Classic Baked Acorn Squash

Always a favorite at our Thanksgiving table is baked acorn squash. They’re so easy! The hardest part is cutting the squash in half—you need a sharp knife and a strong, steady hand. But then all you have to do is scoop out the seeds, score the inside, dot with butter and brown sugar or maple syrup and bake. To eat you can cut them in wedges, or keep them in halves and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

Acorn squash are winter squash. When shopping for them, choose squash that feel heavy and have a blemish and mold-free skin. They should also not have any soft spots, but should be quite firm. Like other winter squash, the whole acorn squash store very well in the cold months, just keep them cool and dry; they’ll last a month or more.

They’re a great source of iron, Vitamin A (from all that beta-carotene filled orange flesh!), Vitamin C, and riboflavin.

Updated from the recipe archive, first posted 2005.

Classic Baked Acorn Squash Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 to 4, depending on how much squash you like to eat.
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Ingredients

  • 1 Acorn squash
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
  • Dash of Salt

Method

1 Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C).

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2 Using a sharp, sturdy chef's knife, carefully cut the acorn squash in half, from stem to tip. (A rubber mallet can help if you have one.) The squash can rock back and forth, so take care as you are cutting it.

Use a sturdy metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy bits inside each squash half, until the inside is smooth.

Take a sharp paring knife and score the insides of the acorn squash halves in a cross-hatch pattern, about a half-inch deep cuts.

Place the squash halves cut side up in a roasting pan. Pour 1/4-inch of water over the bottom of the pan so that the squash doesn't burn or get dried out in the oven.

3 Rub a half teaspoon of butter into the insides of each half. Sprinkle with a little salt if you are using unsalted butter. Crumble a tablespoon of brown sugar into the center of each half and drizzle with a teaspoon of maple syrup.

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4 Bake for about an hour to an hour 15 minutes, until the tops of the squash halves are nicely browned, and the squash flesh is very soft and cooked through. It's hard to overcook squash, it just gets better with more caramelization. But don't undercook it.

When done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a bit before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.

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Baked Acorn Squash

Showing 4 of 97 Comments

  • Xarley

    My husband and love Acorn squash. We make it a heartier dish by adding a handful of chopped walnuts to the center under the sugar and butter.

  • dart1121

    I’ve never understood why people put sugary stuff on their squash. Especially acorn, which is one of the sweeter varieties of this wonderful, versatile vegetable. I simply bake it with salt, pepper and a slab of butter in the middle. Or, if I want to serve it later, I scoop out the flesh after baking, put it in a microwave-safe dish, place pats of butter over it, and put it in the frig to be warmed in the microwave when needed. I always do this at Thanksgiving when oven space is at a premium. Please – I implore you! Try squash just once without the maple syrup or brown sugar. I’m sure you’ll agree that its sweet enough without the added calories.

  • Elise

    Hi Xarley – great idea, chopped walnuts. I’ve also seen versions with chopped pecans as well.

    Hi Beth – You’re welcome. This recipe is pretty easy, you just need to make sure to cook the squash long enough.

    Hi Dart – I eat acorn squash all the time without sugar; it depends on the level of sweetness I’m in the mood for. Personally I usually like it better with the maple syrup and brown sugar. To each her own, eh?

  • mj

    Just a note about the cutting of the squash which I have been making for a million years with syrup and without!! Insert paring knife twice on the line where you will eventually cut squash and then microwave maybe 30 seconds to a minute…..simple to split afterwards. Love the site.

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