Learn step-by-step how to cook acorn squash in the oven, in the microwave, and on the grill.

An acorn squash is easy to recognize by its shape, which is ridged and squat like an acorn. But unlike the brown nuts that fall from oak trees, acorn squashes are typically dark green on the outside and pale yellow on the inside.

Because they're hardy and can be prepared in a variety of different ways (even the peel is edible!), these squashes are hallmarks of fall and winter cooking but are also a popular vegetable year-round.

What Does Acorn Squash Taste Like?

Acorn Squash
Photo by Meredith

Acorn squash is milder in taste and slightly more fibrous in texture than butternut squash: Its sweet, nutty flavor is additionally muted by the watery character of its flesh.

Still, most recipes that call for acorn squash can be made with another members of the squash family, such as Hubbard or butternut. Pumpkin is another possible substitute.

Nutritional Benefits of Acorn Squash

One cup of cubed raw acorn squash contains only about 56 calories, but provides more than half of the vitamin A you need all day, as well as about a quarter of the recommended daily allowance of fiber and vitamin C.

In addition to being nutrient dense, it's also a source of a wide range of nutrients, many of which can help strengthen your bones, aid digestion, ward off cataracts, and help regulate blood sugar levels.

Another healthy snack is roasted acorn squash seeds.

How to Pick Acorn Squash

Acorn squashes are common backyard crops, but home gardeners need to know how to tell if one is ripe. The biggest clue is color: A squash ready for picking will be dark green with a dried stem.

Even if the stem isn't present on a squash sold at a grocery store, shoppers can check its hue and make sure the skin is sufficiently firm by testing it gently with a fingernail. It should also be heavy for its size and free of mold or other blemishes.

How to Store Acorn Squash

Stored at room temperature, an acorn squash will last one or two months; to determine if one has gone bad, slice it in two. Slimy, gray seeds are an indicator that the squash has turned.

Once cut, you can tightly cover any uncooked portion with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to four days, or cook the squash and freeze it for as long as a year.

How to Cook Acorn Squash

How to Roast Acorn Squash in the Oven

Acorn squash is easy to prepare for cooking: The simplest prep involves splitting the squash in two with a sharp knife, and then scooping out the seeds and stringy bits with a spoon. If a recipe calls for cubes, turn the squash half flesh-side down and slice into rings, then cut away the peel with a knife and dice the flesh.

Once cut and cleaned, a half acorn squash can be baked in the oven at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 50 to 60 minutes or until very tender. Cubes can be placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet, drizzled with oil, and roasted until tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes.

Check out this technique, which involves scoring the squash to let the orange-maple glaze soak in.

How to Microwave Acorn Squash

Alternately, you can cook it in the microwave by placing it cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish . Add an inch of water to the dish and microwave on high for approximately 10 minutes, or until tender.

How to Grill Acorn Squash

Finally, to grill acorn squash, wrap squash halves tightly with tin foil and cook over low flames until tender.

Browse dozens of delicious acorn squash recipes!

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