Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Stuffed Acorn Squash takes perfectly roasted and slightly caramelized acorn squash and loads it up with seasoned wild rice, tender sweet potatoes, crisp green apples, and more! This is nutritious warming comfort food at its best!

Pair Acorn Stuffed Squash with a simple Winter Fruit Salad or this easy Pear Salad.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

What To Expect From This Recipe

I am so excited to share this recipe; it’s one of my all-time favorites! This is one of those meals you just feel great eating — there are so many good-for-you ingredients! With so many textures and bold, complementary flavors, this dish makes nutritious eating fun!

Stuffed Acorn Squash has a deep savoriness from the seasoned wild rice and pops of sweetness from the cranberries and apple — it’s got it all. 

While no part of this recipe is overly complicated or technical (the steps are simple!), this is a meal that does require a good amount of preparation time. Between cooking the wild rice, roasting the squash, and preparing the filling, there is a lot of time involved. That said, a lot of the work can be done ahead of time which does make this a great dish for serving to guests or preparing for vegetarian or vegan eaters for Thanksgiving.

Below we’ll break down each component of this recipe with helpful tips and tricks to make the preparation of Stuffed Acorn Squash as straightforward as possible!

Process shots-- simmering wild rice; cooking until tender

Wild Rice

While you can use plain wild rice (not to be mistaken with black rice — read about differences here), I like using a wild rice blend best. Wild rice isn’t like regular rice; it’s much heavier and dense, so the blend helps keep it from being weighed down. The rice that I’ve had the best results with is this Wild Rice Blend by Lundberg®. I highly recommend that blend if you are able to find it; you’ll find it near other varieties of rice, quinoa, and couscous in most grocery stores.

  • To infuse the wild rice with plenty of flavor, we cook it in chicken stock with a few seasonings and a pat of butter.
  • Wild rice takes quite a while to cook so make sure to plan ahead. When preparing this meal, start with the wild rice — it takes the longest to cook.
  • We recommend a robustly flavored chicken or vegetable stock to cook the rice in — it adds a deep savory flavor. Swanson’s® chicken stock is a personal favorite.
  • Between the stock and salt added to the rice, it ends up quite salty — this is intended so you don’t need to season the filling later on. The rice will add all the seasonings needed.
  • It’s okay if there is a little liquid left with the rice (as pictured above). This liquid will evaporate when added to the filling and further infuse the filling with flavor.

QUICK TIP

To make vegetarian (or vegan) Stuffed Acorn Squash, use vegetarian stock instead of chicken stock.

Process shots--cut acorn squash in half; scoop out seeds; rub with oil, salt and pepper; place upside down and bake.

Acorn Squash

Roasting the squash is pretty straightforward and it ends up pretty darn delicious — you may not even get to the whole filling-it-up part! 😉

The edges of the squash become lightly golden brown and beautifully caramelized — yum! Below are a few tips:

  • Aim to use medium-sized squashes that are about the same size so they’ll roast evenly.
  • Slicing a squash in half to make Stuffed Acorn Squash is a chore! Use a sturdy cutting board and a very sharp chef’s knife. Here’s a great tutorial and the best way I’ve found to cut acorn squash.
  • Although it makes it easy to cut, don’t microwave the squash first. It will produce a mushier squash.
  • Roast the squash on a parchment-paper-lined sheet pan. This keeps the flesh side from getting overly brown or caramelized.
  • Check the squash for tenderness by inserting a fork into the flesh; if it pierces easily, they’re ready.

QUICK TIP

After roasting the squash, don’t turn off the oven! We return the Stuffed Acorn Squash to the oven to bake again!

Process shots-- pierce the sweet potato with a fork; microwave until tender; cut in half and pull off skins; dice finely

Stuffed Acorn Squash: Sweet Potatoes

Typically, sweet potatoes take quite a bit of time to cook until tender and they’re hard to chop when they’re unbaked. So we use a shortcut here — the microwave oven. It totally works since we’re adding them to a filling mixture that goes into the Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe.

  • The only prep you have to do is poke a few small holes in the potato so the steam can escape. Use a fork to pierce the potato a few times.
  • An 8-ounce (1/2 pound) sweet potato takes about 5 minutes to cook on 100% power. Larger sweet potatoes will take longer, and when cooking multiple potatoes at the same time, it will take even longer. Continue to microwave the potatoes in 1-minute bursts until the potatoes are cooked through.
  • You’ll know the potatoes are ready when they are easily pierced in the center with a fork.
  • Cut the potatoes in half, peel the skin off (it should easily slip right off), and dice into very small pieces.

QUICK TIP

If you’re not microwaving the potatoes, I’d recommend cooking the potatoes according to this Baked Sweet Potatoes recipe first. Once tender, the peels pull off super easily, and then you’ll very finely dice the potatoes. Any large pieces will be a bit overwhelming in the Stuffed Acorn Squash.

Ingredient shot-- images of all the ingredients that go in this dish

Stuffed Acorn Squash Filling

Once the wild rice is finished, sweet potato has been microwaved, and the squashes roasted, it’s time to assemble the filling! Below are all the ingredients that get mixed into the filling.

  • Yellow onion: The onion contributes to the savory flavors and enhances all the other flavors going on. Dice into very small pieces to ensure a thorough distribution and avoid chunks of uncooked onion.
  • Celery: Celery adds a nice crunch! Dice it into small pieces; I like to slice celery stems in half widthwise before thinly slicing lengthwise.
  • Dried sweetened cranberries: We’ve also used dried tart cherries and love those! Whatever you use, I do recommend getting sweetened as opposed to unsweetened to balance all the savory flavors in the filling.
  • Apple: Any apple will work in this recipe, but we personally love Granny Smith for the tartness. If you’d like a sweeter flavor, go for Honeycrisp or Fuji. If you’d prefer the apple without skin, simply peel it before chopping and adding to the filling (I don’t ever peel them!)

Process shots--ingredients in the pan; add cooked wild rice; mix well and simmer

Stuffed Acorn Squash Filling, Continued

  • Pepitas: Roasted and crunchy pepitas (pumpkin seeds) make for the best addition to Stuffed Acorn Squash! They add a sweet and nutty flavor, similar to sunflower seeds, but a bit sweeter. You can make your own roasted pepitas or buy them at the store. Make sure they’re roasted and salted (not raw). You can generally find them in the bulk section of a grocery store, or with other salad toppings like candied nuts and dried cranberries.
  • Pecans: To save some time, grab chopped pecans and then quickly run a knife through them to get smaller pieces.
  • Flat-leaf Italian parsley: Go with flat-leaf Italian parsley, as opposed to curly for this recipe. Flat-leaf parsley has a more robust flavor and curly parsley is used more commonly as a garnish.

Process shots-- adding the final ingredients to the pan.

Stuffed Acorn Squash FAQs

1Do you eat acorn squash skin?

Technically yes, you can and they do get fairly soft from roasting.

That said, we don’t typically eat the skin when enjoying this recipe. Instead we like to eat all the squash flesh and filling, scraping the edges right up to the skin!

2Do you peel an acorn squash?

Not for this recipe; it helps hold it all together!

3How do you know when acorn squash is bad?

If the flesh is dull in color or has a weird smell it is most likely spoiled.

If the seeds are slimy or grey this is another way to tell the squash is bad.

4Is Acorn Squash a carb?

Yes. One large full squash has about 45 grams of total carbohydrates with 6g of dietary fiber.

Acorn Squash is a highly nutritious carb. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals!

Always remember that carbohydrates aren’t evil. However, complex carbs are much more likely to support your health goals than simple carbs. PS: Acorn squash is a complex carb.

5What do you eat acorn squash with?

Stuffed Acorn Squash is really a full meal all in one — you’ll be amazed how satiating this recipe is!

If you’d like to add more protein, throw in a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas to the filling.

Any seasonal garden or fruit salad will go nicely as a side to this meal.

6Is baked acorn squash good for you?

Acorn squash is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It’s a very nutritious vegetable choice!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

QUICK TIP

Leftover Stuffed Acorn Squash stores okay for about a day; after that everything gets a little mushy and begins to change texture. You can easily halve the recipe if you won’t be eating the four squash the first day (or second) after being made. Read below for how to prepare parts of this meal ahead of time.

Process shots--roasted acorn squash halves; squash filled with stuffing

Make Ahead

Stuffed Acorn Squash is a great dish to make ahead. Here’s what you can do in advance:

  • Prepare the wild rice 1-2 days in advance. Refrigerate in a separate airtight container and make sure to fluff with a fork before adding to the filling. Drain off any remaining liquid before storing to avoid bloated rice.
  • Prepare the filling. Prepare the parsley, sweet potato, celery, pecans, pepitas, and onion ahead of time and store them in separate containers in the fridge (nuts at room temperature), ready to get mixed into the filling. I don’t recommend preparing the actual filling too far in advance — the apple will brown and nuts/pepitas will soften.
  • To assemble: Prepare the filling with prepped ingredients, roast the squash, and bake!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

5 from 1 vote
For Stuffed Acorn Squash, start with perfectly roasted and slightly caramelized acorn squash which gets loaded up with seasoned wild rice, tender sweet potatoes, crisp green apples, and more! This is nutritious warming comfort food at its best!
Print Recipe

Stuffed Acorn Squash

5 from 1 vote
For Stuffed Acorn Squash, start with perfectly roasted and slightly caramelized acorn squash which gets loaded up with seasoned wild rice, tender sweet potatoes, crisp green apples, and more! This is nutritious warming comfort food at its best!
Course Dinner, Main Course, Vegetarian
Cuisine American, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword Stuffed Acorn Squash
Prep Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 35 minutes
Servings 4 Stuffed Acorn Squashes
Calories 414kcal
Cost $12.35

Ingredients

Wild Rice -- See Note 1

  • 1-3/4 cups (400g) Chicken or vegetable stock Note 2
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: dried parsley, fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon EACH: pepper, dried thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup (85g) Wild rice blend (like Lundberg)

Acorn Squash

  • 2 medium-sized acorn squash
  • Olive oil, fine sea salt, & pepper

Filling

  • 1 large (~11 oz.) sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon EACH: unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup (115g) celery, diced (~3 stalks)
  • 1 cup (130g) finely diced yellow onion (~1 small onion)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (~2 cloves)
  • 1 cup (125g) Granny Smith apple diced (~1 small apple)
  • 1/4 cup (36g) dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/4 cup (36g) roasted and salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup (30g) diced pecans
  • 1/4 cup (16g) finely diced flat-leaf parsley
  • Optional, but recommended: crumbled goat cheese

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C). Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • WILD RICE: Start by thoroughly rinsing the wild rice blend in a fine-mesh sieve with cold water until the water runs clear. Meanwhile, add chicken or vegetable stock, Dijon mustard, butter, salt (if using table salt instead of fine sea salt, reduce amount), parsley, pepper, and dried thyme to a nonstick medium-sized pot; bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the rinsed rice. Cover and reduce heat to low (just above the lowest low setting). Simmer for 50-65 minutes, or until rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed (stir occasionally, returning the lid as soon as stirring is done). Add additional broth as needed (if rice has absorbed all the liquid and is still not tender; we typically need to add 2-4 extra tablespoons). Check to see if the rice is done at 50 minutes and then every 5-10 minutes after that. Once rice is tender, remove the pot from the burner, leaving the lid on, and let stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
  • ACORN SQUASH: Use a very sharp chef's knife to cut squash in half. (I cut down the indents on the sides, cut through the tip, and then pull apart to get 2 halves.) Use a large spoon to scrape out all the seeds and stringy bits and discard. Place the squash halves right side up on the prepared tray. Evenly drizzle 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil over all the exposed squash flesh. Sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Use your hand to rub everything in nicely and then place the squash upside down on the tray -- so the cut sides are facing down on the parchment paper. Bake until squash is tender (flesh is easily pierced with a fork), about 35-45 minutes. Set squash aside for now, but don't turn off the oven-- we'll use it again!
  • SWEET POTATO: Wash and scrub the sweet potato(es). Pierce several times with the tines of a fork. Place on a microwave-safe plate and cook until fork-tender, about 5-8 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from the microwave and cut in half lengthwise. Set aside to cool slightly and then peel off the skins (they should come off easily). Once cool enough to handle, dice into very small pieces, measure to get exactly 1 cup (131g) and set aside. Save any extras to add to an egg omelet, salad, or other recipe throughout the week.
  • FILLING: See Note 3. Add butter and olive oil to a large pan over medium-high heat. Once butter is melted, add in the finely diced onion and celery. Sauté, stirring frequently, until onion begins to turn golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir for another 1 minute. Add in the diced sweet potatoes, diced apple, and cranberries. Sauté for another 2 minutes. Add in the rice and any remaining liquid in the pot and stir until liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat. Add in the pepitas, pecans, and parsley. Mix to combine. Taste and add any additional seasoning if needed.
  • STUFF SQUASH AND BAKE: Flip the squash over so cut side is facing up. Divide the filling evenly between the 4 squashes; really pack it in; you should use all the filling (it's okay if they're over-filled a bit!). Return to the oven and bake for 15-20 more minutes or until just turning golden on top.
  • ENJOY: Carefully remove from the oven and use a large spatula to serve on to plates. Add a drizzle of olive oil over everything (optional) and if desired, sprinkle goat cheese on top. Enjoy while hot!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Wild Rice: OR skip this homemade wild rice and prepare one package of Ben's Wild Rice according to package directions. Only add 1-1/2 cups of this prepared rice to the filling.
Note 2Vegan and Vegetarian Squash: Keep this meal vegetarian/vegan by using vegetarian stock. The stock makes the rice quite salty which is intended -- it seasons the rest of the filling really nicely. Omit the goat cheese at the end.
Note 3: The more evenly and finely the veggies are chopped, the better the filling integrates together, fills up the squashes, and tastes. 
Nutrition information does not include the optional goat cheese.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 414kcal | Carbohydrates: 65.2g | Protein: 10.7g | Fat: 15.2g | Cholesterol: 5.6mg | Sodium: 170.1mg | Fiber: 9.1g | Sugar: 15.2g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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