Holidays provide ample opportunities to treat friends and family to delicious seasonal food and beverages. My Quick Acorn Squash Recipe with Cranberries is the perfect accompaniment to your main dish Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham. This easy roasted acorn squash features sweetness from maple syrup and brown sugar. It gets a little tang from fresh cranberries. This acorn squash recipe is not overly sweet, like candied sweet potato, making it is the perfect fall and winter side dish. And, it is not just for holidays or special occasions.
(Updated to include a new shortcut to reduce cooking time!)
Why try my Acorn Squash Recipe with Cranberries?
- Acorn squash is one of the milder flavored winter squashes. Use for your meal plan where you need a starch.
- It is low in calories, and packed with various nutrients.
- It is especially high in vitamin C and a great source of iron.
- It is a versatile vegetable, actually a gourd, which can be used in recipes featuring savory spices and sweet recipes, like my delicious Autumn Pie.
For the full recipe with quantities, see the recipe card at the end of the post.
- Acorn Squash - choose a large squash for this recipe.
- Brown sugar - light or dark
- Cinnamon - if you want a more savory taste omit the cinnamon and use just a pinch of garlic powder or onion powder.
- Nutmeg - Grated whole nutmeg is best.
- Maple Syrup - real maple syrup not pancake syrup
- Cranberries - fresh or frozen
- Nuts - Pecans, walnuts or toasted squash seeds. This is a great recipe in which to use the seeds instead of wasting them.Acorn Squash - choose a large squash for this recipe.
Cut 2" long slits in squash along lines where you will cut them in quarters later.
Place in microwave on microwave-safe plate and cook for 6 minutes.
Mix the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, maple syrup.
Mix well to dissolve sugar. Use a little heat if needed.
Remove squash from microwave and cut into quarters.
Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits of the insides.
Place in an oven proof dish, propping up level with crumpled foil.
Fill the well of each quarter with cranberries.
Add the nuts and the seeds (if using) on top of cranberries.
Pour the maple butter mixture over the quarters of squash.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Take foil off and bake until soft.
When squash is cooked through remove from oven & baste with drippings.
- Sharp Chef's Knife
- Cutting board
- Microwave-safe dish (if using the shortcut)
- Baking sheet, parchment or foil lined
- Airtight container, for storing leftovers
No. Acorn squash are small and shaped like acorns. They have thick green skin with prominent ridges, making it a bit more difficult to chop up for cooking. Butternut squash are beige and have a long "neck" with a bulbous end. Both have orange flesh.
Because acorn squash have a thicker, sturdier skin and are more fibrous, they're best for roasting and stuffing. Butternut squash are a lot smoother, which makes them great for soups, but they can be roasted and stuffed, too.
Acorn squash wins the match. It offers more folate, calcium, magnesium (nearly one-third of a day's worth in one cup) and potassium than butternut, hubbard and spaghetti squash. Eat one cup of cooked acorn squash and you'll get more potassium than if you ate two medium bananas.
Looking for More Squash Recipes?
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How do you soften acorn squash before roasting?
You can microwave acorn squash before roasting. Start by making several large slits through the skin with the tip of a sharp chef's knife. Make the slits where you will be cutting the squash into quarters. No need to go from end to end, just a large slit. This helps the air release as your squash heats up, to avoid your squash exploding in the microwave. Next, let the squash cook in the microwave, on high for approximately 3-5 minutes. This will soften the skin, and begin cooking the flesh. This will cut down your roasting time.
The hard skin makes acorn squash a bit tricky (and scary) to peel, even with a sharp knife, but a good sharp peeler works. My preference is to cut it into wedges, thick like pictured or thinner, and cook it with the peel on. The meat can easily be scooped out or you can the remove the cooked peel and cube the flesh. It can also be roasted whole with a few knife stabs through the skin to allow the steam to escape. You can then cut it and use the flesh.
Quick Acorn Squash Recipe with Cranberries
- Sheet pan lined with foil or parchment
- Foil crumpled to support squash
- Microwave-safe dish
- Foil or parchment paper
- Cutting Board
- 1 acorn squash
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted extra-virgin olive oil if you don't have butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar light or dark
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (use ¼ teaspoon bottled ground nutmeg)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoon maple syrup (real) not pancake syrup
- 1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- ¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Quarter the acorn squash and remove seeds and stringy bits with a sharp edged spoon. (If you want larger portions, use squash halves instead of quarters.)
- Place the squash, cut side up, on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Use wadded up pieces of foil to keep the wedges upright.
- Add the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and maple syrup to a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
- Fill the squash well with cranberries and sprinkle on the nuts and seeds. Pour the maple butter over the cranberries and nuts and brush the cut edges of squash.
- Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, baste with the pan drippings and continue to bake until the the squash is fork-tender about 10 minutes.
- Serve with any remaining pan drippings poured over the top.
Approximate nutrition information is provided as a convenience and courtesy only. You are encouraged to do your own calculations if precise data is required.
We take every effort to ensure that the estimated meal cost per serving is accurate. We use a meal cost analysis application that estimates the cost of a recipe based on groceries purchased at a Walmart store in my geographical area, northern California.