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This quinoa stuffed acorn squash recipe features a filling of leeks, walnuts and fresh herbs. It’s vegan, gluten free, and a total crowd pleaser!

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Squashes are all over at the farmers markets this time of year in Indianapolis. I must admit that for years, the idea of winter squash never much intrigued me. It seemed hard and time consuming to prepare…and brought back faint childhood memories of being forced against my will to sample some each fall (just try it!). But today, stuffed acorn squash is one of Alex and my favorite fall treats! We love making acorn squash recipes, and this is one of our favorites: it’s got a fluffy quinoa stuffing flecked with leeks, walnuts, and fresh herbs.

Related: 10 Easy Quinoa Recipes

How to roast acorn squash

Roasting acorn squash is incredibly simple and it’s easy to tell when it’s finished cooking. Here’s how to roast acorn squash for this recipe:

  • Preheat to 425 degrees. A hot oven makes for the best roasting: it leaves the squash tender and almost caramelized.
  • Slice the squash in half: Halve the squash using a very sharp knife and then scoop out the seeds. Find a groove to cut along on one side of the stem (but don’t cut the stem itself). Then cut around the end and through the other side. Use your hands to pop it apart. Tip: To make it easier, you can microwave the squash for 3 minutes before cutting.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher saltThis is all you need for great seasoning. Place the squash onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray (parchment paper is a must! It makes for easy cleanup) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Roast until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. The exact timing depends on the squash, so make sure to check with a fork to see when it is tender. The edges will turn slightly brown in the oven and the squash should smell slightly nutty as well. 

How to make quinoa stuffed acorn squash

There are lots of great things about stuffed acorn squash: it has a sweet and nutty flavor, and it only takes about 35 minutes to roast! We love accenting sweet with savory flavors, so while there are many recipes for stuffed acorn squash that call for roasting with sugar or stuffing with dried fruit, we chose a savory combination with the squash.

The quinoa stuffing features sauteed leeks and a hefty dose of fresh sage and thyme to give it all the fall feelings. It’s perfect for fall and winter entertaining like a dinner party, Thanksgiving, or Christmas dinner. Here are the major steps for how to make this quinoa stuffed acorn squash:

  • Make a pot of quinoa.
  • Slice the leeks (see below), then saute them in olive oil until tender.
  • Add the walnuts, then the quinoa, fresh sage and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Stuff into the roasted acorn squash halves and serve.

Use this as a base recipe for endless variations of how to stuff squash! You can use your favorite whole grains and stuffing flavors. Try grains like rice, millet, farro, freekah or bulgur, and extras like cheese, pistachios, almonds, dried cranberries, or other herbs. The sky’s the limit!

How to Cut Leeks

How to cut leeks

Another skill in this recipe is cutting the leeks for the quinoa filling! If you’ve never cut a leek before, here is our tutorial. And make sure to watch this video to see it in action!

  1. Chop off the dark green stems of the leeks and the bottom root.
  2. Slice the leeks in half length-wise.
  3. Place each leek half cut-side down on the cutting board, then slice it into thin slices, resulting in half-moon shapes. You will likely notice dirt in between each layer of the leeks,
  4. Rinse the sliced leeks thoroughly in a colander, then shake them dry.

Looking for squash recipes?

Here are a few of our favorite squash recipes for all types of squash:

This quinoa stuffed acorn squash recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


This quinoa stuffed acorn squash recipe features a filling of leeks, walnuts and fresh herbs. It’s vegan, gluten free, and a total crowd pleaser!


  • 2 large acorn squash (2 1/2 pounds each) or 4 small acorn squash
  • 3 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked quinoa (white, red, or mixed)
  • 1 pound leeks
  • ¼ cup fresh sage
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • Fresh ground pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Cut each squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Drizzle ½ tablespoon olive oil over the cut side and season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Place the halves cut side down on a baking sheet, and roast for about 35 minutes, until slightly browned and easily pierced with a fork. (The time will be less for smaller squashes.)
  3. Cook the quinoa following the instructions found at Master Recipe: Perfect Quinoa, using 1 ½ cups quinoa and 2 ¼ cups water. Or, use our Instant Pot quinoa method. While the quinoa cooks, complete Step 2 and 3.
  4. Chop the leeks (watch the video!): Chop off the dark green stems of the leeks, then slice them in half length-wise. Place each leek half cut-side down on the cutting board, then chop it into thin half-moon shapes. Rinse thoroughly in a colander to remove any dirt. Remove the leaves of the thyme, and chop the sage leaves.
  5. If not already chopped, roughly chop the walnuts.
  6. In a skillet, heat 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil. Add the leeks and sauté about 4 minutes, just before they begin to brown.
  7. In a small skillet, toast the walnuts over low heat, until slightly browned, watching so they don’t burn.
  8. When the quinoa is done, stir in the sauteed leeks. Then add the fresh sage, thyme, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Taste, and add more salt or pepper to taste, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  9. When the squash are done, spoon quinoa generously into each half. Top with walnuts and serve immediately.


Inspired by Whole Living, November 2011

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Michael Cohn says:

    We had a bounty of acorn squashes in our home garden this year, so we came to your site looking for delicious recipes. This is the second of your acorn squash recipes that we’ve tried, and it’s fantastic. The herbs made the house smell like fall, and the leeks added a nice savory flavor. We’re not big fans of walnuts, so we added pecans on top instead. The Thanksgiving-ish flavors inspired us to throw in some craisins and apples sauteed with maple syrup (from our favorite stuffing recipe). It all came together nicely, and we’ll be having this recipe again!

    Next time, I might throw the herbs in with the leeks as they cook, even if only for a minute or two. The strong, and sometimes bitter, flavor of fresh sage can be a bit overwhelming. Also, I think I’d cut back the quinoa to 1c uncooked. As it is, the recipe made a lot of leftover stuffing. It’s not a bad problem to have, though. The stuffing is delicious, and we’ve got plenty of squashes to cook this season.

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