What Is Carnival Squash? And How Do You Cook with It?

updated Oct 19, 2022
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(Image credit: Anne Kitzman)

When I was shopping for some centerpieces for my holiday table, I wandered over to the winter squash section in the grocery store, intending to buy some small pumpkins. What caught my eye instead were these orange-and-green speckled little squashes with a fun name: carnival squash. Even better, they were priced at only $.39 a pound.

I picked one up, and carnival squash is now my favorite winter squash. Here’s why!

(Image credit: RoJo Images)

What Is Carnival Squash?

The carnival squash is actually a hybrid of the sweet dumpling and acorn squash. It usually has a cream-colored background covered with stripes and speckles of green and orange. Warm temperatures tend to yield greener squash.

After the squash is picked, the green on the surface will eventually fade with time to leave only cream and orange colors.

What Does Carnival Squash Tastes Like?

After simply roasting a halved carnival squash seasoned with a little butter and brown sugar, I dug in. It was nutty and sweeter than butternut squash, but not as dry in texture as kabocha squash. My favorite thing about it, however, was its buttery, almost maple syrup-like flavor.

Buying and Storing Carnival Squash

Carnival squash are about the size of an acorn squash, and like most winter squash, are best from early fall through winter.

Choose carnival squash that are heavy for their size and free of blemishes or soft spots. They can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a month.

How to Cook Carnival Squash

Carnival squash is at its best when roasted to concentrate and bring out its flavors, but it can also be steamed or puréed. The seeds can be roasted and eaten just like with other winter squashes. I like its small, compact size, which makes it easy to cut through and is great for serving one or two people.

These inexpensive and cute squashes are great to throw into stews, curries, soups, or even veggie chilis — use them in any recipe calling for butternut or acorn squash. I love the fact that they are so beautiful and unique-looking on my counter and that they have such a long shelf life I don’t have to be in a rush to eat them!

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Try Carnival Squash in These Recipes