A Thanksgiving Winner: Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Syrup, Butter, and Cayenne


acorn squash with butter maple syrup and cayenne

Fall is the best season when it comes to food. There’s a reason why Thanksgiving dinner recipes are more iconic and beloved than any other holiday: they’re delicious, hearty, and include pie. Here’s a recipe that features a scrumptious fall food icon that takes only a few minutes to prepare.

Types of Squashes

Summer squash

This kind of squash is harvested before it fully matures, which makes the skin is tender and filled with flavor. It doesn’t take a lot of seasoning or complicating cooking methods to make this variety of squash into a delicious dish.

  1. Zucchini squash – This is a popular low-carb alternative to noodles, but it’s also tasty in soup, stir-fries, and roasts.
  2. Yellow squash – It’s rich in potassium and can be prepared in almost any way: sautéed, grilled, baked, or in casseroles.
  3. Pattypan squash – This is also known as “patty pan” and is small in size, but don’t be deceived; this squash is dense with nutrients like vitamin C, folate, and manganese.

Winter squash

This category of squash has a thicker, tougher rind that protects it from cold weather. It’s also chock-full of nutrients like vitamin A (as beta carotene), vitamin C, and fiber. The flavor is usually sweet and creamy that roasts and mashes beautifully.

  1. Acorn squash – This squash is featured in today’s recipe and it is filled with vitamins and magnesium. In this recipe, we slice it in half and roast it, but it’s also delicious in soup.
  2. Butternut squash – It is probably the most popular squash with its bright orange color, and earthy-sweet flavor. Butternut squash is full of antioxidants and is tasty in soup or roasted.
  3. Spaghetti squash – Like zucchini, spaghetti squash is a popular low-carb pasta alternative. It’s mild taste blends well with tomato sauce, pesto, and soup.
  4. Pumpkin – Pumpkin is most commonly enjoyed in pie, but it’s also tasty diced and roasted. It’s rich in antioxidants and beta carotene, which are important for eye health.
  5. Kabocha squash – This is also called Japanese pumpkin or buttercup squash. It’s high in antioxidants, vitamin C, and provitamin A. Its flavor is a cross between potatoes and pumpkins. It’s perfect in soup, roasted, boiled, or in tempura. [1]
  6. Delicata squash – This squash has a beautiful exterior with its green and white striped skin. Unlike most winter squashes, the delicata squash’s skin is edible. So there’s no need to peel it; simply roast it with olive oil, salt, and pepper. 
  7. Dumpling squash – This adorable squash is about the size of an apple with an edible rind. Try roasting it whole or cut it in half and stuff it with veggies to complement its mild but sweet flavor. [2]

Sweet Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Syrup and Cayenne Pepper

This recipe is so easy and delicious, and a beautiful addition to a Thanksgiving dinner. See the recipe alternatives below for directions on how to adapt butternut squash to this recipe. Feel free to substitute the acorn squash for another variety of winter squash, or try out the savory version below.


  • 1 1/2 pound acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or unsalted butter (coconut oil can work too!) 
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • sprinkle of salt, to taste
  • sprinkle of cinnamon, to taste
  • sprinkle of cayenne pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Wash and dry the squash, then carefully cut it in half lengthwise.
  3. With a spoon, scrape the seeds and pulp from each half; discard (or set aside to roast the seeds with seasoning.)
  4. Using a baking brush or spoon, spread coconut oil over each half, then glaze with the maple syrup, and sprinkle on the salt, cinnamon, and cayenne.
  5. Place the two halves on a lined cookie sheet or in a dish with the cut sides up.
  6. Bake for 50–60 minutes, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork or paring knife.

Recipe Notes

Acorn squashes usually range in size from 1 1/2 to 2 pounds. If your squash is larger or smaller, adjust the cooking time appropriately.

Recipe Alternatives:

Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash

This recipe is also delicious with butternut squash instead of acorn squash. Follow the recipe as usual, but adjust the roasting time to about 45 minutes. Ensure the squash is tender before removing the halves from the oven.

Savory Roasted Acorn Squash


  • 1 1/2 pound acorn squash 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • sprinkle of salt, to taste 
  • sprinkle of garlic powder, to taste 
  • sprinkle of fresh thyme, to taste
  • sprinkle of rosemary, to taste


Wash and cut the squash in half lengthwise like in the previous recipe. After scraping out the seeds and pulp, brush the olive oil on the halves and add the spices.

Roast the two halves on a lined cookie sheet or in a dish with the cut sides up for 50–60 minutes on 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork or paring knife.

  1. SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD. 8 Delicious Types of Squash. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/types-of-squash July 24, 2019
  2. Zoe Denenberg. 14 Types of Squash: Your Guide to Winter and Summer Squashes. https://www.southernliving.com/veggies/squash/how-to-fry-squash-salt-trick

The post A Thanksgiving Winner: Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Syrup, Butter, and Cayenne appeared first on The Hearty Soul.


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