Eat Candy as One of Your Vegetables


The North Georgia Candy Roaster

I’m a North Carolina native, born and raised. So, it was quite a surprise at a recent trip to the farmers market when I came across this odd looking, large pink banana-shaped pumpkin-squash that I had never laid eyes on. When I asked what it was the farmer said “It’s a North Georgia Candy Roaster”. What?!?

History of the North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash

So, I bought one and proceeded to do a little research. Turns out, this unique pumpkiny squash thingy has a really cool history. I found that the North Georgia Candy Roaster is rare and was originally bred by the Cherokee Indians in the Southern Appalachians of North Carolina and Georgia in the 1800s. The seeds are heirloom.

It is a winter squash variety, (curcubita maxima) displaying hues of pink, tan, orange, green, gray and blue. The North Georgia Candy Roaster can grow up to 15 pounds (6 - 10 pounds is common) and 18 inches and is a variant of the Pink Banana Squash. (It has a larger relative, the Georgia Candy Roaster, which is a jumbo squash growing up to 60+ pounds).

Here are 3 different North Georgia Candy Roasters. Notice all the colors as described in the paragraph above.


Here’s the North Georgia Candy Roaster compared to a medium sized butternut squash for perspective.


Farming History

Historically, the Candy Roaster was farmed using the “three sisters” farming technique with corn, legumes and squash. In the three sisters farming technique, the corn is planted first then vining beans or peas are planted so their vines will climb the corn stalks while adding nitrogen to the soil. Then pumpkins and candy roasters are planted at the base of the corn stalks because their large leaves help control weeds. Brilliant!

The North Georgia Candy Roaster is harvested in the fall like other winter squash and can be stored for up to 5 months.

Flavor Profile

The North Georgia Candy Roaster is sweet and very versatile and its sweet flavor peaks as it is stored over the winter. It can be used in any recipe that calls for butternut squash, sweet potatoes or pumpkin. It’s used in pies, soups, bisques, butters and baked goods. Because it has a natural sweetness, additional sugar is not needed or can be significantly reduced in recipes.

The North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash is very sweet and its flavor peaks as it is stored over the winter. #saslife Click To Tweet Cooking Methods

The Candy Roaster is easy to prepare. It can be baked, roasted, boiled or mashed.

Nutrition Information

I could not find nutrition information for the NG Candy Roaster in my nutrition analysis software but its deep orange flesh and flavor profile compare to butternut squash which has the following nutrition breakdown:

Serving size: 1 cup raw cubes
Calories: 63
Protein: 1 gm
Carbohydrates: 16 gm
Fiber: 3 gm
Fat: 0 gm
Vitamin A: 300% DV
Vitamin C: 50% DV

6 Reasons to Like the North Georgia Candy Roaster

  • Heirloom crop
  • Easy to cook – bake, boil, grill, roast
  • Cooked flesh freezes well
  • Sweet, subtle flavor
  • Can be roasted and eaten as a side dish or used in pies, butters, purees, baked goods, soups, bisques
  • Can be stored up to 5 months and flavor improves with age

For more information and recipes using the North Georgia Candy Roaster, click here, here and here.

And, check out North Georgia Candy Roaster recipes on Pinterest.

To order seeds to plant your own, click here.


Roasted North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash
Serves 4

Since this Candy Roaster is new to me, I opted to cook it the way I cook most of my vegetables – I roasted it. It is very easy to work with and less daunting than some of the other winter squashes – very easy to peel and easy to cut due to its manageable thickness.

The flavor is sweet and a cross between butternut squash and delicata squash. Since I cooked it straight from the farmers market in October, it wasn’t quite as sweet as a butternut squash yet. I’m storing 3 more squash for a few months to see how the flavor progresses - one is marked for Thanksgiving, one for Christmas and one for a snowy day (fingers crossed) in January.

1 (approx. 6-7 pound) North Georgia Candy Roaster
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¾ - 1 tsp seasoned salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp cinnamon


    • Using a sharp peeler, peel skin off the candy roaster squash.

    • Cut squash in half length-wise and scrape out the seeds. Discard or save seeds for roasting or planting.

    • Cut each half in half cross-wise, then slice in ½ inch crescents. Chop the crescents into ½ inch pieces.

    • Place squash pieces in a ziptop bag or bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss well so that the pieces are well coated.
    • Spread squash pieces in a single layer on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
    • Season with seasoning salt, black pepper and cinnamon.

    • Roast in 400 degree preheated oven for 35 – 45 minutes until pieces are golden brown and tender to the touch.

  • Serve.

Cooking Notes:

  • Rotate pan 180 degrees half way through cooking time for even browning.
  • If you are using non-stick baking pans, you may need to toss the squash pieces halfway through the cooking time to prevent burning on the bottom.
  • Adding a pinch of nutmeg to this recipe might be delish!

Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe.

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About Author

Cathy Greer Mazanec, MPH, RDN, LDN

Cathy is the Senior Manager of Nutrition and Healthy Living Programs at SAS Institute Inc in Cary, NC. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, functional medicine nutritionist, blogger and food photographer. Cathy's specialties include integrative and functional nutrition, gut health, food allergies and intolerances and culinary nutrition. She is also a Certified Biofeedback instructor. An avid lover of the outdoors, Cathy spends her free time biking, golfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, sitting under the stars and spending time with her grandson. Follow @CmazanecRD on Twitter.

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