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STUFFED ACORN SQUASH WITH QUINOA

Stuffed Acorn Squash with quinoa, cranberry, chickpeas and pecan is the simplest recipe with minimal ingredients. It’s flavorful and full of texture, naturally vegan and ready in about 40 minutes.

top down view of a group of stuffed acorn squash with quinoa, cranberries and chickpeas.

I am in LOVE these stuffed acorn squashes, once halved and seeds removed, they become the cutest flower shaped squash bowls! They are bright, cheery and my new favorite way to cut and stuff acorn squash.

Full of fall flavor and color, these stuffed acorn squash are great for everyday dining and is an all-in-one meal. The only thing that might make it better is a nice light side salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

And if you’re entertaining a crowd, these make a fun and festive centerpiece for the holiday or buffet table! Serve with the holiday classics like green beans, pecan topped sweet potato casserole and simple Kale Date Salad.

So without further ado, let’s get to it!

top down view of ingredients used to make acorn squash with quinoa, cranberry, pecans and chickpeas.

Ingredients You’ll Need

This is everything you’ll need to make this stuffed acorn squash recipe, along with tips and substitution ideas.

  • Acorn Squash – Look for acorn squash that are uniform in size.
  • Quinoa – Use your favorite quinoa – white, tri-color or red.
  • Chickpeas – Rich in protein, chickpeas add heartiness. Feel free to omit them if you prefer.
  • Red Onion – Substitute the red onion with shallot for a slightly mellower onion flavor, use 1/4 cup finely diced. The onions are used raw, if you prefer throw them in with the quinoa while cooking.
  • Cranberries – Cranberries add a little tart and sweetness. I used a golden berry mix with dried cranberries, cherries, golden raisins and blueberries from Trader Joe’s and it was delicious! To keep this sugar free, look for unsweetened cranberries. And to keep it refined sugar-free, use organic dried fruits.
  • Pecans – Pecans have a unique, rich flavor that pairs well with the other ingredients. If you want to substitute for nut allergies, use pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
  • Sage – Use fresh or dried sage, just a hint is all you need.
  • Garlic Powder – No substitute, but if you don’t have it you’ll be fine. Just season well with salt and pepper.
  • Salt + Pepper – My favorite salt is pink mineral salt (affiliate link) which naturally contains essential minerals and trace elements the body needs. Season to taste with your favorite salt and pepper.

side by side photos showing the process of getting acorn squash ready for roasting.

How To Cut Acorn Squash in Half

Cutting acorn squash in half for roasting and stuffing is super easy and takes just a few steps. As mentioned above this is my new favorite way to cut squash for stuffing. Once the top and bottom are sliced off they stand up and are sturdy enough for stuffing.

  • Place squash on its side. Lay the acorn squash on it’s side, find the center and cut in half widthwise.
  • Cut off the ends. Turn the squash half on its side again and trim off the end, creating a flat bottom (above left). Be sure not to cut too much of the ends or your bowl will have a hole, cut just cut enough to trim it.
  • Remove the seeds. Using a sharp edge spoon or 1 tablespoon measure spoon, scrape around the inside of the squash removing the all seeds. Don’t throw the seeds away, you can roast the seeds for snacking!

How To Roast Acorn Squash

  • Preheat oven. Set the oven temp to 400 degrees. Prep a baking sheet (I used a jelly roll sheet) with parchment or silicone mat.
  • To roast: Place the acorn squash on baking sheet cut side up. Brush with oil (or maple syrup for oil free), season with salt and pepper (above right). Bake in the oven for 30 – 45 minutes, until fork tender (shown below). Cooking times will vary with how big your squash is. These smaller squashes took 30 minutes.

side angle view of a group of freshly roasted acorn squash on a baking sheet.

How To Make Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Now on to the good stuff – let’s stuff a squash!

  • While the acorn squash is roasting cook the quinoa. Once quinoa is done, let cool a few minutes, add the chickpeas, red onion, cranberries, salt & pepper. Taste for flavor. Add the pecans and toss again (below left). I like to add the pecans at the very end so they don’t get soften too much from the heat of the freshly cooked quinoa.
  • Stuff each cooked squash half with the quinoa mixture (below right). Place in the oven at 350 degrees to rewarm if needed.
  • Sprinkle each stuffed squash with a little chopped parsley before serving.

Just like that, you’re ready to dine on this healthy, easy as ever to make stuffed acorn squash!

top down view of bowl with a serving of kale and red cabbage slaw with things surrounded.

How To Store Leftovers

  • Refrigerator: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, making them great for weekly meal prep too!
  • Freezer: Place one half stuffed squash into a freezer safe quart size bag and remove as much air as possible. Place in the  refrigerator to chill completely and transfer to the freezer. Will last 2 – 3 months. Let thaw in the fridge before reheating.
  • Reheat: Warm in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes. They taste great at room temperature too.

Can Stuffed Acorn Squash Be Made In Advance?

Yes! You can make these quinoa stuffed squash bowls ahead and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve, in a covered container. For best presentation, I would not make more than 24 hours in advance. To reheat, place them in the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes or so, at 350 degrees F., until warmed through. You may even prefer to make the squash ahead and reheat, and make the quinoa fresh.

Serving Suggestions

top down view of a group of stuffed acorn squash with quinoa, cranberries and chickpeas on a baking sheet.

More Squash Recipes You’ll Love

If you try this stuffed acorn squash recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.

Print

STUFFED ACORN SQUASH WITH QUINOA

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash with cranberry, chickpeas and pecan is full of flavor, texture and ready in about 40 minutes! Naturally vegan and gluten free.

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Roast, Simmer
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 3 acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup dried quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 23 sage leaves, minced or 3/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 can (15oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (raisins or golden berry mix ok too)
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • mineral salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat.

Prep Squash: Lay the acorn squash on it’s side, find the center and cut in half widthwise. Turn the squash half on its side again and trim off the end, creating a flat bottom. Using a sharp edge spoon or 1 tablespoon measure spoon, scrape around the inside of the squash removing the all seeds.

Roast Squash: Place the acorn squash on baking sheet cut side up. Brush with oil (or maple syrup for oil free), season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Quinoa: In a medium size pot, add quinoa, sage, garlic powder and water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Once done, fluff with fork and let quinoa rest for 10 minutes.

Assemble quinoa stuffing: To the quinoa, add the chickpeas, red onion, cranberries, salt and pepper. Just before stuffing the squash, mix in the pecans.

Stuff Squash: Fill each squash half with quinoa stuffing. Top with optional chopped parsley for a little pop of color and fresh flavor. Place in the oven at 350 degrees to rewarm if needed.

Serves 6

Store: Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for up 4 – 5 days, in covered containers. To reheat, place them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Notes

If you don’t care for raw onions, add them to the quinoa while cooking to ‘deflame’ and soften them.

Feel free to adjust the amount of pecans and dried cranberries to suit your taste. You may like to add a little more.

Don’t throw the seeds away, you can roast the seeds for snacking!

Keywords: stuffed acorn squash recipe, quinoa stuffed acorn squash

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6 Comments

  1. Jeanett Chen says:

    Made as written, so delicious!

  2. I noticed your instructions say “preheat oven to 400” yet the squash needs to be baked at 425? Maybe the recipe needs to be adjusted :)

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Oops, goodness I needed to fix that long ago. My apologies for any confusion, it’s been updated to be at 400 degrees. Thank you so much for pointing it out!

  3. Debra Karabin says:

    Recipe looks lovely. I want to try it as I just bought an acorn squash. I was thinking about cooking the squash whole in crockpot, making it easier to cut when stuffing. Maybe til ALMOST done. What do you think?

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      You can certainly do that. I’ve never cooked an acorn squash in a slow cooker, but if you’re familiar with it go for it. Cooking until aldente sounds perfect, then you finish it off in the oven. Would love to know how it goes for you. Enjoy!

  4. The family loved these! Thanks for the great recipe!

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