Learn how to cook acorn squash in two ways: Sweet and savory. Both are super easy and make for a fantastic side dish!
Why you’ll love it: Sweet or savory, we have you covered!
How long it takes: Just over an hour
Equipment you’ll need: sharp knife, cutting board, baking sheet
One of the greatest things about fall is SQUASH. I love it all — spaghetti, acorn, butternut, delicata. Delicata squash is my favorite and I love that you can eat the skin of it. I wrote a post about outlining how to make delicata squash if you want to learn more.
Updated – I now have a complete guide on how to cook spaghetti squash as well! I cover five different methods and tell you which is my favorite!
I know cooking a squash can be somewhat intimidating but it’s really so easy! I cover one method in this post, but with two variations: Sweet and savory. I’ll let you in on a secret, the sweet variation is my favorite. Especially for eating just the way it is. If you’re looking to stuff the acorn squash, try making it the savory way to get a great base and layer of flavor before adding whatever stuffing you have in mind. Try our stuffed acorn squash – it’s full of great flavor!
Important to note here, is that these are not fancy techniques. We’re covering the basics. Once you get the basics down, you can spice things up a little. We’ll talk about that in a bit, though.
So here we go.
Overview of How to Prepare Acorn Squash
- WASH the squash.
- Slice in half stem to end. (Read my long version for tips!)
- Scoop out the seeds.
- Season the squash (choose one of two ways below or go nuts!).
- Bake for 50-60 minutes at 400°F or until fork tender.
Detailed Instructions & Tips
As always, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for full, printable details.
First things first! WASH YOUR SQUASH. I know people don’t always wash the peel or skin of a fruit or vegetable when they don’t eat that part.
Think about this. When you cut the squash in half, the knife goes through the (dirty) skin and into the flesh part that you’re going to eat. So now it’s dirty, like the skin.
Plus you’re handling the whole thing so your hands are getting dirty in the process and then you’re touching the part you eat. JUST WASH IT. Watermelons, oranges, squash, whatever. Wash them. Preferably with a vegetable brush (I like this one). So it’s true, I don’t typically eat the skin of an acorn squash, but I ALWAYS wash it. They grow in the dirt and dirt is gritty. The last thing you want is grit in your food.
Next up, slice your squash. This can be tricky because those suckers are HARD.
Here’s my tip for slicing squash: Microwave for about 3 minutes and then let it cool enough for it to handle, and slice. This softens the skin, making it easier to cut. Yes, it adds a few minutes to your prep time, but if you’re saving your fingers, it’s probably worth it.
You can also carefully cut off the stem end, and then set it on that end so you have a flat, steady surface when you cut the squash in half.
Next: Scoop out the seeds.
Make your life SO easy and try scraping out the seeds with a grapefruit spoon. It works great!
Okay, now you have your squash ready to season. If you’re allergic to doing dishes like I am, you’ll want to line a sheet pan with parchment paper for easy clean up. I like these parchment paper sheets because they don’t curl up.
I want you to know how to cook acorn squash two different ways – these are the basic building blocks. Sweet and Savory.
Sweet Acorn Squash
Melted butter + brown sugar (or coconut sugar or maple syrup)
Savory Acorn Squash
Olive oil + salt + pepper
For both methods, you’ll rub the inside with the the oil or melted butter and then sprinkle on either sugar or salt and pepper. All that’s left to do after that is baking and eating!
You can! I personally prefer not to, as I find it slightly tough (compared to a delicata squash, for example). However, when roasted, it does soften some and is completely edible. The cooked flesh also peels away from the skin easy with a fork, so if you choose not to eat the skin, it’s easy not to.
Acorn squash are generally smaller and more round (shaped like an acorn), with a dark green skin. Butternut squash are longer, with a thinner portion and a rounder portion at the end. They have a light beige peel. Both are delicious!
Squash lasts for quite awhile (months, even!) at room temperature. If it has soft mushy spots or is slimy and mushy when you cut it open, those are good indicators that it has gone bad.
How to Season Squash
Once you’ve mastered this basic skill of how to cook acorn squash, here are a few ways to spice it up — acorn squash is such a versatile ingredient, so make it your own!
- Sweet: Add a 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon to each half
- Sweet: Add 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg to each half
- Sweet: Swap out brown sugar for maple syrup (even amounts)
- Savory: Add 1/4 teaspoon chili powder to each half
- Savory: Add 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika to each half
- Savory: Give it an Italian twist — add 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon basil, and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
- Sweet and Spicy: Follow the sweet directions but add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne to each half
Keep roasted squash in a covered container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheat leftovers for 45-90 seconds in the microwave until warm. You can also use the oven (400°F for about 10 minutes or until warm), or the air fryer (380°F for about 5 minutes, or until heated through).
- 1 acorn squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
- pepper to taste
- 1 acorn squash
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar (more to taste)
- Place oven rack right below the middle position in your oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Wash peel of squash and cut squash in half from the stem to the bottom (see note). Don’t try to cut through the stem, when you get to the stem, just crack the squash in half and it will separate.
- Scrape out seeds and stringy bits – I use a grapefruit spoon for this!
- Prepare squash — for savory, rub inside with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. For sweet, rub inside with melted butter and sprinkle with brown or coconut sugar. Place on prepared baking sheet.
- Place in preheated oven and roast for 50-60 minutes or until very tender to the poke of a fork.
- Enjoy immediately or store covered in fridge for 3-4 days.
- Microwaving the whole squash for 3-5 minutes and then letting cool can make slicing it in half easier.
- Nutrition Information is for the savory version.
- Keep roasted squash in a covered container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Reheat leftovers for 45-90 seconds in the microwave until warm. You can also use the oven (400°F for about 10 minutes or until warm), or the air fryer (380°F for about 5 minutes, or until heated through).
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.