Nothing screams fall like Stuffed Acorn Squash with ground turkey, kale and the perfect blend of spices. This show-stopping autumn inspired meal is comforting, colorful and loaded with earthy flavors; it’s fancy enough for the holidays yet easy enough for a simple weeknight meal!
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Stuffed acorn squash officially means fall cooking is ‘on’ in my kitchen. With it’s colorful hues and earthy taste, this winter squash recipe brings all the cozy vibes of fall inside and onto your dinner table. If you have ever wondered ‘what to do with acorn squash’ that you just picked up at the farmers market or grocer, this oven baked squash recipe is for you!
I also share an easy way to cut through the thick skin of squash without losing a finger because while we can all agree healthy acorn squash recipes are delicious, we can also agree that winter squash can be tough to slice through!
Not only does this recipe solve what to do with acorn squash, but it is a ‘one pan’ meal that is great for a weeknight dinner but also elegant enough for your holiday table. I just love that about this acorn squash dinner recipe ~ Enjoy!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Helps solve the question of ‘what to do with acorn squash’ with an easy baked winter squash recipe.
- Stuffed acorn squash ground turkey is colorful with earthy tastes that match the essence of autumn.
- Baked acorn squash dinner recipe is a healthy main or side and lower in carbs with no rice included in the stuffing
- Easy enough for a weeknight dinner with only 7 minutes of prep time, but also elegant enough to impress guests during the holidays
- High in antioxidants with vitamins A and C – one more reason to eat plenty of acorn squash during the fall!
Ingredients You Will Need
- Meat: You can use ground turkey (like I did) or chicken. Ground beef is more fatty. If you do use ground beef, drain the fat while browning the meat.
- Veggies: Acorn squash, onion and garlic. Pick smaller squash if serving individual portions.
Did you know that while acorn squash is considered a winter squash, it actually belongs to the same species of summer squash plants!?!
- Spinach or kale: These hearty greens give stuffed acorn squash a bright pop of color as well as a nutritional boost.
- Spices and seasonings: Fresh parsley, dried rosemary and tomato paste.
- Cheese: Any hard cheese like cheddar, marble or colby cheese, freshly grated is best.
You may also love these 45 healthy ground turkey recipes!
How to Make Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash
There is a full recipe card below.
- Cut and seed acorn squash: Start by placing a rubber mat under the cutting board to reduce sliding. Using a long serrated knife, cut through the skin of the squash, helping with a meat mallet. And then, just split open and scoop out the seeds.
Use a meat mallet if you need help to ‘hammer’ your knife through the skin. You could also use a crinkle cutter if you have one on hand.
- Bake squash: First, brush the squash with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes with the cut side up in preheated 450 degrees F oven.
- Prepare stuffing: Cook onion and garlic in large skillet until translucent. Then add turkey and cook for ~7 minutes. Finally, add the spices, herbs and spinach. Remove from heat and stir in half the cheese.
- Stuff: Add a scoop of stuffing to each pre-baked squash half. Then, sprinkle with more cheese.
- Bake: Just another 25 minutes in the oven and it’s done!
Optional Add In’s and Variations
- Swap out your herb combinations for thyme/sage or oregano/basil.
- Add some heat by sprinkling in some red chili pepper flakes with your ground turkey stuffing.
- Go meat free by using sautéed portobello mushrooms or substituting cooked chickpeas.
- Use the meat you have an hand– leftover chopped oven roasted chicken breast, ground chicken or ground turkey sausage.
- Omit cheese for a dairy free option or substitute for a dairy free brand.
- Make it heartier by adding some cooked rice or quinoa into the stuffing.
- Toss in dried cranberries with your stuffing mix – especially great for a holiday meal!
Tips for Best Results
- Use medium to large squash to have enough room for the ground turkey stuffing.
- Cook your healthy acorn squash ground turkey stuffing up to a day in advance – this is especially great when prepping for your healthy Thanksgiving recipes dinner.
- Don’t over bake your stuffed squash. You want it tender, not mushy.
- No acorn squash? Use butternut, delicata or buttercup squash (cooking time may need to be adjusted).
Yes, and you should consider doing so! The skin of an acorn squash (like many other vegetables!) is packed with nutrients. By roasting your acorn squash, the skin becomes soft and edible. The choice is yours though, if you don’t prefer the skin, just scoop out the squash and filling and eat it that way.
Yes, it is low calorie while also being high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Acorn squash has a sweet, nutty taste. It is a very mild tasting – some even say buttery in taste. Leave a comment with how it tastes for you!
While both are considered ‘winter squash’, they do vary in look, texture and taste. Butternut squash is sweeter and smoother in texture – which is why it is used in soup more often. Acorn squash, while sweeter as well, has a ‘nuttier’ taste profile and is more fibrous (sometimes stringy).
This acorn squash dinner recipe is a great addition to any meal as well as as complete meal in itself!
- Salad: Serve hot with an autumn inspired salad like this kale and quinoa salad with apples.
- Side dish: Pair with oven baked chicken breast, pork chops or sirloin tip roast for a healthy comfort food dinner.
- Soup: Serve with minestrone soup, vegetable soup or healthy tomato soup for a cozy winter meal.
- Holidays: As part of your holiday spread with green bean casserole and mashed potatoes.
Leftover turkey mixture? Serve alongside your poached eggs and toast in the morning or use it for ground chicken stuffed peppers.
Making It in Advance
Store: Stuffed acorn squash can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Make ahead: Turkey stuffing can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 24 hours until ready to assemble.
More Squash Recipes
Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 3 smaller acorn squash about 1.5 lbs each
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 lb ground turkey extra lean
- 3 cups spinach and/or kale packed and coarsely shopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 3 tbsp parsley finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup any hard cheese shredded & divided
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. To cut squash open, place a rubber mat under the cutting board and a towel on top. Place squash on the towel and cut through using long serrated knife, cut all around. You might get some help from a meat tenderizer but I found it wasn’t necessary. Now scoop out the seeds.
- Place squash cut side up on a large baking sheet. Brush with 1 tbsp of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, prepare the stuffing by first placing large skillet on a low-medium heat. Add remaining avocado oil and tilt the skillet to coat. Add onion and garlic; cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. Now add turkey and cook for another 7 minutes, stirring and breaking into pieces. Add remaining ingredients (except cheese) and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese.
- Stuff opening of each pre-roasted and cooled until safe to handle squash half with stuffing, dividing evenly. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Return to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes or until tops start to turn golden brown. Serve hot.
- Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Make ahead: Prepare stuffing up to 24 hours in advance.
- Swap out your herb combinations for thyme/sage or oregano/basil or add some heat by sprinkling in some red chili pepper flakes with your ground turkey stuffing.
- Go meat free by using sautéed portobello mushrooms or substituting cooked Instant Pot garbanzo beans.
- Make use of leftover meat you have already– leftover chopped chicken breast, ground chicken or ground turkey sausage.
- Keep it dairy free with dairy free cheese or omitting it altogether.
- Make it heartier by adding some Instant Pot brown rice into the stuffing.
- Dried cranberries mixed with your stuffing mix make it especially great for a holiday meal!