How to Cook Summer Squash 9 Ways

Stock up on squash because we’ve got nine foolproof (and delicious) ways to cook zucchini, yellow, pattypan, and crookneck squash.

It is possible to cook vegetables deliciously. Don't listen to picky eaters or the self-proclaimed vegetable-averse. So, how do you cook summer squash so it's something everyone will want to eat? The tender flesh and mild flavor can make it seem less exciting than the nutty, sturdier fall squashes like butternut, acorn, and honeynut. But we're wild about all of these ways to cook summer squash and are firm believers that once you realize how versatile and delicious it is, you'll be pro-pattypan, zucchini, crookneck, and yellow squash.

infographic on how to cook summer squash

BHG / Zoe Hansen

Low-calorie summer squash, which is a close relative to pumpkins, cucumbers, and melons, grows on bushes, rather than on vines, like winter squashes. As you learn how to cook yellow squash, remember that you can trade in zucchini or a summer squash variety. Just be sure to eat the skin, as this is where most of the fiber and vitamins A, B6, and C live. (Which means it's one of the best foods to eat for clear skin.)

From the air fryer to the oven, you're going to want seconds of these easy seasonal recipes and tasty ways to cook summer squash.

yellow squash and zucchini on pan with oil salt pepper to roast

1. How to Roast Summer Squash

It might take a little extra time to roast summer squash, but the delicious caramelization added to the veggies by roasting is oh, so worth it. If you're seeking a hands-off cooking technique, this is one of the best ways to cook summer squash and zucchini. Add any seasoning you like before roasting, but try not to use too much olive oil or your squash can get soggy.

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Use a knife to cut squash into bite-size chunks or cubes.
  • Place squash 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. (Our current obsession is the elote seasoning mix from Trader Joe's.)
  • Roast, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until the squash is just tender, stirring once.

2. How to Steam Summer Squash on the Stove Top

Steaming summer squash can be just as quick as boiling, and it retains a lot of the flavor and nutrition. Just remember to season your squash once it's finished steaming for the best end result.

  • Use a mandoline ($46, Target) or a knife to slice uniformly sized ¼- to ½-inch thick coins.
  • Insert a steamer basket into a saucepan.
  • Add enough water to the saucepan so the level is just below the bottom of the basket.
  • Bring water to boiling.
  • Add the sliced squash to the steamer basket.
  • Cover and steam 3 to 5 minutes or until the squash is just tender.

3. How to Steam Summer Squash in the Microwave

If you don't have time to wait for water to boil, try steaming your summer squash in the microwave. (By the way, here's how to *finally* get that appliance squeaky clean.) The cooking time is a little longer, but this way is quicker, overall, than boiling or stovetop steaming, since you don't have to boil a whole pot of water.

  • Use a mandoline or a knife to slice uniformly sized ¼- to ½-inch thick coins.
  • Place squash in a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Cover and microwave on 100% power (high) 4 to 6 minutes or until the squash is just tender, stirring once after 2 minutes of cooking.
Grilled Polenta Wedges with Summer Squash

4. How to Grill Summer Squash

During summer, when we're asked how to cook yellow squash, we have one answer: on the grill! For a super-delicious side, toss skewers or slices of squash onto the grill at your summer cookout for serving alongside burgers, chicken, and barbecue.

  • Preheat your grill and adjust for medium heat. (In case you need a refresher, here's how to control grill temps.)
  • Use a mandoline or a knife to slice uniformly-sized ¾- to 1-inch thick coins and thread them onto skewers. Or cut the squash in half lengthwise into ¼-inch planks.
  • Brush the squash lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Or brush on a marinade.
  • Place the squash on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium heat. Grill 10 minutes or until the squash is just tender, turning once.

5. How to Sauté Summer Squash

You need just one skillet for this fast way to cook summer squash. In about 10 minutes, you can have a fresh vegetable side dish ready to share.

  • Use a mandoline or a knife to slice uniformly sized ¼- to ½-inch thick coins.
  • Place the slices in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and allow them to stand 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
  • Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet on medium high.
  • Allow the squash slices to turn golden brown on one side (this should take about 5 minutes), then flip and cook about 3 more minutes, or until the other side is golden brown. Try the technique in our skillet zucchini recipe.

Test Kitchen Tip: Don't crowd the skillet, or the slices won't cook evenly.

6. How to Boil Summer Squash

Boiled summer squash is a quick and flavorful addition to soups, stir-fries, and pasta entrées. In just a few minutes, the squash is tender and ready to blend into a soup, toss into a wok, or fold into a bowl of pasta.

  • Use a mandoline or a knife to slice uniformly sized ¼- to ½-inch coins.
  • In a saucepan, bring lightly salted water to boil.
  • Add the sliced squash to the boiling water.
  • Cover and cook 3 to 6 minutes or until the squash is just tender. Drain well.

7. How to Broil Summer Squash

If you don't have time to roast your squash, and the weather isn't prime for grilling, broiling summer squash is another great method. Prep your vegetables just as you do for roasting.

  • Preheat the broiler.
  • Use a mandoline or a knife to slice uniformly sized ¼- to ½-inch thick coins.
  • Arrange squash slices in a single layer in a large shallow roasting pan or sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat.
  • Broil the squash about 5 inches from the heat for about 3 to 5 minutes or until it's just tender.

8. How to Air-Fry Summer Squash

Interested in cooking summer squash in an air fryer? We like to prep it similarly to our fan-favorite Air Fryer Pickle Chips for a crowd-pleasing party snack.

  • Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
  • Use a mandoline or a knife to slice uniformly sized ¼- to ½-inch thick coins.
  • Place the squash slices in a colander and sprinkle them with salt. Allow to them stand 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
  • In a shallow bowl, mix cornstarch, salt, and pepper.
  • In another shallow bowl, mix buttermilk and any additional desired flavoring ingredients, such as Sriracha.
  • In a third shallow bowl, mix panko (or other desired coating) and oil.
  • Working in batches, dust dried squash slices with cornstarch mixture, shaking off excess, then dunk in buttermilk mixture. Roll in panko to coat evenly.
  • Place breaded squash slices in the air-fryer basket, taking care not overfill. Cook 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Keep the cooked slices in a 200°F oven while finishing the remaining slices.

9. How 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.

Selecting and Storing Summer Squash

Summer squash hits its peak from early to late summer. Look for small- to medium-size squash with brightly colored skin. Avoid any with soft spots, dents in the skin, or bruises. Summer squash is highly perishable, so store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days. If you need more time, here's how to freeze the fresh produce to use later.

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