Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Browned Butter is one the easiest and most rewarding ways to prep this often overlooked butternut cousin. Mild acorn squash easily accommodates a variety of flavor profiles, but it really shines in this oven-roasted recipe tossed with a sweet-and-savory combination of maple browned butter, sea salt, and fresh sage.
Roasted acorn squash is one of my favorite seasonal side dish recipes. It’s great for weeknight dinners because it cooks quickly and there’s no need to peel it. (Three cheers for edible skin!) However, it’s also a lovely addition to more upgraded holiday spreads too.
You know how I’m always talking about cauliflower being a “flavor sponge?” Well, acorn squash is kind of like that. But more like a “flavor canvas.” You cover it with just about anything, stick it on any plate, and it’ll fit in.
The flavor profile of acorn squash is mild, so you’ll need to reach beyond olive oil, salt, and pepper to make it shine. Now, I’m absolutely particular to sweeter flavors with winter varieties (as opposed to savory pairings for zucchini or yellow squash), but I find roasted acorn squash with brown sugar a bit cloying.
If the “candied yam” vibe isn’t your thing either, then I promise this healthy baked acorn squash recipe will still satisfy any level of sweet tooth. Browned butter, maple syrup, and fresh sage are my go-to combination for a sweet-and-savory finish that is the very definition of homemade gourmet.
Acorn Squash Varieties
The most common form of acorn squash you’ll find at most grocery stores is mostly green hued with spots of orange. You might also find white acorn squash! For these images I used golden acorn squash (aptly named for its uniformly orange coloring) from my local co-op, which aren’t common in chain stores, but equally tasty.
Feel free to use any variety of acorn squash you can get your hands on. Fresh is best, since acorn squash is one of the most perishable winter squash types. When purchasing, select squash that are 1-3 pounds, feel “heavy”, and have dull (unwaxed) skin.
How to Cut Acorn Squash
Preparing this oddly shaped winter squash might seem intimidating but, pinky promise, it’s actually pretty easy. A combination of a sharp knife, melon baller, and a healthy dose of moxie will get the job done.
First things first – wash that squash! Acorn squash skin is edible (and delicious), which means you’ll keep the skin intact. Run the squash under warm water and remove any residual dirt or grime with your fingers. Dry thoroughly with a paper or kitchen towel – slippery squash skin is dangerous when paired with a sharp knife.
- Cut. Lay squash on a flat, even cutting board. Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice from top (stem end) to bottom (root end) along one of the grooves (for extra stability).
- Scoop. Use a melon baller to remove seeds and membranes. The sharper edge does a terrific job of scraping and scooping. If you don’t have a melon baller, you can also use a large, heavy duty spoon.
- Slice. Lay squash cut side down on your cutting board. Slice into 1″ half-moon shapes, widthwise.
How to Make Maple Browned Butter
This simple maple browned butter is a heavenly flavor pairing with roasted acorn squash. Browned butter is extremely simple to make, but the resulting flavor elevates any dish to gourmet status – that’s my kinda home cooking!
- Melt two tablespoons of butter in a small (1-2 quart) pot over medium heat, whisking frequently.
- Once it melts, stop whisking, but watch the butter closely – as it cooks, the butter will foam, and then brown specs will form on the bottom of the pan. (See above right image.) The liquid should be golden brown, and the aroma will be very fragrant and nutty.
- Immediately transfer the browned butter to a measuring cup to stop cooking – it can go from browned to burnt quickly. Whisk in maple syrup to combine.
How to Make Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Browned Butter
A sweet-and-savory combination of maple browned butter, sea salt, and fresh sage makes these roasted acorn squash slices shine. Baking acorn squash in the oven yields tender slightly caramelized flesh. The nutty edible skin cuts way down on prep time too!
- Heat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Arrange acorn squash slices on the baking sheet in a single layer, leaving space in-between each piece.
- Drizzle maple browned butter on squash, then rub it into the skin and flesh using clean hands.
- Sprinkle with sea salt, then transfer to the oven.
- Roast 20-25 minutes, flipping the slices once halfway through. The squash is done when the flesh is fork tender (literally, stick a fork it in to test) and the skin is crispy and starting to brown.
- Remove squash from the oven and dust with fresh chopped sage.
Roasted acorn squash is packed with fiber, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C – which means it makes a heck of a nutritional contribution to a delightful vegetarian dinner!
I like to pair roasted acorn squash with risotto for Meatless Monday’s or with roasted chicken and rice for Sunday dinner. It’s a terrific option for holiday meals too, especially in lieu of heavier, sugar-laden casseroles or mashes.
More Healthy Winter Squash Recipes
- Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Creamy Maple Dressing
- Sausage and Veggie Stuffed Acorn Squash
- White Bean Ragout with Butternut Squash
- Baked Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Fritters
- Honeynut Squash Rice Pilaf
- Butternut Squash Galette with Caramelized Onions
Did you make this Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Browned Butter? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 1-2 Quart Pot
- 2 medium acorn squash, 1-3 pounds each
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp sea or kosher salt
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped sage
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make the browned butter. Place butter in a 1-2 quart pot over medium high heat. Cook until it melts, then foams, whisking frequently. Continue to cook until brown specs form in the bottom of the pot, 3-4 minutes. The color will turn golden brown and smell nutty. Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a measuring cup to stop the cooking process. Add the maple syrup and whisk to combine. Set aside to cool slightly while you cut the squash.
- Prepare the acorn squash. Halve, then scoop out the seeds. Lay the squash cut side down and slice into 1” half moons. Arrange the acorn squash slices onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle the squash with the maple browned butter, then rub evenly into each piece using your clean hands. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast 20-25 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until the flesh is fork tender and the skin is crispy. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sage. Serve immediately.
- Wash the squash before slicing, as the skin is edible.
- Watch the browned butter carefully, as it can go from browned to burnt quickly.
This looks delicious…