For nights when you want your dinner to give you a hug: Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash. This recipe is unabashedly cozy, low carb, and packed with protein and vegetables. If you’re looking for a way to eat healthy without disrupting the wonderfully festive, cozy vibes that make this time of year special, this is the recipe for you.
Golden acorn squash that’s baked until caramelized and tender, then stuffed with a harvesty blend of Italian sausage (I use chicken sausage to keep the recipe on the lighter side), mushrooms, apples, warm spices, and herbs, this recipe is super filling, easy to make, and healthy too.
I finished the Italian sausage stuffed acorn squash with Parmesan cheese, which is nutty and becomes bubbly and crisp while the squash bakes. If you like, you can omit the cheese for a paleo sausage stuffed acorn squash. OR you can go the total opposite route and add extra cheese to the filling to make the recipe a little extra decadent.
Stuffed vegetables are one of my favorite ways to cook and eat nutritious dinners at home, using whatever vegetables are in season.
In the fall and winter that means stuffed winter squash. As with this Stuffed Butternut Squash, this Spaghetti Squash Lasagna, and this Instant Pot Acorn Squash (stuffed with wild rice and chickpeas), stuffed squash recipes are hearty, taste excellent leftover, and every forkful offers vitamins and nutrients.
In addition to being a stellar weeknight main, this sausage stuffed acorn squash with apples and mushrooms is special enough to serve as an extra hearty side at a holiday meal. (For a more standard sized acorn squash side dish, try these brown sugar and pecan Baked Acorn Squash Slices).
How to Make Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
Cozy up to a big plate of this easy, healthy acorn squash recipe. Here’s what you need to make it.
- Italian Sausage. Italian chicken or turkey sausage is one of my favorite ingredients to add loads of flavor to a recipe, while keeping it lean (my Italian Sausage Skillet, Sausage and Peppers, and Italian Sausage and Rice Casserole are a few other favorites). You can use sweet or spicy Italian sausage, depending upon you and your family’s preference. We use spicy. I like its counterpoint to the sweetness of the squash.
- Apples. The combination of apple and sausage is so tasty with acorn squash. The apples become nice and tender. I like to leave the peels on; you can’t taste them, and they provide a few extra nutrients.
- Mushrooms. Chopped finely, the mushrooms nearly disappear into the filling, leaving you only with an extra savory flavor. If you are cooking for non-mushroom fans, you can omit them for a still delicious, simple recipe for apple sausage stuffed acorn squash.
- Onion + Garlic. To up the savory factor and recipe complexity.
- Sage and/or Thyme. These two classic fresh herbs make the squash taste special. Don’t use dried. Fresh will give you the results with which you will be the most happy.
- Nutmeg and Allspice. Both are classic pairings with acorn squash. They make this apple sausage stuffed acorn squash recipe taste like home.
- Parmesan. For a nutty, extra Italian finish.
- Bake the squash: Cut the squash, and scoop out the seeds. Lay the halves cut-sides up on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes at 400 degrees F, until tender. Set aside.
- Prepare the filling: Brown the sausage in a large skillet. Add the vegetables, apple, salt, and spices. Stir until the vegetables are tender and the sausage is cooked through.
- Scoop out the squash flesh, leaving about 1/4-inch on all sides to act as a “wall”. Add the removed squash to the sausage mixture. Stir in the herbs and cheese.
- Mound the filling inside of the squash halves. Sprinkle extra cheese over the top, and bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes until hot and melty. Serve hot, and ENJOY!
What Does Acorn Squash Taste Like?
Acorn squash tastes mildly sweet and nutty. Its flavor is not as bold as other winter squash varieties, which makes it wonderful for stuffing with other ingredients.
If you haven’t had acorn squash before but enjoy other winter squash recipes, definitely give it a taste! It’s one of the easiest squashes to prepare, and it’s delicious too.
Is Acorn Squash Healthy?
YES! Acorn squash is healthy.
- Acorn squash low in calories.
- Acorn squash contains vitamins and nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium
How to Cut Acorn Squash
- The easiest way to cut acorn squash is from stem to end.
- Lay your squash on its side, and use a sharp chef’s knife to carefully make a cut on one side between two of the ridges. Keep pressure on the knife until you feel it reach the hollow center. If you feel your knife getting stuck, pull it out and start your cut again. Continue cutting on the same line, repositioning and flipping your squash over as needed, until you’ve cut all the way through around the bottom of the squash on both sides. Unless you’re using a very sharp chef’s knife, do not cut through the stem. Instead, lay your knife down, and grab the bottom end of the two halves, pulling them apart. The stem will stay on only one half, and you can leave it on for the roasting process.
- My Tip. I like to score the flesh first to make sure I can safely cut all the way through the squash. To score, use the sharp tip to make a series of incisions in the shape of a dotted line, then cut all the way through the dotted as directed above.
How to Store and Reheat Stuffed Acorn Squash
- To Store. Place in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Place stuffed acorn squash in a baking dish with a small amount of water in the bottom. Tent with foil, then rewarm in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until hot.
- To Freeze. Let the squash cool to room temperature. Place one half of stuffed squash into a quart size freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Put in the fridge until well chilled, and then transfer to the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To Reheat From Frozen. To reheat, remove a frozen squash half, and place it a in covered casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for and 45 to 50 minutes (from frozen). Add additional cheese as desired in the last 10 minutes of baking. You can also reheat the squash half in the microwave on high for 5 to 7 minutes.
- If you prefer, you can let the squash half thaw overnight in the refrigerator and rewarm according to the “To Reheat” directions above.
- Add a Grain. Stir 1 1/2 cups of a cooked whole grain into the filling prior to stuffing the squash. Sausage and rice stuffed acorn squash or farro and sausage stuffed acorn squash would both be wonderful. You can also mix the cooked filling with rice or farro after the squash is baked.
- Sausage Stuffed Butternut Squash. Follow this same recipe, but bake and stuff butternut squash halves instead. Note: you will need to adjust the baking time for the butternut squash halves, as it will need a bit longer (45 to 55 minutes) than the acorn squash.
- Paleo Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash. Omit the cheese; ensure you are using a paleo-friendly sausage.
- Stuffed Acorn Squash with Sausage, Apples, and Cranberries. Prior to stuffing the squash, stir 1/4 cup dried cranberries into the filling.
- Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash. Swap the sausage for a 15-ounce can of rinsed and drained white beans, such as cannellini or white kidney beans. Stir the beans into the filling right before stuffing the squash.
Dishes that Go Well with Acorn Squash
While this stuffed acorn squash is a delicious all-in-one meal, here are a few ideas of what you could serve with it:
- Vegetables.Add a green vegetable for greater nutritional variety. Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, or Roasted Butternut Squash would all be tasty.
- Salad. A fresh, healthy salad like this Brussels Sprouts Slaw or Winter Slaw would be delicious.
We enjoyed this apple, mushroom, and sausage stuffed acorn first as a hearty dinner, and the leftovers were perfect reheated the next day.
My other favorite way to eat this was to scoop out the filling, mix it with cooked rice and sautéed greens, then sprinkle it with extra cheese for an acorn squash “bowl” effect. However you enjoy it, this acorn squash recipe is sure to add some cozy warmth to your day.
Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
For The Squash:
For The Filling:
- 1 pound Italian chicken or turkey sausage about 2 links, casings removed, sweet or spicy (we use spicy)
- 8 ounces cremini baby bella mushrooms finely chopped
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 1 medium sweet-crisp apple cored and finely diced (peel off or on; I left it on)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage thyme, or a mix (plus additional for serving)
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese divided
- Bake the squash: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. With a sharp, sturdy chef’s knife, carefully cut the squash in half from stem to base. Scoop out and discard the stringy core and seeds. Arrange the halves cut-sides up on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush each half with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, until the edges begin to wrinkle and the flesh is fork-tender. Set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
- While the squash bakes, prepare the filling: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage. Brown the meat, breaking it apart into small pieces for 3 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, onion, apple, salt, pepper, nutmeg, allspice, and minced garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sausage is cooked through, the vegetables and apple are softened, have given up liquid, and the liquid has cooked off, about 8 additional minutes.
- When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out its flesh, leaving a wall all the way around that is about ¼-inch thick. Add the scooped squash to the pan with the sausage. Add the herbs and ¼ cup Parmesan. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired.
- Mound the filling inside of the hollowed squash halves. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the filling is nice and hot, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with additional fresh herbs as desired. Serve hot.
- TO STORE: Place in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Place stuffed acorn squash in a baking dish with a small amount of water in the bottom. Rewarm in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until hot.
- TO FREEZE: Place one half of cooked stuffed squash into a quart size freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Put in the fridge until well chilled, and then transfer to the freezer for up to 3 months.
- TO REHEAT FROM FROZEN: To reheat, remove a frozen squash half, and place it in a covered casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for and 45 to 50 minutes (from frozen). Add additional cheese as desired in the last 10 minutes of baking. You can also reheat the squash half in the microwave on high for 5 to 7 minutes.
- If you prefer, you can let the squash half thaw overnight in the refrigerator and rewarm according to the "To Reheat" directions above.
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