How to roast acorn squash

This easy baked acorn squash with butter and brown sugar is perfect for fall. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the insides, then bake with a little butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup.

Elise founded Simply Recipes in 2003 and led the site until 2019. She has an MA in Food Research from Stanford University.

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How to Cook Acorn Squash

Always a favorite at our Thanksgiving table is baked acorn squash. They're so easy! The hardest part is cutting the squash in half—you need a sharp sturdy knife and a strong, steady hand.

But then all you have to do is scoop out the seeds, score the inside, dot with butter and brown sugar or maple syrup, and bake. To eat you can cut them in wedges, or keep them in halves and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

How to Shop for Acorn Squash

Acorn squash are winter squash. When shopping for them, choose squash that feel heavy and have blemish-free and mold-free skin. They should also not have any soft spots but should be quite firm. They should be dark green and may have a patch of yellow or orange where they were on the ground before picking.

Like other winter squash, the whole acorn squash store very well in the cold months, just keep them cool and dry; they'll last a month or more.

They're a great source of iron, vitamin A (from all that beta-carotene filled orange flesh!), vitamin C, and riboflavin.

How to roast acorn squash

How to Cut Acorn Squash

Like most winter squashes, acorn squashes are dense and can be challenging to cut. Here are some tips to help:

  • Stabilize the squash: Knife skills 101, right? Make sure what you are cutting is stable on the table. If the stem is short, the most stable position for the squash is likely to prop it up with the stem end down. If the stem is too long, and you can't easily remove it, lay the squash on its side and roll it until you find the most stable position for it.
  • Use a sharp, heavy chef's knife: A sharp knife will really help to get through the squash, a dull one is at risk of slipping while you cut. A heavy chef's knife has the heft and length you need to cut through the squash.
  • Rubber mallet: Have a rubber mallet? Using one to tap on the knife can help it go through if it gets stuck.
  • Microwave: If you have a microwave, zap the squash for a minute (each) before cutting into it. That will soften the peel and flesh just enough to make it easier to cut through.

How to roast acorn squash

Video: How to Bake Acorn Squash

How to Make Baked Acorn Squash

Make Ahead Tips for Acorn Squash

Bake the full squash recipe up to 2 days ahead of time. Wrap each piece individually in foil and store in the refrigerator. Reheat in the foil at 400°F until just heated through. The foil will help the squash retain its moisture while reheating.

How to Serve Acorn Squash

Serve acorn squash as a side dish with chicken, turkey, pork, or beef. Or, for a filling main dish, skip the brown sugar and maple syrup and stuff the hollowed-out portion with a filling to make it a more filling main dish. Try:

This baked acorn squash also makes a healthy dessert because of its gentle sweetness.

Try This Method With Other Winter Squash

Other winter squashes would work with this method, too. Try these varieties of squash baked in the same way (you may need to quarter large squash).

  • Butternut
  • Buttercup
  • Sweet dumpling
  • Kabocha
  • Pumpkin

More Favorite Squash Recipes

Baked Acorn Squash with Butter and Brown Sugar

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons maple syrup

Dash kosher salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

If you have a microwave, microwave the squash for a minute each, to make it easier to cut. Then stabilize the squash on a cutting board as best you can, stem end down if the stem is short enough, otherwise on the side. Using a sharp, sturdy chef's knife, carefully cut the acorn squash in half, from tip to stem. If on its side, the squash can rock back and forth, so take care as you are cutting it.

Use a sturdy metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy bits inside each squash half, until the inside is smooth.

Take a sharp paring knife and score the insides of the acorn squash halves in a cross-hatch pattern, about a half-inch deep cuts.

Place the squash halves cut side up in a roasting pan. Pour 1/4 inch of water over the bottom of the pan so that the squash doesn't burn or get dried out in the oven.

How to roast acorn squash

How to roast acorn squash

How to roast acorn squash

Rub 1/2 tablespoon butter into the insides of each half. Sprinkle with a little salt if you are using unsalted butter.

Crumble 1 tablespoon brown sugar into the center of each half and drizzle with 1 teaspoon maple syrup.

How to roast acorn squash

Bake at 400°F for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the tops of the squash halves are nicely browned and the squash flesh is very soft and cooked through.

It's hard to overcook squash, it just gets better with more caramelization. Don't undercook it.

How to roast acorn squash

When done, remove the squash halves from the oven. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas. Let cool for a bit before serving.

Savory-sweet acorn squash cook up tender and buttery in this simple, go-to recipe that is ready to become the backbone of all your fall and winter meals. Brown sugar, flaky sea salt, and unsalted butter melt together to create a slightly sweet, slightly salty sticky glaze that will keep you coming back, bite after bite.

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Recipe Summary test

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (4 ounces), melted
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 medium acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds each), halved and seeded
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Step 1

Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk together melted butter and brown sugar in a small bowl. Coat squash halves with butter mixture, reserving some of the butter mixture in bowl. Place squash, cut sides down, on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven until squash starts to turn golden on cut sides, 30 to 35 minutes. Flip squash, and spoon reserved butter mixture over squash. Return squash to oven, and continue baking until browned and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Season evenly with salt and pepper.

Place the acorn squash halves cut side down on the prepared pan. Roast for 30 minutes, flip the squash over and brush with juices from the pan. Continue roasting for about 20 minutes or until tender.

Very simple but satisfying way to make acorn squash. This is also good with delicata squash.

Gallery

Recipe Summary test

Ingredients

  • 1 (2 pound) acorn squash – halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch slices
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • Step 1

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Toss squash slices, Parmesan cheese, thyme, olive oil, salt, and pepper together in a bowl until the squash is evenly coated; spread into a jelly roll pan.

Roast in preheated oven until golden brown and tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Reviews ( 281 )

Most helpful positive review

Quick, easy, tasty. I had always eaten winter squash by scooping the cooked flesh out of the rind, so I was confused about how one would eat this. If anybody else is wondering: You can eat these slices skin and all. Once you scrape out the seeds, you eat everything that goes into the oven.

Most helpful critical review

I followed the recipe exactly and no one in my family would eat it. Bland with an unpleasant sweetness and mushy/crunchy and chewy textures at the same time. I can’t see what I did wrong.

  • 5 star values:

Quick, easy, tasty. I had always eaten winter squash by scooping the cooked flesh out of the rind, so I was confused about how one would eat this. If anybody else is wondering: You can eat these slices skin and all. Once you scrape out the seeds, you eat everything that goes into the oven.

I don’t write a lot of reviews and I have been on allrecipes for years. However, I HAD to rate this because my husband hates squash but he absolutely loved this! At one point he even said he couldn’t believe he was actually eating squash! I followed the recipe as stated, except I don’t own a jelly-roll pan, so I baked them on a cookie sheet lined (shiny side up) with heavy duty tin-foil and sprayed a generous amount of PAM cooking spray. (Emphasis on the “PAM” because I have found that off brand doesn’t work as well for me.) I also didn’t have any fresh thyme. So I just used a tsp or two of dried. The amount of salt, pepper, and parm was perfect. Baked 15 minutes on one side, flipped them over and baked them another 15 minutes. SO delicious.

You only need 5 ingredients for this caramelized and flavorful Roasted Acorn Squash. This is one of the easiest acorn squash recipes you can make, and it’s a great staple side dish for fall cooking. It pairs beautifully with rich meats like Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Prime Rib, and Glazed Spiral Ham.

How to roast acorn squash

Squash is one of those ingredients where you don’t have to do that much to it to make it taste good.

Because it inherently has a natural sweetness to it, I find roasting to be the best method, because it intensifies and caramelizes the sweetness and flavors already in there.

There are many varieties of squash, and each one is unique in its own way. But the acorn variety is one of my favorites because of its flavor and rich flesh. I find it’s more similar to kabocha or traditional pumpkin, versus delicata or butternut.

What’s Great About This Recipe

✅ Slices maximize browning – While you can always roast a squash whole, I always think it’s worth the extra effort to cut it up because it maximizes surface area for browning and caramelization. Part of what makes my Butternut Squash Soup so good is that you use Roasted Butternut Squash Cubes, which greatly enhances flavor by adding so much caramelization. Browning is good!

Spiced maple butter is so good – We’ll brush the slices with a simple spiced maple butter, enhancing the flavor and also giving a subtle sticky glazed exterior.

Customize it as you like – You are certainly welcome to tweak the flavor profile here, or even to roast it simply in slices with oil and salt. What’s really key here is the cooking method to get the most from the flavor that’s already there.

Preps in less than 10 minutes – I’ll show you how to trim and slice the pieces quickly and safely. The key is to cut on the flat surfaces.

How to roast acorn squash

How to Make It Step by Step:

All we need to do for our baked acorn squash is trim, scoop, and slice into pieces, brush with a simple maple butter, then bake.

Wash, Trim, and Scoop

Wash each squash well (especially if you plan to eat the skin), trim the top and bottom off, then slice in half through the middle. Next scoop out the inner seeds and strings:

How to roast acorn squash

I like using a melon baller (affiliate) to scrape out the seeds, because its edges are sharper than a regular spoon.

How to Cut It

Lay the cut halves on its flat side, then cut straight down toward the cutting board to create 1″ thick slices:

How to roast acorn squash

Make the Maple Butter Glaze

To make the maple butter for brushing, combine pure maple syrup, butter, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt:

How to roast acorn squash

Microwave this mixture for about 60 seconds until the butter is melted, then stir it together and brush onto the squash slices:

How to roast acorn squash

Tip: If you don’t wish to do the maple butter, you can also make this with the oil of your choice, such a coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, etc., and spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger.

There should be enough butter to coat both sides of each squash slice:

How to roast acorn squash

Roast the slices for 25 minutes on the first side, then flip them over and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until the acorn squash is soft and golden:

How to roast acorn squash

Move the slices to a platter, and serve. My family will pick up the pieces like a rib and eat the flesh from the skin, which is very easy for separating the two. Sometimes if the outside isn’t heavily coated in wax and it’s fairly delicate and thin, we will simply eat the slices with the skin on. The choice is yours.

How to roast acorn squash

Recipe FAQ and Expert Tips

Yes, just make sure you wash the outside well before baking.

I find it pretty much impossible to peel before roasting, because of the nature of the crevices. I think it’s easier to simply peel the skin off before eating, if desired. The skin is edible, so it may also be eaten.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Yes, but just know that the texture won’t be as good later. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Meat Entrees That Pair Well

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