How to Cook Summer Squash

Sweetly mild summer squash is a nutritious and tasty addition to many dishes. Learn how to cook it in just a few easy steps.


Summer squash have thin, edible skin, soft seeds, and mild, tender flesh. They are low in calories, high in fiber and vitamins A and C, and require a short cooking time. Popular varieties include yellow squash, crookneck, zucchini, and pattypan squash.

Note: Zucchini and yellow squash may be used interchangeably in recipes.

Try yellow squash in our recipe for Sausage and Summer Squash

Selecting and Storing Summer Squash
  • Summer squash hit their peak from early to late summer.
  • Look for small- to medium-size squash with brightly colored skin. Avoid squash with soft spots, dents in the skin, or bruises.
  • Because summer squash is highly perishable, store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days.
To Boil Summer Squash:
  • Slice the squash into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices.
  • In a saucepan, bring lightly salted water to boiling.
  • Add the sliced squash to the boiling water.
  • Cover and cook for 3 to 6 minutes or until the squash is just tender. Drain well.
To Steam Summer Squash on the Stove:
  • Slice the squash into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices.
  • Insert a steamer basket into a saucepan.
  • Add enough water to the saucepan so the water level is just below the bottom of the basket.
  • Bring water to boiling.
  • Add the sliced squash to the steamer basket.
  • Cover and steam for 3 to 5 minutes or until the squash is just tender.
To Steam Summer Squash in the Microwave:
  • Cut the squash into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices.
  • Place squash in a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Cover and microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 4 to 6 minutes or until the squash is just tender, stirring once after 2 minutes of cooking.
To Grill Summer Squash:
  • Preheat grill and adjust for medium heat.
  • Cut summer squash into 3/4- to 1-inch-thick slices and thread them onto skewers. Or cut the squash in half lengthwise.
  • Brush the squash lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Or brush it with a marinade.
  • Place the squash on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium heat. Grill for 10 minutes or until the squash is just tender, turning once.

See Skewered Shrimp and Zucchini with Basil Cream Sauce recipe

To Bake Summer Squash for Breads, Cakes, or Bars:

The addition of shredded summer squash to baked goods helps to ensure moist, tender results. Using the coarse side of a box grater, shred zucchini or yellow squash for use in baked goods.

Try our Choco-Zucchini Cupcakes recipe

To Roast Summer Squash:
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Cut squash into bite-size chunks.
  • Place squash in a large shallow roasting pan.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper or other seasoning mixture.
  • Roast, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until the squash is just tender, stirring once.
To Broil Summer Squash:
  • Preheat broiler.
  • Cut squash into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices.
  • Arrange squash slices in a single layer in a large shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat.
  • Broil the squash about 5 inches from the heat about 3 to 5 minutes or until the squash is just tender.

Check out our Zucchini Chips recipe


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