The main winter squashes I see sold in grocery stores - and interestingly from a pumpkin patch near me selling both edible and ornamental varieties - are butternut, spaghetti, and acorn squashes.
Acorn squash are typically small, and if winter squash is new to you, they are a great one to try first. Plus they are packed with a variety of nutrients.
Nutritionally, 1-cup of boiled and mashed acorn squash contains around 80 calories, 22g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, and is a source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Like other veggies, acorn squash is not a significant source of fat, protein, or sodium.
- Buy: Choose whole acorn squashes that are firm and heavy for their size. Soft spots and bruising are signs that the squash may be starting to decay.
- Price: A fresh acorn squash averages $1.12 per pound, according to the USDA Economic Research Service.
- Store: Store uncut squash at room temperature. Once cut and cooked, any leftover squash will need to be refrigerated or frozen.
- Prepare: There are many options for cooking squash, from microwaving to baking to pressure cooking and more. Watch our short Cooking with Winter Squash video to see some of these options in action. As most winter squashes have hard outer rinds, be careful when cutting with your knife.
- Preserve: Read instructions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation on how to freeze and can winter squash.
- Eat: Acorn squash is mild tasting, and adding sweet spices like cinnamon or roasting the squash to caramelize some of its sugars can add flavor. Try the Stuffed Acorn Squash and Baked Acorn Squash recipes from Eat.Move.Save.
1 cup acorn squash puree
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup oil
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Wash hands with soap and water.
- Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
- Combine acorn squash puree, applesauce, apple cider, oil, sugars, and eggs in a large bowl until smooth.
- Add flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Add to squash mixture, and stir just until ingredients are moistened. Lumps in batter are expected.
- Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool for 10 minutes. Remove muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Baked Acorn Squash Puree. Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash hands with soap and water. Wash one medium acorn squash. Cut in half, and scoop out seeds. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil, placing squash halves cut side down. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until a knife slides easily into squash. Let cool until easy to handle. Scoop out flesh. Puree in a food processor, or mash in a bowl with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Measure out 1 cup of puree.
Nutrition Information per 1 muffin: 140 calories, 6g total fat, (5g unsaturated fat), 85mg sodium, 19g carbohydrates, 2g dietary fiber, 3g protein
- USDA. Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27
Post originally published in 2018; content updated in 2021.
Healthy Eats and Repeat
How much difference is there between canned and frozen foods? How should you cook venison? When is the best time to buy avocados? Get answers to these questions as well as other tips, tutorials and recipes for common kitchen foods and items with University of Illinois Extension Nutrition & Wellness Educator Caitlin Mellendorf’s blog Healthy Eats and Repeat. Build your best life. Trust Extension to help.
Caitlin Mellendorf is an Illinois Extension Nutrition and Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon and Piatt Counties in Central Illinois. She is a Registered Dietitian and her work focuses on helping community members gain the knowledge, skills and tools to live healthier, more nutritious lifestyles. This includes providing programs and answering questions about heart health, diabetes, food safety, food preservation, grocery shopping and cooking. You can reach Caitlin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 217.877.6042. Check out her nutrition blog Healthy Eats and Repeats for seasonal recipes and of an exploration of common kitchen foods.