How to Cook Patty Pan Squash 5 Ways—Plus How to Pickle It

Discover four ways to cook patty pan squash—those flower-shaped veggies—so you can make the most of the summer season.

patty pan squash in black dish

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It looks a bit like a ruffled pie pan that got swallowed up by a tiny summer squash, or some say it resembles a flying saucer. But that’s actually a patty pan squash, and it’s a super-versatile and tasty warm-season vegetable. In case you could use a refresher (or initial primer), ahead, we’re sharing your complete guide for how to cook patty pan squash.

Patty pan squash is a variety of summer squash (Cucurbita pepo), making it a relative of the zucchini and yellow summer squash you might be more familiar with. They come in yellow, light green, dark green, orange, white and multicolored varieties, and can be harvested and utilized when the veggies are as small as a ping pong ball or as large as a softball. Patty pan squash season is generally around May through August.

Like other kinds of summer squash, patty pan is low in calories (23 per cup, according to the USDA) and delivers a decent dose of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. And just like those other tender squashes, patty pan is easy to add to various recipes. Read on to discover how to cook patty pan squash four ways, then take a brief course in pickled patty pan 101.

How to Choose Patty Pan Squash

Peak season zucchini can err on the forearm-sized, super-seedy (read: watery) side. We adore how small patty pans usually have more concentrated flavor and barely-noticeable seeds. Seek out patty pan squash of any color (or a mix of all colors) that are about the size of a fist, or 2- to 4-inches in diameter. The skin should be shiny and blemish-free and the squash when you give it a gentle squeeze, should feel firm.

Once you have your squash at home, ensure the skin is dry and store the veggies in the refrigerator for up to 4 days before cooking or pickling.

How to Cook Patty Pan Squash 5 Ways

You can certainly cook patty pan squash whole, but we suggest slicing it into similarly-sized pieces for two reasons: 

  1. So more surface area is exposed to allow for extra browning (and additional flavor).
  2. To promote even cooking.

Wash the patty pan squash, then use a sharp chef’s knife to slice off the stem and the bottom nub. Halve each patty pan squash, then cut into wedges, slices, or bite-sized dice. Then proceed with one of these foolproof and fast solutions for how to cook patty pan squash.

How to Cook Patty Pan Squash in the Microwave

For the quickest option of them all, take an assist from this handy appliance. You’ll notice in this guide for how to cook patty pan squash in the microwave, that you’re essentially steaming the vegetables

  • Transfer the patty pan squash pieces to a microwave-safe baking dish or bowl. 
  • Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, then cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Use a knife to add a vent to the top of the plastic wrap to allow steam to escape. 
  • Microwave on full power until the patty pan pieces are tender, which should take about 5 minutes. 
  • Allow to rest for 3 minutes (so you don’t burn yourself with the steam), remove the plastic wrap, and enjoy.

Test Kitchen Tip: We have some inspiration below for how to turn patty pan squash into a side dish or meal. You also have our full permission to swap in patty pan squash for the other varieties featured in our best summer squash recipes, of course!

How to Cook Patty Pan Squash in the Oven (AKA How to Roast Patty Pan Squash)

For a hands-off, low-fuss yet high-flavor cooking technique, grab a sheet pan and preheat your oven. Here’s how to cook patty pan squash in the oven so it gets golden brown, fork tender, and oh-so-tasty.

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Place the patty pan pieces in a colander; sprinkle with salt. Let the veggies stand for 30 minutes so they release some of their moisture. Rinse and pat dry.
  • Place the patty pan squash pieces in a large shallow roasting pan or sheet pan.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and, if desired, another spice blend (we’re smitten with Everything Bagel Spice Blend right now).
  • Roast, uncovered, for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the squash is just tender, stirring once.

How to Cook Patty Pan Squash in a Skillet (AKA How to Sauté Patty Pan Squash)

With just one skillet, a little bit of advanced prep, and less than 10 minutes of cook time, you can have a bounty of sautéed squash ready to devour. We’ll coach you through it.

  • Place the patty pan pieces in a colander, then sprinkle them with salt. Let the vegetables stand for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
  • Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Cook the patty pan pieces until golden brown on one side, or for about 5 minutes, then toss the pieces and cook for about 3 more minutes. If any sides could use some extra color, toss once more and cook until all sides are done to your liking.

Test Kitchen Tip: Don't crowd the skillet or the pieces won't cook evenly. Work in batches if needed.

How to Grill Patty Pan Squash

For delightfully smoky results, light your charcoal grill, fire up the gas grill, or preheat your grill pan on the stovetop and follow these easy pointers for how to cook patty pan squash on grill grates.

  • Preheat the grill or grill pan to medium heat (about 350°F to 375°F).
  • Place the patty pan pieces in a colander. Sprinkle the squash with salt, then let the veggies stand for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
  • In a large bowl, drizzle the prepared patty pan pieces with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and any other seasonings, if desired. 
  • Place the squash on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium heat. Grill for about 10 minutes or until the squash is just tender, turning once or as many times as needed to evenly char all sides.

How to Air-Fry Patty Pan Squash

If crunch is what you’re after, consider busting out your air fryer. The popular countertop appliance uses convection heat to help the exterior of the squash get crispy while the interior cooks to become forkable and fantastic-tasting.

  • Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
  • Place the patty pan pieces in a colander and sprinkle them with salt. Allow them to stand for 30 minutes; rinse and pat dry.
  • In a large bowl, drizzle the prepared patty pan pieces with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, and any bonus seasonings as desired.
  • Place the patty pan pieces slices in the air-fryer basket, taking care not to overfill. 
  • Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. If you need to air-fry multiple batches, keep the cooked pieces warm on a sheet pan in a 200°F oven while finishing the remaining batches.

How to Pickle Patty Pan Squash—Your No-Cook Patty Pan Solution

There’s actually no need to cook patty pan squash at all! Extend its life and spike it with so much flavor by whipping up a batch of quick pickles.

  • Slice the patty pan squash into ¼-inch slices. 
  • In an extra-large nonmetal bowl, combine the sliced squash and the sliced onion. Sprinkle with salt; toss gently to coat. Top with 2 inches of crushed ice. Weigh down this mixture with a heavy plate, then allow this to stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
  • Remove any remaining ice from the bowl, then transfer the mixture to a colander in a clean sink and drain away any residual moisture.
  • In a large saucepan over high heat, combine all of the ingredients for your favorite pickle brine. (Snag some inspiration here and don’t miss our guide for how to make canned pickles in 4 easy steps!)
  • Bring the brine to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add the prepared squash and onions. Return to boiling, stirring frequently, then reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  • Ladle the mixture into sterilized mason jars, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Twist on the lids, refrigerate and enjoy within 2 months.

Test Kitchen Tip: For an even easier pickled patty pan squash strategy, simply pop slices, ribbons, or wedges of squash into an empty jar of classic pickles or pickled jalapenos.

How to Serve Patty Pan Squash

No matter which option you choose for how to cook patty pan squash, know that you’ll be treated to a delightful taste of summer as-is, simply seasoned with salt and pepper. Your options definitely don’t end there, though. Patty pan squash are tremendous vehicles for other flavor notes since their water-rich flesh soaks them up like a sponge. A few ideas for bonus flavor-boosters to add to your cooked patty pan squash: 

  • Get me to the Greek. Toss with lemon juice, and shower with crumbled feta cheese and chopped fresh parsley.
  • Head toward Italy. Coat in a splash of balsamic vinegar, then crown with mozzarella pearls (bocconcini) and ribbons of fresh basil.
  • Go nuts. Finish with shaved Parmesan cheese and chopped roasted, salted pistachios.
  • Make it a meal. Combine with a marinara sauce and leftover or rotisserie chicken for a low-carb and high-protein meal.
  • Amp up other dishes. Chop and stir into frittatas, omelet fillings, or scrambles, or chop and throw into green salads, grain bowls, or soups.

How to Store Patty Pan Squash

If you’re lucky enough to have leftover cooked patty pan squash, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. To reheat, sizzle it up in a skillet over medium heat, cook in the microwave, or bake in the oven for 350 degrees F until warmed through.

To extend the patty pan squash’s life even more—besides pickling squash, of course—you can freeze it after cooking. To do so, transfer extras to a freezer-safe airtight container or zip-top bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before following the reheating instructions above.

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