Got squash? If you're thinking of zucchini, you're definitely stuck in the summer months. I'm talking about winter squashes here, including butternut, acorn, delicata, kabocha, spaghetti, and of course the humble pumpkin (which isn't only for carving).

Whether you're looking to incorporate new types of vegetables into your diet or impress your family members with a new dish for Thanksgiving dinner, these tips and tricks will make your experience with winter squash a lot easier. Like, a lot easier. When I first started experimenting with different types of squashes, I definitely had no clue what they tasted like or how to prepare them— and that's why I've written this handy little guide for all you squash novices out there. 

Time to welcome the winter months and chilly weather with these 6 different varieties of squash, which truly couldn't be easier to prepare or more delicious to eat. 

1. Butternut Squash

Alternatively, check out these incredible vegan butternut squash tacos by Hot for Food with all the fixin's and a killer jalapeño ranch sauce. 

First off is butternut squash, which is pear-shaped with beige skin and a bright orange flesh. Butternut squash is the sweetest squash of them all, making it perfect for sweet and savory dishes alike. To prepare this brightly hued veggie, simply cut the squash in half, de-seed it, and season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour, and you're all set. You can also peel the squash, cube it up, and bake at 400 degrees F for about half an hour until tender. 

2. Delicata Squash

Delicata squash is definitely a more overlooked type of squash. I first tried it a few years ago when I saw it in Trader Joes' squash display and was pleasantly surprised. This squash is small and oblong, with yellow skin and green stripes. The flesh has creamy texture and a mild flavor similar to sweet potatoes, so it pairs well with many different vegetables. 

To prepare this delicate squash, keep the skin on (it's edible) and cut the squash in half. De-seed it and bake as is in halves, or cut into slices for steaming, sautéing, or roasting. If you're still stumped, check out this colorful dish by Whole Foods Market, featuring roasted squash, fresh chives, pomegranate seeds, couscous and roasted cauliflower. 

3. Spaghetti 

Now, for spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is one of my favorite types of winter squash for not only its flavor and nutritional value, but for its versatility as well. This squash is larger in size than a butternut squash, with a bright yellow skin and yellow stringy flesh. The stringiness of the flesh makes for the perfect low-calorie, high-fiber substitute for traditional pasta and other noodles. 

To prepare this canary-colored squash, heat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and back for 45 minutes to an hour and you're all set. Season with salt and pepper, and then toss with any sauce you desire— pesto, marinara, soyaki or coconut curry are my go-to's. For a spin on an Italian classic, you can also try this vegan tempeh bolognese over roasted spaghetti squash with greens and mashed avocado on the side. 

4. Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is small in size, weighing about a pound or two. The skin is dark green with an orange-yellow flesh and a subtly sweet, nutty flavor. This squash is perfect for caramelization in my opinion, especially with brown sugar or maple syrup. Definitely refer to this Vegan Maple Glazed Stuffed Squash recipe for a killer Thanksgiving side dish. 

5. Kabocha Squash

Alright, I'm just going to start off by saying that if you haven't tried kabocha squash before, you are missing out. I can easily polish off half a squash by myself— it's that good.  

This Japanese pumpkin is a dark green color, often striped with orange or brown and has an orange flesh that is dense and creamy. With a sweet, nutty flavor and smooth texture when steamed, this squash is perfect for blending into sauces, soups, or stews. My go-to preparation of kabocha squash, however, is roasting large cubes on baking sheet at 400 degrees fahrenheit for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown. 

For the perfect warming fall dish, try this kabocha squash curry with panfried tofu paired with steamed jasmine rice and fresh herbs. 

6. Pumpkin 

I know what you're thinking— pumpkins are for carving and pumpkin pie, not for cooking. I'm here to tell you that you're wrong. There are truly so many different ways to prepare pumpkin for actual meals and not just desserts. 

What kind of pumpkin is best for cooking, you ask? I would suggest the classic sugar pumpkin, which is also the type used for pumpkin pie. The small pumpkins are inexpensive and can be found at pretty much any grocery store. To prepare a sugar pumpkin, cut it in half, deseed it, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit for about 45 minutes until tender. For more uses of this classic squash, try a pumpkin alfredo sauce,  pumpkin cornbread, pumpkin chili, or even roast the seeds for a healthy snack. 

For even more inspo, take a look at this pumpkin soup. Blended with shallots, garlic, and coconut milk, this pumpkin soup is the perfect accompaniment to your Thanksgiving feast or with a simple side of fresh crusty bread.

Consider yourself fully educated the different varieties of winter squash. Clueless college kid, no more!

If you've never tried cooking with acorn squash before, you may not know that it is perfect for stuffing. Cut the squash in half, de-seed it, and stuff with a mixture of grains and your favorite roasted vegetable medley. My stuffing of choice is a mixture of quinoa, sautéed onions, cranberries, and roasted apples— the perfect mix of sweet and savory.