Tender roasted acorn squash is stuffed to the brim with a delicious mixture of sausage, wild rice, apples, and fresh herbs, for a unique and hearty way to serve Acorn Squash. This Stuffed Acorn Squash makes a hearty side dish, delightful main course, or a show-stopping holiday side.
Why you will love this recipe
If you are looking for a recipe that will WOW--this recipe for Stuffed Acorn Squash will do just that!
It makes an impressive main course or a show-stopping side dish that is perfect for a weeknight dinner, yet worthy of a holiday meal.
Stuffed Acorn Squash is filled with all the best fall flavors! From the sweet and savory maple sausage to the chew from the wild rice, to the fresh bite from the apples, to the tartness from the cranberries, to the fresh burst of herbs, the stuffing is not lacking anything in flavor or texture. But when that stuffing is paired with the natural buttery goodness of acorn squash, this recipe hits a home run!
Notes on Ingredients
- Acorn Squash: Look for an acorn squash that has a smooth, dry rind with no cracks. The rind should also be green in color and the squash should feel heavier than it looks.
- Sausage: Maple breakfast sausage is best for this recipe, as the sweet and savory components of this maple sausage are a perfect complement to the squash. I use homemade maple breakfast sausage, but any brand will do.
- Celery and Onions: To add crunch and flavor, both onions and celery are added to this recipe.
- Rice: I love wild rice for the chew and heartiness, but you can feel free to use brown rice, white rice, quinoa, or farro. Just keep in mind that if change up the grain in this stuffing, you will need to follow the directions for cook time and amount of liquid needed for the grain you select. For example, white rice will cook up much faster than wild rice.
- Stock: Use chicken stock or vegetable broth to cook the rice. Either will add much more flavor from water.
- Wine: The wine is completely optional, but does add a nice tang and depth of flavor. If using, select a dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling.
- Optional: Fresh apples, dried cranberries, and fresh thyme, and sage not only pair together with the sausage, but they also add texture to the dish. You can feel free to omit one, or all, but the combination is really what sets this dish apart.
How to Make Stuffed Acorn Squash
Step One: Prepare Acorn Squash
It is important to pre-roast the acorn squash before filling it with the stuffing so that the acorn squash will get fork-tender without drying out the stuffing.
- Cut the acorn squashes in half and scoop out the seeds and any stringy flesh from the squash. It will not affect cook time or overall results if you cut the squash width-wise or lengthwise, it is simply a matter of personal preference here. Or whichever way the squash was easier for you to cut!!
- After seasoning with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, roast the squash in the oven on a lined sheet pan until just fork tender. PRO-TIP: Acorn Squash will caramelize as it cooks and it can be a mess to clean up! Line your sheet pan with parchment paper or foil for easier cleanup!
Step Two: Prepare Rice Filling
The stuffing for the acorn squash is really where the magic happens. The contrast in flavors and textures is key to really making this recipe memorable.
- Start the stuffing by browning the maple breakfast sausage with onions and celery.
- Once the sausage is browned add in wild rice, stock, dried cranberries, and seasonings--this is where the flavor is really developed!
- Simmer the rice, according the the package directions, until tender and then stir in the apples. I personally wait to add the apples until after the rice has cooked, to give the stuffing crunch. However, if you want softer apples just add to the rice when simmering.
Step Three: Stuff Acorn Squash
Once the stuffing is prepared and the squash is roasted, it is time to stuff the squash!
- Scoop the stuffing into the squash's cavity, genrously filling the squash. If you happen to have some of the stuffing leftover, just serve alongside the squash.
Step Four: Bake
- Return the squash back to the oven and bake just to warm through.
Modifications for Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Vegetarian/Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash: If you are looking to make Vegan Stuffed Squash, simply omit the ground sausage and use vegetable stock to cook the rice. You will still have enough filling for the squash without the added meat.
- Paleo/Low Carb Stuffed Acorn Squash: To make this dish Paleo friendly, omit the rice and the dried cranberries (they have added sugars!) Use 2 pounds of homemade breakfast sausage or your favorite maple-flavored sausage. Once the meat is browned up with the celery and onions, add in the herbs and chopped apples, and then stuff the squash. Bake as directed.
Store leftover Stuffed Squash for 3 days in the fridge. This recipe can also be prepared in advance and then frozen for up 3 months. Simply remove stuffed squash from the freezer, and bake covered at 350 degrees for one hour, or until warmed through.
More Squash Recipes
- Maple Roasted Acorn Squash
- Roasted Butternut Squash
- Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
- Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili
- Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
- Vegan Butternut Squash Rice Bowl
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Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 2 small acorn squash washed and dried
- ½ pound maple sausage
- ¼ cup onion minced
- 1 stalk celery finely chopped
- ¼ cup dry white wine optional
- 1 cup wild rice blend
- 1 ¾ cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 3 fresh sage leaves sliced in ribbons
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves leaves only
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- 1 firm apple chopped
- Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut squash in half. Remove and discard seeds and stringy flesh from squash. Drizzle the cavity of the squash with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place the squash cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or foil and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the flesh if fork tender. The variation in cooking time is due to the size of the acorn squash. It is best to test the squash with a fork to determine if it is done or not.
- Heat a dutch oven (or large skillet that can be covered) over medium high heat. Add in the sausage, and begin to brown. Once the fat begins to render off the sausage, add in the onion and celery. Saute until the sausage is browned and cooked through, being sure to break up the sausage into small chunks as it cooks. Drain off excess fat if desired and return pan to the heat.
- Stir in the rice and let toast for 30 seconds to one minute. If using, add in the white wine and simmer until the wine has mostly evaporated. Stir in the stock, salt, pepper, sage, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme leaves, and cranberries. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes, or until rice is tender. Remove from heat and stir in apples.
- Stuff the filling into the roasted acorn squash.
- Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes to warm everything through together.