How to cook Acorn Squash

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This Instant Pot Acorn squash is so easy to make and in under 30 minutes, you have this moist, fork-tender acorn squash to relish. Oven, slow cooker, and microwave options are also included in the post.

 

 

ACORN SQUASH

Acorn Squash is, absolute favorite during this time of the year and especially during the holidays. Also known as pepper squash or Des Moines squash, acorn squash is a winter squash that resembles like an acorn. The most common variety of acorn squash is dark green, often with a single splotch of orange on top or the side.

Acorn squash typically weighs around one to two pounds and is between 4 to 7 inches long. It has mild, nutty, yellow-orange flesh. Acorn squash is a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, and smaller amounts of Vitamins C and B, magnesium, and manganese.

Acorn squash can be baked, sautéed, microwaved, or even steamed. I love to cook acorn squash in my Instant Pot. Since acorn squash has a mild and nutty flavor, it can be used as a sweet or savory dish. One of my favorite ways to enjoy this winter squash is by stuffing it with a meat mixture. Stuffing can be made with rice, meat, or vegetable mixture. I also like to use acorn squash in curries, stir fry, and soups.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINTER SQUASH AND SUMMER SQUASH

Summer squash is harvested when young, while the outer skin (rind) is still tender and edible (most variety). Winter squash are harvested in autumn when they are fully mature, the skin(rind) is hard and ripe.

Summer squash grows in bushes, unlike winter squash that grows on vines.

Summer squash has a short storage span, unlike winter squash can be stored for a longer period of time, and can be enjoyed over the winters.

 

 

INGREDIENTS FOR ACORN SQUASH

1 Acorn Squash

1 cup water

salt to taste

FOR CARAMELISED ACORN SQUASH (OPTIONAL)

2 tablespoon butter; For vegan, use vegan butter

1 tablespoon maple syrup (or preferred sweetener)

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg (optional)

HOW TO COOK ACORN SQUASH

Autumn reminds me of this wonderful acorn squash, that has a mild and nutty flavor, and makes an excellent side dish, or enjoy it on its own. You can roast the squash in an oven, steam it, or sauté it. I love to make this acorn squash in my Instant Pot, it’s so much quicker than the traditional roasting method. However, I have shared different ways of cooking acorn squash in this post. Whichever method you pick, the result is going to be just amazing. Without any further undue, let’s get cooking.

PREP FOR ACORN SQUASH

MICROWAVE THE SQUASH (OPTIONAL) – This is an optional step. I know you might ask why microwave? Well, microwaving the squash helps soften it, which makes it so much easier to cut through the squash.

I microwave the squash for one minute and that’s it. The outer skin is soft and you can easily cut it open.

CUT THE SQUASH IN HALF – Cut the stem off and place it cut side down on the cutting board. This helps secure the squash from rolling over the board. Cut the squash in half lengthwise.

REMOVE THE SEEDS – Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds from the squash. Save the seeds for later use. I clean the seeds and roast them just like you would roast pumpkin seeds. They make a perfect munching in-between the meals.

Now that you have prepped the squash, you can use one of the methods described below to cook the squash.

 

 

INSTANT POT ACORN SQUASH

You will need INSTANT POT 

Add 1 cup of water into the inner pot and place a trivet.

Place the acorn squash halves onto the trivet, cut side up. Sprinkle some salt to taste. Close the lid, and vent sealed.

 

 

Turn ON MANUAL / PRESSURE COOK (high), for 5 minutes. Allow 10 minutes of natural pressure release.

NOTE: For small to medium (around 1 – 1 1/2 lbs) acorn squash, cook time is 5 minutes. For large (around 2 lbs) acorn squash cook time is 8-9 minutes.

Carefully remove the trivet. You can use the prepared squash in the desired dish or serve it as it is. 

Note: The skin becomes soft when cooked and peels off easily.

For caramelized or savory acorn squash, please refer below.

 

 

FOR CARAMELIZED ACORN SQUASH (OPTIONAL)

Mix softened butter, maple syrup (or preferred sweetener), and cinnamon. Apply the mixture to the squash.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR OVEN: Place the squash on a baking sheet or dish, cut side up. Broil (400 F) it for 3-4 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR AIR FRYER/ AIR FRYER LID: Place the squash in the air fryer basket, and cut side up. Broil (400 F) for 3-4 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.

 

 

FOR SAVORY ACORN SQUASH (OPTIONAL)

Drizzle some olive oil, some paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Place the squash on a baking sheet or dish, and cut side up. Broil it in the oven for 3-4 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.

OVEN BAKED ACORN SQUASH

This method comes in handy especially if you are cooking big. You can easily cook 4-5 acorn squash at the same time, use some and freeze the rest for later use. Here’s how I prepare squash in an oven.

Preheat the oven at 400F.

Place the acorn squash, on a baking sheet or dish, cut side up. Sprinkle some salt to taste.

Roast the squash for 55-60 minutes, or until fork tender. You can use the prepared squash in the desired dish or serve it as it is.

Note: The skin becomes soft when cooked and peels off easily.

For caramelized or savory acorn squash, please refer above.

MICROWAVE ACORN SQUASH

Yes, you can also cook acorn squash in a microwave. Here’s how to do it.

On a microwave safe plate, place the acorn squash halves, and cut side up. Sprinkle some salt to taste. Add 3-4 tablespoons of water to the plate.

Cover the squash with a microwave-safe dish.

Note: I like to use this MICROWAVE SPLATTER COVER, to cover the squash.

Cook the squash for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender. You can now use the prepared squash in the desired dish or serve it as it is. 

Note: The skin becomes soft when cooked and peels off easily.

For caramelized acorn squash, mix softened butter, maple syrup (or preferred sweetener), and cinnamon. Apply the mixture onto the squash and cook for additional 2-3 minutes.

 

 

SLOW COOKER ACORN SQUASH

Love cooking in a slow cooker? Here’s how to make acorn squash in a slow cooker.

Add 1/2 cup of water to the slow cooker.

Place the acorn squash halves, and cut side up. Sprinkle some salt to taste.

Cook the squash for 3 hours, or until fork tender. You can now use the prepared squash in the desired dish or serve it as it is. 

Note: The skin becomes soft when cooked and peels off easily.

For caramelized acorn squash, mix softened butter, maple syrup (or preferred sweetener), and cinnamon. Apply the mixture onto the squash and cook for additional 30 minutes.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION

HOW TO PICK ACORN SQUASH

The most common variety of acorn squash is dark green. However, depending upon the variety grown, it can be found in yellow, dark green, tan, or orange color acorn squash. Make sure you pick the squash that is heavy for its size, dull in appearance, and is firm, and has hard skin.

HOW CAN I TELL IF THE ACORN SQUASH IS RIPE

As the squash ripens, the outer skin turns dark green. Often you will see a single splotch of orange or yellow on top or the side, the portion that’s in contact with the ground. Also, the rind or skin of the squash will become hard.

HOW LONG CAN YOU STORE ACORN SQUASH

Acorn squash has the shortest storage life as compared to other winter squashes. Acorn squash stays fresh for about a month when stored under proper conditions.

HOW TO STORE ACORN SQUASH

Acorn squash stays fresh in a dark, cool (50 -55 F), place. Store it in a cool, dry spot in your kitchen or pantry. You can also store it in your basement or a cellar.

If the squash is cut open, it should be stored in the refrigerator for no more than 2 weeks.

CAN I FREEZE THE ACORN SQUASH

It is important to cook the squash before freezing. Cook squash, discard seeds, and scoop out the pulp from the skin. You can puree the pulp or leave it chunky. Store it in a freezer-safe containers and freeze it for up to 6-8 months. Defrost, and use it as suggested in the recipe.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH ACORN SQUASH

Acorn squash makes an excellent side dish for meats, and veggies, or enjoy it on its own. I like to serve acorn squash with some grilled or roasted veggies, stir fry greens, and some quinoa for a delicious, healthy meal.

HOW TO CUT ACORN SQUASH

I find this very helpful when cutting any kind of squash. I simply microwave the squash for a minute, and using a sharp knife cut the squash. Microwaving the squash helps soften the outer skin, thus making it easier to cut. Try this tip and let me know.

HOW DO I KNOW IF THE ACORN SQUASH IS STILL GOOD

As the squash ripens, it turns orange in color. It should not have any soft or black spots, when you cut it open, any weird smell or slimy or mold inside, it is good.

 

 

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How to cook Acorn Squash - Instant Pot, Oven, Slow Cooker, Microwave

Jyoti Behrani
Learn also how to cook acorn squash in an Instant Pot, an oven, slow cooker, and microwave.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Dessert, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

INGREDIENTS FOR ACORN SQUASH

  • 1 Acorn Squash
  • 1 cup water
  • salt to taste

FOR CARMALISED ACORN SQUASH (OPTIONAL)

  • 2 tablespoon butter; For vegan, use vegan butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or preferred sweetener
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Instructions
 

PREP FOR ACORN SQUASH

  • MICROWAVE THE SQUASH (OPTIONAL) - Microwave the squash for one minute.
    Note: Microwaving the squash helps soften the outer skin and makes it easier to cut.
  • CUT THE SQUASH IN HALF - Cut the stem off and place it cut side down on the cutting board. This helps secure the squash from rolling over the board. Cut the squash in half lengthwise.
  • REMOVE THE SEEDS - Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds from the squash.
    Note: Save the seeds for later use. Clean and roast for a healthy snack.
  • Now that you have prepped the squash, you can use one of the methods described below to cook the squash.

INSTANT POT ACORN SQUASH

  • You will need INSTANT POT
    Add 1 cup of water into the inner pot and place a trivet.
  • Place the acorn squash halves onto the trivet, cut side up. Sprinkle some salt to taste. Close the lid, vent sealed.
  • Turn ON MANUAL / PRESSURE COOK (high), for 5 minutes. Allow 10 minutes of natural pressure release.
    NOTE: Adjust the cooking time depending upon the size of the squash. For small to medium (around 1 – 1 1/2 lbs) squash, cook time is 5 minutes. For large (around 2 lbs) squash, cook time is 8-9 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the trivet. You can use the prepared squash in your desired dish or serve it as it is.
    Note: The skin becomes soft when cooked and peels off easily.
  • For caramelized or savory acorn squash, please refer below.

FOR CARAMELIZED ACORN SQUASH (OPTIONAL)

  • Mix softened butter, maple syrup (or preferred sweetener), and cinnamon. Apply the mixture onto the squash.
  • INSTRUCTIONS FOR OVEN: Place the squash on a baking sheet or dish, cut side up. Broil (400 F) for 3-4 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.
  • INSTRUCTIONS FOR AIR FRYER/ AIR FRYER LID: Place the squash in the air fryer basket, cut side up. Broil (400 F) for 3-4 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.

FOR SAVORY ACORN SQUASH (OPTIONAL)

  • Drizzle some olive oil, some paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place the squash on a baking sheet or dish, cut side up. Broil (400 F) for 3-4 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.

OVEN BAKED ACORN SQUASH

  • Preheat oven at 400 F.
  • Place the acorn squash, in a baking sheet or dish, cut side up. Sprinkle some salt to taste.
  • Roast the squash for 55-60 minutes, or until fork tender. You can use the prepared squash in your desired dish or serve it as it is.
    Note: The skin becomes soft when cooked and peels off easily.
  • For caramelized or savory acorn squash, please refer above.

MICROWAVE ACORN SQUASH

  • In a microwave safe plate, place the acorn squash halves, cut side up. Sprinkle some salt to taste. Add 3-4 tablespoons of water in the plate.
  • Cover the squash with a microwave-safe dish.
    Note: I like to use this MICROWAVE SPLATTER COVER, to cover the squash.
  • Cook the squash for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender. You can now use the prepared squash in your desired dish or serve it as it is.
    Note: The skin becomes soft when cooked and peels off easily.
  • For caramelized acorn squash, mix softened butter, maple syrup (or preferred sweetener), and cinnamon. Apply the mixture onto the squash and cook for additional 2-3 minutes.

SLOW COOKER ACORN SQUASH

  • Add 1/2 cup of water in the slow cooker.
  • Place the acorn squash halves, cut side up. Sprinkle some salt to taste.
  • Cook the squash for 3 hours, or until fork tender. You can now use the prepared squash in your desired dish or serve it as it is.
    Note: The skin becomes soft when cooked and peels off easily.
  • For caramelized acorn squash, mix softened butter, maple syrup (or preferred sweetener), and cinnamon. Apply the mixture onto the squash and cook for additional 30 minutes.

Notes

Please refer to the post for the following:
  1. Frequently Asked Questions

Disclaimer

Nutrition values are my best estimates. If you rely on them for your diet, use your preferred nutrition calculator.

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