Is this stuffed acorn squash pretty or what? I’m really excited to share this recipe with you. Roasted acorn squash halves topped with herbed quinoa make a delicious holiday-worthy main dish. It’s the perfect option if you’re serving vegetarian and gluten-free eaters.
This recipe is simple enough to put together on a relaxed weeknight, too. Pour yourself a glass of wine and let’s make some stuffed squash!
This recipe requires a few steps, but none of them are difficult. You can make the quinoa mixture while the squash is in the oven. Then, stuff the squash and bake until the quinoa turns golden and develops delicious little crispy bits on top.
The filling steals the show in this recipe. It features cranberry-studded quinoa and two kinds of cheese, one creamy and one melty. Chopped parsley and green onion offer lots of irresistible fresh flavor, and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) contribute some savory crunch.
How to Make Stuffed Acorn Squash
I treat my acorn squash the same as I do spaghetti squash—rubbed lightly with olive oil and baked cut-side down so the edges develop some delicious caramelization. Acorn squash bakes up even faster, in as little as 35 minutes.
Then, I stuffed the squash with a modified version of my stuffed sweet potatoes in Love Real Food (page 144). This time, I stirred dried cranberries into the hot quinoa to give them a chance to plump up. I also added some Parmesan for structure and extra flavor, and baked the squash again after stuffing it.
I love how the herbed quinoa mixture turns golden in the oven and develops an almost panko-like, crisp texture on top. It’s so good and contrasts beautifully with the tender squash beneath.
Watch How to Make Stuffed Acorn Squash
Chickpeas are Optional
I purposefully omitted the chickpeas from the original stuffing recipe. As written, you should have exactly enough filling to stuff four medium squash halves.
If you’re using particularly large acorn squash or wanting to up the protein content of this meal, you can stir one can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained) into the quinoa mixture as described in the recipe notes.
You can easily make this recipe dairy free or vegan—check the recipe notes for suggestions!
My favorite green salad would be the perfect complement to this stuffed squash. It features fresh apple, which pairs beautifully with acorn squash, and a few of the same ingredients—toasted pepitas, dried cranberries and goat cheese. If you make both recipes at once, you’ll use up one standard four-ounce package of goat cheese.
Another beautiful salad option would be my pomegranate and pear green salad with ginger dressing.
Looking for more holiday-worthy vegetarian main dishes and sides? Check out my Thanksgiving recipe roundup for more ideas.
Please let me know how this recipe turns out for you in the comments! I hope it’s a big hit at your dinner table.
Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Main dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
This vegetarian stuffed acorn squash recipe is beautiful and delicious! The cheesy quinoa filling develops an irresistible crispy top in the oven. Make it for your holiday dinner or serve it on a relaxed weeknight at home. Recipe yields 4 stuffed squash halves.
- 2 medium acorn squash
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
- ¼ cup chopped green onion
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
- 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup crumbled goat cheese or feta
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
- To prepare the squash, use a sharp chef’s knife to slice through it from the tip to the stem. I find it easiest to pierce the squash in the center along a depression line, then cut through the tip, and finish by slicing through the top portion just next to the stem. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits inside, and discard those pieces.
- Place the squash halves cut side up on the parchment-lined pan. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the squash, and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Rub the oil into the cut sides of the squash, then turn them over so the cut sides are against the pan. Bake until the squash flesh is easily pierced through by a fork, about 30 to 45 minutes. Leave the oven on.
- Meanwhile, cook the quinoa: In a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until all of the water is absorbed, 12 to 18 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cranberries. Cover, and let the mixture steam for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
- In a medium skillet, toast the pepitas over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the pepitas are turning golden on the edges and making little popping noises, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Pour the fluffed quinoa mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Add the toasted pepitas, chopped green onion, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.
- If the mixture is very hot, let it cool for a few minutes before adding the Parmesan cheese and goat cheese. Gently stir the mixture to combine.
- Turn the cooked squash halves over so the cut sides are facing up. Divide the mixture evenly between the squash halves with a large spoon. Return the squash to the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the cheesy quinoa is turning golden on top.
- Sprinkle the stuffed squash with the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, and serve warm.
Squash filling adapted from the stuffed sweet potatoes in my cookbook, Love Real Food (page 144).
Change it up: You can add more protein to this dish by stirring 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas), into the quinoa mixture. You may have some of the mixture leftover—it’s a great quinoa salad on its own.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Omit both varieties of cheese. You might want to add chickpeas (see above) to fill out the stuffing mixture. Top the baked squash with dollops of vegan sour cream, and you could even finish it off with a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan.
Hi! This looks awesome. Is this not a make ahead recipe? I don’t see any of your notes mentioning it so thinking its a no, sadly.:(
Do you have any recommendations for make ahead/ freeze veggie side dishes for thanksgiving???
Thank you in advance! we love your recipes!
Hi Dana, I don’t think this would work well frozen. You could try and prep the stuffing and the squash a head of time. Then, stuff & bake day of. Soups tend to freeze well, so you could try that as a freeze ahead option for Thanksgiving.
WOW! So delicious. I made this last night and enjoyed everythng about it. I did not have cranberries so I made it a bit more savory and added onions and more garlic. I sent the recipe to all of my friends who like to eat delicious veggie food. Thank you!!!
You’re welcome, Rebecca! I appreciate your feedback.
Thank you for this! It was delicious! I added some chick peas and a little more pepitas (because I love them) and swapped out pomegranate seeds for the cranberries as it was what I had on hand.
Will definitely make again.
p.s. meat eater husband loved it as well
I am not going to give this a star rating because I am pretty sure that I already have done so at some point.
This is one of our favorite recipes that you have shared. I have never made it stuffed, though. I always make it unstuffed and with butternut squash. I just roast the cubed butternut squash and put the stuffing over top of it before putting it back in the oven. This last time I added black chickpeas that I cooked in the instant pot and used dried cherries instead of dried cranberries.
This would make a great side for Thanksgiving.
Looking forward to trying this. A suggestion, cut the acorn squash through the middle, the resulting scalloped edge makes it even more festive.
I’ve run out of quinoa (tbh never been much of a fan…) so I’m just using rice & crumbled, pan-seared & marinated tofu instead. So far, it tastes really promising! (My absolute favorite soy protein is tempeh, though so at some point I’m sure there’ll be an iteration of that inside or alongside the squash!)
And really, I’ve never been (I thought) a squash lover, but I ended up w two really nice acorn squash(es?) that my neighbor grew, & I’m having the most fun with them! They’re good on their own w just evoo & brown sugar, but then you stuff them?!! That’s a game-changer!
There are so many delicious directions to take w these that I know I’ll be revisiting this recipe again soon. Such a happy, comforting blank-canvas ingredient! (& then stuffed w even more blank-canvas proteins—damn! What a creative adventure—I’m a happy cook today! Thanks for the inspiration!
I’m glad you were able to make this with what you had on hand! I appreciate your review.
I’ve made this recipe “Stuffed Acorn Squash “ and it is absolutely delicious!! Thank you so much. I wish I’d have taken a picture but didn’t think of it. Thanks again.
You’re welcome, Rosemary! I appreciate your review.
I made this for dinner tonight. I halved the recipe, as it’s just me and 4 servings are too much. It was super easy to make and looks lovely on the plate. I thought it was delicious. The nuts (I used toasted walnuts) and goat cheese really brought it to life. I wonder if this can be made with lentils instead of chick peas for added protein. This recipe is definitely going to be part of my regular rotation. Leftovers for lunch tomorrow. My office mates are gonna be SO jealous!
Tried this recipe for a vegetarian friend who is joining us for Thanksgiving Dinner. It was very delicious and think when I make it for my friend I might add a little sage.
I would happily eat this myself!
Made for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for vegitarian friend as a main course. Haven’t even tasted it yet but know I will love it!!!
This really hit the spot in terms of filling, yummy flavors for fall. Perfect vegan dinner without the dairy additions.
I did add chickpeas as suggested because I figured I should add more protein, but the combination of textures ended up being way too much for my pregnant sensitivities, so I ended up eating around them.
Very yum! Will make it again (maybe with vegan Parm next time!)
Hi Kate. I love this recipe and have made it several times. I want to make it for a friend, but am curious if you have a suggested alternative to the quinoa? My friend cannot eat quinoa without stomach issues.
Hi Dana, you can try brown rice instead. Let me know what you think!
This was lovely with a big salad. Thank you
You’re welcome, Annalise! I appreciate your review.
This is awesome, I’m serving it for Thanksgiving as a side for non-vegans and main for vegans. I use vegan feta and parm (Follow Your Heart makes both) so missing nothing! If I’m out of quinoa I’ve used other grains, like farro or even just rice. When I want to make it really hearty – like I will for T-giving- I skip the cranberries (not a fan) and pan-fry a couple links of vegan sausage, like Beyond Sausage, with casing removed and broken up during cooking, and add it to the quinoa mixture. SO good….. I wish more chefs/restaurants would get on board with vegan as a legit option, not just a salad menu entry to say they serve something. Thanks for your recipes!
I’m glad this has made it to your holiday table, Kelly! I appreciate your review.
I loved this recipe. I only had 1 squash so I halved the recipe. I used the same ingredients as listed, using goat cheese instead of feta.
Personally, even though I really liked the final result, I think I am more in love with the stuffing as a cold salad even without baking it.
That’s great to hear, Essess! I appreciate your review.
Great to hear you enjoyed it, Beverly! I appreciate your review.
I just stuffed these and popped them back in the oven. I am so excited. (I may also have scarfed the leftover stuffing.) I think this is the second time I’ve made this awesome recipe.
I subbed walnuts for pepitas (the grocery store was out). I did add the chickpeas.
Thanks, Kate, for this all-star recipe.
You’re welcome, Scarlett! I appreciate your review.
Just made this for Thanksgiving for my vegetarian daughter. I made some small changes: I added some rosemary, apples and walnuts to this recipe, as I didn’t have the pumpkin seeds. We loved it! It was terrific and my daughter LOVED it! I can see it becoming a family staple next year!
Made this today for lunch. It was truly delicious and would make it again without hesitation. Fantastic combination of sweet, crunchy and cheesy, what could be better?
I made this for thanksgiving and it was delicious!! no matter how much i rinse quinoa, it upsets my stomach. I used couscous instead but otherwise followed the recipe. I already want to eat this again.
Wonderful to hear, Heather! I appreciate your review.
Made this for Thanksgiving. Absolutely DELICIOUS!! Will definitely make again. Quinoa mixture is great on its own as well. Do these freeze well??
Hi! I haven’t tried to freeze it so I can’t say for sure. Sorry!
We had this for Thanksgiving. Except for leaving out the onions, as my son doesn’t like those, I followed the recipe. The filling was so delicious! Will make again.
Great to hear!
This recipe is FANtastic! I reduced the parmesan and cranberries a little because I have blood sugar issues (and I added some black beans instead of the chickpeas) AND it was so so good.
I just want to add that so many of your recipes have become regular favourites in our house including your vegetarian chili, sweet potato mash) and your black bean brownies (I replace some of the sugar with stevia ;)) and I just keep finding more and more great recipes to try! Thank you so so much for continually providing healthy, accessible recipes for all of us!
yum! Haven’t baked the final product yet but just ate some of the filling with some arugula and its amazing! Cant wait to eat the baked acorn!
Definite winner here! thank you
Absolutely lovely! My partner and I thoroughly enjoyed this recipe. Paired it with a simple salad and called it dinner. Thanks for the recipe that will now be in the rotation
That’s great to hear, Vanessa! I appreciate your review.
Delicious as written.
Thank you for your review, C!
This was so fantastic. A huge hit. Will definitely be making this again and again even though the 1 squash cost $6.00. My only changes were I added chopped fresh spinach instead of the parsley and I added chic peas. Just wish I could have stuffed all the filling in the squash but not to worry I will use it in a salad tomorrow. I used feta cheese but maybe next time I`ll try goat cheese as it will probably give it a bit more of a creamy texture. Again, a perfect dish!!!!!!!!!
Wonderful to hear, Lori! Thank you for your review.