How to Bake Acorn Squash

Here’s how to get perfectly cooked squash with a sweet, nutty flavor and moist flesh in no time.

Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash
Photo: Andy Lyons

If you shopped the produce aisles of the grocery store, you’ve probably seen acorn squash on the store shelves. It’s the somewhat oval-shaped winter squash with a ribbed, dark green skin and orange flesh. But have you ever bought it or considered growing it in your garden? If not, what’s stopping you? If it’s because you don’t know how to bake acorn squash, rest assured you can easily prepare it by following our six simple steps. We’ll take the mystery out of how to roast acorn squash halves in the oven and in the microwave, and show you how long to bake acorn squash to perfection. Plus, read on to see how easy it is to how to select, prep, and store acorn squash.

What Is Acorn Squash?

Available year-round and at peak production from September through March, acorn squash is a sought-after vegetable that’s known for its nutty flavor. Plus, it’s filled with vitamins A and C, antioxidants, fiber, and potassium. Just like other winter squash such as butternut, delicata, buttercup, and spaghetti squash, it has a hard skin. But don’t let that hard skin scare you away—after you bake it, the skin will become soft and easily separate from the flesh, so there’s no need to worry about peeling it. The squash’s dense texture and firm flesh will hold up well in your favorite squash recipes. Its small size makes it easy to cook it in a slow cooker, puree it for soups, add it to salads, and even create an edible bowl by filling it with cooked rice or stuffing. And don’t forget about its seeds—try roasting squash seeds to make a nutritious snack.

How to Select Acorn Squash

Choose firm squash that are heavy for their size—the heavier the squash, the denser the flesh inside. Look for those with smooth, unblemished skin with a stem still attached. If it has a soft spot, put it back on the shelf because you don’t want a rotting squash. Also steer clear of squash that has a lot of orange coloring since they tend to be tough and fibrous. Make sure you buy enough acorn squash for your recipe—keep in mind that a 2-pound squash will make 6 cups of cubed squash.

How to Store Acorn Squash

When you find a perfect squash in the grocery store or in your garden, you can store it whole in a cool, dry place between 50°F and 60°F up to 2 months. Be sure to refrigerate cut squash, wrapped in plastic, up to 4 days.

How to Bake Acorn Squash

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. 
  2. Wash it. Washing your produce before you cut, eat, or cook with them helps to ensure that possible contaminants are rinsed away. Simply hold the squash under cool running tap water and gently rub it as you rinse it.
  3. Cut it in half. Begin by slicing off the squash’s stem, then cut down through the stem area to halve the squash. Acorn squash are easier to cut if you microwave them on high for 1 to 2 minutes before you try cutting them.
  4. Remove seeds and cut into slices. Use a large spoon or ice cream scoop to remove membranes and seeds. Cut squash into ¾-inch-thick slices.
  5. Place squash in a single layer on a large baking sheet or shallow baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste with salt and black pepper (or other desired seasoning); toss gently to coat.
  6. Roast 20 to 25 minutes until squash is lightly browned and tender. Stir or turn once during baking time.

How Long to Bake Acorn Squash at 350°F

When you want to roast your acorn squash at a lower temperature, so a slower cook time can be coordinated with your other meal prep, follow the steps below: 

1. Place squash halves, cut sides down, in a baking dish. 
2. Bake in a 350°F oven 45 to 50 minutes or until tender.

How to Bake Acorn Squash in Microwave

If you love the flavor of slow-roasted acorn squash but don’t have much time, try microwaving it. Follow the steps below to get tender, silky-smooth squash in less time than baking it in the oven.

  1. Place cut sides down, in a baking dish with 2 Tbsp. water. 
  2. Microwave, covered, 7 to 10 minutes or until tender, rearranging once.
  3. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes.
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