Bubbly butter and brown sugar and a dash of warm spices bring out the best of fall flavors in this easy baked acorn squash recipe.
Why You Will Love this Recipe
Come the colder months, there are few side dishes so cozy and satisfying as warm, Roasted Acorn Squash.
Not only does this make an easy, delicious weeknight side, it’s also a great Intro to Squashes dish for anyone with picky eaters. (This was the only way my mother could get me to eat acorn squash as a child!)
This an incredibly versatile side dish, and also one of the simplest recipes you will ever make. The only hard part is cutting the squash in half.
What Goes into this Recipe
For this recipe, you will need:
★ Acorn squash: You can use this method to cook almost any winter squash; including butternut, buttercup, delicata, Hubbard, and sugar pumpkin. Yo may have to adjust cooking times for thicker fleshed squashes.
★ Butter: You can use salted or unsalted butter. We prefer salted.
★ Brown sugar: Maple syrup also works well.
Plus cinnamon and nutmeg (optional).
Tips for Picking an Acorn Squash
Acorn squash are usually harvested in September and October, but can be found in most vegetable and supermarkets year round.
Usually weighing in 1 to 3 pounds, acorn squash has sweet, yellow, somewhat fibrous flesh, and a distinct, ribbed shell that changes from black green to orange skin as it ripens.
When picking an acorn squash, look for one with a smooth, dull shell. (Shiny skin is a sign that the squash was picked too soon.)
Try to find one that has skin with an equal amount of dark-green and orange. (If it is fully dark green, it was likely picked too soon. If it has completely changed to orange, it is probably too ripe.)
Acorn squashes continue to ripen after they’re harvested, so you may also notice them turning orange in storage.
How to Bake Acorn Squash
Cut the Squash (Safety First!)
Unlike many cooks, I tend to shy away from using my big knives (i.e., chef’s knife, cleaver, etc.) when splitting squashes.
In the past, whenever I tried the traditional big knife method (i.e., plunging the knife and forcing it through the squash) there was always at least one terrifying moment, usually involving the knife being stuck to the hilt.
Here’s our method for cutting acorn squashes:
You will need a small, sharp paring knife, a kitchen towel, and an acorn squash.
Start by removing the squash stem. We usually do this by breaking it off at the junction between the stem and the squash itself.
Rest the squash on top of a folded kitchen towel, and test it to find the sturdiest position. You don’t want the squash to roll as you work with it.
Pick the furrow that runs across the top of the squash.
Using a very sharp paring knife, pierce a line of small, ½-inch deep cuts down the furrow.
Go back and repeat each cut, making each one deeper on the second pass. Keep repeating this process until you have cut through to the hollow center cavity of the squash with each cut.
As you make the little cuts, be sure to grip the squash with your fingers curled away from the knife. (I like to wear a silicone glove to avoid slipping but that’s just me.)
Turn the squash over and repeat the same scoring process in a furrow opposite the previously cut one.
When furrows on either side of the squash have been scored, insert a knife into the precut line and turn slightly to release the squash. (I can usually do this with the same paring knife I used to make the furrow lines, but it sometimes requires a slightly larger knife.)
Grab one side the squash in each hand, and pull them apart. As you do so, the squash will fully split.
I am confident that cutting our winter squashes using this Method for the Cautious has saved me untold trips to the ER.
However you choose to cut your squashes, please do so with the utmost care.
Roast the Squash
Once you’ve split the squash, the rest of the process is super-easy!
Preheat the oven to 400°F | 204°C.
Clean out the squash half cavities. (Did you know that you can roast squash seeds just like pumpkin seeds?)
Soften the butter in a microwave until it is the consistency of thin icing.
Use a pastry brush to paint the inside of the squash halves with soften butter. Reserve the remaining soften butter.
Place the squashes on a heavy baking sheet, glass baking dish, or open cast iron skillet.
Sprinkle the buttered squash halves with kosher salt and ground black pepper.
Divide the remaining softened butter into the two squash cavities.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sprinkle half of the mixture into each squash half.
Place the baking tray or skillet in the preheated oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the squash is fork-tender and the flesh has just begun to caramelize.
Expert Tips & FAQs
No, you don’t need to peel acorn squash. In fact, you can roast it in the shell, and then use the shell later as a serving vessel!
Acorn squash pairs well with foods made with fall herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, and bay leaf, as well as warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger.
Acorn squash also goes well with all the traditional holiday mains: turkey, ham, prime rib. It fills out an easy weekday meal nicely, too. Try it with roast chicken, Brussels sprouts, or mushroom soup.
More Easy Squash Recipes
Classic Brown Sugar-Roasted Acorn Squash
- Preheat the oven to 400°F [204°C]Carefully cut the squash in half, from stem to blossom end. Use a large metal spoon to clean out the seeds and fibers out of the squash half cavities.
- Soften the butter in a microwave until it is the consistency of thin icing.Use a pastry brush to paint the inside of the squash halves with soften butter. Reserve the remaining soften butter.
- Place the squashes on a heavy baking sheet, glass baking dish, or open cast iron skillet.Sprinkle the buttered squash halves with kosher salt and ground black pepper.
- Divide the remaining softened butter into the two squash cavities.
- In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sprinkle half of the mixture into each squash half.
- Place the baking tray or skillet in the preheated oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the squash is fork-tender and the flesh has just begun to caramelize.
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