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.

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.

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.

baked-acorn-squash-3-300 baked-acorn-squash-4-300

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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69 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    • Royce Napier

      This is the most delicious squash recipe ever!!! I implore you! Take your own advice! Try it!!

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. Tom

    OK, I’ve scoured the net and can’t find the answer… Should you eat the squash rind? I recently made Acorn Squash roasted in the oven but we weren’t too sure if you were supposed to eat the rind also, or just the flesh inside… help! :-)

  6. Elise

    Hi MJ – What a great tip, thank you! I always have a hard time cutting an acorn squash in half. This will help.

    Hi Tom – We don’t eat the rind. Maybe some people do, but we don’t.

  7. Kris

    I made this for two thanksgiving dinners I had this year and it was INCREDIBLE both times. Thought it was fantastic and I even converted two non-squash eaters!!

  8. Anonymous

    If I want to make plain acorn squash, do I need to alter the instructions apart from eliminating step 3? Also, what is the reasoning behind cutting the acorn squash lengthwise – does it not work to cut it horizontally? I am planning on serving the plain squash as a gluten-free “bread bowl” and putting chili inside, so you can scoop out some cooling, sweet squash with each bite of spiciness. Yummers!

    Thanks for the 2 great tips – about adding 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the baking sheet so the skins don’t burn and also on scoring and then microwaving for 30 seconds to faciliate easier cutting.

  9. Elise

    Regarding making plain acorn squash, just eliminate step 3. You want to cut the acorn squash lengthwise because the squash will lie easier in the pan that way.

  10. Susannah

    To make a healthier squash, we use Orange juice instead of butter. Helps to soften and moisten the squash w/o the fat.

  11. Rusty Girl Robinson

    I am so thankful for this site. It has helped me so much with my failing memory these days. LoL! I love acorn squash and appreciate the new ideas to fix it. Gotta try it with maple syrup…sounds yummy!

  12. AB

    Excellent! I’ve never made acorn squash before, and it turned out just like the picture. It was so delicious I will be bringing it to Thanksgiving this year! Thank you for having such an inspirational website!

  13. DJ

    Hopefully someone can help me. I’m planning on making this for thanksgiving but I have never had it before, neither has the rest of my family. So, when the squash is cut in half, how do you serve it to a large group of people? Slice it, scoop it out, what? Obviously I will make a few squashes but I have no clue how to dish it out.

    Thanks!!!

  14. Rachelle

    DJ,

    When I serve acorn squash, I usually serve 1/2 to 1/4 (one 1/2 cut in half makes a nice wedge) of a squash to each person, depending on the size of the squash and how much other food is being served. If you have a lot of other food on Thanksgiving (as we always do), then you could cut each squash half into thirds, so that you would get 6 nice wedges from each whole squash. I think the wedges make a nice presentation.

    Hope this helps!

    Enjoy,
    Rachelle

  15. kellypea

    Yum! This recipe with the suggestions have been quite helpful in baking my first acorn squash. I’m thinking of adding apples and pecans. Can’t wait. The orange juice suggestion instead of butter sounded lovely!

  16. SUSAN

    Hello!
    The squash is also easy to cut if you leave it in the oven while preheating, maybe 10 minutes. I don’t have a microwave, so this is what I do.

  17. Sarah

    I made the recipe as suggested in the original and it was great. One tip I learned off another site that worked well was before you cut the squash in half, cut a little slice off one side so that you have a flat side to stabilize it on while cutting in half. Also I would say 1/6 of a squash is the perfect quantity per person at Thanksgiving. We don’t eat the skins.

  18. annulla

    This is the way I’ve prepared acorn squash all my life, and while I came here tonight looking for a new technique, the memories (and of course, your prose) drove me to make it this way again. For me, this is comfort food.

  19. Sue Chandler

    A friend suggested that a less labor intensive way to prepare/cook the squash would be to bake them whole the day before my dinner party and not cut them in half until I’m ready to warm them and add final seasoning just before serving. I’m planning to fill each one with a scoop of Hoppin’ John…for new Year’s luck. I can’t find a recipe though that suggests preparing them ahead of time this way and wonder if anyone else has tried this.

  20. sean

    A great meal with acorn squash is to cut the top off, and just enough off the bottom so it stands on it’s own. Scoop out the insides and fill with a puree soup or my favorite is a french canadien pea soup, and put the top back on. Bake in the oven for approx. 1hr depending on the size of the acorn..you get the soup and can eat the delicious bowl. (I try to stay away from soups made of other squashes to make this one more pronounced) enjoy

  21. Christine

    I had never prepared acorn squash until this past weekend. Thanks so much for providing yet another simple (and tasty) recipe!

  22. Bérangère

    I’m a new member and this is only my second time at having acorn squash. My first time was a couple of years ago at the in laws and I liked it so much I kept going for more! It made my mother in law happy because everybody else was fussy and skipping the squash. This is my second time and again I love it! I love it even more! What an exciting discovery! I am so into this! I’m the only one so far in my family to like it and it’s a good thing since I get more for myself! Not for long though since I have a 9 month baby who loves butternut squash in the jar. I just had leftovers for lunch (a whole half of squash as a side dish with a goat cheese omelette). It was excellent and I was more excited about the leftover squash than the omelette! Someone asked if you should eat the skin… I totally do! Couldn’t imagine not eating it! It’s adding just enough texture with the rest of the soft sweet flesh. Will do this again and again and again!

  23. Den Kingery

    My Grandma showed me this recipe 40 years ago. She adds 4 half strips of bacon crosswise on each half of squash. Adds great flavor to the squash.

  24. Beth

    Being a bartender I use a little ammeretto or grand marnier instead of the syrup and brown sugar.

  25. Dee

    I just found acorn squash in a supermarket in Mazatlán, México where I live, for the 1st time! I am so excited! Thanks for all the good cooking tips. I like savory instead of sweet, so probably will try the bacon idea. Maybe just a bit of honey or brown sugar and some chile with the bacon? Or some chorizo instead? I am salivating, thinking about it. I love squash. Thanks, Elise, for the best food blog ever. Dee

  26. MB Ginny

    I have always used butter, brown sugar, salt & pepper to coat the pieces. going to add a little Triple Sec this year, thanks. QUESTION: If I par-cook/microwave the squash then cool/store it before baking will it compromise its consistency &/or flavour? Oven space is scarce and ‘My oven runneth over’.

  27. Amber

    My MIL makes her squash this way, except that she ALSO does a butternut squash, scoops out the innards after cooking, and combines them. Amazing.

    @MB Ginny:

    I have a friend who cooks her squash entirely in the microwave, though I’ve never done this and am unsure of the time required. Something to think about though.

  28. Maria

    Oooh, this looks amazing. I’m going to do just that this weekend, and fill the halves with couscous right before serving.

  29. Kathy

    I just cut open an acorn squash and it is white on the inside. Shouldn’t it be yellow or orangish? Maybe it’s not ripe so I don’t know if I should cook it anyway. I love acorn squash in the fall. Oh, and by the way, I never heard of eating the green “skin” or rind. Doesn’t sound appetizing to me.

  30. Nadine

    I used to make my acorn squash with brown sugar also, BUT for some of you that don’t really care for the really sweet squash…try just butter (or margarine) salt & pepper, make sure while cooking it baste the squash with the melted butter already inside the squash every 10 minutes its soooooo good! My grandma has been making it this way for years & years. It brings out the natural sweetness already in the squash. Hope you enjoy let me know what ya think anyone :o)

  31. Amy

    What do you serve with the squash?

    The squash is a side dish. It is terrific accompanying chicken, turkey, pork, or steak. ~Elise

  32. MaggieE

    I made it recently without the sweet stuff by salting it after roasting, then returning it to the oven with a dusting of fresh grated parmesan cheese and a scant handful of chopped pecans. It was really good!

  33. Francine

    I just baked acorn squash for the first time. I did not want to use the sweet recipes because my husband cannot eat sweets. So based on some of the suggestions above i simply coated mine with olive oil(instead of butter), seasoned with seasoning salt, garlic, and lemon pepper. It was delicious! Thanks Elise and everyone else.

  34. April

    I just made this with a carnival squash that came in my CSA box. It’s delicious, lovely, and simple. Thanks, Elise!

  35. Nicole

    We’ve made this 4 times the past month! So tasty. We’re bringing it today as a side dish for Christmas dinner with friends. :) Thanks for posting!

  36. Barbara

    You can put nutmeg mixed in with butter or even olive oil or grapeseed oil instead of the syrup/sugar combo and it will have a nice zing to it!

  37. Tom

    I leave out the Maple Syrup but add Worchester Sauce then top that with shredded cheese.

  38. Brittany

    I made this tonight and added fried beans and corn (with chopped onions, garlic, and hot pepper) in the middle. Was so good!

  39. Brenda

    My uncle used to make this and he put ground beef in the center. I don’t know if he added it at the beginning or waited until later. Has anyone ever heard of this tried it? It was delicious and used as a main dish with a green salad.
    Thanks

  40. Heather

    We had this for dinner today with some rice pilaf with almonds, and cooked carrots. Pretty yummy meal ^.^

    I think I would normally cook the squash with just butter and salt, but I wasn’t sure because I never made this on my own before, so I searched the web to give me an idea on what to do, and I saw this recipe and thought I would give it a try since I had real maple syrup in the fridge. Came out really good :)
    Thanks!

  41. Wendy

    Sooo good! Thank you I love acorn squash the walnuts do sound delicious as an add-on. I made this tonight and was a success! Most of all its very easy to prepare. I love your site Elise!

  42. Tom Doherty

    What is the oven temp with this recipe. Some of my acorns in the garden are near ripe and I am dying to try them. I am also told that after picking I need to “cure” them for 10 days or so for a sweeter squash, true?

    Step 1, 400°F. No idea on the “curing”. ~Elise

  43. Jessica Lee Binder

    I just made this with a very small acorn squash. I thought it would take less time since it was so small but it’s still took an hour. Funny, but delicious!

  44. Karen

    Tks everyone for tips. Here are 2 more:
    1. Squash becomes easy schmeazy to cut if you bake it first.
    2. Two things to do with seeds: (A) If you’re baking the squash, you can leave them there til the last 15 min, then tease them to the top with a fork so you can butter/spice them up for a crunchy topping. (B) If you just like roasted seeds, leave them in the squash while you bake. Easiest way to remove them for roasting is to take 2 forks and lift them out. Fork tines at an angle to each other make good shears to lop off the strings. I save seeds in the freezer til I have lots to roast.

  45. Mary

    Place the squash cut side down with water in pan and bake you get a moist squash. Just flip it over when done and place butter /sugar in side and mix right in the shell before spooning out/ you can also make in the microwave it take about 20 mins on high using the same method with a deep dish plate or pie plate.

  46. Thomas Cappiello

    Just want to comment on some comments:
    I eat rind on home grown squash if not too tough. Store bought I typically don’t because they are treated with waxes and what-not; not that it is toxic but I don’t want to eat it. It also depends on the species and the age.
    You don’t have to cure acorn squash, the butternuts and thicker skinned gourd types typically get “cured”. And like most starchy foods, the starches of all squash sweeten over time. I tend to hold off on eating home grown squashes and keep them cool for a month or so before eating. The maple syrup touch sounds good, sometimes I also add fruit juices-orange, mango etc to the pan. Squash is great sweetened and unsweetened.

  47. Trish in MO

    OHmigosh I just discovered this and made it this afternoon. OUTSTANDING! Serving size: ONE!

  48. anonymous

    I microwaved my butternut squash but splitting it in half and covering it with plastic wrap, but after it had been sitting for a few minutes out of the microwave, there were these tiny white spots that developed on the surface, almost looking like rock salt or white beads of condensation. Anyone know what this is?

  49. Bernie Wolf

    Hoosier Way for Baked Acorn A generous portion of Jimmy Dean regular sausage in each half Bernie

  50. Sherry

    My mother-in-law taught me to bake the squash cut side down in a baking pan with a couple of inches of water in it. Then when they’re nearly done, turn them over and add the butter and whatever else you want in the center. (I use loose browned sausage along with a little bit of brown sugar and butter.) BUT the very best way to serve acorn squash is in PIE…yes, pie! Use your pumpkin pie recipe but substitute the meat of the squash for the pumpkin, and it is absolutely delicious! I cook the squash, cool, and spoon it into baggies–equal to the amount of pumpkin the pie recipe calls for–and then I’m set for making pies later.

  51. Juli

    Searching for a fast recipe for some acorn squash, and your site came up. I thought your blog looked familiar, and realize we already follow you! :)

    Looking forward to some good squash with dinner.

    Thanks!

  52. Jennifer

    I like to balance out the sweetness of squash (or sweet potatoes) with something salty/savory, so I like to add butter with fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Yummy! I love Fall!

  53. Linda

    I just made this recipe and found acorn squash to be tasteless by itself and, even with the butter, brown sugar, and pecans,so stringy that it was really unappetizing! I’m amazed at the wonderful comments. Oh, well, to each his own; I’ll stay with wonderful sweet potatoes!

    Sounds to me like you didn’t have a particularly good acorn squash. I wouldn’t write off the recipe, or acorn squash in general, so quickly. ~Elise

  54. Tiffany

    I am addicted to winter squash. I love the recipe ideas posted here. I usually bake mine in a baking dish with about an inch of water in the bottom. Then I scoop it out and add butter, salt and pepper, then mash it up like mashed potatoes. Once in a while I cut the top off and fill them with pre-cooked bulk sausage, caramelized onions,cranberries,walnuts or pecans,a little prepared stuffing and drizzle Vermont maple syrup or melted butter over the top and bake. The also fares well inside of a large hollowed out Vadalia type onion.

  55. Eli

    We really love this recipe. I am seven, and asked for this squash for dinner. I like brown sugar and honey.

    (transcribed by Eli’s dad)

    Dear Eli – thank you for getting your dad to write this lovely comment. I’m so glad you liked the squash! ~Elise

  56. debbbie martin

    I just cut open my acorn squash and it is white inside.What do I do with it? Thanks Deb

    You might want to take it back to where you got it and ask the produce manager. I’ve never seen that before. If it is some kind of mold you’re not going to want to eat it. ~Elise

  57. Ed

    Kudos to the bartender (Beth) who suggested substituting ameretto for brown sugar and maple syrup. I had an acorn squash in the house, no brown sugar and no maple syrup. I did have ameretto though. It adds some extra tang to the flavor and is a great substitute! Thanks!

  58. Norm

    My wife and I have made this traditional version for years. I generally don’t care for squash but love this. What I want to comment on is all the fantastic alternative ideas the readers posted! I can’t wait to try them!

  59. Caitlin @ Vegetarian in the City

    I love squash in the fall and winter. recently i tried topping it with homemade pesto – so good!

  60. shedragon713

    I microwaved the cut squash only for 10 minutes on High and then baked it w/ ingredients in convection oven @ 375 for 30 minutes and it turned out perfectly. thanks for the recipe!

  61. Randy

    I use this recipe but always substitute the sugar for molasses. Molasses and butter make a fantastic glaze and sauce.

  62. Crys

    Love this! We always add crispy bacon during the last half hour of baking. Yum!

  63. Mary

    This is the first time I tried acorn squash, the recipe is delicious. Thanks!

  64. Mark

    For those that like a little savory with their squash, I use cumin, sate and chili powder after I lightly baste a little olive oil over the flesh of the squash. I’m not really big on sweetening already sweet dishes.

    If you do like a little sweet and want to try something different, one of the best dishes I ever had with this squash is when someone cooked it, then drizzled a little Kahlua over it and let it caramelize over the squash after cooking about 3/4 the way done. De lish!

  65. Tom D.

    I use a small folding pruning saw to halve acorn squash. Works great and is safer than using a knife.

  66. Marie

    Thanks for the reminder of how much I love acorn squash! This recipe looks wonderful. For those nights when you’re short on time, you can microwave the cut squash face up wrapped with plastic wrap until tender and then finish them up in the oven.

  67. Kat

    Wonderful recipe. I might decrease the brown sugar and maple syrup in each one, but mostly because I am Diabetic. Would definitely use sugar free syrup.

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