The best vegetarian stuffed acorn squash? It’s roasted until tender and draped in a fall-scented stuffing of rice, pecans, and herbs.

Stuffed acorn squash

Ready for the best stuffed acorn squash recipe? Alex and I have made many acorn squash recipes in our day. And this one is our absolute favorite. The creamy squash is roasted until tender, then it’s draped in a toasted pecan rice stuffing that makes your kitchen smell like a fall paradise! You know that scent of onions, celery and leeks cooking in butter? Well, this recipe delivers it in spades. It’s vegetarian, easily made vegan, and naturally gluten-free, so it works for all sorts of eaters. Even better: it’s seriously crowd pleasing. Everyone we’ve served it to becomes a believer…and then immediately asks for the recipe.

Got an Instant Pot? Try our Instant Pot Acorn Squash.

Vegan acorn squash recipes

Tips on how to cut acorn squash

The hardest part about stuffed acorn squash? Cutting it! Acorn squash are infamously tough and can be difficult to cut open. To avoid fear of this small and mighty squash, here’s a little crash course on how to cut it:

  • Microwave it first (optional, but effective). If you’d like, you can microwave your acorn squash for about 3 minutes prior to cutting it. This softens the skin and flesh so that it’s easier to pierce. It’s not required, but it’s helpful, especially if you’re nervous about your knife skills.
  • Use a large chef’s knife. It’s time for the big guns! Pull out your largest, sharpest knife for the job.
  • Find a groove and cut half first. Don’t try to cut through the stem! Find a groove on one side of the squash, then put your knife into that and cut about halfway around the squash. Curl back your fingers and keep them out of the way.
  • Cut the other side, then pop it apart. Cut around the tip of the squash and then the squash around to cut up the other side in the same way. Then pull it apart with your hands! Voila.

At this point, you can leave the squash as a half, or cut it into wedges, then scoop out the seeds. We like to serve our acorn squash cut into wedges because it makes it easier to eat.

How to make stuffed acorn squash

How to roast acorn squash

Once you’ve mastered how to cut the acorn squash, roasting it is a breeze! The method is the same whether you choose to leave it in halves, or cut it into wedges as we’ve shown here.

  • Preheat to 450 degrees. A hot oven makes for the best roasting: it leaves the squash tender and almost caramelized.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. This is all you need for great seasoning. Place the squash cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • 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.

Did you know you can eat the skin too? After roasting, the skin becomes more tender and is easier to eat. You can use these instructions anytime you want to make roasted acorn squash. But if you want stuffed acorn squash…well, keep reading!

vegetarian acorn squash recipe

How to make stuffed acorn squash

After cutting and roasting the squash (above), what’s left but the stuffing? As we noted above, if you’d like a more traditional “stuffed” look, you can leave the acorn squash in halves. However, we like to cut it into wedges as shown above. It’s easier to eat — and serve too. Sometimes a half of a squash can really overwhelm a plate, so wedges make portioning easier.

Now: this rice and pecan stuffing truly makes your kitchen smell like fall paradise! The onion, celery, garlic, and herbs combine into something heavenly. Add to that the crunch and rich flavor of buttery pecans, and you’ll find yourself sneaking bites of the stuffing alone. This recipe is perfect for a cozy fall dinner, or even a vegetarian Thanksgiving main dish.

Here are the basic steps for how to make stuffed acorn squash (see the full recipe below):

  • Roast the squash (see above).
  • Make the rice: Add the rice to a pot and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes until tender. Then stir in dried sage and salt.
  • Prepare the stuffing: Make the stuffing while you wait for the rice to cook: saute onion, celery, and garlic, add thyme and oregano. When the rice is done, stir it in along with the toasted pecans and butter (or olive oil for vegan).
  • Serve: When the squash is done, spoon the stuffing over the squash edges and serve.
vegetarian squash recipes

More vegan & vegetarian acorn squash recipes

And that’s it! We hope you enjoy this stuffed acorn squash as much as our family does. And if you’re looking for more fall inspiration, here are a few more vegetarian and vegan acorn squash recipes:

Want to try delicata squash? Start with this Chipotle Black Bean Stuffed Delicata Squash.

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant based, and refined sugar free.

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Vegetarian stuffed acorn squash, Instant Pot acorn squash

Stuffed Acorn Squash


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

This delicious vegetarian stuffed acorn squash is roasted and stuffed with a hearty stuffing, featuring whole grain bread, veggies and herbs.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup white basmati rice*
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 small acorn squash*
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or substitute olive oil or coconut oil for vegan)
  • ¾ cup raw pecan pieces
  • Feta or goat cheese crumbles, optional

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450°F.
  2. Cook the rice: Add rice and 2 cups water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the heat and allow to steam with the cover on for 5 minutes. Stir in the dried sage and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt.
  3. Roast the squash: Meanwhile, chop each of the acorn squash in half and then into quarters. (You can also leave it in halves if you prefer that look.) Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the squash on the sheet and drizzle with olive oil on the cut sides, then sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Turn cut side down on the sheet and roast until tender, about 40 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prep the veggies for the stuffing: Dice the onion and celery. Mince the garlic.
  5. Toast the pecans: In a dry skillet over low heat, toast the pecans for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.
  6. Make the stuffing: Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and celery 5 to 7 minutes until tender and translucent. Add the garlic, thyme, and oregano, and saute for an additional 2 minutes until fragrant. When the rice is cooked, stir it into the skillet. Stir in ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, the fresh ground black pepper, butter, and pecans.
  7. Serve: Spoon the stuffing over the squash quarters and serve immediately.

Notes

*Or, use brown long grain rice and cook it according to these instructions: How to Cook Brown Rice or Brown Rice in Instant Pot

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Stuffed Squash, Stuffed Acorn Squash, Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash, Vegetarian, Vegan, Thanksgiving, Holiday

Looking for fall recipes?

Looking for more plant forward fall recipes and squash recipes? Outside of this vegetarian stuffed acorn squash, here are some of our favorites:

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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11 Comments

  1. I love this, seriously. I am such a carb lover that stuffing is one of the things I get most excited for (because hardly ever is bread the main ingredient). However, I love the idea of putting it inside the squash- wonderful!

  2. The part of this article that says “you’ll find yourself sneaking bites of the stuffing alone” is no a joke! Many thanks for this recipe, I made it just as I was recovering from the flu and it gave me the boost I needed to go into work the next day. Instant favorite.

    I want to add that I grew up with rice making up 80% of what was shoveled into my face and let me tell you, this stuffing took me back. The first few spoonfuls fresh off the stove had me throwing expletives, Ramsay-style. Excited to try more of your recipes.

  3. We had a big squash harvest this year in our raised bed garden, so we came to acouplecooks’ web site to look for some ideas. This recipe was first up.

    Wow! This recipe delivered. The scent of celery and onion sizzling together makes for some kind of magic. Follow that with garlic, thyme, oregano, and pepper, and our stomachs were so ready to settle into the autumn spirit. It was rainy and cold outside, and the way that the squash steamed with every flavorful forkful was so satisfying.

    My wife said that this was the best acorn squash recipe that she’d ever tried. After we tried this recipe, she admitted that she hadn’t even been a fan of acorn squash, but this recipe made a believer out of her! We’ve been long-time followers of Sonja and Alex and several A Couple Cooks recipes have become family staples. This one will make a great addition to our fall and winter lineup. Thanks!

    The flavors in this one reminded us of Thanksgiving stuffing, so next time we’ll probably throw in some sauteed apples, craisins, and maybe some vegan bacon on top.

    A cooking note–the parchment paper that we’ve used (from Costco or Whole Foods) notes that its maximum temperature is 425 degrees. When we’ve tried baking hotter, the parchment browns. That’s maybe not a big deal, but going past 425 with parchment makes us worry that the parchment might catch fire. Not sure whether anyone else has this problem, or whether there is some more heat-resistant parchment paper out there?