Squash or Pumpkin? Is There a Difference? (incl. recipes)

temp_squashI get this question all the time: “What is the difference between a squash and a pumpkin?”

Well, to keep it simple, pumpkin is one type of squash and squash generally refers to four species of genus cucurbita, including the species to which pumpkin belongs. So, to make it clearer, both squash and pumpkin belong to the same family (the cucurbitaceae). A pumpkin is a type of squash.

Squash is considered a fruit and it grows on a vine. Here in the US and Canada, we usually break down the squash family to winter or summer squash, depending on when they are harvested.

One thing that makes pumpkin a little different from other squash, besides it orange with yellow-orange skin, is its stem. Anyone who has ever handled one knows that its stem is stiff and spikey. Another thing that sets pumpkin apart from its sisters in the squash family is that its seeds are edible.

Pumpkin can be grown in many parts of the word whereas growing other varieties of squash is more restricted by specific weather conditions. Because of this,  you’ll find specific types of squashes being grown in different parts of the world. But at the market, our world magically comes together. There you’ll find many varieties. Some are edible; others are ornamental.

The next time you go to the store, spend some time by the squash and pick up a few varieties to experiment with. It is fun and it’s exciting to try new things.

Here are a few links to some really good squash recipes. I’ve included minor adaptations to bring down the PointsPlus values.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup w/Sherry

  • substitute non-fat chicken stock for chicken stock
  • substitute low-fat milk for milk

Serves: 6

PointPlus values: 5 based on above substitutes(Weight Watchers Recipe Builder)


Spaghetti Squash I

Watch the video on how to work with spaghetti squash.

  • substitute reduced-fat feta cheese for fetta cheese.

Serves: 6

PointsPlus values: 4 based on above substitutes (Weight Watchers Recipe Builder)


Pueblo Pumpkin Stew

Serves: 6

PointsPlus values: 4 based on above substitutes (Weight Watchers PointsPlus Calculator)