Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash combines crunchy pecans, tart apples, fresh herbs, and tangy dried cranberries with earthy quinoa and wild rice for a healthy and hearty dish that’s full of the flavors of fall. This wild rice stuffed acorn squash makes the perfect Autumn worthy dish for Thanksgiving or any chilly day.
Stuffed acorn squash makes a delicious meal that’s packed with harvest flavors that is quite filling. For more fall favorites try Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes, these are vegan and made with a secret ingredient. Or make this family favorite, scrumptious Brown Sugar Carrots, spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with brown sugar. This side dish is an absolute must have on any holiday table!
Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash
I am in disbelief that this year is almost over. I swear we were just ringing in the new year and wishing 2020 a fond, (extremely fond) farewell. Now, all the big holidays are coming up again and this year will soon be coming to a close. Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday, how can it not be with all of that food. And it’s right around the corner!
Most of our Thanksgiving dishes are heavy and full of calories, but this wild rice squash is quite the opposite. It’s a healthy dish that can be made as a side or a main and is packed with nutritious ingredients. Delicious, earthy wild rice and quinoa get cozy with crisp, ripe apples, buttery pecans, sweet celery, and my favorite ingredient, tart cranberries. All served up in an adorable acorn squash bowl! What more could you ask for?
Don’t tell anyone, but I actually throw in extra cranberries. The sweet but tart dried cranberries really balance out the plant-like flavors of the rest of the ingredients. You could also use dried cherries here, but may not get the same amount of sweetness.
Vegan Acorn Squash Recipe
If I were to describe what fall tastes like, it would probably be this dish, well, this and pumpkin pie spice, of course. I mean this actually tastes like Autumn in your mouth. So, if you were ever curious, lol.
This is an upscale meal that really is pretty simple to create and will greatly impress your guests. It comes out of the oven looking super fancy. And for any one who doesn’t eat turkey, the addition of the protein-rich quinoa in this hearty recipe makes it a perfect alternative for those who don’t eat turkey.
This recipe makes enough for either 3 acorn squash plus some of the stuffing left over or 4 large acorn squash. The stuffing on its own makes a great side dish, so I love it when I have some extra. My baking sheet only holds 3 squash, so if you want to make 4 you may need to use 2 baking sheets.
Can This Acorn Squash be Prepared Ahead of Time
This acorn squash recipe can somewhat be made ahead of time. The wild rice filling can be made up to 3 days in advance, however, it’s best if you prepare the acorn squash on the same day that you will be serving it.
How to Eat Stuffed Acorn Squash?
I say grab a fork and dig right in! What I really like to do is pull some of the squash flesh off and mix it in with the wild rice, quinoa mixture for the perfect bite. You get a little bit of everything that way.
My 9-year-old loves this squash, but she is not super picky. My 12-year-old liked the squash but not the filling. He was not thrilled with this one. So if you have picky eaters, they may not like this one so much.
Can you Eat Acorn Squash Skin?
You can indeed eat the skin of an acorn squash. Once it’s been roasted in the oven, the outside of the squash becomes quite tender and is perfectly safe for you to eat. The skin actually contains a lot of the fruits (yes, acorn squash is technically a fruit) vitamins and minerals.
Can you Eat Acorn Squash Seeds?
You can eat the seeds of an acorn squash and they are pretty nutritious. They are a great source of iron and protein and are high in magnesium. With a spoon, scoop the seeds out of the acorn squash and put into a bowl. Pull the seeds out of the stringy pulp and rinse them off in a colander. Place on a baking sheet and salt if desired. Bake them up. Here is a great way to make them!
How to Cut an Acorn Squash in Half?
Cutting an acorn squash can be a little tricky because their exterior is a bit harder. There are other ways to cut the squash but this is how I like to cut it.
Step 1: After washing the acorn squash set it on a cutting board.
Step 2: Place the squash upside down on its top, we are cutting it in half lengthwise, stem side to bottom. If you have a stem you will need to cut along one of the lines on the side of the squash.
Step 3: Hold the acorn squash firmly with one hand, making sure to keep your fingers curled under so you don’t cut them.
Step 4: With a sharp knife, press the blade into the bottom of the squash. Once it breaks through, rock the knife back and forth until you cut all the way through. If you have a stem, just cut next to it but not through it. Pull the knife out and pull the rest of the squash apart with your hands. To get a pretty flower shape, the squash can also be cut in half across widthwise. Just make sure to hold it tight, curl your fingers, and cut across the lines.
Why Rinse Quinoa?
Quinoa has a natural coating on it called saponin that dissuades animals in the wild from eating it. So when you wash the quinoa, you are washing off that toxin which can taste soapy or bitter. Some people are less sensitive to the bitter flavor and can get away with not washing the quinoa. I definitely need it rinsed and don’t really want to eat those toxins anyway.
How to Rinse Quinoa?
The method I like to use the most for washing quinoa is to add it into a bowl with water, swishing it around. Dump it into a fine mesh strainer, rinse it. Then put back in the bowl again with more water and repeat the process until the water is pretty clear. Most packaging says to put the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and just run water over it, I still end up with bitter quinoa if I rinse it that way.
Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash Ingredients
- Oil: This is needed to sauté the vegetables and fruits. I like to use olive oil.
- Onion: I use a large yellow onion. You could also substitute a couple shallots in.
- Celery: Fresh, crunchy celery, you will need 2 stalks.
- Apple: I use Granny Smith in this recipe because I like their tartness. Gala or Pink Lady apples could also be used.
- Garlic: You can adjust the garlic levels to your liking. I used 4 large garlic cloves, but you can add less or more depending on how much you love garlic.
- Thyme: I use fresh thyme but if you are unable to get your hands on any, you can use 1 teaspoon of dried.
- Rosemary: I use fresh rosemary, or use dried just use 1/4 teaspoon instead.
- Salt: I like kosher or sea salt.
- Pepper: Freshly ground pepper.
- Vegetable Broth: I like to use organic broth adds, so that is what I use.
- Wild Rice: Use your favorite brand of wild rice.
- Quinoa: Use your favorite brand of quinoa.
- Cranberries: I use dried cranberries, if you are unable to find them you can use raisins or dried cherries.
- Pecans: I use raw pecans, but you can use your favorite kind or toast the raw pecans.
- Parsley: Fresh parsley works best but if you don’t have it use
- Sage: I use rubbed sagest ground sage would also work.
- Maple Syrup: Use real maple syrup not the fake pancake syrup. If you don’t have real maple syrup you can just omit it or add brown sugar or honey in its place.
- Acorn Squash: You will need 3-4 acorn squash. If you use 3 squash, you should have around 2 cups of stuffing left over depending on how full you stuff your squash. If you use 4 squash, you may have a little stuffing left over. I love cooking my acorn squash in air fryer to make this recipe even quicker, try it here.
How to Make Stuffed Acorn Squash
Although this recipe may look overly complicated, it’s really pretty simple. The recipe card below will have exact directions and ingredient amounts.
- Prep baking sheet. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Start the stuffing. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions and celery until translucent and soft, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in garlic, apples, salt, and thyme, cook for 2 minutes. Pour in broth and bring up to a boil. Stir in the wild rice and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover with a lid and simmer for 35 minutes, until tender.
- Prep the squash. Wash acorn squash and cut them in half lengthwise (detailed instructions are above). Scoop out the seeds. Brush some oil on the squash (if you like it’s not necessary) and place face up on baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Or cook acorn squash in an air fryer.
- Finish the stuffing. Once wild rice is done cooking add in the rest of the vegetable broth and the quinoa. Cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Stir in the cranberries, pecans, sage, and parsley. Add more salt if needed.
- Stuff the squash. Pull the squash out of the oven once they are fork tender. Spoon the stuffing into the open cavity of the squash.
Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash Tips
- Use different nuts. Use chopped up walnuts instead of the pecans. Walnuts are the closest to pecans in texture, but you could also try chopping up some hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, or brazil nuts.
- Toast the nuts. If you like you can toast the nuts before using them in this recipe.
- Wash quinoa. Make sure to wash the quinoa really well or else you will end up with a bitter flavor.
- Air fryer acorn squash. Instead of baking the acorn squash in oven try cooking acorn squash in air fryer instead. It cooks a lot faster than baking it.
- Not enough liquid. If too much of the broth cooks off while cooking the wild rice or the quinoa, just add a little more broth.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What does acorn squash look like? I think acorn squash is the cutest squash there is. It is green with yellow spotted areas or mostly orange in color with ridges on its skin. It is shaped kind of like an acorn, which is where it obviously gets its name. But, when you cut it in half lengthwise it is heart-shaped, but if you cut it the other direction it looks like a flower.
- What does acorn squash taste like? Acorn squash has a light and buttery taste. It is usually described as a little nutty. The texture is soft, but not too squishy, and kind of fibrous.
- What is acorn squash good for? Acorn squash can be eaten on its own or used in other recipes. I especially like it in recipes like this where it gets stuffed.
- Is acorn squash a winter squash? Yes, acorn squash is categorized as a winter squash because that is when it used to only grow and be available in the winter. Now you can find it year round.
Stuffed Acorn Squash Storage Instructions
- How to Refrigerate Acorn Squash: Let the acorn squash cool and put in a glass container or BPA-free airtight plastic container or zipper bag. It should last about 4 days in the fridge.
- How to Freeze Acorn Squash: Let the squash cool off completely before putting into an airtight glass, BPA-free freezer-safe bag or freezer-safe plastic container. Make sure to label with the recipe name and date. The should last about 2-3 months in the freezer.
- How to Thaw Acorn Squash: Thaw the frozen squash in the refrigerator.
- How to Reheat Acorn Squash: Reheat cold squash at 350°F for 15-20 minutes until heated through. You can also heat in the microwave for a few minutes at a time until heated all the way through.
Try these other veggie recipes!
- How to Bake Spaghetti Squash
- Zucchini and Yellow Squash in Air Fryer
- Salt and Vinegar Smashed Potatoes
- Baked Whole Sweet Potatoes
- Parmesan Asparagus
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Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus more for oiling squash
- 1 large yellow onion
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large apple peeled, cut up
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves fresh, minced
- 3 3/4 cups vegetable broth divided
- 1 cup wild rice uncooked
- 3 large acorn squash
- 1/2 cup quinoa uncooked, rinsed well
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup pecans raw
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon sage
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions and celery until translucent and soft, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in garlic, apples, salt, pepper, and thyme, cook for 2 minutes. Pour in 1 3/4 cups of broth and bring up to a boil. Stir in the wild rice and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover with a lid and simmer for 35 minutes, until tender.
- Wash acorn squash and cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Brush some oil on the squash (optional) and place face up on baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Or cook acorn squash in the air fryer.
- Once wild rice is done cooking add in 2 cups of the vegetable broth and the quinoa. Cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Stir in the cranberries, pecans, sage, maple syrup and parsley. Add more salt if needed.
- Pull the squash out of the oven once they are fork tender. Spoon the stuffing into the open cavity of the squash.
- Use chopped up walnuts instead of the pecans. Walnuts are the closest to pecans in texture, but you could also try chopping up some hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, or brazil nuts.
- If you like you can toast the nuts before using them in this recipe.
- Make sure to wash the quinoa really well or else you will end up with a bitter flavor.
- Instead of baking the acorn squash in oven try cooking acorn squash in air fryer instead. It cooks a lot faster than baking it.
- If too much of the broth cooks off while cooking the wild rice or the quinoa, just add a little more broth.
Did you make this recipe?
Please let me know how it turned out!