How to Cook 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 sturdy 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.
How to Shop for Acorn Squash
Acorn squash are winter squash. When shopping for them, choose squash that feel heavy and have blemish-free and mold-free skin. They should also not have any soft spots but should be quite firm. They should be dark green and may have a patch of yellow or orange where they were on the ground before picking.
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.
How to Cut Acorn Squash
Like most winter squashes, acorn squashes are dense and can be challenging to cut. Here are some tips to help:
- Stabilize the squash: Knife skills 101, right? Make sure what you are cutting is stable on the table. If the stem is short, the most stable position for the squash is likely to prop it up with the stem end down. If the stem is too long, and you can't easily remove it, lay the squash on its side and roll it until you find the most stable position for it.
- Use a sharp, heavy chef's knife: A sharp knife will really help to get through the squash, a dull one is at risk of slipping while you cut. A heavy chef's knife has the heft and length you need to cut through the squash.
- Rubber mallet: Have a rubber mallet? Using one to tap on the knife can help it go through if it gets stuck.
- Microwave: If you have a microwave, zap the squash for a minute (each) before cutting into it. That will soften the peel and flesh just enough to make it easier to cut through.
Video: How to Bake Acorn Squash
How to Make Baked Acorn Squash
Make Ahead Tips for Acorn Squash
Bake the full squash recipe up to 2 days ahead of time. Wrap each piece individually in foil and store in the refrigerator. Reheat in the foil at 400°F until just heated through. The foil will help the squash retain its moisture while reheating.
How to Serve Acorn Squash
Serve acorn squash as a side dish with chicken, turkey, pork, or beef. Or, for a filling main dish, skip the brown sugar and maple syrup and stuff the hollowed-out portion with a filling to make it a more filling main dish. Try:
- Vegetarian chili
- Chili con carne
- Cooked beans, corn, chopped onions and garlic
- Cooked brown rice
- Crumbled cooked sausage
This baked acorn squash also makes a healthy dessert because of its gentle sweetness.
Try This Method With Other Winter Squash
Other winter squashes would work with this method, too. Try these varieties of squash baked in the same way (you may need to quarter large squash).
- Sweet dumpling
More Favorite Squash Recipes
- Stuffed Acorn Squash with Brown Rice and Mushrooms
- Butternut Squash with Walnuts and Vanilla
- Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup
- Stuffed Delicata Squash with Quinoa and Mushrooms
- Roasted Winter Squash with Cilantro Chimichurri
Baked Acorn Squash with Butter and Brown Sugar
1 acorn squash
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
Dash kosher salt
Preheat the oven:
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Prep the squash:
If you have a microwave, microwave the squash for a minute each, to make it easier to cut. Then stabilize the squash on a cutting board as best you can, stem end down if the stem is short enough, otherwise on the side. Using a sharp, sturdy chef's knife, carefully cut the acorn squash in half, from tip to stem. If on its side, 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.
Add the butter, salt, brown sugar, and maple syrup:
Rub 1/2 tablespoon butter into the insides of each half. Sprinkle with a little salt if you are using unsalted butter.
Crumble 1 tablespoon brown sugar into the center of each half and drizzle with 1 teaspoon maple syrup.
Bake at 400°F for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 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. Don't undercook it.
Remove from the oven, cool a bit, and serve:
When done, remove the squash halves from the oven. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas. Let cool for a bit before serving.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 2 to 4|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 3g||4%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||9%|
|Total Carbohydrate 17g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||10%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 11mg||54%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|