This easy acorn squash recipe with butter, brown sugar, walnuts and cranberries is the perfect side dish to any autumn feast you're preparing especially roast turkey for Thanksgiving. It's easy to make and comes out perfect every time. The only thing difficult about this recipe is cutting it open...but there are tips included below.
When my children were babies, we used to stop at a local farm and purchase a butternut and acorn squash every week so I could make for them. Fast forward quite a few years and my husband and I now grow our own squash in our vegetable garden.
One year we had an abundant crop of acorn squash and I prepared this recipe to serve as a side dish along with the classic stuffing and mashed potatoes. Everyone loved the recipe and I know your family will also.
Table of Contents
Helpful Kitchen Tools
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Main Ingredients Needed
Exact measurements are listed below in the recipe card. Make sure you scroll down to print and save the recipe for later!
- Acorn Squash
- Brown Sugar
- Dried Cranberries
- Chopped Walnuts
- Pure Maple Syrup
Step 1 | How to Cut Acorn Squash
- First, you must make sure you have the squash on a stablized cutting surface. You do not want it moving around while you're attempting to slice it.
- The easiest way to cut an acorn squash is to start at one end and make a small cut into the squash. Don't cut it all the way through though.
- Remove the knife and then stick the point of the knife in the first small cut and slowly repeat the process all the way down one side of the acorn squash each time using the previous entry point as a guide.
- Most of the time I try to cut part way through the one side and then flip the squash and repeat on the other side.
- Sometimes it helps to use a kitchen mallet to "hammer" the knife into the acorn squash.
- If you find the acorn squash is particularly hard, you can place it in the microwave in 30 second intervals to try and soften the skin.
- Once you have both sides sliced, put down the knife. Pick up the squash and see if you can twist and pull it apart. If not, try to go through the previous slices again with the knife.
Quick Tip: The most important thing to remember when cutting an acorn squash or any other hard squash is to keep your fingers tucked under. You can also wear protective gloves like the ones I have linked above in the Helpful Kitchen Tools section.
Step 2 | Prepare the Squash
- Once the acorn squash is cut in half, scoop out the seeds. You can use a small spoon or even a melon scoop for this step.
- Then place the halved squash in a baking dish.
- Add about a ¼ inch or ½ inch of water over the bottom of the baking dish. It will make sure the squash doesn't dry out while baking in the oven.
- Then add the butter and brown sugar to each cavity.
Step 2 | Baking Instructions
- Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for about 1 hour or until the squash is fork tender.
- Once the squash is fork tender, remove from the oven.
Step 3 | Prepare the Walnuts and Cranberries
- Set the baked squash aside while you prepare the walnuts and cranberry mixture.
- In a small skillet, add the butter followed by the chopped walnuts and dried cranberries.
- Cook for a few minutes until everything is heated through and combined.
- Divide the mixture among the baked acorn squash and fill the cavities.
- Drizzle with maple syrup right before serving.
Tried any of my recipes? Let me know in the comments!
- Apples - You can add chopped apples to the walnut and cranberry mixture for added sweetness.
- Raisins- If you're not a fan of dried cranberries, try raisins. Or a mixture of both!
- Pecans - switch out the walnuts for chopped pecans.
- Store any leftovers in a plastic storage container.
- These ingredients don't stand up well to freezing.
Top Recipe Tip
- Make sure the acorn squash is on a flat, stable surface before cutting.
- 2 acorn squash; cut in half with seeds removed
- ½ cup butter; divided
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Place the halved acorn squash in a baking dish.
- Add ¼ cup to ½ cup water to the bottom of the dish.
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter to each of the acorn squash halves followed by ½ tablespoon of brown sugar.
- Sprinkle the cavities with the nutmeg and cinnamon as well.
- Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for about 60 minutes or until the squash is fork tender.
- Set the squash aside while you prepare the cranberry and walnut mixture.
- Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to a skillet.
- Allow the butter to melt over medium/high heat.
- Add the remaining brown sugar and combine with the melted butter.
- Add the cranberries, chopped walnuts.
- Stir to combine.
- Divide the mixxture evenly between the 4 acorn squash.
- Serve immediately.
Drizzle a little maple syrup over the top of each acorn squash right before serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 567Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 193mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 9gSugar: 37gProtein: 5g
The nutrition information is calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you, please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator.
This recipe has been updated since it first appeared in 2012 with new photos, information and a new printable recipe card that includes nutritional information. I hope you enjoy the updates as much as I enjoyed working on them!