Roasted Acorn Squash

quartered roasted acorn squash on a white platter with a serving spoon
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Roasted acorn squash is brushed with a sweetly smoky spiced butter for a cozy, seasonal side dish that couldn’t be simpler. 

Squash Your Fears! 

What is it that feels so difficult about squash? Oh right—the skin. Squash skin is super, super tough. It’s fair to say that for every person that loves to eat squash, there’s a person that has given up on it because they’re tired of battling that notoriously tough exterior. But here’s the thing—cutting squash open is the only “work” this recipe asks of you (and don’t stress—we’ll teach you how to cut squash) because this winter fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) is just so tasty that it needs almost no help. Our roasted acorn squash recipe is all about celebrating the inherent, natural goodness of squash—and of this particular kind of squash, which happens to be one of our very favorite type. 

Acorn squash is a bit less sweet than other varieties, and we just love to pair its rich, nutty flavor with savory spices like chili powder and cumin. This recipe is about minimal intervention, minimal effort and maximum deliciousness. 

roasted acorn squash quarters on a sheet pan

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Winter Squash

Well, probably not everything. But here are two things you probably didn’t know about squash that are sure to make you feel super superior to all of your friends! Or they might make you just feel like “hey, I know stuff about squash now!”, and that’s great, too. OK, without further ado, here are our top two favorite squash facts: 

  1. Acorn squash (and all varieties of squash, for that matter) are actually BERRIES. Yep—they’re not just fruit, they’re a specific kind of berry called (scientifically) a “pepo”. 
  2. The word “squash” comes from a native American word— “askutasquash”—which means “eaten raw”. And, believe it or not (although we tend to prefer it roasted) many squash varieties are delicious when eaten raw. Try removing the skin and seeds and peeling the squash into thin ribbons to use the same way you’d use zoodles. 

How to Cook Acorn Squash

The one and only way to cook acorn squash is to roast it. You don’t actually have to do much to it—you could even just split the acorn squash in half and roast it as-is and have a perfectly tasty side dish. But we like to go the extra mile—well, maybe we’ll call it the extra half-mile, because this is really easy—and add a little spiced butter. Here’s how to bake acorn squash: 

  • Split the squash! The hardest part of this whole recipe, and it’s not even that bad. See below for more tips about how to cut squash. 
  • Make a sweet, chili-spiced butter. Making flavored butter is a handy trick to know for all sorts of reasons—for example, this sweet, smoky seasoned butter is SO good poured over freshly popped corn. All you do is melt butter and stir in some seasonings—in this case brown sugar, salt, cumin and chili powder. Done!
  • Brush the quartered squash with the brown sugar-butter mixture. 
  • Roast! We roast squash on a regular old sheet pan lined with parchment paper at 400°F, for about 45 minutes - an hour. Check for doneness by poking it with a fork—you want the fork to slide easily into the flesh of the steamy, roasted acorn squash. 
roasted acorn squash on a baking sheet

How to Cut Acorn Squash

You’ll need two things to cut squash—confidence, and a good, sharp chef’s knife

  1. Safety first! Begin by stabilizing your cutting board. You don’t want to deal with any slippage when cutting an acorn squash—you’ve got enough to focus on—so if your cutting board has a tendency to slip out from under you as you slice unwieldy things (as ours does) try slipping a damp towel underneath your cutting board. Get a kitchen towel damp, wring it out, and then place it under the board—it’ll help the board to stay put as you wrestle with the squash.
  2. Slice! Start by cutting the top (the stem end) of the acorn squash off to give you a stable base. Then, stand the acorn squash up on that cut end and slice it right down the middle. Work slowly and with focus—it’ll take a little elbow grease. Once you’ve cut it in half, the squash will become much easier to work with. Cut each half in half again so that you have quarters. And that’s it! You’re done cutting squash. (yay!)
  3. Scoop! Grab a spoon and scoop out the seedy gunk (that’s the technical term, right?) just like you would with a Halloween pumpkin. And you’re done! Acorn squash: prepped! You pro, you. 
quartered roasted acorn squash on a white platter with a large serving spoon

Now That You’re a Squash-Chopping Pro, Here Are Six Ways to Work That Skill Set

You get it now, right? Squash is easy. Here are six of our favorite winter squash recipes. 

quartered roasted acorn squash on a white platter

Tools You’ll Need: 

  • Super sharp knife. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but the sharper your knife, the safer it is. Especially for projects like this! The less you have to wrestle or struggle to get the knife through whatever it is you are cutting—in this case, acorn squash skin—the more control you have. The more control you have, the safer you are. 
  • Cutting board.
  • Parchment paper. 
  • Small brush for applying the brown sugar-butter-spice mixture. Or you can use the back of a spoon—but a brush is more fun. 

Hit Us Up! 

Snap a photo of your buttery, brown sugar-y roasted acorn squash and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see how gorgeous your dinner was. Happy eating!

Roasted Acorn Squash

Serves 8

Ingredients

4 small acorn squash (smaller than the size of your hand), membranes and seeds removed and quartered
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp brown sugar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a small bowl combine melted butter, brown sugar and spices. Brush squash halves with butter mixture, reserving the remaining butter mixture in a bowl. Place squash, cut sides down, on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake on center rack until the cut sides of the squash turn golden brown, 20 minutes. Flip squash onto its other flesh side and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and flip squash skin side and spoon reserved butter mixture over it. Return squash to oven, and continue baking until browned and caramelized, 15 minutes.