Home Growing Vegetables Candy Roaster Squash: Sweet to Eat and Easy to Grow

Candy Roaster Squash: Sweet to Eat and Easy to Grow

Candy Roaster Squash: Sweet to Eat and Easy to Grow
Candy Roaster Squash baked
Candy Roaster squash: thin-skinned and meaty goodness

Seed catalogs are my salvation this time of year. Poring over the photographs of glossy gold pumpkin varieties can often distract me from the reality outside my window: gray skies and wet fields.

Candy roaster squash
The bashful orange skins are thin and marked by a green starburst on the blossom end of the squash.

Last year, I found some winter sunshine in a squash named Candy Roaster (cucurbits maxima). Relatively easy to grow, Candy Roaster squash is an heirloom variety from North Georgia that produces vigorous vines and ample long fruits that store well into spring. My Candy Roasters outperformed other planted varieties, even in a drought year with minimal attention and irrigation.

candy roasted squash cooked
Creamy as custard pie, candy roaster squash is a culinary powerhouse.

Sweet, creamy and delectable when baked, Candy Roaster is perfectly named, and a winter squash that makes its presence known in both the garden and kitchen.

scooped squash
Eat it unadorned by the spoon or gussy it up in a puree or pie.

I usually bake my Candy Roaster squash whole, punctured several times to release steam when baking. The seeds are easily scooped out (and eaten if you like) and the skin peels away nicely with little effort.

box and the candy roaster squash
Boz guarding the gold

10 Reasons I’m Sweet on Candy Roaster Squash:

  1. Seed is available. (See sources below.)
  2. Heirloom variety
  3. Tastes great
  4. Smooth, non-stringy fleshy fruit
  5. Easy to grow (even in cool Pacific NW climate)
  6. Cooked flesh freezes well
  7. Storability ( easily lasts 6 months or more)
  8. Delicious, subtle sweet flavor
  9. Works well in pies, soups, purees and baked goods
  10. High in Vitamin A, C, and fiber

Seed Sources


Other Favorite Winter Squash Varieties:


  1. Very nice! I grew these for the first time last year too, and found the flavor excellent, but the flesh very wet…realized later it was due, no doubt, to the very wet summer we’d had (I noticed it first when a musquee I roasted expressed so much liquid it overflowed the pan–that’s never happened before–and then noticed it second when all the squashes began to rot, long before they should have. Ah, well.) This variety grew the 2nd-longest vine I’ve ever had; the seed catalogs always refer to them as “vigorous” though I often thought as I watched them travel all around the rest of the garden, “bullies.” What a great harvest, though, all those blue-tipped salmon-colored crescents of squash!

    • Anne the flesh of my candy roasters was pretty dry, that may be because I didn’t watered them nearly enough and I started roasting them 5 months after harvest as I used up the spoiling squash first. Did you like the Musquee de Provence? Flavor any good?

      • Musquee are about my favorite, and one of the few that I grow every year. The flavor is superb, I think–slightly less sweet than a butternut, but with greater depth…the color when they’re cooked is like nothing else, a deep burnished mahogany. The flesh requires very little draining for use in baked items; they keep a very long time in storage, where they gradually turn deep tan all over. The plants take some space but are relatively easy, nicely productive and, for my money, the fruits have the biggest personalities in the whole patch.

        • Anne, I’m sold, especially with such a stunning and passionate description to feast on until the seed, plants and squash arrive. Merci!

  2. Sounds like a wonderful variety—I shall try to squeeze that in this year. I like the fact that it isn’t “stringy”. That’s why I rarely enjoy squash–the texture. Ugh!

    As for weather, I’m rather envious of you being able to see ground. It was MINUS 26 yesterday morning, and we have at least 5 ft of snow left on the ground. I know the depth, because my yard hydrant handle has disappeared. It’s going to be a LLLOOONNNGGG March……..

    • Holy Snow-apocolypse Sue! Well, then, I will not complain about our small potatoes rain and street flooding, though I suspect today some rivers to the north and west will leave their banks on a walkabout the fertile valleys. May spring come sooner to you than you think!

  3. Thanks for the tip. I love all kinds of squash so this one will be a treat. Just ordered a packet from Johnny’s!

  4. wow, these look so buttery and I love the color! am gonna check to see if we can get seeds for them here. For some reason, Lebanese farmers are not big on pumpkin and squash is more like a gourd (green); of course the zucchinis (koussa) are so delicious and sweet, we eat them all summer on a daily basis!

    • I love koussa, especially stuffed with lamb, rice and pine nuts, and baked in a tomato sauce. Seed is easy to find now, which is so wonderful.

  5. I love baked, creamy squash dishes smothered in a mix of olive oil and butter drizzled with whatever fresh herbs are around, so I’m going to give it a try, even though I think I’m a squash challenged veggie gardener. Last year I tried growing some Delicata (also a thin skinned variety) and I wound up with only a handful of smallish ones, kind of Delicata diminutives, more like delicatistas!

    • Bart you could also try growing “Thelma Sanders’ Sweet Potato” Acorn Squash. It’s Chimacum Farmstand’s favorite, and I hear very easy to grow and a prolific producer.

  6. Yum…definitely adding these to the growing list of seeds I need to order for this year’s garden. Speaking of which, any way we can get you over to take a look at our plot and help us come up with a sensible plan for neophyte gardeners? There might be dinner and dessert in it for you!!

    • Lola, your good company is enough to move me off my corner. Sure I’d be happy to. In a month or so, I recommend getting plant starts from Michelle at Pacific Potager on the island, she has time-tested varieties and that helps.

  7. Oh, YUM! I will have to add these to my list of want-to-grow treats. Glad to hear they do well in the Pacific-Northwest. I have a nice little micro-climate, so they might do OK. Seed catalogs are definitely a salvation, this time of year.

    • Holy moly Eileen, you guys have really taken a beating this winter. Here’s to a wonderfully warm and early summer for you, one with bike rides, backyard barbecues and idle hours in your garden.

  8. Total loss ? My new daughter-in-law was thinking she was being helpful and removed most of my Georgia Candy roasters from the vine … needless to say, it was not quite time to harvest them … can they be used at all at this stage ? I’ve never grown them before. thanks

  9. Can the Georgia Candy roasters be used at all if harvested too soon ? My new daughter-in-law, thinking she was being helpful, removed most of the fruit from my plants …

    • Hi Teresa, they may not end up being as sweet as they would have, but I venture to say you can give it a shot and keep them in cool dry spot like a basement or porch and see if the skin color changes to full orange. It’s worth a try. Sometimes they’ll keep ripening, and other times they just rot.

      • Hi, Tom .. I also checked with Johnny’s, the supplier of my seeds .. they recommended leaving them in a hot place where the sun would hit them, for about a week or so, to let the sugars develop more, and then process immediately. It’s been a couple of weeks now, and their color has become more orange .. so, should I process now, or put in a cool place & see if they keep into the winter ?

        • I’d keep them whole and see how they do. The sugars in the flesh will develop and mature. If it looks like one is starting to rot or spoil, then eat and/or process it, just cut away the rotting part. I keep mine inside the house and use them as I need them. They like warm interior temps to keep. When they all start to ripen months later, I process them, which is basically roasting, pureeing, and freezing the meat in freezer bags.

  10. thanks, Tom. I am really impressed with these .. we had a lot of rain early on, now pretty dry, but the plants are hanging in there and resisting pests well too. Had a little powdery mildew try to start but poured milk on the leaves and all was well. The size of the fruits is amazing.

  11. If you like these squash you should also try the jumbo pink banana.
    I have grown both but the pink banana has been more productive in my garden.
    Some of mine have weighed well over 30 lbs.
    TKent offhey also keep very well and I can tell no difference in taste.

  12. If you like these squash you should also try the jumbo pink banana.
    I have grown both but the pink banana has been more productive in my garden.
    Some of mine have weighed well over 30 lbs.
    They also keep very well and I can tell no difference in taste.

  13. When do you pick the Georgia Candy Roaster Squash? I have one that is 9 inches long. It is still light yellow in color with green stripes.

    • CJ, sounds a bit too small to pick yet. My Candy Roaster would grow to a minimum of 20 inches or so and usually much longer than even that. I’d say wait, if you’re in the US, and it is spring, your squash has a couple months to go to be ripe.

    • My candy roasters are vigorously growing with lots of new blossoms still coming in! I also am curious about how to know when they are ripe for picking. Any advice?

      • You want the skin to be bright colored and firm. The good news is you can leave them on the vine up until frost if you want. Like a pumpkin they are happy to hang out in the fields until picked. They store better if left to mature a while in the fields attached to the vine.

  14. Planning to give this a try in the upcoming growing season. I’m having trouble finding info on space requirements. I grow in boxes and straw bales. I use hog panels to trellis any climbing plants. Can I top them off if they get too tall?

    • Hi Margaret, mine grew about ten to fifteen feet. but I just guided the vine around plants and removed a couple leaves that would shade smaller plants. Not sure how the trellising would work with these big-ish torpedos. Sweet Meat Squash may be another option for you. It’s my favorite, well tied with Candy Roaster but with a smaller “footprint.” You can top them off but it will limit production as the leaves fuel photosynthesis and the plants own food production. Good Luck!

      • I grew Candy Roaster and Butternut in raised beds on trellises. Big vines and one 10lb+ roaster that fell off when i attempted to put a sling under. I did some research and learned winter squash put out roots all along the vines, increasing their nutrient uptake. Unfortunately I have no ground for planting, only solid red clay.

        • Hi Jacki, that’s a fascinating fact. Thanks for sharing. I noticed rooted parts of the vine, but never really understood each played a vital role in growing the vine and the fruit. I thought it was more about stabilizing the vine. Happy growing, and I’m sorry about the solid red clay. I’ve been there, too.

  15. The candy roaster squash after I pick squash when all is ready I heard if it sits off the vine for the starch to change to sugar how long should it sit before I know it’s at its sweetest level I know they can last until the end of winter but what is the minimum I can leave it sit where it’s sweet. Thanks

    • Ken, I usually keep the fruit on the vines until September, but that again is in the cooler Pacific Northwest. When I pick them, I give them at least a month before I use them. You don’t have to wait that long, they’re still really good, but the longer you wait before eating the sweeter and denser they become. I hope this helps. Happy growing! Tom


  17. Tom, can Candy Roaster be grown on a trellis? We love it after a friend gave us some to try. Will be growing it next year.

    • Probably well too late for a reply, but. I grew these last year and they took over. I had them hanging from my chicken wire, nothing for support, hanging from a makeshift trellis, hanging from anything so they didn’t take over the entire garden. No support needed. They were giant by the way. The vine that holds them is pretty strong, they don’t just snap off. Some I let grow till after the first light freeze, since it was difficult to tell when they were ripe. They discolored a bit from the light freeze, but that wasn’t permanent. I put them in my basement and they wintered perfectly with the last one just roasted a few days ago, so lasted till June.

      • What a great comment; thanks Robert for sharing your experience growing Candy Roaster. What part of the country did you grow this squash?

  18. My mother’s parents grew these in their field corn as late as the 60’s. I attest they make an excellent pie and bettered only by a Green-striped Cushaw (in my humble opinion) which they also grew. Their milk cows enjoyed sweet squash as a winter treat as did this grandchild. I didn’t grow any cushaws this year so we went to the produce stand to peruse their pumpkins, and opted for a Galeux d’Eysines with which I have no experience. But my first one is in the oven as I type, so remedy at handy. French heirloom veggies never seem to let me down. So, they may make it to my garden next summer. Thanks your squash wisdom.

  19. I’m trying to grow these in a Nordic country — The plant is healthy (and yeah, a bit of a bully) with several fruit (which I have hand-pollinated). I’m just wondering if they’re going to get big enough. It’s mid-July and most are only less than 6 inches in length.
    How long from blossom to picking?

    • Hi Lauree, good question. They usually take at least three months from spout to maturity, so I’d think by early September they should be ready to pick. Maybe try a little extra watering as they tend to be water hogs. Things are way behind here, it’s been an unusually cool summer, so perhaps in the next couple weeks with August temps on the way the squash will take off. Good luck, Tom If you find they don’t, maybe give Sweetmeat squash a try next year. This heirloom Oregon squash does well in cooler climate and tastes amazing.


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