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. 
Quinoa

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


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

Description

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!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

Inspired by Whole Living, November 2011

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

Keywords: Stuffed Acorn Squash, Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe, Roasted Acorn Squash

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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30 Comments

  1. I adore squash and how been testing out all the different kinds I can find at Meijer. Not sure what is my favorite yet…but acorn is right up there! Looks amazing as always!

  2. Thanks, Sonia! I think we’re going to have this tonight! I see some grated parm on top of the quinoa in my future….Lisa in Indy

    1. Wonderful – this would be a great option! We tried to make the recipe as simple as possible when we created it (though when I wrote it out it seemed like more steps than we actually did)! Let us know how it goes!

  3. I did something very similar for dinner the other night! But instead of walnuts, I toasted the squash seeds in balsamic (the chicken was also marinated in a balsamic dressing) and topped the quinoa (which wasn’t stuffed in the squash) with the toasted seeds, it was delicious and a good tie-in for the meal.

  4. This is a really nice recipe. On the strength of it, I took some time to browse through your earlier entries. I’m so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I’ll definitely be back. I hope you both have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

  5. I have a daughter who went away to college and came back a vegetarian. I want to make something for her at Thanksgiving…is this recipe something I can make the day before and reheat?

    1. Crazy college is always messing with the brains of today’s youth! :)

      Technically, you could make it the day before – but we have to admit that the leftovers weren’t nearly as delicious as the meal was fresh.

      If it helps, you could roast the squash at a wide oven temperature – if it needs to share space. Just roast it until the the squash is tender and easily pierced with a fork.

      Be careful – it’s pretty delish – you may end up passing on the turkey so that you can have some squash. :)

  6. This is exactly what I was looking to make with the squash and quinoa I got at the farmers market this weekend! Looks amazing, can’t wait to try it!

  7. Just made your stuffed acorn squash recipe. Delicious. I love the sweet and savory combination. Thanks for the recipe.

  8. Oh my goodness… This makes my mouth water. Literally! Looks SOOOO good!

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen acorn squash here in Sweden, but maybe I can substitute it for butternut squash and still stay on the same proverbial ball field…?
    I’m hoping so, and I’m gonna try it. I’m gonna have to. Soon!! :D

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Yes, I think that would work! Someone commented on our Facebook page that they made it with butternut squash and it worked out well. You may need to bake it longer than the acorn, depending on its size – let us know how it works out!

    I’m sad that you don’t get to experience the joys of acorn squash in Sweden — it is my new favorite squash! But there are many other great things about living in Sweden (I visited several years ago and loved it!) :)

  10. This looks delicious. I’m going to make it this week. I’ve never made acorn squash before and was just wondering if you’re supposed to eat the skin?

      1. Thanks! I made this today and it was absolutely delicious. My husband and I both loved it!! And we did eat the skin.

  11. 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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