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What Is Acorn Squash?
Featuring a mildly sweet, nutty flavor, a glossy dark green edible skin, and a soft, toothsome texture that’s a step above spaghetti squash and step below butternut squash, acorn squash have deep, grooved cups that are perfect for stuffing with whole grains or a few pats of butter and a teaspoon or two of brown sugar or maple syrup.
How to Prep Acorn Squash
Because you can eat the skin of an acorn squash, prep is incredibly simple. Slice off the top bit where the stem is, then slice lengthwise in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard (or save for roasting). From here, you can either roast the halves as they are, slice into wedges, or cut crosswise into crescents.
How to Shop for Acorn Squash
Look for unblemished skin, with few cracks and a matte exterior. Ripe winter squashes look full, feel heavy, and have dried out stems. Because they can range in size, choose the acorn squash that best suits your purposes: looking to make individual stuffed squash halves? Choose one that fits neatly into your hand. Feeding a crowd? Stock up on the larger ones.
Is Acorn Squash Healthy?
Acorn squash, like many of its winter squash brethren, is rich is dietary fiber—9 whole grams of it, which is about a third of your daily requirement. It’s low in saturated fats, and packed with vitamin C, B6, and A, along with antioxidants and potassium, which help to regulate blood pressure. They are a high-carbohydrate and high calorie food, so they will leave you full with little effort.
4 Ways to Cook Acorn Squash
Whether as a veggie side dish or nutritious vegetarian main.
- Roast. Brush halved and seeded acorn squash in olive oil and season with kosher salt and black pepper, then arrange acorn squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast at 400°F for 25 minutes, or until a paring knife passes easily through the skin and the inner flesh is soft. The skin will be lightly crispy, but with a chewiness not unlike fruit leather.
- Grill. The mild sweetness of acorn squash pairs brilliantly with a light smoke from the grill. Swipe some olive oil over the cut sides of a halved squash and place face down on a well-oiled grate. Allow to cook, without moving, for 4 to 5 minutes, checking periodically for softness with a paring knife.
- Steam. Acorn squash only takes about 4 to 5 minutes to steam. Heat a few inches of water in a large pot fitted with a steamer basket. Remove seeds and slice into pieces, then add squash to the basket, and cover. When a fork easily pierces the squash, it’s done.
- Microwave. A small acorn squash will only take about 5 minutes or so in the microwave. Be sure to cut slits in the skin to allow steam to escape—exploded microwave squash is not what you need—or cut into pieces first.
3 Acorn Squash Recipes
- Vegan Roasted Acorn Squash Recipe: Roast acorn squash slices in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper for 10–15 minutes in a 400°F oven, until beginning to brown, then add 6–7 halved and pitted dates, and continue to cook until dates are soft and caramelized. Serve with toasted coconut chips.
- Acorn Squash Salad Recipe: Let baked acorn squash cool, then dice into bite-sized cubes and add to your gluten-free favorite salad. Think Tuscan kale, toasted pepitas, pickled red onions, and a green goddess dressing.
- Savory Farro-Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe: Cut squash into halves and roast in a 400°F oven until just tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Combine cooked farro (or quinoa), parsley, cranberries, and chopped walnuts; season to taste. Spoon into acorn squash and top with fresh grated Parmesan. Transfer squash back to oven until cheese is golden brown, about 3–4 minutes.
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