Everything you need to know about cooking with acorn squash, including selection, storage, and how to cook acorn squash into delicate perfection!
Tis the season for all the squash! And if there’s one kind of squash that we can’t get enough of this time of year, it’s acorn.
Acorn squash are a small winter squash with bright yellow/orange flesh. You can roast, steam, or even microwave them to be used in a variety of acorn squash recipes (from stuffed acorn squash to acorn squash soup)! They have a mild flavor that can be made sweet or savory – great with herbs or maple syrup.
How to pick the perfect acorn squash
When purchasing acorn squash, look for a squash that has a firm shell, free from soft spots of mold. They turn yellow and orange as they become more ripe, so look for an acorn squash that is mostly green with a few orange spots.
How to store acorn squash
Whole, uncut acorn squash should be stored in a cool, dark, dry area, where it should last for 1 to 2 months.
Cut or cooked acorn squash should be tightly sealed and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
How to cut acorn squash
Cutting an acorn squash may seem intimidating, but it can be done simply (and safe) with these tips!
- Horizontal or vertical: Decide if you want to cut the squash horizontally or vertically. Cutting horizontally will create a pretty flowered shape, while cutting vertically will create two even halves (shown in photos).
- Cut: Using a sturdy, sharp chef’s knife, cut the acorn squash in half. If you cut vertically, work the knife around but do not try to cut through the stem. Instead, cut all the way around then pull the squash apart with your hands.
- Scoop out the gunk: Use a spoon to scrape the seeds and stringy bits out of the inside. (You can eat the seeds, see below!)
- Cook: You’re now ready to cook your squash!
To peel or not to peel? The shape of the acorn squash makes it difficult to peel. Fortunately, the peel is perfectly edible when cooked! If the texture isn’t your thing, simply scrape the cooked flesh out while eating.
Can you eat the skin?
The skin of the acorn squash is perfectly edible when cooked! The longer it cooks, the more tender it will become.
Can you eat the seeds?
Acorn squash seeds are edible (and a great way to reduce food waste)! To cook acorn squash seeds:
- Prep: Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Remove seeds from the squash, then rinse with water to remove the yellow gunk. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Flavor: Drizzle seeds with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, tossing to evenly coat.
- Bake: Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and toasted.
How to cook acorn squash
There are a variety of ways to cook acorn squash. My favorite is roasting, but for quicker cooking you can also go with steaming or microwaving.
Roasted Acorn Squash
Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Cut and prep squash as described above. Brush the insides with oil or melted butter. Set halves cut side up on a baking sheet, then bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until fork tender. (More details on how to roast acorn squash below).
Microwaved Acorn Squash
Cut and prep squash as described above, placing facedown on a microwave safe plate. Microwave on high for 6 to 10 minutes, or until flesh is fork-tender.
Steamed Acorn Squash
Cut and prep squash as described above, then cut into slices in order to fit into the steamer basket. Set over boiling water and let steam for about 20 minutes, or until flesh is fork-tender.
Sautéed Acorn Squash
Cut and prep squash as described above, then cut into slices in order to lay flat in the sauté pan. Heat a splash of oil in a large sauté pan then add squash. Cover and cook, flipping occasionally, until flesh is fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
- 1 acorn squash
- 1 Tbsp olive oil or melted butter 15 mL
- Optional add-ins: salt, pepper, herbs (like rosemary or thyme), brown sugar, or maple syrup
- Prep: Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Cut: Using a sturdy, sharp chef’s knife, cut the acorn squash in half.
- Scoop: Use a spoon to scrape the seeds and stringy bits out of the inside.
- Cook: Brush the insides with oil or melted butter, optionally sprinkling with salt, pepper, herbs, brown sugar, or maple syrup. Set halves cut side up on a baking sheet, then bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until fork tender.
- Serve: Serve warm in the shell, stuff with veggies or wild rice, or scoop out the flesh for salads and soups.