summer squash ready to grill
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The Best (and Most Delicious) Way to Grill Summer Squash

Last Updated on November 13, 2023 by Create Better Health

Summer squash is easy to grow, nutrient rich and, if cooked right, delicious! Grilled Summer Squash is the perfect side to any dinner.

This post is packed with everything you need to know about grilling summer squash and more.

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summer squash how to store

What is Summer Squash?

Summer squash are harvested when they are immature, meaning their rinds are still soft enough to eat. Both the rind and the seeds can be eaten. The most common varieties of summer squash grown in Utah are:

  • Zucchini Squash comes in both green and yellow varieties. They have thin, soft skin and firm, white flesh with a mild flavor.  Yellow zucchini will cook more quickly than green zucchini because the skin is a bit more soft.
  • Cocozelle Squash has dark green skin with lighter green stripes.  Its flesh has a sweeter flavor than many other summer squash.
  • Crookneck Squash is thin and curved at the type with a bulb-like bottom. The skin ranges from smooth to slightly bumpy and the flesh has a somewhat bland flavor.
  • Patty Pan Squash can be yellow, green, or a mix of the two colors. It has scalloped edges and is more crunchy than other summer squash varieties.

How to Grill Summer Squash

Grilling summer squash is a fantastic way to bring out its natural flavors and create a delicious, slightly smoky taste.

Here’s a simple guide to grill summer squash:


  • Summer squash (like zucchini or yellow squash)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Prep the Squash: Wash the squash and cut it into slices or chunks.
  2. Seasoning: Toss the squash in a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the Grill: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  4. Grilling: Place the squash directly on the grill. Grill for about 3-5 minutes on each side until you see grill marks and the squash softens.
  5. Check Doneness: Poke the squash with a fork to check if it’s tender.
  6. Serve: Once ready, take the squash off the grill and enjoy it as a tasty side dish or in various recipes.

Grilled summer squash is simple and delicious!

grilled summer squash

When to Pick Summer Squash

When to Pick Summer Squash? The ideal time to harvest summer squash, such as zucchini or yellow squash, is when they are still young and tender. You’ll want to pick them when they are relatively small, usually about 6 to 8 inches in length and 1 to 2 inches in diameter.

Check the squash regularly once they start appearing. They grow rapidly, so they might reach the ideal size in just a few days. Look for firm, glossy skin and a size that’s in line with the recommendations.

If the squash becomes too large, it might turn tough and develop seeds, affecting its taste and texture. Harvesting frequently also encourages the plant to produce more squash.

summer squash growing when to pick

Do you have to peel yellow squash?

Do you have to peel yellow squash? Yellow squash, like zucchini, doesn’t necessarily need to be peeled. The skin of young, tender yellow squash is edible and quite nutritious. It also adds color and texture to dishes. However, if the skin seems tough or if you prefer a softer texture without the skin, you can peel it before cooking.

How to Store Summer Squash

Summer squash, such as zucchini and yellow squash, can be stored in a few different ways to maintain freshness:

  1. Refrigeration: Store unwashed summer squash in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Place them in a perforated plastic bag or a container with a lid. They’ll typically stay fresh for about 4-5 days this way.
  2. Avoid Moisture: Moisture can lead to quicker spoilage, so ensure the squash is dry before storing it. If you’ve washed it, pat it dry before refrigerating.
  3. Don’t Cut Until Use: It’s best to keep the squash whole until you’re ready to use it. Cut squash tends to degrade faster.
  4. Preservation: If you have an excess of squash, consider freezing it. Blanch sliced or cubed squash in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain well, pack into airtight containers or freezer bags, and store in the freezer. This can extend their shelf life for several months.
  5. Canning: Another way to preserve summer squash for a longer duration is through pickling or canning. This process involves using vinegar, salt, and sometimes sugar to create a pickling solution. Visit the USU Extension for more details on how to safely preserve your summer squash.

Remember, the sooner you use or preserve summer squash after harvesting or purchasing, the better the taste and texture you’ll experience.

summer squash ready to grill

How to Cook Summer Squash in the Air Fryer

Cooking summer squash in an air fryer is a quick and convenient way to prepare this vegetable. Here’s a simple method:

Ingredients for Air Fryer Summer Squash

  • Summer squash (zucchini, yellow squash, etc.)
  • Olive oil or cooking spray
  • Salt, pepper, or preferred seasonings


  1. Prepare the Squash: Wash the squash and cut it into slices or bite-sized pieces.
  2. Seasoning: Toss the squash pieces in a little olive oil or spray them with cooking spray. Add a sprinkle of salt, pepper, or any seasoning you like.
  3. Preheat the Air Fryer: Set the air fryer to 375°F (190°C) and let it preheat for a few minutes.
  4. Cooking: Place the seasoned squash in the air fryer basket. Don’t overcrowd the basket. If needed, cook in batches.
  5. Air Frying: Cook for about 8-12 minutes, shaking the basket or flipping the pieces halfway through for even cooking. Check for your preferred level of tenderness and slight crispiness.
  6. Serve: Once done, transfer the cooked squash to a plate. Feel free to add more seasoning if desired.

Air-fried summer squash can be served as a side dish, added to salads, pasta, or used in various recipes. The air fryer method usually creates a slightly crispy texture on the outside while keeping the inside tender. Adjust the cooking time to achieve your desired level of crispiness.

Other Ways to Enjoy Your Summer Squash

There are many ways to enjoy summer squash – raw, baked, grilled, etc. You can also freeze summer squash to use throughout the year. You might consider adding onion, garlic, herbs, and spices for extra flavor when cooking squash. Follow the preparation tips below and you can’t go wrong.

  • Saute It – Slice or cut the squash into chunks. Use a non-stick skillet and just a bit of oil. Cook for 5-8 minutes tossing often to keep the squash from browning.
  • Bake It – Preheat over to 450 degrees. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Slice or chop squash and put it in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and stir. Pour squash into baking dish and top with seasonings of your choice. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once.
  • Microwave It – Cut squash into slices about 1/4″ thick. Arrange slices in a microwaveable baking dish. Add 3 tablespoons of water, cover, and cook until tender, 4-7 minutes. Stir the squash halfway through cooking time.
  • Steam It – Summer squash can be cooked in a vegetable steamer. You can cook it whole, sliced, or diced. For whole summer squash, steam for 10-12 minutes. For halves or slices, steam for 3-5 minutes.
  • Stir-Fry It – Slice or chop squash. Spray a heated skillet with non-stick spray. Add squash to the pan and stir fry for 3-5 minutes until tender-crisp.
  • Freeze It – Grate or slice summer squash and place it in plastic freezer bags. Label the bags and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months. When thawed, use in zucchini bread, soups, quiche, or cookies.

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