All the aromas and flavors of fall are perfect for this easy roasted acorn squash recipe. These perfect for any dinner table and a great way to get kiddos to eat their veggies and an extra dose of vitamin C.
It’s great for an easy weeknight side dish, but also grand enough for the holiday table. It is often paired with fresh herbs, parmesan cheese because of it’s earthy, nutty flavor, but we are changing it up a bit and adding sweet, salty and savory to mix.
What's In This Article
What is an Acorn Squash?
Fall has arrived and with it an abundance of winter squashes and gourds. Acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash seemed to have all gained fame in the last few years.
Acorn squash, sometimes called a pepper squash, Des Moines squash or Carnival squash, is usually seen as a winter squash, but can be harvested in the summer too. It has deep longitudinal ridges on its exterior with a thick green skin and sweet, yellow-orange flesh inside. It is prime for roasting to caramelize the natural sugars.
The creative preparations are countless and all a delicious way to add color and vegetables to your dining table. This basic recipe is one of my favorites for its flavor and simplicity.
How Long Does Acorn Squash Last?
Acorn squash is great because the shelf life is literally all winter. As long as they are kept in a cool, dry and low light place, they can last for months. I typically limit mine to about 1 month on my counter top.
However, after being sliced and diced, only about 4 days. But they are so darn easy cook and tasty, why wait that long?
The variations on seasonings is endless and, as I am sure you can surmise, I will be posting some of them throughout the winter. Many are both sweet and savory, like this one.
How do I know my acorn squash is bad? It could have an unpleasant odor, blemishes or marks that weren’t there when purchased, or if you cut it open, it is slimy or grey.
How to Cut an Acorn Squash
There are two basic ways and both have benefits. However you do it, make sure you use a super sharp knife.
Cut it in Half. Merely cutting them in half might be the easiest way, but the thick skin and dense flesh of the squash make them hard to cut especially if you aren’t using the right knife. This also allows the squash to be it’s own little bowl and serving vessel. I suggest using a large knife or even a cleaver.
The downside is that it takes longer to cook and doesn’t serve as many people. It is hard to cut a bowl of deliciousness with liquid in half.
Cut it into Slices. Cutting into slices is better if you are serving a large crowd because people can take a small serving. You can use this same spice blend, just baste it onto the slices instead of lumping into the bowl. It is also a reduced cooking time.
Either way you decide to cut your squash, start off by giving the outside a good wash to get any dirt off. Next you want to cut the squash in half lengthwise.
Then using a scoop or sturdy spoon scoop out all of the seeds and stringy pulp. Keep it like this or further cut into smaller slices.
How to Cook Acorn Squash
Cutting is the hardest part- now it is all downhill for this easy recipe! Grab the ingredients and get roasting.
- Preheat the oven and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up. I do not recommend using a high sided baking dish because this will steam the squash instead of roast it.
- Slice the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Lay the half acorn squash, cut-side-down, on a cutting board and slice into 1/4 inch slices parallel to the stem. Try to get as uniformly thick as possible so they cook at the same pace. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
- Mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg and kosher salt and then sprinkle them on the cut sides of squash slices. You do not need to use olive oil to make it stick, but you can if you prefer.
- Roast for 40 minutes, or until fork tender. The time will largely depend on the thickness of your slices. Just prick them with a fork to see if they are tender.
- Towards the end of them cooking, combine the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in small saucepan and heat over low until melted and sugar has dissolved so it is more of a syrup. In fast, if you want to cut corners, just drizzle the cooked acorn squash slices with pure maple syrup.
- Arrange the squash on a serving platter and drizzle with the maple syrup butter mixture and candied walnuts.
This same recipe can be applied to squash halves. Just cut them in half and score the inside. Season with the spice blend and cook on a sheet pan until no soft spots remain. Drizzle with the same maple sauce.
Skin & Seeds
Can you eat the skin of acorn squash? It is surely edible, it just isn’t that pleasant. The skin is tough to chew, leathery and waxy.
It gets softer the longer you cook it, however it is totally acceptable to just eat the flesh and leave the skin behind. It is easiest to peel after being cooked. However, at this stage, it can also be much easier to eat. It really depends on the squash.
Can you eat acorn squash seeds? Yes! Just like pumpkins seeds, you can prepare acorn squash seeds. See my recipes for Salty Roast Pumpkin Seeds or Ranch Pumpkin Seeds and simply sub the type of seeds.
Can You Microwave Acorn Squash?
You surely can, just like so many other types, but you will lose out on the flavor that builds from a slow roasting and caramelization process. Squash in general isn’t that flavorful. It needs the assistance of heat and spices to help it along.
If your goal is just to soften, then pop it right on in! But make sure to cut it first- if you microwave it whole, it will explode.
Storage & Freezing
Storage & Leftovers: Squash can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days. It is best reheated in a warm oven for 5 minutes. It can be microwaved as well.
Freezing: We do not recommend freezing cooked acorn squash. Because it is so much water, it thaws mushy and limp.
More Fall Recipes
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Spaghetti Squash with Crispy Prosciutto and Creamy Brie Sauce
- Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Pecan Thyme Baked Acorn Squash
Maple Walnut Roasted Acorn Squash Recipe
- 1 acorn squash
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon candied walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Slice the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds using a spoon.
- Lay the half acorn squash, cut-side-down, on a cutting board and slice into 1/4 inch slices parallel to the stem. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, mix together the nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Sprinkle on top of squash slices.
- Roast for 40 minutes, or until fork tender.
- Meanwhile, combine the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in small saucepan and heat over low until melted and sugar has dissolved, mix well.
- Arrange squash on a serving platter and drizzle with the maple syrup mixture. Top with candied walnuts.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.
Thank you for this awesome comprehensive post on acorn squash! This has me so excited for fall and I know I’ll make this over and over again 🙂
Delicious! And I love the maple flavor.
I am an 82 year old widower who has learned to cook out of necessity. This squash was absolutely delicious. thank you.
Thank you, Phil! Stay safe!
Can you use honey Instead of Syrup? I cook for a picky eater and he doesn’t like syrup
I don’t see why not!
This is a wonderful recipe. I have baked with acorn squash before so I am familure with it. Thanks for sharing your culinary dish. 🙂
Thank you Joni! The spaghetti squash will be posted soon too!
Your VERY welcome, Jessica! As you stated in your post, our garden produced an over abundant amount of squash also. Too much for our enjoyment so why not “spread” them out to our FINE neighbors!! So glad you have enjoyed cooking/eating them and excited to have you “showcase” them on your wonderful website!! I don’t miss a day without scouting out the new recipe arrivals. cheers, Joni & Brian