How to Cook Acorn Squash: 3 Easy Ways

Get step-by-step guides plus our favorite acorn squash recipes.

August 15, 2023
Homemade Autumn Baked Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar Glaze

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How to cook acorn squash by roasting

Photo by: bhofack2/Getty Images

bhofack2/Getty Images

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By Grace Elkus and Emily Saladino for Food Network Kitchen

Grace is a contributing writer at Food Network. Emily is a Culinary Editor at Food Network.

Winter squash comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from oblong spaghetti squash to squat, pocket-sized honeynuts and burly butternuts. Among the most versatile is acorn squash, a small, round variety that can be prepared in all sorts of ways. Roasting acorn squash is rightfully popular for its ability to slowly build nuanced flavor and an almost creamy texture; but sometimes time is of the essence and grilling or even microwaving acorn squash is more your speed. Here, learn three of our favorite ways to cook acorn squash, plus recipes to make it in the oven, on the grill and even in the air fryer.

squash at a farmer's market

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squash at a farmer's market

Photo by: Amy J Kamps/Getty Images

Amy J Kamps/Getty Images

What Is Acorn Squash?

Acorn squash is a small variety of winter squash, weighing just 1 to 2 pounds, that has a mild, earthy flavor.

In most of the United States, acorn squash is at its peak during the fall and winter months. Its dark green skin is edible and the golden flesh within is earthy and mild-mannered, which is why acorn squash is often paired with sweet ingredients like maple syrup. It's easy to cook, and there are endless ways to do it, from air frying and broiling to steaming and slow cooking. Once it's tender, you can stuff it with sausage, puree it into soup or mash it with lots of butter. It can also be used interchangeably with most other winter squashes.

Closeup of sliced uncooked acorn squash on a cutting board

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Closeup of sliced uncooked acorn squash on a cutting board

Photo by: MSPhotographic/Getty Images

MSPhotographic/Getty Images

The Best Way to Cut Acorn Squash

Good news: you don’t need to peel acorn squash. Its hard, grooved skin softens significantly as it cooks, and it's edible, too. If you do want to remove the skin, wait until after you cook it, at which point it will peel right off.

Most recipes call for acorn squash to be halved or quartered, with the seeds removed. Here’s how to cut acorn squash:

Step 1: Position the Squash

Place the squash on a stable cutting board with the stem side facing away from you.

Step 2: Cut in Half

Use a sharp chef's knife to slice off the top of the squash, then place it cut side down. (This will prevent it from rolling around on the cutting board). Slice the squash in half, carefully removing the knife from the flesh and repositioning it as necessary.

Step 3: Remove the Seeds

Position a spoon—ideally a grapefruit spoon with teeth, but any spoon you can comfortably grip will work—at the top or stem side of the seed-filled indentation in each squash half. Scoop out the seeds and any stringy pulp that clings to them. Discard or rinse and roast the seeds as you would pumpkin seeds. Repeat on the other squash half.

Step 4: Slice (Optional)

If the recipe you’re using calls for squash slices, place each squash half cut side down on the cutting board, then slice to desired thickness.

Homemade Roasted Acorn Squash with Sage and Feta

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Roasting acorn squash

Photo by: bhofack2/Getty Images

bhofack2/Getty Images

How to Cook Acorn Squash in the Oven

Acorn squash becomes fragrant and tender in the oven, so it's no surprise that roasting acorn squash is the most popular way to prepare it. Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how.

Step 1: Cut the Squash and Remove the Seeds

Use a sharp chef's knife to halve the squash and a spoon to scrape out the seeds as directed above. At this point, you can keep the squash in halves, or slice it into wedges or cubes.

Step 2: Season the Squash

Arrange the squash in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush it with butter or olive oil. Then, season with salt and toss with herbs and spices of your choosing. For a savory route, try minced fresh thyme leaves. For a sweeter dish, sprinkle with brown sugar and nutmeg.

Step 3: Roast the Squash

Roast the squash at 425 degrees F until brown and tender.

Step 4: Garnish and Serve

Transfer the squash to a serving platter and garnish with crumbled cheese, fresh herbs or a drizzle of maple syrup — whatever you prefer and best complements your dish. Serve the squash warm or at room temperature.

How to Cook Acorn Squash In the Microwave

Cooking acorn squash in the microwave is a smart way to save time, especially if it's getting stuffed and cooked again. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Cut the Squash and Remove the Seeds

Carefully cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds as directed above.

Step 2: Prepare the Squash

Place the squash in a large microwave-safe bowl with 1/4 cup of water. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Step 3: Microwave the Squash

Microwave the squash until fork-tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season as desired and serve.

Freshly Split and Roasted Acorn (or Danish) Squash with butter.

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How to grill acorn squash in easy steps

Photo by: cislander/Getty Images

cislander/Getty Images

How to Grill Acorn Squash

Grilling acorn squash is a fast, easy way to build flavor.

Step 1: Prepare the Grill

Preheat a grill over medium heat and lightly oil the grill grates.

Step 2: Cut the Squash and Remove the Seeds

Carefully cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds as directed above. Slice crosswise into half-moons.

Step 3: Season the Squash

Toss the cut acorn squash with oil or melted butter, salt and pepper and other seasonings you like, such as maple syrup, brown sugar, chopped sage or cayenne.

Step 4: Grill the Squash

Place squash slices on the grill and cover. Cook until dark grill marks appear, about 10 minutes, and then flip and cover again. Cook until fork-tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Season as desired and serve.

How Long to Cook Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is done cooking when a small knife or fork slides easily through the flesh. The total cook time will depend on the size of the squash and your cooking method; thicker wedges, for instance, will take longer to cook than thinner ones.

For a flavorful, photo-worthy sear on roasted squash, place a baking sheet in the oven as it preheats. When the squash hits the hot pan, that surface will begin to caramelize immediately and build color and flavor.

Collection of acorn squash

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How to cook acorn squash you buy at the supermarket or farmers market

Photo by: dvdwinters/Getty Images

dvdwinters/Getty Images

How to Buy and Store Acorn Squash

When you’re at a grocery store or farmers market choosing an acorn squash to cook with, opt for one that feels heavy for its size, with no visible bruises or brown spots. Its skin should feel firm, and look dull, not shiny. At home, store it in a cool, dry place for up to one month.

Acorn Squash Recipes

From sweet to savory, main dish to side, the sky's the limit when it comes to recipes for acorn squash.

Air Fryer Acorn Squash with Brown Butter

Air Fryer Acorn Squash with Brown Butter

This quick and easy dish has all sorts of autumnal flavors thanks to brown butter, pecans and fresh sage leaves. Don't skip the final sprinkle of Parmesan, which creates a melted topping on your freshly fried squash.

Grilled acorn squash recipe

The perfect side dish for a fall barbecue, these squash slices are seasoned with maple syrup, ground coriander, mustard and more.

VEGAN QUINOACRANBERRY
STUFFED ACORN SQUASH
Food Network Kitchen
Acorn Squash, Apple Cider Vinegar, Olive Oil, Maple Syrup, Onion, Red Quinoa, Mild Curry
Powder, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, Dried Cranberries, Parsley, Pistachios

VEGAN QUINOACRANBERRY STUFFED ACORN SQUASH Food Network Kitchen Acorn Squash, Apple Cider Vinegar, Olive Oil, Maple Syrup, Onion, Red Quinoa, Mild Curry Powder, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, Dried Cranberries, Parsley, Pistachios

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

The best part of this satisfying vegan main? You can make the entire thing in advance — simply reheat in the baking dish before serving.

Food Network Kitchen’s Baked Acorn Squash.

Food Network Kitchen’s Baked Acorn Squash.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

This 5-ingredient baked acorn squash recipe is irresistible. Expect everyone to ask for seconds.

This roasted acorn squash recipe is a weeknight workhorse. Pair it with pork or chicken, slice it over pasta or serve atop a crisp kale salad.

Photo by: Armando Rafael

Armando Rafael

Creamy cubes of squash complement salty, crunchy pistachios in this hearty fall salad.

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