Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash: A Cozy, Healthful Winter Snack from Cleo Coyle #Vegetarian

Warm and buttery, dripping with maple syrup, this roasted acorn squash feels almost sinful to eat, yet there’s very little butter and maple syrup involved. Packed with nutrition and dietary fiber, it makes a wonderful "writer’s snack" for me on a chilly winter afternoon.

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If you would rather not use butter and/or maple syrup, then lightly coat the squash with a neutral-tasting oil (canola or vegetable oil or even coconut oil if you like coconut flavor). This will protect the flesh against the high heat. You can eat it naked or sprinkle it with your favorite seasonings—be they nutmeg and cinnamon or chili and cayenne pepper. Or try a bit of orange juice, which is also delicious. 

May you eat with joy and in good health! 

~ Cleo


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Your squash should feel heavy in the hand for its size. Green is the most common variety. The skin should be dark green and dull (not shiny)—partial orange on the green skin is fine, but overall it should be more green than orange. It should also be free of moldy spots, and the skin should feel hard and never soft or mushy. An acorn squash does not need to be refrigerated. Stored in cool, dark places, it can keep for a month or more.


Winter Squash is a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Folate and Magnesium, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Thiamin, Potassium and Manganese. Even the starch has health benefits. Studies have shown it to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, as well as insulin-regulating properties. Read more here.

Cleo Coyle's 
Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash


1 Acorn Squash

1 Tablespoon butter or margarine (1/2 T. for each squash half)

1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup (1-1/2 teaspoons for each half)

Pinch of kosher salt or coarse sea salt (optional)

Baking or roasting pan or glass baking dish (pan should have high edges)


Step 1 – Cut and clean squash: Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut squash in half lengthwise from stem to end, using the ribs as a guide (cut in line with the ribs and not across them). I cut the tough bottom off first, score it lightly and then move the knife around the scoring. That’s much easier than trying to force the knife through. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and stringy innards. The seeds make a great snack (see end of recipe). 

Step 2 – Score and smear: Using a small knife, aggressively sore the insides of the squash halves in a checkerboard pattern. This simple step makes a big difference, allowing the butter and syrup to
better penetrate the flesh. 

Now gently smear the butter (1/2 T. for each half) over all exposed areas of the acorn flesh to protect it from the high heat. Drop the remaining butter into each cavity. (Optional – lightly sprinkle with coarse salt. For me, this makes a nice foil with the sweetness, but you can omit.) Drizzle 1 tsp. each of maple syrup around each cavity with the butter. Pour ½ teaspoon each into each cavity. Place these halves in a baking pan, as shown with the cut sides up.

Step 3 – Prep a water bath: The water is the magic key to the perfect roasting process with minimal butter and syrup, allowing the flesh to cook and caramelize without drying out or burning in your very hot oven. Add about 1/4 inch (or just a little less) of water to the bottom of your baking pan (which should have high sides) or glass baking dish.

Step 4 - Bake in your well pre-heated 400 degree F. oven for 1 hour. You may need to bake an additional 15 minutes or so, depending on your oven and the size of your squash and how many you cook at a time. Undercooking is the enemy here. You do not want a squash that has not cooked through and caramelized with that butter and maple syrup. So watch for the squash flesh to become very soft and the tops to become lightly browned (see my photos).

Step 5 – Spoon and serve: Remove the squash halves from the oven and spoon any visible syrup over the edges before serving.

Roasting the Seeds

Just like pumpkin seeds, the seeds from a winter squash are delicious and nutritious. Wash off the stringy goo from the squash innards and dry them well. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Spread the seeds in a single layer. Salt them lightly if you like, and roast them right beside the acorn squash (at 400 degrees F.) for about 6 to 8 minutes. 

Click here for the
Free Recipe PDF, and...

Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author
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Alice and Marc in Central Park. 
Together we write as Cleo Coyle. 

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  1. Acorn and butternut squashes feel so indulgent to eat when they have been roasted. It has been one of our favored winter vegetables for many years. I was intrigued by the information that it has insulin regulating properties. Very Neat!

    1. Lil - That's why we love it, too. Roasted with a little bit of maple syrup and a small amount of butter, it tastes decadent so it's beautifully satisfying, yet low in calories and full of nutrition. The perfect snack for a cold winter afternoon or evening. (I even enjoy it for breakfast, too.) Thanks for stopping by, Lil!

      ~ Cleo
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      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
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  2. You are the master of "selling the sizzle" with your marvelous photos!
    I'll be shopping today and you can bet some squash is going into my cart.

    1. Libby - Thank you so much for the nice words on the photos. It's really a cinch when so many delicious fruits and vegetables look (and taste) just as good as the higher calorie items we enjoy. I'm happy to share some of the healthier options, especially when they taste as good as this treat. Thanks for dropping by the Kitchen, Libby. Your visits are always, always a pleasure!

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter
      Friend or Follow Cleo Coyle on Facebook

  3. I love all the winter squashes and this is so simple and easy! I'll be picking a squash this weekend!