To eat or not to eat—that’s the question we’re asking when it comes to winter squash skin. It’s not confusing with other produce—every kind of citrus fruit is enjoyed peeled, apples are eaten skin-on, and you remove kiwi’s fuzzy layer. So why do squash send mixed signals?
Here’s something surprising you may not know. All squash skin is edible. However, in the same way you wouldn’t eat a banana peel, edible doesn’t necessarily mean you want to eat it. Some squash has thin skin that’s tasty and tender, while others have a tough shell that even cooked is chewy and stringy.
Below you can find a handy list of winter squash with skin you can eat. There are too many types of edible squash, so the list includes ones you will likely find at your local grocery stores and farmers market during the fall and winter. If you encounter a squash that’s not listed below and you’re unsure if the skin is edible, ask the produce manager or farmer!
Types of Winter Squash You Should Avoid Eating the Skin
Consider the size when deciding whether or not to eat the skin. Generally, the bigger the squash the tougher the skin. The smaller the squash, the thinner and softer the skin. Hubbard squash, red kuri, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, and sugar pumpkin (sometimes called pie pumpkin) are varieties with very tough inedible skin.
Though they need to be peeled before adding to soups, stews, and casseroles, most of these don’t need to be peeled in order to be baked. After a long time in the oven, the peel will keep its shape, but isn’t going to be tender and tasty. So scoop out those innards and toss the skin.
4 Common Winter Squash With Edible Peel
Some squash skin is not only edible, it can be downright tasty. When cooked (in the oven, stove, slow-cooker, what-have-you), they will have a firmer texture than the flesh but will be tender and flavorful enough that you probably won’t even notice.
1. Kabocha: This squash skin may need a little TLC—scrub well and cook it for a long time—to become totally edible, but it becomes soft, supple, and so delicious. Try it sliced and simply roasted as a side dish or to top a fall salad.
2. Honeynut Squash: These look like teeny tiny butternut squash. They’re so cute! Unlike butternut squash, the skin is edible. Add them to recipes that typically call for butternut squash, like pasta, soups, and casseroles.
3. Acorn Squash: Whether cut into slices or stuffed and baked whole, acorn squash skin is totally tasty. When roasted, the skin becomes soft enough to eat by the forkful, For those who prefer it skin-free, the meat separates from the peel easily after cooking.
4. Delicata Squash: Everything about delicata squash is edible. You can scoop out the seeds and stuff these babies, fry them up, or slice and roast them. Keep in mind their thin skin doesn’t keep the vegetable fresh as long as a thicker-skinned variety of winter squash. You’ll want to use these up within a week of purchase.
A version of this article originally appeared on MyRecipes.com.