Learning How to Roast an Acorn Squash is super easy and takes just two simple ingredients. Enjoy this healthy baked squash as a side or eat them stuffed for a fun, fall meal.
Like their more well-known cousin the butternut squash, Acorn squash taste delicious in both sweet and savory dishes including this Turmeric Salad with Apples and Acorn Squash, Acorn Squash with Sausage, Mushroom and Cranberry Stuffing, and Sweet Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Stuffed Acorn Squash with Almond Butter.
When you think of squash, what comes to mind? Pumpkin, butternut squash…zucchini? I mean, that’s what I think about. The popular stuff.
But, I realized that wasn’t the cool thing to do anymore. Popular has its place, but what about all the other lesser known, yet equally delicious, vegetables? What about those guys?
So I decided to get acquainted with one of these less popular squashes…the acorn squash.
WHAT IS THE ACORN SQUASH
- The acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo) belongs to the same species as summer squash, although it is typically considered a winter squash.
- Commonly known as pepper squash or Des Moines squash.
- The acorn squash is indigenous to North and Central America.
- Great source of vitamin C which helps boost immunity.
- High in fiber.
- High in potassium.
- Produce yellow trumpet-looking flowers that are edible.
HOW TO COOK ACORN SQUASH
There are many methods of cooking all squash and acorn squash is no exception. The most common forms of cooking, however, include-
- Roasting acorn squash
- Microwaving acorn squash
- Boiling acorn squash
In this post, I will be showing how to bake acorn squash in the oven. I prefer baked acorn squash because it yields the best flavor. But, that is typically the way it works with roasted/baked vegetables.
Baked is best.
WHAT YOU NEED TO BAKE ACORN SQUASH
- 1-2 acorn squash
- sharp knife
- baking sheet or roasting pan
- olive oil
- maple syrup or brown sugar (optional)
The list is crazy. I know.
How to pick a good Acorn Squash
Fortunately, picking a good acorn squash isn’t hard. That said, here are a few tips on finding the best squash in the store.
- An equal balance of green and orange coloring is a good indication that the acorn squash is neither too ripe or not ripe enough. A squash that is mostly orange is likely over-ripe and will have too many orange stringy bits. On the flip side, an acorn squash that is mostly green is probably not ripe enough and will lack the delicious squash flavor we’re seeking. The best bet is to look for an acorn squash with an equal balance of both.
- Choose a heavy squash. Not the biggest and therefore heaviest squash. Instead, feel for a squash that is heavy for its size.
- Dull is better than shiny. I know, I like shiny things, too, but in the case of acorn squash, duller skin wins over shiny skin. That said, the skin should be smooth without any wrinkling or soft spots.
Can you eat the skin of Acorn Squash
For a really long time (translation- until last year), I thought that the skin of all squash was inedible. After all, it’s so thick! But this was wrong, you guys. You can absolutely eat the skin of an acorn squash. After roasting the acorn squash long enough to cook the inside flesh, the outer skin should be nice and tender and the best part of the whole squash. No need to peel.
Acorn Squash Nutrition
Since we’re on the subject of learning all about the acorn squash, you may be wondering- is acorn squash healthy?
The short answer. Yes. Definitely. But just in case you’re interested in the long answer, this is what I’ve come to learn about acorn squash.
- Acorn squash is more nutrient-dense than all types of summer squash.
- Per 1-cup of acorn squash– 56 calories, 486 mg potassium, 15 grams carbohydrates, 2.1 grams dietary fiber, and 1.1 grams protein.
- Acorn squash has significant levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, pantothenic acid, thiamin, and other B-vitamins.
- High levels of minerals including, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, phosphorous, and calcium.
So, no matter how you choose to enjoy your favorite acorn squash recipes, now you can do so knowing that you’re giving your body a whole lot of good stuff at the same time.
How to cut an Acorn Squash
If you’ve ever held an acorn squash, then you already know a thing or two about its tough exterior. If you haven’t, allow me to warn you about acorn squash and their formidable skin. Trying to figure out how to cut an acorn squash open may be intimidating, but quite easy once you know what you’re doing.
So, how exactly do you cut an acorn squash?
- You need a stable, reliable, sharp knife. Sorry, guys, cheap, flimsy, dull knives just will not cut it (literally). A good knife goes a LONG way in the kitchen, so if you’re someone who cooks a lot, consider it an investment.
- You may approach cutting acorn squash one of two ways-
- Slice off 1/4″ of the stem end and base of the squash. You will not lose much, if any, of the squash interior by using this method. However, it will create a stable base for you to stand the squash up on allowing you to chop it in half vertically. I prefer this method if I am not planning on baking and stuffing my acorn squash.
- In this second method, you’ll be cutting the squash right in half from top to bottom (as shown in these images). To do this without cutting off your finger, find a valley in between one of the ridges of the acorn squash – ideally, the ridge should be just to the side of the stem as you DO NOT want to try to cut through the stem.
- In either case, once you made the initial entry point, use that as your guide. Drive the knife through the acorn squash and continue by cutting around the entire squash. If the knife gets stuck, return to the starting point and rotate in the opposite direction.
When it comes to cutting any kind of squash, confidence is key.
When in doubt, ask a friend 🙂 I’m on blood thinners (thank you stroke at 28-years-old), so whenever possible, I ask my husband to help.
How to Cook Acorn Squash
- Cut each acorn squash in half lengthwise.
- Scoop out seeds and guts (For a faster cooking time, cut into quarters or into half-moons).
- Slather with olive oil and (optional) sprinkle with salt and pepper or brown sugar.
- Bake until fork tender (time will vary). Enjoy!
For more baked squash recipes check out,
- Sweet Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Stuffed Acorn Squash with Almond Butter
- Easy 5 Ingredient Herb Roasted Butternut Squash with Pine Nuts
- How to Roast a Butternut Squash
- 30 AWESOME Summer Squash Recipes
- Miso Coconut Butternut Squash Soup
- Potato Hash Stuffed Acorn Squash with Sausage
- How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
- Pork Chops with Apples and Butternut Squash
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How to Bake Acorn Squash
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Using a sharp, sturdy chef's knife, cut the acorn squash in half from stem to tip. If it is a struggle, don't try to cut the stem in half. Cut around it.
- Using a metal spoon, scoop and scrape out the seeds and stringy bits from the inside of the squash until it is smooth.
- Place the squash halves cut-side-up in a roasting pan (I used a jelly roll pan).
- Drizzle top side of squash with olive oil. Use a pastry brush to evenly coat the entire surface. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake for approximately 45-60 minutes or until tops are nice and golden brown and the squash flesh is soft and cooked through. It is better to slightly overcook your acorn squash than undercook it, so if you are unsure if it's cooked, add more time. When done, remove from the oven and allow time to cool before serving.