Stuffed acorn squash, with farro, sausage, and cheese, plus apples and dried cherries, is a delicious mix of sweet and savory. It’s a fall favorite!
Why you’ll love it: It’s so flavorful and nutritious, and it looks impressive.
How long it takes: 1 hour, 15 minutes but much of that time is hands off
Equipment you’ll need: baking pan, oven, large skillet
I’m so excited to share this recipe with you. It’s a favorite of ours and it’s a perfect recipe for fall when the markets are overflowing with all types of squash. Stuffed squash is a cozy and nutritious meal, and it’s not difficult to make – all the things we love about a recipe!
What is there about stuffing something that makes it seem like a special occasion? Maybe it’s just combining all those yummy foods together into one smashingly good dish, or maybe it’s the presentation. It does look kind of fancy and special because you went the extra mile and stuffed something.
There’s something about the combination of sausage and apple, sweet dried cherries, a little bit of sage, and flavorful cheddar, all in a cozy little package, that is pure comfort food. The best part is, it’s so filling, hearty, and healthy (and less than 400 calories per serving). It’s a win-win in my book.
About This Recipe
Maybe you think stuffed squash might be a hassle to make but it’s actually so easy! The farro can be prepped ahead so it’s ready to go or you can substitute quinoa, bulgur, or couscous if you happen to have some in your fridge or freezer. We love this stuffed butternut squash with quinoa, bacon, and kale.
Food Prep Tip
Grains such as rice, quinoa, and farro freeze really well after they’re cooked. When cooking a grain, cook the entire bag and freeze it in labeled bags with 1, 2, or 3 cup portions. It thaws quickly in the fridge or on the counter and makes healthy eating even easier!
I’ll get you going on the recipe here and give you lots of tips and ways to make it your own. This recipe is super versatile; you can pretty much stuff the squash with whatever you like. It’s easy to make it vegetarian or dairy-free. In fact, if you have both a meat-lover and a vegetarian in your family, you can easily customize a stuffed squash for each at dinnertime.
Look for the printable recipe card near the end of the post with complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Acorn Squash: This acorn-shaped squash is dark green with some orange blotches. It’s a winter squash and the skin is usually inedible. When baked, the skin makes a perfect bowl for the filling. The recipe calls for 3 squash and each filled half is one serving so you’ll have six servings total.
- Turkey Sausage: Look for bulk sausage, that is, uncooked sausage that isn’t in links. If you are unable to find that, use link sausage and simply squeeze the sausage out of the links before cooking. Pork sausage is a good substitute, too.
- Onion and Celery: These two vegetables add flavor and nutrition.
- Apple: Apple really complements the fall flavors in this recipe and it provides a bit of sweetness as well. Any type of apple is fine.
- Dried Cherries (or Cranberries): Actually, raisins are fine or even dried apricots. Use what you happen to have in the house or what you like best.
- Farro: This ancient whole grain has a hearty, nutty flavor. It’s very nutritious. It is not gluten-free because it’s in the wheat family. It’s similar to spelt, einkorn, or emmer.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese: Any type of cheese can be used but cheddar really goes well with the other flavors.
- Dried Sage Leaves and Garlic Powder: Easy pantry items but if you would rather use fresh sage leaves and garlic cloves, even better!
How To Make Stuffed Squash
Begin by scrubbing the squash well. They can be pretty muddy especially if you bought them at a farm stand. Cut them in half and scrape out the seeds and stringy pulp. For more specifics about how to do it, check out how to cook acorn squash (2 ways).
I like to take off a small slice from the bottom sides of each half so that the squash has a flat bottom. Otherwise they have a tendency to roll over, spilling out the stuffing.
Rub a little olive oil on the cut sides and season with salt and pepper. Bake the squash cut sides down for about 45 minutes or until they are soft.
You’ll want to get the farro cooking right away unless you have some already cooked. Follow the package directions. It usually takes 30-40 minutes, depending on what variety you use.
Meanwhile, as the squash bakes, brown the sausage and vegetables in a large skillet. Add the apples, and the rest of the ingredients except the cheese. Stir and cook until everything is warmed through and the apples are softened.
Once the squash has finished baking, all that’s left to do then is to stuff them. Fill each half as full as you can! Top each with a sprinkle of cheese and return them to the oven for 10 minutes or so to heat through and melt that flavorful sharp cheddar cheese.
Serve immediately. A crisp green salad is a good accompaniment, like this arugula salad with a lemony vinaigrette. If you want to carry on the fall theme, serve an apple cider mule (fall Moscow mule) or apple cider mocktails.
The skin of acorn squash is totally edible but because it’s a winter squash, it tends to be a little tough. It depends somewhat on how it’s prepared. If you feel that you would enjoy eating it, that’s great, go for it! The bonus is that you’ll get extra fiber and nutrition.
Acorn squash tends to be a bit more fibrous, making it a good squash to roast and eat on its own. Because butternut squash is smoother and creamier, it works well in soups and other recipes, and is very good roasted, too.
So which is better? It’s up to you to decide.
Make It Vegetarian/Vegan
Omit the sausage. Use a vegetarian meat substitute, substitute chickpeas, or add sautéed finely chopped mushrooms. Walnuts or pecans are a nice addition, too. If you’re vegan, omit the cheese or add a cheese substitute. If you’re not vegan, go ahead and add a little more cheese. All of those are delicious options!
Make It Paleo/Whole30
To make it paleo, leave out the farro. To make it Whole30, omit the farro and cheese. Try adding chopped walnuts, pecans, or mushrooms.
Make It Gluten-Free
Substitute quinoa or brown rice for the farro.
Make It Dairy-Free
Simply omit the cheese. There’s plenty of flavor without it!
Bake the squash and prep the stuffing up to one day in advance. When ready to bake, stuff squash and bake as directed, adding an extra 10 minutes baking time since all the ingredients are cold.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Leftover stuffed squash can be stored in a tightly covered container and refrigerated for up to 3 days. It can be frozen for up to one month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator for best results.
To reheat, warm in the microwave in 30 second increments or heat in the oven at 350°F until heated through.
More Stuffed Recipes
Are you liking the idea of stuffing? Check out these recipes!
- Caprese Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes
- Vegetarian Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
- Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers – Southwestern
- Pizza Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
- Apple Gouda Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Fajita Stuffed Chicken
- Easy Crockpot Stuffing – perfect every time!
- 3 acorn squash, scrubbed clean
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pound bulk turkey sausage
- 1 small onion, diced small (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 stalks stalks celery, diced small (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 apple, chopped
- 2 cups cooked farro
- 1/2 cup dried cherries (or dried cranberries)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, extra for topping if desired
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
- Carefully trim a tiny bit off the top and bottom of each squash to create a flat surface. Then cut each squash in half. Scrape out seeds and stringy bits. Rub inside and cut edges of squash with olive oil. Sprinkle inside of squash with salt and pepper. Place cavity side down on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until fork tender.
- While the squash roasts, heat one teaspoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering and hot, add the sausage, onion, and celery and cook until sausage is cooked through, breaking the sausage up into crumbles as it cooks.
- Add cooked farro, apples, cherries, sage, and garlic powder and cook until the apple softens and the rest of the mixture has heated through.
- Turn off heat and stir in cheese.
- When squash is tender, remove from oven and carefully flip each half over. Fill with sausage mixture and if desired, sprinkle with additional cheese. Return to oven for 10 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.
- Serve immediately.
- Other cooked grains may be substituted for the farro, such as rice, quinoa, bulgur, or barley.
- The stuffing works well in other types of squash such as butternut, buttercup, kabocha, etc.
- Make Ahead: Bake the squash and prep the stuffing up to one day in advance. When ready to bake, stuff squash and bake as directed, adding an extra 10 minutes baking time since all the ingredients are cold.
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.