How to Cook Acorn Squash (Whole)

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My favorite way to Cook Acorn Squash is to bake it whole in the oven. The main reason I like this method is that it’s super easy, and I don’t have to cut through the tough skin and try to scoop out the seeds while it is raw and harder to handle.

collection of whole acorn squash on burlap in dark lighting

Have you ever tried to cut a large raw squash of any type and found that it can be quite tough and difficult? That’s what I kept running into before deciding that baking the whole thing first made for a much easier experience which makes recipes like our Stuffed Acorn Squash a breeze.

What is acorn squash anyway?

Believe it or not, acorn squash is in the same family as zucchini (Cucurbita pepo), though it has much tougher skin and is quite hard to peel in comparison. Most grocery stores carry it year-round.

The creamy yellow inside flesh has a delicious nutty flavor that reminds me of a sweet potato. Some people say it tastes like a combination of butternut squash, sweet potato, and corn. It has a slightly sweet flavor compared to a pumpkin. 

How to cook acorn squash

The recipe card at the bottom of the page has the full list of ingredients with measurements and instructions.

This is such an easy and delicious way to cook acorn squash. I bake mine in the oven whole and then cut it open and scrape out the seeds. It’s such an easier way to cook this amazing squash.

2 whole raw acorn squash on a cutting board with knife

Begin by preheating the oven to 400°F and then carefully poke 5-7 holes in the squash with a knife. This is to prevent it from exploding in the oven.

I am often asked which knives I use personally, and I have to say that it is Victorinox. They are the same company that makes Swiss Army Knives and the quality is excellent.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper (because I’m too lazy to wash the pan afterward).

Place the whole acorn squash in the oven and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes. The cooking time will vary based on the size of your squash. The larger ones will need a little more time.

acorn squash cut in half on baking sheet with seeds being spooned out

Once cooked allow it to cool before trying to handle it.

Slice the squash in half and use a spoon to scrape out seeds and strings. This will be SO much easier now that it’s cooked.

It can be sliced either way–length-wise or through the middle–depending only on your preference. I’ve included a photo above to show both ways. I think I like through the middle the best personally.

Drizzle with maple syrup, and sprinkle with salt and cinnamon. Serve warm.

I personally do not eat the skin of the squash, because it has an egg-shell texture even when it’s cooked well. It is just not good, in my opinion, so we stick with eating only the fleshy part. 

4 cooked acorn squash halves on plate with fresh parsley

Other cooking methods

Though baking it whole is my favorite way to cook acorn squash, it can also be cooked using other methods.

  • Slice and Bake– Some people prefer to slice the raw squash and scoop out the seeds before cooking. Once it’s sliced, place it cut-side down on a baking sheet to help it contain some of the moisture. Some people prefer to bake theirs with the cut size up.
  • Instant Pot– Place the trivet inside your Instant Pot and then add one cup of water and the whole clean squash. Lock the lid down and slide the steam valve to SEAL and set it to MANUAL for approximately 4-7 minutes depending on the size. Once the cooking cycle is finished, leave it to allow for a natural release for about 10 minutes. Next, slide the valve to VENT and allow the rest of the pressure to be released.
  • Microwave– Prepare the squash by cutting it in half and scraping out the seeds same as above. Place it face-side down on a microwave-safe pan or plate and cook on high for 6-10 minutes until it can be easily pierced with a fork.
  • Steam– Cut and prep as described above. Cut the squash into slices that will fit into a steamer basket. Place the steamer basket into a stockpot filled with water just below the basket. Add the squash chunks and steam for approximately 20 minutes until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork.
  • Saute– Peel and deseed the squash and slice it into bite-size chunks. Add a little veggie broth and the chunks to a nonstick saute pan and cover. Flip them occasionally until they are tender which should take about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the chunks. Add more veggie broth as needed to prevent sticking.

What do you eat with acorn squash?

There are so many options for what to eat with acorn squash. Most of the time, I love to eat a great salad with them, and I don’t mean just a garden salad. There are so many varieties of salads that can be whipped up without much or any cooking required. These are some of my favorites to serve with acorn squash:

Other great options to pair with baked acorn squash are healthy soups and even main dishes like vegan hili or a good meatless stir fry dish

Stuffed Acorn Squash is a great one for holidays and special events because it makes a beautiful table display.

overhead shot of 2 stuffed acorn squash in silver pan with forks and maple syrup

Is acorn squash healthy?

Absolutely! Acorn squash is full of antioxidants that can help protect against many health issues including heart disease and stroke, and it’s loaded with vitamin C and beta carotene that help boost the immune system.

This beneficial squash is low in calories and fat and packed with a host of health-promoting nutrients.

How long will acorn squash last?

Though winter squash, like acorn squashes, is grown in the summertime months, it is most often eaten during the fall and early winter. It keeps best in cool dark places like a pantry. Storing in the refrigerator really won’t extend the life expectancy very much and can actually change the texture and flavor, so it is not recommended.

Typically, uncut acorn squash will last 1-3 months if kept in a cool dark place. It will begin to get soft and leak when it is going bad. Mold can also be seen growing and is a sign that the squash should be thrown away.

Once cooked, it can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for approximately 4-7 days.

*Originally published November 2015.

2 acorn squash halves stuffed with wild rice

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collection of whole acorn squash on burlap in dark lighting
4.61 from 28 votes

How to Cook Acorn Squash (Whole)

My favorite way to Cook Acorn Squash is to bake it whole in the oven. The main reason I like this method is that it's super easy, and I don't have to cut through the tough skin try to scoop out the seeds while it is raw and harder to handle.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 2 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 whole acorn squash
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

Instructions

  • My favorite way to cook acorn squash is to bake it whole in the oven. The main reason I like this method best is that it's super easy, and I don't have to cut through the tough skin try to scoop out the seeds while it is raw and harder to handle.
  • Begin by preheating the oven to 400°F and then carefully poke 5-7 holes in the squash with a knife. This is to prevent it from exploding in the oven.
  • Line a baking pan with parchment paper to make clean up easy. Place the whole acorn squash in the oven and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes. The cooking time will vary based on the size of your squash. The larger ones will need a little more time.
  • Once cooked allow it to cool before trying to handle it.
  • Slice the squash in half and use a spoon to scrape out seeds and strings. This will be SO much easier now that it's cooked.
  • It can be sliced in either way--length-wise or through the middle--depending only on your preference. I've included a photo above to show both ways. I think I like through the middle the best personally.
  • Drizzle with maple syrup, and sprinkle with salt and cinnamon. Serve warm.

Video

Notes

Detailed instructions, in-process photos, and my personal helpful tips can be found in the article above. Other cooking methods also discussed.
I personally do not eat the skin of the squash, because it has an egg-shell texture even when it's cooked well. It is just not good, in my opinion, so we stick with eating only the fleshy part. 
My Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe is a great one for holidays and special events because it makes a beautiful table display.

Nutrition

Calories: 69kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g

Disclaimer

To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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About Terri Edwards

Hi guys! I am the content creator behind EatPlant-Based and a licensed Food for Life instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I am passionate about sharing healthy recipes and tips to empower others to get healthy.  I’m so glad you’re here! Read More…

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20 Comments

  1. I just spent 10 minutes trying to poke holes in a very large acorn squash. Once I got a knife point into the middle (I’m assuming that you need to release gas from the interior), it took me ten times as long to get the knife back out! Imagine me trying to actually cut this thing in half. And how dangerous it was using all my strength pulling on the knife…one slip and I could have seriously injured myself. Thank you for confirming that baking one whole is an option.

    Personally, I think acorn squash is sweet enough by itself that I prefer to eat it with just salt and butter. Yummy!

  2. 30-40 minutes isn’t close to enough time. I put in both a small and large acorn squash and neither were done at 40 minutes. I turned on convection back and added 20 more minutes and they were done.

  3. Definitely easier to roast it whole.
    It took about 30 minutes for a medium size Acorn squash to cook.
    Then, I sliced it lengthwise, scraped the seeds out and topped it with maple syrup, cinnamon, a little brown sugar, butter and a pinch of paprika.
    I returned it to the oven for about 10 more minutes…delicious! And…using parchment paper is a great idea!

  4. Thank you for saving me,I can not cut fresh squash,I am 82 years old and have no strength in my hands,so I had given up on squash I am so glad I can cook them whole.
    I am diabetic and squash is such a good food choice.
    Thank you so much
    Gro Eriksen

  5. Thank you so much for this presentation~don’t know where you have been all of my life! I use this method for spaghetti squash and it is soooo simple and was sure I could do it with acorn-so glad to get your agreement~I like safe and easy–barbara

  6. I’m going to make a sausage stuffing in acorn squash. The squash will be sliced in “rings”. The last time I did this, I cut through the raw squash – it took forever!! This time I’m going to cook the whole squash, as you suggested. Can I cook the squash, but stuff it the next day? Or, should I do everything the same day?

    1. When I make this, I stuff it the same day. However, I feel confident it could be done the next day with no problem.

    1. I love your recipe: so Simple: no need to torment oneself trying to halve that thing! (I Could get a better knife.. Mine got given away [long story]; been just making do for now.) I’m also glad to hear it’s “okay” to slice them through the middle (the “equator”) instead of longitudinally (end to end). Because that’s how I like them too!

        1. Hi Marilyn– I would place the halves–sliced side down–on a baking pan, and cook at 350°F for about 45 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the squash.

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