Stuffed acorn squash is a deliciously nutritious meal that's cozy to enjoy in late fall and winter. My zesty stuffed acorn squash recipe is a favorite in our household, filled with wholesome brown rice, lean ground beef seasoned with warming spices, cherry tomatoes, black beans, pumpkin seeds, plus a sprinkle of sharp white cheddar!
Acorn Squash Stuffed With Zesty Ingredients
While we often think of acorn squash as an autumn staple, it's actually typically available in our markets year-round, and makes for a truly healthy dinner option anytime when paired with a few other creative ingredients.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy acorn squash is to cut it open and hollow it out, then roast it and stuff it with a zesty filling with lots of flavorful spices—very hearty and satisfying!
My stuffed acorn squash recipe includes a healthy mixture of lean ground beef seasoned with cumin, a sprinkle of cinnamon and cayenne for kick, plus a kiss of orange zest, along with black beans, juicy cherry tomatoes, a sprinkle of pumpkins seeds and a little sharp white cheddar.
It's such a warming and satisfying pick for a cold and cozy late fall or winter dinner!
My Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe
Because acorn squash can be a bit hard to cut through, it can seem a little intimidating to work with, but I have a couple of tips on how I prefer to cut it before I roast and stuff it with my mouthwatering filling...
I hold the squash horizontally on a cutting board so that the stem end is on my left, and the slightly pointy end is on my right.
I take a large, sharp knife, and cut just enough of that pointy tip off to create a more flat bottom.
Then, I flip the squash around and cut off just the stem portion to create another flat surface, which helps the squash to sit evenly on a plate once prepared. I take care not to cut too far as to get into the hollow part of the squash.
Still holding the acorn squash horizontally, I place my knife in the center, and using a kitchen towel for extra leverage, I place the towel over my knife and push down quite hard until my knife makes its way through.
If it doesn't go completely through, I give the squash a firm thud against the cutting board with my knife still in it (as you would with a coconut), and this always cuts/splits it the rest of the way for me.
I then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits inside—voila!
Here's a sneak peek at my stuffed acorn squash recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To begin, I cut open and clean out my acorn squash.
- I season the cut sides and roast for roughly 35 minutes, until tender.
- While the acorn squash roasts, I prepare my zesty filling, and set it aside.
- Once the acorn squash is roasted and tender, I spoon into their centers a generous amount of the beef and rice filling, top with cheese.
- I bake the stuffed squash for a few moments more just until the cheese is melted.
- To finish, I top with green onion, and dig in!
Stuffed Acorn Squash
by Ingrid Beer
This colorful stuffed acorn squash is filled with brown rice, lean ground beef, tomatoes, black beans and warming spices!
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 327 calories per serving
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
- 2 acorn squash
- Olive oil
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- ¼ onion, finely diced
- ¼ pound extra lean ground beef (93/7)
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Pinch cinnamon
- ¾ cup cooked brown rice
- ½ cup black beans
- ¼ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped, divided use
- 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
- ¼ teaspoon orange zest
- ¼ cup finely shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 green onion, chopped, for garnish
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of the ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
- Prepare the acorn squash by cutting off the bottom “point” to create a flat surface (don't take too much off), and also cut the stem part off to create another flat surface, again taking care to not cut too much off. Next, cut the squash in half width-wise, in the center, creating 4 halves.
- Scoop the seeds and stringy bits out, drizzle a little bit of olive oil into each of the 4 halves, and add a couple of pinches of salt and pepper to each half.
- Place each squash half onto the baking sheet with the cavity facing down, and roast for roughly 35 minutes, or until the flesh is fork tender. Remove from the oven, and allow the squash to cool slightly until they can be handled. Leave the oven on.
- While the squash roasts, cook the ground beef by placing a medium-size non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and drizzling in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the onion, and saute for about 2 minute.
- Next, add in the ground beef and break it up with a spoon/spatula into small crumble. Once the beef has slightly browned, add in a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, the garlic, the cumin, the cayenne and the cinnamon, and stir to combine.
- Allow the beef to finish browning, then turn the heat off, and turn the seasoned beef mixture out into a bowl.
- Next, add to the beef the cooked brown rice, the black beans, the quartered cherry tomatoes, the chopped cilantro, the sunflower seeds and the orange zest, and combine the ingredients very well. Add another pinch of salt if needed, and set the mixture aside for a moment, keeping warm.
- Once the squash is cool enough to handle, spoon equal portions of the beef/rice mixture into the cavity of each squash half, sprinkle over the top about 1 tablespoon of the sharp cheddar cheese. Place the stuffed acorn squash back onto the baking sheet and into the oven to bake for an additional few minutes just until the cheese melts, then enjoy.
Tips & Tidbits for Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe:
- Medium-large acorn squash: Because each squash is meant to feed two people, I like to use larger acorn squash—it has a larger cavity to hold the filling.
- Roast cut-side down: I typically always roast my acorn squash cut-side down on the baking sheet. Baking it in that way creates some steam in the cavity as the squash roasts, which helps it stay moist and become tender. Simply rub some oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper into each cavity then place it cut-side down onto your baking sheet to roast.
- Brown rice, white rice, or quinoa: This recipe calls for brown rice, but you can certainly substitute white rice (jasmine or basmati are delicious!), or even quinoa, barley, or couscous—your choice!
- Ground beef, or your preferred protein: Lean ground beef is my pick for this stuffed acorn squash recipe, but you can use turkey, chicken, or even spicy sausage.
- Vegetarian stuffed acorn squash: This recipe is super easy to make vegetarian or vegan! Just leave out the meat altogether, or substitute ground soy, tofu, tempeh, or another vegetarian option. You can even omit the cheese to make it vegan.
Hungry for more cozy recipes like this? Check out my Stuffed Eggplant, my Eggplant Involtini with Beef, my Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Spinach, my Butternut Squash Casserole, or my Spaghetti Squash with Sauteed Veggies!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2013, and has been updated with even more love!