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This stuffed acorn squash recipe is fall stuffed into a squash. Oven roasted acorn squash, filled with Italian sausage, apples, sage, thyme, and topped with crunchy parmesan panko. This easy acorn squash recipe is the perfect dinner and great for leftovers!
What is acorn squash?
Acorn squash is well known for, you know, looking like a giant acorn! Even though acorn squash technically belongs to the summer squash family, it is most typically grouped with the winter squashes.
It has a mild buttery flavor that reminds me of butternut squash. In fact, it is one of the sweetest members of the squash family.
It can be prepared in sweet or savory recipes; I decided to go the savory route this time.
Why this stuffed acorn squash recipe works
- Acorn squash has a fantastic texture when you bake it. It’s soft and melts in your mouth.
- This is a very healthy recipe, too! Acorn squash is high in fiber, vitamin A, and rich in antioxidants.
- It looks stunning. This is the perfect meal to serve guests at a party when you need a meal that will impress your guests.
- You can reuse the filling for stuffed peppers or stuffed butternut squash.
- This recipe is very easy to customize. If you want it to be sweeter, add a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon. To make it spicier, use spicy sausage!
What type of sausage to use
The main protein in the stuffed acorn squash is Italian sausage. If you have a sensitive palate, use mild sausage. If you can handle lots of heat, then use a spicy variety!
Stuffed acorn squash ingredients
You obviously need a few acorn squashes for this recipe, but for the filling, you will also need these ingredients.
- Olive oil
- Italian sausage
- Yellow onion
- Garlic cloves
- Celery ribs
- Fresh sage
- Fresh thyme leaves
- Italian panko breadcrumbs
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Red pepper flakes
How to prepare acorn squash
Due to the hard skin of acorn squash, I recommend using a large, sharp chef’s knife for prep!
Here’s how to cut an acorn squash:
- Carefully cut it down the middle exposing the midsection with all the seeds.
- You can cut the acorn squash either along the middle or lengthwise.
If you cut it the long way, it will retain the acorn shape; cutting it horizontally makes it look like a flower.
Acorn squash securing tip:
Due to the round shape of the squash, it won’t stand on its own. Use your knife to shave a flat surface on the bottom, allowing the acorn squash to stand and be secure while cooking.
How to pre-roast the squash
Once you have scooped out the seeds, place the squash on a baking sheet. Brush olive oil onto the acorn squash, followed by kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
To ensure the squash is fully cooked through, roast it in the oven for 30 minutes or until just fork tender!
Cooking time tip:
The size of the squash can affect cook time, but you don’t want it too soft because it will be going back into the oven with the stuffing.
Acorn squash stuffing
When it comes to making the stuffing for acorn squash, there are so many ways to go about it. You can pack it with protein or keep it strictly vegetarian!
For this specific recipe, I used:
- Mild Italian sausage
- Diced apples
- Fresh thyme and sage
Cooking squash stuffing
In a dutch oven or sauté pan, first cook the Italian sausage with some olive oil. The sausage will infuse the oil and flavor the vegetables being sautéed.
Next, add the onion and celery and sauté to soften. Add in the diced apples, garlic, fresh sage/thyme, and kosher salt/fresh ground black pepper. Allow all of this to sauté together for a few minutes.
Add the Italian sausage back in and mix to combine. This is the perfect time to taste the stuffing and adjust the seasoning if necessary!
Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage so the oil is left behind.
Stuffing the acorn squash
After the acorn squash is roasted and the stuffing is complete, carefully spoon the filling into each squash.
Then, mix Italian panko breadcrumbs with freshly grated parmesan cheese and sprinkle it over the top of each acorn squash.
Cooking stuffed acorn squash
Place the stuffed acorn squashes into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the parmesan panko breading has toasted on top and the squash is fork-tender.
After baking the acorn squash, you are left with deliciously roasted acorn squash with the most delicious filling.
To eat, use a fork to scoop out the filling and acorn squash in every bite! You can discard the squash skin.
Storing/reheating stuffed acorn squash
The squash is best enjoyed fresh. You can prepare the stuffing in advance, but I recommend freshly roasting the squash for the best taste and texture.
- To store, place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- To reheat, put them in the oven at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or microwave for 2 1/2 minutes.
Looking for other fall recipes?
- Squash Lasagna
- Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs with Polenta
- Apple Cider Donuts
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Apple Pie Hand Pies
- Chicken Pot Pie
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- 3 acorn squash
- 6 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage
- 1 small yellow onion (diced (1/2 cup))
- 1 apple (skin peeled, core removed, diced (1 1/2 cup))
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 3 ribs celery (diced (1 cup))
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage (chopped)
- 2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/3 cup Italian panko breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
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- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Using a sharp chef’s knife, carefully cut the acorn squash in half. Cut a flat spot on the bottom so the acorn squash does not roll around while roasting. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp, discard. Careful not to scoop too far through the bottom or it will cause a hole and the stuffing will later fall out.
- Brush olive oil evenly onto the squash. Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper onto each squash to season.
- Roast for 30 minutes until you can just pierce with a fork (it will be going back into the oven with the stuffing to finish cooking through). [see note]
- While the acorn squash is roasting, in a dutch oven over medium/high heat, add in the 3 tbsp of olive oil and the Italian sausage. Fully cook the sausage through, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage and leave the oils/small bits in the pan. Set the sausage aside.
- Lower the heat to medium, add in the diced onion and celery, sauté for 4 minutes until they begin to soften. Add in the apples, sage, thyme, garlic, a pinch of kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Sauté for 4 minutes. Return the sausage back into the dutch oven with the vegetables and stir to combine. Allow flavors to meld for 3 minutes.
- Using a spoon, evenly add the stuffing into the acorn squashes.
- In a small bowl, mix together the panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of each acorn squash.
- Place the stuffed squashes into the oven for 15 minutes. The breadcrumbs/parmesan should be toasted brown. Remove from the oven and serve.
- You can cut the acorn squash either way. If you cut it long ways it will retain the acorn shape. Or you ca cut the squash horizontally (looks more like a flower).
- Size of acorn squash will affect the roasting time, larger squash may need an extra 10 minutes. Squash should be fork tender.
- Acorn squash is best enjoyed freshly roasted. For leftovers, reheat in the oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Or you can microwave for 2 1/2-3 minutes, stirring the stuffing inside.
- To store, place in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days.
- When eating, I do not eat the skin because it can be tough and bitter.