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Roasted Acorn Squash

Brushed with a sweet-and-smoky spiced butter, this roasted acorn squash recipe is simple, cozy winter fare at its finest.


quartered roasted acorn squash on a white platter with a serving spoon

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, (compared to Roasted Honey Nut Squash, for example), 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.
quartered acorn squash on a baking sheet nest to chili powder, garlic powder, salt, melted butter and brown sugar.

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 50 minutes. 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.
melted butter with chili powder, brown sugar, garlic powder and salt in a glass bowl
raw quartered acorn squash on a baking sheet skin side up
acorn squash quarters on a baking sheet brushed with melted butter, brown sugar, chili powder and salt
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!

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Roasted Acorn Squash

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  50 min
  • Calories: 202


  • ½ cup salted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 small acorn squash, halved, seeded, quartered


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

  2. In a small bowl, combine the butter, chili powder, cumin, salt, and brown sugar. Brush the cut sides of the squash with the butter mixture. Reserve any remaining butter in the bowl. Place the squash wedges, with one flesh side down, on the prepared sheet. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove the sheet pan from the oven. Tip the squash so that the other side of the flesh is touching the sheet pan and roast for 15 minutes more.

  3. Remove from the sheet from the oven and flip the squash skin side down. Spoon reserved butter mixture over it. Return squash to the oven, and continue baking until tender, browned and caramelized, 15 minutes.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories202
  • Protein2 g
  • Carbohydrates26 g
  • Total Fat11 g
  • Dietary Fiber4 g
  • Cholesterol30 mg
  • sodium325 mg
  • Total Sugars3 g

Roasted Acorn Squash

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Dave

    Seems tasty but following the instructions keeps creating a situation that sets off our fire alarms..

    Used wax paper, buttered before putting in, and 400 degrees. Does this make a ton of smoke for anyone else?

    We haven't had that experience Dave, have you tried parchment paper? That is what we use.

  • Aimee

    Squash is so good and this year as a side dish at Thanksgiving this will be the star dish!
    I love how the Acorn Squash is cut in large pieces verses sliced and the simplicity of cooking.
    The Spice Butter looks great in a jar packaged with a small knife for a lovely gift and pennies on the dollar and oh so decadent.
    Thank you for a great recipe!
    Aimee Rabich Pajic

    Thank you so much! Enjoy!

  • Janet

    You answered my question “ CAn acorn squash be roasted day in advance and reheated when you want to serve” by telling me it tastes best when eaten immediately. I do know that and agree, but can you roast it in advance, then fill it either with veggies or butter and sugar when you want to reheat it and serve?

    Sure! It's not unsafe! We just feel that in this case the flavor and texture don't hold up very well to a make-ahead approach.

  • Janet

    Can you roast the squash a day or two before you plan on serving it?

    This recipe is really best enjoyed right away!

  • Lewis

    I have plenty of the butter mixture left over. What else could I use it for ? Thanks

    I would personally use it to drizzle over more vegetables or potatoes before roasting.

  • Emily

    Delicious and simple! Make sure you use a microwave-safe bowl as the butter mixture solidified at room temp and needed to be reheated for the final step. Will definitely make again. One squash was more than enough for me and my partner, plus leftovers for lunch.

    Thanks Emily, so glad you loved it!

  • Shannon

    We LOVED this recipe so much when I tried it just a couple weeks ago, I'm making again for Thanksgiving. Really enjoy the sweet and savory mix.


  • Emarie

    I served this with your wild mushroom risotto and ohhhh ma gah. Hello FALL! :D

    So glad you like it! Nothing like a satisfying fall meal!