The delicata is a winter squash variety that has a rich and creamy texture, much like sweet potatoes. They have an earthy taste that shares similar flavor notes to lemon zest and roasted sweet corn. Unlike some other varieties of squash, the delicata isn’t overly sweet and its thin skin is edible.
If delicata squash is out of season or it isn't available in your part of the world then replacing them isn’t difficult. You’re about to discover our recommended delicata substitutes that’ll work nicely in any recipe.
What can I use to replace delicata squash?
If you're looking for alternatives to delicata squash then consider using acorn or carnival squash, butternuts, sugar pumpkins, or buttercup squash. They have a similar flavor and texture and can be used in all the same recipes that call for the original ingredient. For something a little different, get yourself sweet potatoes; they’re excellent for anyone that want something a little different.
1. Acorn squash
The acorn squash is our preferred alternative on this list. Its nutty flavor is mild with a low level of sweetness. The yellowish-orange flesh is tender, spongy, and also a little dry once cooked. This is an excellent option for baking and stuffing with your favorite ingredients.
Like the delicata, acorn squash has edible skin that can be left on the vegetable during cooking. You'll notice that an acorn squash has dark green skin which differs from a delicata's yellow skin with thin green stripes.
Their shapes are different, with the delicata being small and elongated while the acorn is much rounder and larger.
The texture of acorn squash can be fibrous which doesn't make it an ideal candidate for soup. Instead, we recommend butternut for this purpose.
2. Carnival squash
The carnival squash is another useful substitute that is excellent for stuffing. Unlike many winter squashes that can grow far too big, this variety is often small enough to halve, stuff, and serve individually.
This squash’s skin is also relatively thin and can be left on during cooking. It adds color to a dish as well as nutritional benefits such as vitamin A, C, E, and fiber.
A carnival's flesh is pale orange and has a firm, dry texture that is also somewhat coarse. Once cooked, the flesh has a rich, buttery flavor with a nutty undertone. It is delicious paired with lamb, pork, sausage, or other winter vegetables.
In the center lies many beige seeds which can also be roasted and eaten.
3. Butternut squash
If you enjoy a sweeter-tasting squash then a butternut is an excellent choice. It is sweeter than the acorn or carnival varieties and provides a delicious creamy flavor with tender, smooth flesh.
The butternut is a common type of squash that can usually be found in mainstream supermarkets. It offers excellent value for money as the seed area is smaller than most other gourds.
Use a butternut squash for making soups, purees, or dice the vegetable before roasting. It has a bulbous bottom with a slim neck and can be sliced lengthways and stuffed once the pulp is hollowed out.
A butternut has tougher skin than a delicata so many prefer to peel it before cooking. However, you'll find that roasting softens its texture, making it more palatable.
4. Sugar pumpkin
The sugar pumpkin, aka pie pumpkin, is a member of the winter squash family and has a lovely, sweet flavor with a fairly dry texture. Although they look a lot like a carving pumpkin, they are smaller, less stringy, sweeter, and contain more flesh.
Sugar pumpkins are the perfect shape for stuffing and rather than slicing in half, chop off the top and hollow out the insides before filling. Other tasty recipe options include roasting before adding to salads, soup, or pilaf. It can be served on its own baked, boiled, or steamed as a side dish.
5. Buttercup squash
The buttercup is a dark green variety of winter squash that can be used as a great substitute. It has orange flesh that is creamy and sweet.
The biggest difference between these two options is the rind. Unlike the delicata which has an edible skin, a buttercup’s is thick and should be removed before eating.
6. Sweet potato
If winter squash isn't to your liking, consider replacing it with sweet potatoes. There are many different varieties which can vary in flavor, texture, and color. However, they mostly offer a similarly sweet, nutty flavor along with an earthy undertone.
You can use this replacement in many recipes that call for squash including roasting, stuffing, or mashing. Its texture won't mimic a delicata squash as it is starchier and not as soft, which you may prefer.
The sweet potato is another healthy option that is rich in vitamin A and C, as well as potassium, iron, and fiber.
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Video of delicata alternatives
Commonly asked questions
Is the delicata squash a gourd?
A delicata squash is a gourd from the winter squash family that has edible skin and a shape that is ideal for stuffing.
What is the season for delicata squash?
The delicata squash is grown in the summer and can be picked during fall.
How long will delicata squash keep?
When stored at room temperature in a cool, dry location, delicata squash will last three to six months. You can also cook and freeze the flesh in freezer bags or airtight containers.
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- The delicata squash is also known as the Bohemian squash, sweet potato squash, or peanut squash.
- They are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family along with the luffa, winter melon, and gac fruit; their botanical name is Cucurbita pepo.
- The name “delicata” is a reference to the vegetable’s delicate skin.
- The gourd is excellent roasted, boiled, steamed, sautéed, or baked.
- This squash is technically a fruit but in cooking, it is used as a vegetable.
The best delicata squash substitutes are acorn or carnival squash, butternuts, sugar pumpkins, or buttercup squash. The acorn squash is the closest in flavor and texture but if it’s not available in your area, then buy butternuts which are usually easier to find.
If you like to grow your own vegetables then try planting spaghetti or kabocha squash which are also tasty replacements.
For those that don’t enjoy the texture or flavor of any squash varieties then sweet potatoes are one option that most people enjoy. They offer something different but will work with most types of food that pair well with squash.
What is your favorite type of winter squash? Please let us know in the comments below.