Cooking in Season: How to Cook Acorn Squash

Passing by the giant bins of winter squash at the grocery store can be kind of intimidating. They're large, oddly shaped, and are not really intuitive when it comes to preparing them. But fear not! In just a few minutes you'll learn exactly how to cook acorn squash with a few different topping and filling ideas.

Learn how to prep and cook acorn squash for your fall and winter meals!

Photos via  Edible Perspective

There are a handful of different ways you can slice acorn squash. It depends what you want the end result to be.

For instance: Do you want the acorn squash to resemble a bowl that you can stuff with some sort of grain mixture? In that case, you could start by slicing the acorn squash in half from end to end.

If you'd like to serve the squash in smaller pieces then you can make 1/2-inch thick slices after cutting the squash in half. I like to do this when I want to eat acorn squash as a side dish. It allows the squash to roast on both sides and then easily pulls away from the skin.

One cool thing about acorn squash is that there is no need to peel the outer skin. In fact, I think with the ribs it would be pretty impossible to do so.

A few recipe ideas...

After roasting the squash in the oven you have a million (okay, a lot) of different options on what you can do from there.

  • Eat as a side with salt and pepper
  • Scoop from the shell with butter, brown sugar or maple syrup, and cinnamon
  • Use in muffins or quick bread (like you would pumpkin!)
  • Scrap the cooked squash from the shell and use in soup
  • Use as a ravioli filling with herbs and spices
  • Stuff with a wild rice or quinoa mixture
  • Bake an egg inside one half with fresh herbs
  • Use in enchiladas
  • Fill with chili

And the list continues on from there. Below you'll find the basic cooking methods for acorn squash. These methods can be used as a reference when you're using acorn squash in a recipe. Or you can even forego an actual recipe and use one of the first two topping options listed above. Simple as that!

Let's get down to business and learn exactly how to prepare and cook acorn squash.

How to cook acorn squash

Method 1: Halving

  • 1 acorn squash
  • Long, sharp knife
  • High heat safe oil (such as refined avocado oil)

1. Preheat your oven to 400 F and thoroughly wash the outside of your squash.

2. Slice  your acorn squash from stem to end then scoop out the seeds and stringy pieces.

Note: It takes a bit of power! If the squash is too wobbly slice a small piece off the rounded side and place that flat on your cutting board so it doesn't move around.

Lightly oil in the cut edge and inside then place cut side down on a baking sheet (lined with parchment for easier cleanup). Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the squash is tender and the cut edge is browned to your liking. It will vary depending on the size of the squash.

*If you know you want to eat this as a savory dish, sprinkle each half with salt and pepper.

Step 4:

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly then top or fill as desired and eat straight from the shell.

Tip:

If you're planning to fill your acorn squash after halving and cooking. Before you cook them flip cut side down. Shave a thin slice off the rounded side to create a flat surface for the squash to sit on and act as a bowl when flipped over. Be careful to shave off a thin piece so you don't puncture and create a hole in the squash. Then continue with direction 3 and on.

Method 2: Sliced

1. Preheat your oven to 400 F and thoroughly wash the outside of your squash.

2. Slice  your acorn squash from stem to end then scoop out the seeds and stringy pieces.

3. Place the squash cut side down and make about 1/2-inch slices with your knife. Repeat with the other half.

4. Lightly oil the slices on both sides and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.

5. Roast for 35-45 minutes until the squash is tender and browned to your liking. Flip once after 20 minutes.

6. Serve hot with salt and pepper or cinnamon and sugar for a sweet option.

Tip:

If you want to use this on a salad let the squash cool to room temperature then refrigerate. Once cold, peel the skin away, chop, and top on greens with other desired ingredients.

Method 3: Quartered

1. Preheat your oven to 400 F and thoroughly wash the outside of your squash.

2. Slice  your acorn squash from stem to end then scoop out the seeds and stringy pieces.

3. Slice each half into 3-4 equal pieces from stem end to the opposite end.

4. Lightly oil the slices and place on a baking sheet with one cut side down.

5. Roast for 35-45 minutes until the squash is tender and browned to your liking. Flip once after 20 minutes to the other cut side.

6. Serve hot and top as desired.

Photographed below: After following "method 1" I placed a pad of butter in the bowl of the squash and sprinkled with cinnamon and coconut sugar. If you want to keep it vegan use coconut oil.

Winter squashes have become a staple in my kitchen through the fall and winter months because of it's versatility. Once you power through and slice the squash open, the hard work is over!

Free Online Cooking Class

knife skills

Become faster and more accurate with your knife work.
Enroll FREE Now »

October 11, 2014
More to Explore
Now Reading
Cooking in Season: How to Cook Acorn Squash