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Maple Roasted Squash Salad

Peppery arugula and a creamy goat cheese dressing elevate this bright, colorful roasted acorn squash salad to heights worthy of your holiday table.


Arugula and roasted acorn squash salad with creamy goat cheese dressing pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds on a plate

Squash Salad Season is Upon Us

It’s harvest season, and your local grocery stores and farmers markets should be bursting with a cornucopia of classic autumnal goodies the most iconic of which is, arguably, winter squash. Despite their often-tough skins, winter squash is one of the easiest and most rewarding things to prepare. Here, we’ve taken advantage of the sweet, starchy richness of acorn squash to give this squash salad heartiness and depth, and to provide contrast to the sharp, goat cheese-based dressing.

Acorn squash, olive oil, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, arugula, pomegranate seeds, maple syrup, milk, and apple cider vinegar.

Ingredients For The Best Thanksgiving Salad

This composed maple roasted squash salad makes for a light main dish—just add some crusty bread—or a gorgeous side dish for your family’s holiday meal. It’s also a great one to assemble ahead of time and serve at room temperature (wait to add the dressing until the last minute). Here’s what you’ll need to make this roasted squash salad:

  • Acorn squash + real maple syrup

  • Pomegranate seeds

  • Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

  • Arugula

  • Creamy goat cheese made with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, pepper & buttermilk.

sliced acorn squash on a baking sheet being brushed with maple syrup
Maple roasted acorn squash on a baking sheet

How Do You Make Squash Salad?

Thick-skinned, lumpy and admittedly a little hard to cut into, winter squash can be weirdly intimidating. But we think this simple maple roasted squash salad will make a convert out of you—it celebrates squash in all of its delicious sweetness, and comes together quickly and easily. Here's a few tips for making the cutting process a little safer and easier.

1. Use a sharp knife. If you don’t have a knife sharpener of your own, add one to your wish list right now! Also, a lot of kitchen supply stores host knife-sharpening events, so keep an eye out for one in your area. A sharp knife is a home cook’s BFF.
2. Use kitchen towels! Lay a clean kitchen towel on top of your cutting board, and another one beneath, to give you additional traction while you cut your squash. Game changer, right?!
3. Cut the acorn squash in half horizontally and scoop out the seeds and strings, leaving the inside clean.
4. Slice the acorn squash halves into 3/4-inch rounds—we’re going for a sunburst or star shape here.

creamy goat cheese dressing in a jar with a spoon

Pomegranates 101

Jewel-like and super nutritious, ruby-red pomegranate seeds team up with the roasted acorn squash slices to make this squash salad into a work of culinary art. Much like squash, they require just a little bit of prep, but those juicy, tart-sweet seeds are SO worth it. Here’s how to coax them out of their shell:

  1. Fill a bowl with cool water.
  2. With a sharp knife, quarter the pomegranate.
  3. Submerge a quarter of the pomegranate in the water and, using your thumb, gently nudge the seeds out of their skin.
  4. Repeat this process with each of the quarters.

Pith may come off along with the seeds, but it will rise to the surface of the water. Skim it off before straining the pomegranate seeds from the water.

Close up of arugula and roasted acorn squash salad with goat cheese dressing pumpkin seeds and pomegranates on a plate

Tips for making Roasted Squash Salad

Our maple roasted acorn squash salad is, at its core, a simple recipe. But it relies on a few key things to make it work:

  • Use real maple syrup to brush the acorn squash. Sweetly nutty and complex, real maple syrup has almost nothing in common with imitation—it’s worth the splurge.
  • Our dressing calls for chevré, which is French for “goat” and in the cheese world refers simply to a goat cheese. Use any fresh goat cheese that you love, but don’t make other substitutions.
  • Buttermilk in this squash salad's creamy goat cheese dressing lends an extra tang, and we love its sharp contrast to the sweetness of the squash and spicy arugula. If you prefer the dressing a little more mild, go ahead and use regular milk in its place.
Arugula and roasted squash salad with goat cheese dressing, pumpkin seeds and pomegranates on a plate with serving spoon

Planning Your Holiday menu?

Lighten up your holiday menu by pairing our Rich Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream Sauce with this maple-kissed, roasted squash salad. Or, knock it out of the park at your next dinner party by serving it with cheesy, savory French Onion Soup for a seriously upscale take on a classic soup-and-salad supper.

Arugula and roasted acorn squash salad made with a goat cheese dressing pumpkin seeds and pomegranates on a plate.

Did You Make This Pomegranate Studded Salad?

If you make this maple roasted squash salad, we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to snap a photo, add it to your Instagram feed or stories and tag us @themodernproper and #themodernproper if you do. Also, feel free to leave a comment on the post and tell your friends where you discovered the recipe.

Maple Roasted Squash Salad

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  20 min
  • Cook Time:  30 min
  • Calories: 415


  • 1 small acorn squash, about 1½ pounds
  • 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • ½ cup salted pepitas
  • 5 ounces baby arugula
  • 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese, for serving (optional)

Creamy Goat Cheese Dressing

  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ⅓ cup milk (we love buttermilk)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F with a rack in center position. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.

  2. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the acorn squash horizontally. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds and scrape clean. Slice into ¾-inch thick rounds. Place in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan.

  3. Using a pastry brush, brush 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup over both sides of squash. Bake until the bottom side of squash is golden brown, about 12 minutes. Flip and bake until tender, another 10 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven. Brush both sides of the squash with remaining maple syrup. Set aside to cool.

  4. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Add the goat cheese, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and buttermilk to a blender. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Alternatively you can whisk the dressing in a medium bowl, until smooth.

  5. In a large bowl or on a serving platter, toss together half of the dressing, ¾ cup pomegranate seeds and ¼ cup pepitas. Transfer the squash to the salad and top with remaining pomegranate seeds, pepitas and crumbled goat cheese if using. Drizzle with additional dressing if desired.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories415
  • Protein8 g
  • Carbohydrates32 g
  • Total Fat30 g
  • Dietary Fiber5 g
  • Cholesterol17 mg
  • sodium379 mg
  • Total Sugars18 g

Maple Roasted Squash Salad

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Mary

    Can I use oat milk or almond milk instead of buttermilk


  • Tracy A

    I wanted something fresh, colorful and fall flavors for Thanksgiving. I used pumpkin spiced flavored pepitas and cranberry wrapped goat cheese in the dressing. Hands down my favorite side of the meal! While every is scooping up leftovers of stuffing, potatoes, ham or turkey I am quietly making a salad with extras daily so I don’t have to share. It is that good!

    Love this! Glad you enjoyed it so much Tracy!