Roasted and mashed acorn squash is super easy to make, creamy and delicious. This simple acorn squash recipe uses just 7 ingredients and takes 5 minutes to prep and get into the oven. Vibrant and colorful, packed with nutrition, naturally vegan and gluten-free…this healthy side dish with no added sugar will quickly become a favorite.
This post was updated from the original posted October 2, 2017.
Oh, you know you want this in your life….a super delicious side dish recipe (that happens to be healthy) with little hands on time! Savory, cozy fall vibes in every bite. As far as acorn squash recipes go, it doesn’t get any better than this!
I’m obsessed over here! This easy squash recipe is ridiculously tasty. There’s more of a subtle, earthy sweetness than you find with butternut squash recipes. And I’m not complaining.
This roasted and mashed acorn squash is a staple in our house this time of year with good reason. Fall always seems to be a bit hectic and I just love the simplicity of this recipe. Get it into the oven and then forget about it while you move on to other tasks. Once the squash and garlic are roasted, the dish comes together in about 2 minutes, with staples from your spice cabinet. That’s it. No mess, no fuss.
Is Acorn Squash Healthy?
- Acorn squash (like many of the other winter squash varieties—and you can sub most of them in this recipe: butternut, kabocha, pumpkin, etc) is loaded with health benefits.
- High in antioxidants that fight free radical damage.
- High amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin C that helps skin stay bright and staves off wrinkles.
- Boosts the immune system, and contributes to decreased inflammation.
- High in fiber, supporting healthy digestion.
- Mashed acorn squash is a tasty and nutrient dense choice for those watching their weight as well.
Why you will love this recipe
- Kid friendly…your whole family will adore this.
- Easy, healthy side dish that will go with whatever you’re making.
- No peeling required! Roast and then just scoop out the tender flesh.
- Packed with nutrition.
- Savory acorn squash is a wonderful fall dish that balances out all the sweet stuff so prevalent this time of year.
- No sugar added. No sweetener of any kind needed. It’s naturally sweet and tasty.
- Meal prep friendly. Reheats beautifully in the oven on 350 for 15-20 minutes, covered.
- The perfect Thanksgiving Side Dish….it’s delicious, healthy, easy and you can make it the day before.
Ingredients and Substitutions:
- Acorn Squash: It has a beautiful orangy-yellow color and and a nutty flavor when roasted. It’s easy to use and nutrient dense. Substitute any hard winter squash like butternut, pumpkin, kabocha or hubbard in this recipe. Delicata squash will take only 20 minutes to become tender. Spaghetti squash won’t become smooth and creamy, so save that as a vessel for vegan bolognese sauce.
- Olive oil: Just a bit adds to the flavor and texture. If you’re oil free, just rub a bit of water over the cut side and then season before roasting. Omit the oil when mashing and if it’s too dry, add a Tablespoon of plant milk to help make your mash creamy.
- Garlic: This is the ingredient that makes this recipe so tasty, in my opinion. The garlic will soften in both texture and taste as it roasts, making it perfect to mash right into the squash.
- Cinnamon: The illusion of sweet goes hand in hand with cinnamon…and I think the illusion is just the right amount of sweetness for this savory recipe. Substitute with a pinch of nutmeg.
- Cumin: Possibly my favorite spice. Cumin increases antioxidant intake, promotes digestion and provides some iron. All that and it tastes great too.
How to cut an Acorn Squash:
For this recipe, you don’t need to peel the acorn squash. Yay!! You will need to cut it in half though and that is most safely done when the squash can be stable on a cutting board.
Before attempting to cut the squash in half, cut a thin sliver off the non-stem end so it will sit flat on the cutting board, without moving around. Then, use a sharp knife to cut through the stem all the way to the bottom.
Once the squash is halved, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. A grapefruit spoon with serrated edges makes this easy to do…and also will help remove any stringy bits.
How to Roast
Drizzle the insides and cut parts of the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place cut side up on the prepared pan. Add the garlic cloves STILL IN THEIR PAPER SKINS to the baking tray.
An acorn squash that is about 2 pounds will take about 45 minutes to roast until tender. If you can easily stick a fork into the squash, you know it’s done.
Once it’s cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out and into a large mixing bowl. This should be easy to do with a large spoon.
Once all the acorn squash pulp is in the bowl, you’re ready to add garlic, spices and mash!
- Scoop roasted acorn squash pulp into a bowl.
- Add roasted garlic to the roasted squash. Gently squeeze the end of the garlic clove and the pulp will come right out of the papery skin.
- Use a potato masher to incorporate garlic and squash together into a smooth and uniform puree.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon, cumin, cayenne and salt to squash mixture. Continue to mash/mix until spices have been evenly dispersed. Taste for seasoning and add more of what you desire.
BAM….just like that you have a healthy side dish recipe that took no time to make. I like to garnish with a bit more freshly ground black pepper and then sprinkle with some sliced scallions, or fresh herbs like parsley, sage or oregano.
Meal Prep and Storage
- How to store: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Vegan mashed squash will stay good in the fridge for up to a week or freezer for 6 months.
- How to reheat: Mix well and reheat in baking dish in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until heated through. Garnish with fresh sliced green onions or fresh herbs.
- How to freeze: Cool completely and transfer to freezer safe zip top bag that has been labeled and dated. Push out any air and seal completely. Lay flat in the freezer. Thaw in fridge, transfer to baking dish and mix well before reheating. If squash is a bit watery when it defrosts, stir in 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder before reheating.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- Not all acorn squash are the same size. Taste for seasoning and add more if your squash was particularly large.
- Don’t skimp on the garlic. Keep the garlic from burning by using large cloves and don’t toss in the oil. No fresh garlic? I’m sorry, but it happens….use a teaspoon of garlic powder (not garlic salt) to season the mash.
- Make this recipe YOURS. I gravitate towards the svory, but if sweet is your thing, swap out the cumin for a pinch of nutmeg and the cayenne for some allspice. Then add a swirl of maple syrup instead.
- If you don’t have/can’t find acorn squash, make this recipe with kabocha, butternut, hubbard, or whatever hard winter squash you do have. Delicata squash will work well, but they’re small, so you will need 4-5. In a pinch, use sweet potatoes.
- Make it into an acorn squash puree for a bold plating statement. It will look fabulous underneath any roasted vegetable. (I’m thinking oven roasted broccoli). Instead of mashing the roasted acorn squash by hand, put it all in a blender or food processor and add 2 Tablespoons veggie broth or plant milk.
What else can you do with this dish?
- Use it to top this vegan shepherd’s pie.
- Make some veggie spring rolls and place a spoonful on the wrapper before placing the veggies in.
- Put a large scoop (or whatever you have left) into a pot of cauliflower leek soup before you puree.
- Make waffles. Use this recipe for leftover mashed potato waffles and insert the mashed squash instead of the mashed potatoes.
- Use it to replace the pumpkin puree in this overnight oats recipe.
- Make it a bowl. Include a variety of raw veggies (greens, chopped cabbage, radicchio), cooked veggies, grains and some leftover mashed squash. Drizzle on the apple/walnut dressing from my fall harvest salad recipe…and you’re in for a real treat.
No peeling required for acorn squash. You can halve and remove seeds, then roast. When it’s tender, just scoop out the flesh and mash. You can also slice it and roast with the skins on…they’re edible, so make sure to give it a good wash before beginning.
I like to bake my squash in a preheated 375 oven. For squash halves, it will take about 40 minutes until tender. If you’re slicing and baking the squash, about 20 minutes is all you need.
Roasted squash shouldn’t need any thickener, unless you’ve added liquid-which I don’t recommend. If you’ve boiled the squash and the mash is watery, try adding 1-2 teaspoons of arrowroot powder or ground flax. Alternately, be sure to drain the squash well and even pat dry before mashing. Better yet, roast it instead of boiling to avoid watery mash.
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Mashed Acorn Squash
- 2 acorn squash
- 6 large cloves garlic skins on
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven to 375. Line large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
- PREPARE ACORN SQUASH FOR ROASTING: Cut off thin sliver from bottom (opposite stem side) of squash so it will lay flat on cutting board. Cut through the stem all the way down so squash is cut into two equal halves. Use a grapefruit spoon to scoop out seeds.
- Place squash halves on baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add garlic cloves (with the skins still intact) to tray and roast in preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.
- When squash is cool enough to handle, use a large spoon to scoop out flesh into a large bowl. Squish the ends of garlic cloves to push out the pulp into the bowl. Use a potato masher to mix the garlic into the squash and mash into a uniform puree. Then add the cinnamon, cumin, cayenne and salt. Mash again until everything is well incorporated.
- Garnish with fresh herbs or scallions, as desired.
- Store mashed squash in the fridge in a glass container with tight fitting lid for up to 5 days.
- Mashed squash can be gently reheated in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.