Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Walnuts

With a smooth, buttery texture this recipe for acorn squash with brown sugar and walnuts is a simple and flavorful holiday side dish. The nutty filling adds even more flavor, taking this classic Thanksgiving fruit to a whole new level.

Two halves of an acorn squash hollowed out and filled with nuts.

Buttery Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

If you’ve never tried making squash at home or around the holidays, you’ve been missing out. This classic Thanksgiving fruit is so easy to prepare. Basically, all you have to do is throw together a handful of ingredients, pop the squash in the oven, and wait for the timer to ding.

Roasted acorn squash sits right on the border between sweet and savory. It’s super buttery, with a nutty crunch from the walnuts that perfectly compliments the taste and texture of the squash. Once you taste it, it’s sure to earn a spot on your Thanksgiving table every year.

Roasted acorn squash with walnuts and brown sugar on a platter.

What You’ll Need

A handful of fresh ingredients make this holiday side dish super healthy. Scroll down to find the exact amounts you’ll need in the recipe card.

  • Acorn Squash: Cut them in half and scoop the seeds out.
  • Salt and Fresh Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Brown Sugar
  • Butter
  • Walnuts: Chopped.
  • Fresh Chives: Chop these up and add them for garnish.
Halved acorn squashes on a baking sheet filled with butter, brown sugar and walnuts.

How to Make Baked Acorn Squash With Brown Sugar and Walnuts

You’ll have a hard time finding a Thanksgiving side dish that’s easier than this one. Just set aside 5 minutes for prep, and your oven will be free again in under an hour.

  1. Prep the Squash: Cut your squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and place the halves on a baking sheet with the cut sides up. Coat them in olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over the tops. Pop them in the oven at 400°F for around 45 minutes, or until they get that buttery texture and caramelized coating.
  2. Add the Filling: Once the squash has roasted, it’s time to add that sweet, buttery, nutty filling! Mix butter, brown sugar, and a tablespoon or so of chopped walnuts together and add them to the pocket where the seeds used to be in each half of the acorn squash.
  3. Finish Baking and Serve: Stick the squash back into the oven for another 8-10 minutes, or until the butter melts and the walnuts get nice and toasty. Either mash all the ingredients together, or slice the squashes up into 8 equal pieces to serve.

Can I Make This in Advance?

While the buttery texture and caramelization are best right after the squash is roasted, there’s a lot of prep you can do ahead of time. You can cut the squash and remove the seeds up to 24 hours before you plan to use it. Feel free to mix together the filling in advance too. When you’re ready, just stick the squash in the oven and let it do its thing.

Roasted Acorn Squash cut in half and filled with nuts and brown sugar.

Tips for Success

Roasting squash couldn’t be easier! Make sure to check out these tips so your squash comes out amazing every time.

  • Make Slicing Easier: If you’re having trouble cutting your fruit in half, pierce the squash with a fork several times on each side and then microwave it for 5 minutes. The squash will be much easier to cut through afterward.
  • Keep the Cut Side Up: Make sure you roast your squash with the cut side facing up. If the cut side is pressed against the baking sheet, it won’t form the beautifully caramelized coating.
  • Final Prep: It’s up to you whether you want to mash the squash and mix the fillings in or leave the structure as-is. I like to mix everything together first so that I get some of each flavor in every bite.
Acorn squash roasted and filled with brown sugar, walnuts and butter.

Variation Ideas

It’s so easy to put your own spin on this simple recipe. Here are a few suggestions to get the ball rolling.

  • Switch Up the Nuts: Pecans, hazelnuts, pine nuts, almonds and pistachios all make great replacements for the walnuts in this recipe.
  • Replace the Brown Sugar: If you feel like switching it up, you really can’t go wrong with sweeteners in this recipe. Honey, maple syrup, and molasses all come with additional health benefits, or you can use white sugar or a sugar substitute.
  • Add Fresh Herbs: Feel free to throw in some fresh sage, rosemary or parsley instead of chives. You can really customize this side dish to your liking. It’s just a matter of roasting the squash and filling it with good stuff.
Roasted Acorn Squash on a platter with chives for garnish.

Serving Suggestions

I love to serve this side dish alongside my Thanksgiving Turkey. It fits in just as well during the winter holidays paired with a sweet, glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. But you don’t have to wait for a special occasion. This roasted squash goes just as well with a simple chicken or steak dinner as it does with your holiday meal!

Storing and Reheating Extras

Don’t worry if you have half a squash left over. You can wrap each half individually in foil and pop it in the fridge for up to 2 days. When you reheat them, leave the foil where it is so that it traps the moisture and keeps the squash from drying out. Stick them in the oven at 400°F until they’ve just warmed through.

Acorn squash filled with brown sugar and walnuts.

Can I Freeze Roasted Acorn Squash?

If you want to freeze leftover squash, make sure you mash it up first. It won’t be very appetizing if you try to eat it plain after defrosting it, but it makes a great soup base or pie filling. You can also freeze fresh, uncooked squash for meal prep by cutting it into cubes. Either way, it’s best if you defrost and use it within 3 months.

More Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish Ideas

Acorn squash roasted and filled with brown sugar, walnuts and butter.

Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Walnuts

  • Author: Dan
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 1x

With a smooth, buttery texture and a golden crust of caramelization, Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Walnuts is a simple and flavorful holiday side dish. The nutty filling adds even more flavor, bringing this classic Thanksgiving fruit to a whole new level.



  • 4 acorn squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out
  • Kosher salt, fresh black pepper and olive oil for drizzling
  • 8 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • Fresh chives for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut each acorn squash in half and place flesh side up on a baking sheet. Season the squash with salt and pepper and then drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Roast the squash for 45 minutes, then remove the squash from the oven. Use a fork to see if the flesh is tender and starting to caramelize. If the squash is still tough, place back into the oven for another 10 minutes.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar to each squash half. Divide the chopped nuts between the squash (you might have some extra that you can use for garnish) and then place in the oven for 7-8 minutes.
  4. Garnish with chopped chives and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • To Store: Wrap each half individually in foil and keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.
  • To Reheat: Leave the foil on to trap moisture and roast in the oven at 400°F until just warmed through.
  • To Freeze: Freeze fresh cubed acorn squash or mashed roasted acorn squash up to 3 months.
  • Category: Side Dishes
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

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