This acorn squash recipe is a sweet and savory holiday side dish featuring roasted acorn squash. Toss with herbs and spices, then roast until tender. Finish the dish with pomegranate seeds, feta cheese, and toasted pumpkin seeds. Season with extra virgin olive oil and maple syrup.
Cade says that is the best side dish I’ve ever made. And that is saying something, because we have some great ones here on the blog (I’m thinking of you, homemade focaccia and gruyere sweet potato stacks!)! This acorn squash recipe is both Thanksgiving and Christmas worthy! You’re going to LOVE it!
Before You Begin…
You’ll want to start by toasting the pepitas (pumpkin seeds)! This adds such a delicious nutty flavor and crunchy texture.
Ingredients for Holiday Acorn Squash
Okay, this ingredients list is going to look a bit daunting at first glance, but don’t run away! Many of the ingredients are seasonings that you’ll already have. Here is what you will need:
For the Pepitas
- Pumpkin Seeds: also known as pepitas
- Olive Oil: helps toast the pumpkin seeds
- Seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Smoked Paprika, and Chili Powder
For the Squash
- Acorn Squash: If you’re not a fan of acorn squash, you can use butternut or honeynut.
- Pure Maple Syrup: You want the real deal here, no imitation pancake syrup!
- Orange: We will use the juice and zest for a pop of fresh citrus flavor.
- Butter: helps the acorn roast and get golden and caramelized
- Seasonings: Ground Cinnamon, Fresh Ginger, Smoked Paprika, and Cardamom Powder
- Pomegranate: You can extract the seeds yourself from a pomegranate (see section below) or just buy pomegranate seeds.
- Brown Sugar: adds sweetness and rich flavor
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: used to toast and crisp the sage leaves
- Sage Leaves: adds flavor and crunch
- Thyme: used as garnish for the squash and adds fresh herby flavor
- Kosher Salt: adds flavor
- Feta: You can use goat cheese instead or omit the cheese if you want.
The measurements for all the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.
How to Make Acorn Squash Video
What are Pomegranate Arils?
Pomegranate arils are the clear red seed pod in the pomegranate. They are tart and give you a nice pop of juice and flavor.
How to Seed a Pomegranate
This is the easiest way to extract the seeds from a pomegranate:
- Roll the fruit first to loosen the seeds.
- Score around the middle and tear it open into halves.
- PRO TIP: You can also score 4 lines from top to bottom to quarter the pomegranate.
- Hold each half over a bowl, seeds facing down and tap the skin with a wooden spoon, squeezing a little to release the seeds.
How to Make Holiday Acorn Squash
I am going to walk you through the step-by-step instructions for making each part of this sensational holiday side dish. It’s so simple but is going to wow all your holiday guests! Here are the basic steps:
- Toast: Your first step will be to toast the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet in the oven.
- Cut: Slice and prep the acorn squash for roasting.
- Sauce: Make the sauce for the acorn squash and spoon it over the top of the squash then sprinkle the squash with more brown sugar.
- Roast: Cook the squash and flip the slices halfway through roasting.
- Fry: While the squash is roasting, fry the sage leaves until crispy.
- Assemble: When the squash is finished, move it to a serving plate and top with the toasted pumpkin seeds, crispy sage, pomegranate seeds, feta and orange zest.
- Serve: Drizzle the sauce leftover on the roasting pan over the top of the squash, sprinkle with thyme and serve.
All of the instructions in full detail can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post. You can also print or save the recipe there.
How to Cut an Acorn Squash
Cutting an acorn squash, or any kind of squash, can be a little challenging. They are round and very hard. Let’s cut the acorn squash in a safe way!
Be sure you are using a sharp knife. Lay the squash on its side on a cutting board and place the knife in one of the furrows (the dip between two of the bumps). Keeping your finger tips tucked under while still holding the squash, firmly push down on the knife. You will feel the knife push through to the hollow center.
Slide the knife around the tip of the squash. Don’t try to cut through the stem. Once you have cut all the way around the acorn squash, set the knife down and pry open the squash with your fingertips. The stem will either crack or break away to one side of the squash.
Scoop out the seeds inside with a spoon and then lay the squash flat (flesh) side down and cut into 1/2 inch slices.
Can You Eat the Skin?
Yes, you can eat the skin of acorn squash. As the slices of squash roast, the skin becomes very tender and easily sliced and eaten with the squash.
How to Make Crispy Fried Sage Leaves
Heat a little olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat and then add the whole sage leaves. Flip them until they are crispy and then remove them to a plate lined with paper towels. Keep a close eye on it! It will crisp up quickly and you don’t want it to burn!
Pairs well with
Storing Acorn Squash
Holiday acorn squash should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 5 days. You can reheat it in the microwave or in the oven at 300 degrees until warmed through.
Ready to level up your holiday side dishes this year?!? Once you try this roasted holiday acorn squash recipe, it will become a regular for all your future holiday feasts! The flavors are festive and the colors are perfect for both Thanksgiving and Christmas!
Roasted Holiday Acorn Squash
For the Pumpkin Seeds
- 4 Tablespoons Pumpkin Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- Pinch Chili Powder, optional
For the Squash
- 2 Acorn Squash , halved, seeds removed, and cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 3 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup
- 1 Orange, for juice and zest
- 6 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Fresh Ginger , finely grated, peeled
- 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon Cardamom Powder
- Arils (seeds), from 1 pomegranate
- 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar, divided
- 4-6 Sage Leaves
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 Sprigs Thyme, plus thyme leaves for garnish
- Kosher Salt
- Feta , or goat cheese
For the Pumpkin Seeds
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the pumpkin seeds in a small bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Add the salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and the pinch of chili powder (if using) and toss to coat.4 Tablespoons Pumpkin Seeds, 1 teaspoon Olive Oil, 1/2 teaspoon Salt, 1/2 teaspoon Pepper, 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika, Pinch Chili Powder
- Spread on a baking pan and bake for 3 to 5 minutes until just slightly toasted. Remove from oven and set aside.
For the Squash
- Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash into half inch slices. Lay the squash slices on the cookie sheet.2 Acorn Squash
- Melt the butter in a small bowl, add 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, maple syrup, juice from the orange, cinnamon, ginger, smoked paprika, and cardamom. Stir to combine and spoon over the squash slices.3 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup, 1 Orange, 6 Tablespoons Butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon Fresh Ginger, 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika, 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar, 1/4 teaspoon Cardamom Powder
- Sprinkle the remaining 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar over the top.3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- Place the pan in the oven and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until fork tender. Flip them half way through roasting.
- Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium high heat with a dash of olive oil. Add the sage leaves and toss, until just slightly toasted. Watch carefully as they can burn quickly. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.4-6 Sage Leaves, 1 1/2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- When the squash is finished, place the squash on a serving plate. Drain the excess "sauce" left behind on the baking sheet in a small dish. Sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds, pomegranate arils, toasted sage leaves, orange zest, cheese and little salt and pepper.1 Orange, Arils (seeds), Kosher Salt, Feta
- Drizzle with the reserved "sauce" and a few thyme leaves and serve. (See note)3 Sprigs Thyme