Italian Stuffed Acorn Squash - easy, cheesy dinner recipe! (2024)

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This easy and healthy Lasagna Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe has the saucy, gooey goodness you enjoy from your favorite Italian comfort food, but it’s ready in about 30 minutes. The family will love the savory ground beef and sauce, plus three kinds of cheese in a veggie-packed and budget-friendly quick and easy dinner.

Love this recipe? Try stuffing your lasagna goodness inside a Cheesy Mozzarella Stuffed Meatloaf!

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Table of Contents

  • Cheesy Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe
  • Ingredients
  • About Acorn Squash
  • How to Roast Acorn Squash
  • How to Make Stuffed Acorn Squash
  • Tips for Success
  • Storing Leftovers
  • What to Serve with Stuffed Acorn Squash
  • Get the Recipe

Cheesy Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

For many people, the pasta is the comfort food element they love most about classic homemade lasagna. But if you are all about the sauce, meat, and cheese, this is the meal for you. And when you are craving that cheesy goodness but don’t have time to make all those layers, this is the perfect easy dinner for budy nights.

As a bonus, it’s budget-friendly, too. Acorn squash recipes can be a very frugal choice, especially in the fall and winter when it is in season. Ground beef recipes are also economical options, and the only other things you need are tomato sauce and cheese.

This Italian-inspired recipe has all that ground beef and ricotta and mozzarella cheese. But it is stuffed into roasted acorn squash for a bowl you can eat. So you get your protein and your veggies all in one simple dish. Plus, it’s absolutely delicious.

My family loves digging into is as one of our favorite cold weather meals!The kids think it’s fun to be able to eat their bowl, like this Turkey Chili in an Acorn Squash Bowl.

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Here’s a quick list of what you’ll need to you can make your grocery shopping list. The full amounts are listed in the recipe card at the bottom of the post. But keep reading for more helpful tips!

  • Acorn squash: You will need two that you cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Ground beef: I usually use 93% lean, but go with what you like best.
  • Onion: You’ll need half of a medium one, diced.
  • Tomato sauce: Use your favorite store bought or homemade marinara sauce, or simply a small 8 oz. can of sauce.
  • Ricotta cheese: Whole milk or part skim are both fine.
  • Mozzarella cheese: You’ll want it shredded, but for the best melting, I always recommend buying a block and shredding it yourself instead of buying pre-shredded cheese in a bag.
  • Parmesan cheese: Buy it grated or freshly grate it yourself. For the best flavor, try to get fresh parmesan and not the stuff in the green canister.
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About Acorn Squash

Before you make this stuffed squash recipe you have to start with roasting your acorn squash. But first, let’s talk about this delicous winter squash.

What does acorn squash taste like?

Acorn squash has a slightly sweet and mild flavor and an almost buttery texture. It is not as strong of a flavor as butternut squash or pumpkin, which means it pairs well with a wide variety of foods.

It is often roasted with warm spices and flavors like maple syrup and cinnamon or ginger. But it also contrasts nicely with the kick of chili or cayenne pepper. You’ll often see squash recipes with meats like chicken and pork. Sometimes it is even stuffed with Italian sausage.

And it can be served or stuffed with grains like wild rice or quinoa, sweet flavors like apples or dried cranberries, and earthy herbs such as sage and thyme. These options are perfect to serve alongside a Thanksgiving turkey.

However, in this recipe, that mild sweetness and creamy texture also pair well with the creaminess of the ricotta cheese, the rich flavors of tomato, oregano, garlic, and onion in the sauce, and the toasty flavors of the melted mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Is acorn squash gluten free?

Yes, acorn squash is gluten free, making this a great alternative with all the same flavors as a traditionalgluten free lasagna.

Is acorn squash a carb?

Acorn squash is definitely a higher carb veggie, so it may not fit into a keto or very low carb diet. However, compared to pasta, this is a lower-carb alternative to lasagna. In addition, these are natural carbs and sugars from the vegetable. This is definitely a better option for a good source of carbohydrates compared to processed foods and refined sugars.

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How to Roast Acorn Squash

How to cut acorn squash

Cut your squash. Be very careful when cutting acorn squash. Make sure to cut it on a stable surface, such as a large wooden cutting board with a damp kitchen towel underneath. This helps to prevent the cutting board from moving around. Using a very sharp knife, cut the squash in half from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds.

Roast the squash. After cutting your acorn squash, place the halves on a baking sheet and brush the insides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, flip them over, and bake cut side down at 400°F for about 20 minutes.

You can then proceed with the rest of this recipe. If you are not filling your squash and just eating it roasted, you may want to give it another 5 to 10 minutes in the oven with the cut side up. Trying giving it a sprinkle of your favorite dried herbs or spices, or a drizzle of maple syrup.

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Can you eat the skin of acorn squash?

After roasting, the skin of acorn squash typically becomes quite tender, so yes, you can eat it if you like. However, if you prefer not to eat the skin, the flesh does separate from the skin quite easily. That is why it is recommended to roast acorn squash with the skin on. Due to the thickness of the skin and the grooves, it is very difficult to peel before baking.

How to Make Stuffed Acorn Squash

Make the meat sauce. While the acorn squash roasts, heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and onions, plus a pinch of salt and pepper. Then saute, breaking up the ground beef while it is cooking until it is no longer pink. Stir in the tomato sauce, and adjust seasonings to taste.

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Stuff the squash. Remove the squash from the oven, flip each side over, and fill the squash halves with ricotta cheese and the meat sauce mixture. Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and pop the stuffed squash abck in the oven just until the cheese melts and browns slightly.

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Tips for Success

  • Be budget-friendly. While you can use a jar of marinara or make your own, a simple, inexpensive 8 oz. can of tomato sauce is all you need. There is just enough in the can and you won’t have leftovers from a jar to go to waste.
  • Save time. Take a few minutes to prep your squash, and while it is roasting, prepare the fillings.
  • Change the meat. Feel free to substitute the ground beef with ground chicken or turkey for a leaner option. You can also use ground pork or Italian sausage removed from its casings to add additional flavor.
  • Make it vegetarian. Alternatively, skip the meat altogether or add some chopped mushrooms or chickpeas for a vegetarian option.

Storing Leftovers

If wrapped or sealed well, your stuffed acorn squash can be refrigerated for 2 or 3 days. You can reheat it in the microwave for 2-4 minutes until heated through. Or pop it back in a 400°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until hot.

You can also freeze it for up to two months. Just be sure to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

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What to Serve with Stuffed Acorn Squash

You can take inspiration from your favorite Italian dinners for side dishes to serve with this meal.

  • Serve it with a simple salad drizzled with this Creamy Balsamic Healthy Salad Dressing Recipe, or try Caprese Zoodles Salad.
  • To add some green veggies, toss some roasted broccoli with parmesan cheese or balsamic roasted veggies in the oven along with the squash.
  • Make some Gluten Free Garlic Breadsticks to sop up the saucy stuffing. Or, for a low carb option, try Spinach Artichoke Cheesy Cauliflower Bread Sticks.
  • You can even serve it with a side of pasta, gluten free gnocchi, spaghetti squash, or zoodles.
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More stuffed vegetable recipes

    Italian Stuffed Acorn Squash - easy, cheesy dinner recipe! (16)

    Lasagna Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Roasted acorn squash filled with hearty ground beef and tomato sauce, plus three kinds of cheese is a veggie-packed dinner recipe inspired by your favorite Italian comfort food. Cheesy and delicious. Lower carb and gluten free.

    Prep: 15 minutes mins

    Cook: 35 minutes mins

    Total: 50 minutes mins


    • 2 small acorn squash cut in half and seeds removed
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
    • salt and pepper
    • 1/2 medium onion
    • 1 pound lean ground beef
    • 1 cup tomato sauce, plus additional for serving if desired (can use any type from a can or jar, or homemade)
    • 1 cup ricotta cheese
    • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 1 Tablespoon grated parmesan cheese


    • Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil; set aside.

    • Brush each squash cut half with ¼ teaspoon olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the squash cut side down until tender, about 20-25 minutes.

    • While the squash is baking, heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and ground beef, season with salt and pepper, brown the ground beef, breaking up as it cooks.

    • Darin any excess grease, then stir in the tomato sauce and cook until heated through.

    • Remove the squash from the oven and flip them over. Place a quarter cup of ricotta cheese in the bottom of each of the squash. Divide the meat mixture between the squash and top each with a quarter cup of mozzarella and about a teaspoon of parmesan cheese.

    • Return squash to the oven and baked for about another ten minutes until the squash is tender and the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

    Nutrition Facts

    Lasagna Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Amount Per Serving (0.5 squash)

    Calories 458Calories from Fat 180

    % Daily Value*

    Fat 20g31%

    Saturated Fat 11g55%

    Cholesterol 124mg41%

    Sodium 649mg27%

    Potassium 1448mg41%

    Carbohydrates 29g10%

    Fiber 4g16%

    Sugar 3g3%

    Protein 40g80%

    Vitamin A 1520IU30%

    Vitamin C 29mg35%

    Calcium 375mg38%

    Iron 5.2mg29%

    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

    Author: Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips

    Course: Main

    Cuisine: Italian

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    Italian Stuffed Acorn Squash - easy, cheesy dinner recipe! (2024)


    How do you cook Ina Garten acorn squash? ›

    Place 1/2 tablespoon butter and ½ tablespoon maple syrup in the cavity of each squash. Brush the cut sides with olive oil and sprinkle the squash with 3 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 40-60 minutes, depending on the size of the squash, until tender when pierced with a small knife.

    Does acorn squash need to be peeled before cooking? ›

    Good news: you don't need to peel acorn squash. Its hard, grooved skin softens significantly as it cooks, and it's edible, too. If you do want to remove the skin, wait until after you cook it, at which point it will peel right off.

    What food goes well with squash? ›

    Squash is sweet so I would pair it with something savory and herbaceous. I like the idea of a whole chicken roasted with plenty of garlic, rosemary and thyme, and a pan gravy made from the drippings. You also need something green. Green beans are popular but I really get excited about Brussels sprouts.

    Is acorn squash a laxative? ›

    Acorn squash is packed with both soluble and insoluble fiber. Though they have different functions in your body, both play important roles in digestive health. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stools while soluble fiber softens them, preventing constipation and supporting regular bowel movements ( 13 ).

    What does acorn squash do for the body? ›

    This squash has a lot of antioxidants, which can boost your immunity and help your body to fight off certain diseases. Acorn squash contains antioxidants like vitamin C that help strengthen bones and blood vessels. It also has vitamin A, which helps improve the health of your lungs, heart and other vital organs.

    Do you eat the skin of acorn squash? ›

    Next time you roast a squash like acorn, butternut or honeynut, try leaving the skins on and give them a nibble. Be sure to scrub the skin well, Joyce recommends, to remove any dirt or debris. The pleasantly chewy texture may just surprise you, plus you can never go wrong with more fiber.

    How does Gordon Ramsay cook butternut squash? ›

    In a large bowl mix the cubed squash, garlic cloves and ginger with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the spice mix. Season with salt and pepper and scatter in a single layer in a roasting tray. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes until tender all the way through.

    Is it OK to eat raw acorn squash? ›

    Skip eating most hard-skinned squash raw. "Hard skinned squash is difficult to eat raw," Marz says. "They are usually much larger in size, have a harder flesh, and are much more fibrous." Examples of hard-skinned squash that should not be eaten raw include: pumpkins, delicate, butternut, Hubbard, and acorn.

    How healthy is acorn squash? ›

    Acorn squash is rich in antioxidants, which can neutralize potentially harmful molecules called free radicals. These antioxidants can help to protect people against health issues like arthritis, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.

    Can dogs eat acorn squash? ›

    Klein explains that the best types of squash to feed your dog are butternut squash, pumpkin, zucchini, and acorn squash. In particular, zucchini is the squash most easily digested by dogs.

    Is squash good for a bad stomach? ›

    Below are some fluids that can help replenish water and electrolytes without causing further upset to the stomach: plain water. clear broths. diluted fruit juice or squash.

    What protein goes best with squash? ›

    Squash is a versatile, mild-tasting vegetable that can go well with many recipes. For example, squash goes with meats like poultry, beef and lamb. Try these recipes and pair them with one of the squash side dish recipes above: Paleo Chimichurri Chicken.

    What is the healthiest way to eat squash? ›

    Yellow squash can be eaten cooked or raw -- either way provides you with lots of nutrition. (Although you'll lose some of the water content when you cook the squash.) It's low-calorie, low-sugar, and its fiber and water content can help you stay fuller, longer.

    Can zucchini cross with acorn squash? ›

    Summer squash, pumpkins, gourds, and some types of winter squash belong to the same plant species, Cucurbita pepo. All varieties within this species may cross with one another. Thus, an acorn squash will cross-pollinate with a zucchini or a miniature gourd.

    When should I eat acorn squash? ›

    A ripe Acorn Squash is heavy for its size and has smooth, dull skin, and no soft spots. A good mix between green and orange coloring is desired. Avoid an Acorn Squash that has shiny skin, which indicates it was picked before full maturity, unless the producer has applied wax.

    Can you plant acorn squash and zucchini together? ›

    Zucchini is one of the three sister vegetables (beans, corn, and squash) meaning that they all grow well together. When planting zucchini and other squash, keep in mind that they are "heavy feeders" and require more nutrients than most plants.

    How do you eat acorn squash? ›

    (Eating the skin is a personal preference—but it is edible. Just be sure to wash and scrub well). Start by halving the squash through the stem to remove the seeds and stringy bits, using a sharp chef's knife and a stable work surface. From there, cut into wedges or chunks, slice, or leave as halves.

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