slightly sweeter and more delicate flavor than zucchini. The texture is also slightly firmer, with a slight crunch when cooked. The skin of smaller squash is edible, while larger squash may have a tougher skin that needs to be removed.


Pattypan squash is a versatile and delicious summer vegetable that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Whether grilled, sautéed, pickled, or stuffed, pattypan squash offers a unique flavor and texture that is sure to please. So next time you’re at the farmers’ market, give pattypan squash a try and discover its culinary potential.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best way to cook pattypan squash?

The best way to cook pattypan squash depends on your preference. Grilling, sautéing, pickling, and stuffing are all popular options.

  • Can I eat the skin of pattypan squash?

Yes, the skin of smaller pattypan squash is edible. However, the skin of larger squash may be tougher and should be removed.

  • What does pattypan squash taste like?

Pattypan squash has a slightly sweeter and more delicate flavor than zucchini.

  • Where can I find pattypan squash?

Pattypan squash can be found at specialty stores and farmers’ markets during the summer months.

  • How do I store pattypan squash?

Store pattypan squash in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Additional Resources

How to Choose Pattypan Squash

Pattypan squash can be found at specialty stores and farmers’ markets, sometimes under the name scalloped squash, custard squash, sunburst squash, or cymling squash, according to The Kitchn. Look for smaller squash for a buttery, olive-oil flavor and smaller seeds. These can be treated like any other summer squash. If you pick up a larger squash, you’ll want to use them for stuffing instead of slicing them up. Check that the skin is tight and avoid any knicks or bruises.

How to Cut Pattypan Squash

You can cook tiny pattypan squash (less than an inch in diameter) whole or cut off the tough edges before preparing them like zucchini. The tough ends of medium pattypan squash, which range in diameter from 1 to 4 inches, should be removed first. Next, cut the squash in half by cutting it straight down the middle from the stem you just removed. If you prefer smaller pieces, flip the pieces over and cut them into quarters once more.

Larger pattypan squash become a little more difficult. Yes, you can chop them up just like you would a medium squash, but from what I’ve found, the larger pattypan are excellent cooked whole or sliced, much like acorn squash. Should you choose to stuff the pattypan squash whole, which is highly recommended, cut off the top stem and top skin by making a clean, straight cut across the top. Next, remove the seeds using a grapefruit spoon or melon baller, leaving a thick layer of squash behind.

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How do you know when button squash is ripe?

According to the horticulture experts at Iowa State University, “butternut squash are mature (ready to harvest) when the skin is hard (can’t be punctured with the thumbnail) and uniformly tan in color.” If the skin is easy to pierce, the squash is not ripe and will taste starchy, flavorless, and sometimes even bitter.

Are button squash good for you?

The vitamin C and beta-carotene found in squash may help to slow the progression of macular degeneration and reduce the chances of related vision loss. Foods rich in vitamin C can also help prevent cataracts. Several squash varieties are rich in vitamin B6.

What does squash taste like compared to zucchini?

Though related and similar to each other in texture, they taste very different. Summer squash has a milder flavor that goes well with a little butter or olive oil and salt. Zucchini has a strong, somewhat bitter taste that can be difficult to cover up.

Can you eat button squash raw?

You can eat raw squash, however, the taste may not be to everyone’s liking,” Tiner notes. “Squash contains a toxin known as Cucurbitacin E, which can give the squash a bitter taste. If too much of the toxin is consumed it can cause illness.

What does a button squash look like?

Their flattened shap lends to them being stuffed, but they also roast well or can be pan fried or pureed for soup. Button squash are small with scalloped edges and skin that is generally yellow. The flesh is pale white and the whole squash is eaten, including the skin and seeds.

What does acorn squash taste like?

Acorn squash has a bit of a mild and buttery flavour. It is similar in flavour to a pumpkin (not pumpkin pie) but cooked pumpkin, however, it isn’t as flavourful as pumpkin. The benefit of acorn squash is that it can be combined with many flavours well and can be prepared in many different ways.

What does squash taste like?

The squash’s golden to orange flesh is sweet, starchy, and full of fiber like a sweet potato, but with a slightly nutty flavor. It’s packed with a variety of nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. Squash typically require a lot of room because they spread out over the ground as they grow.

What does a butternut squash look like?

A butternut squash is a long, fleshy gourd with creamy, nutty orange flesh. One of the most common types of winter squash, it’s extremely versatile and works well across many cuisines. With sweet, orange flesh and taut yellow skin, try it roasted in wedges in a warm salad or blended into soups and risottos. Look for unblemished skin when buying.

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