Photo by Yulia Khlebnikova
Oh my gourdness, wouldn’t you know it’s that time of year again.
The season’s change and the pitched battle, butternut squash vs pumpkin, takes place. Though we suppose it could really be squash vs pumpkin, which as you will learn, is a supremely silly battle to begin with.
Why is that?
Because a pumpkin is a squash! Squash is also squash, every variety from ornamental gourds to all the squashes to pumpkins. They are all part of the same Cucurbitaceae family!
However, just like human families, the Cucurbitaceae family has many different members. Some are more delicious and nutritious than the others. Some aren’t even edible but have a ton of interesting uses.
If you don’t know jack-o-lantern about the differences, no worries! We’re here to gourd the way to the most delicious fall season ever.
Meet the Cucurbitaceae’s
This rowdy, vining clan is a big one. In addition to the hundreds of varieties of squash, often divided into summer and winter varieties, it also includes cucumbers and melons. All of the offspring are technically considered fruits because they have seeds inside.
Fruits with the nutritional makeup of vegetables, you’ve gourd to be kidding me! Pumpkin puns aside, we kid you not. These fruits are known to be delicious when prepared with savory or sweet spices.
Some gourds aren’t so tasty. These are the ornamental varieties and they have a bitter taste if eaten. Their thick skin has given them quite the functionality in other ways. Historically they have been used as ladles, water carriers, and instruments, to name just a few.
Getting To Know You Better
The family members we’ll focus on in this article are pumpkins, what the world has come to call pumpkins anyway, and butternut squash. These are two fall/winter fruits that people love and who can blame them! They are versatile, hardy, and pack a nutritional punch.
The key differences between these two fruits are found in harvest time; pumpkins are only available September – October, sometimes November, while butternut squash is available year-round. Nutrition profile; Butternut squash is more nutritionally well-rounded but pumpkins have fewer carbs and calories. And probably notoriety; the butternut squash just doesn’t get the same level of love or attention as its orange sibling.
We’ll act as moderators in the seasonal duel and will be sure to sprinkle in some delectable holiday recipes for you too.
Butternut Squash Vs Pumpkin: Nutrition
Winter squashes are truly versatile and nutritious. One cup of any winter squash will yield 59% of your daily Vitamin A requirement, while also supplying Vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and other essential minerals, as well as many of the B complex vitamins. They are also rich in carotenoids due to their orange color.
They are both relatively low in calories. In fact, most of their calories come from carbohydrates, but not just any old carbs. Winter squash carbs are a special kind that actually have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. As well as cholesterol and insulin-regulating properties.
Too gourd-to-true right?
There are a few distinct nutritional differences, but honestly, they are both home-run choices. Pumpkins are lower in calories and carbs if that is a motivator for you. They have a bit more protein but a bit less fiber and they have slightly higher concentrations of Vitamin’s A E, and K, and Choline.
But butternut squash has more Vitamin C, Omega 6, and 3 than pumpkin. You can get healthy doses of Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron with butternut squash. But both fruits are pretty close when it comes to the amounts of vitamins, phytonutrients, and minerals they offer.
In short, you can’t gourd wrong!
Pumpkin Vs Butternut Squash: Baking
Now that you know how incredible winter squash is for you, you may be wondering how the heck you cook them. Winter squash are known for their hard-to-cut skins, making them a challenge for even the most adept cook. We say bring it on and offer you some tricks-and-treats for easy preparation.
Both pumpkins and butternut squash are delicious when baked. In the butternut squash vs pumpkin challenge, who is better when baked is nearly a draw. Though there are some recipes better suited toward one or the other.
Because winter squash have that extra-hard exterior, we recommend baking them whole. What’s that? You just love the caramelized, complex flavor profile that comes from the exposed squash flesh baking?
You can have it all! Preheat your oven to 425F degrees (375F for pumpkins), pop your squash of choice in an oven-safe dish, and bake for about 50 minutes. Remove it, the skin should now be soft enough to cut easily. Cut the squash how you desire, drizzle with a little of your favorite oil and seasonings, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
Time may vary slightly depending on the size of your squash. You can also choose to brave the hard exterior and pre-cut chunks to bake. Make sure to drizzle them with oil and toss with your favorite seasonings.
Once baked you can eat the squash as is or add it to soups, stews, side dishes, or desserts! Make sure to save the seeds too, everyone loves roasted squash seeds. Alternatively, you could save the squash insides and skin for making homemade vegetable broth.
And the Winner Is
In the saga of butternut squash vs pumpkin, we can declare no clear winner.
Both squash are incredibly nutritious, incredibly versatile – savory, sweet it’s all good – and make excellent additions to any meal. Holiday or otherwise.
In the end, it boils down to personal preference and seasonal availability. You can enjoy butternut squash anytime but pumpkins only hit the market a few months of the year.
What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy squash? Are you on the savory or sweet side? Drop your favorite recipes in the comments!
We hope we didn’t gourd you to death! While you’re here, make sure to check out all of our lifestyle content for more recipe ideas, and all-start content to help you live your best life.