Beautifully roasted acorn squash halves are stuffed with wild rice, sautéed mushrooms, dried cranberries and seasoned with savory fall herbs. Enjoy it as a main dish at your next holiday meal or a healthy warming dinner on a cold evening. It’s the perfect meatless alternative for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free eaters alike!
Wild rice stuffed acorn squash is a "new-ish" recipe. I say “new" because this is the first time I’ve posted a squash recipe (besides canned pumpkin recipes). And “-ish” because the wild rice filling is actually a modified version of my gluten-free wild rice stuffing.
To change up the wild rice for this stuffed acorn squash recipe I added mushrooms, swapped out the toasted pecans for toasted walnuts, and simplified the seasonings.
The wild rice mix is then stuffed into a perfectly roasted, sweet acorn squash.
The earthy flavors of this recipe definitely make it a holiday-worthy meal.
How to pick the best acorn squash for wild rice stuffed acorn squash
When picking out an acorn squash, choose one that feels heavy for its size, firm with no soft spots, good shape, and has an almost blemish-free skin.
A ripe squash should be dark green in color with a small orange patch (from laying on the ground) that softly speckles throughout the skin.
Preparing and cutting an acorn squash
If this is your first time preparing an acorn squash I’m here to help you through the steps. It’s quite easy and not as intimidating as you may think.
Start by washing the acorn squash well to remove any dirt, dust, or debris from the skin before cutting it.
Now it’s time for the toughest part about preparing the squash...cutting it in half.
It’s a HARD vegetable!
So, to cut through it you’ll need a large, sharp chef's knife.
Start by trimming down the stem if it protrudes above the top.
I’ve found the easiest way to do this is with a small saw or high-quality garden shears. Cut the stem as low as you can so the top sits flat.
You can also use a sharp knife and simply slice the top off (including the stem). Personally, I don’t like exposing that much flesh, so I just trim the stem.
Next, lay the squash on its side and cut off the bottom point so it can sit flat as well. Careful not to cut too much off or it may leave a hole in the bottom.
While the squash is still on its side, use a sharp chef's knife to cut horizontally through the center of it creating 2 flower-shaped halves.
This step may take a bit of work which is why a sharp knife is important. If you’re having trouble cutting through the squash, rock the knife back and forth to help ease it through.
Scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon, ice cream scoop or melon baller. Discard them, or save them for roasting.
How to bake acorn squash
Now that we’ve got the hardest part over with, the rest is a breeze.
Preheat your oven to 425ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Brush/rub the top and inside of the squash with coconut oil. Lay them cut-side down on the baking sheet and roast for about 30-40 minutes or until a fork easily pierces through the center.
I like to start checking for doneness at around 25-28 minutes. The inside texture should be soft, but not fall-apart mushy, and the edge should be slightly caramelized.
Remove the roasted squash from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes before handling.
How to prepare the wild rice and mushroom filling
While the acorn squash bakes, prep the wild rice filling.
I forgot to snap a few shots of making the filling, but it’s pretty easy.
Start by sautéing the onion and celery in a saucepan, with a bit of oil, just until they begin to change color and texture, about 5 minutes.
Add the broth, uncooked wild rice, and seasonings to the pot. Cover and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked. If the rice is still firm, add 1-2 Tablespoons broth and cook slightly longer.
While the rice cooks sauté the mushrooms. Add a bit of oil to the bottom of a skillet and sauté the mushrooms until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
Mix the mushrooms, dried cranberries, and walnuts into the cooked pot of rice.
Stuffing the acorn squash
Once the squash halves are cooled enough to handle, flip them over and spoon the wild rice filling into the cavity of each squash half.
Pop the wild rice stuffed acorn squash back into the oven and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.
Serve as-is or garnish with freshly chopped parsley or thyme.
Tips and FAQ's for wild rice stuffed acorn squash
- The walnuts can be replaced with any nut or seed you prefer. Try pecans, almonds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds. For extra flavor toast the nuts/seeds in a dry pan until browned and fragrant.
- Roast the squash cut side down. This creates a nice caramelized glaze along the edge while the cavity steam-cooks for a moist and tender center.
- For an easy, one-cut method, the squash can be cut lengthwise (from stem to bottom). However, you'll lose the beautiful flower shape!
- Can I make this meal ahead of time? Absolutely! Simply, roast the acorn squash and prep the filling. Cover and refrigerate them separately. To reheat for serving, stuff the squash with the wild rice filling and pop them in the oven at 375ºF for about 15-20 minutes, or until everything is heated throughout.
- Can the wild rice be made in the Instant Pot? Yes! Sauté the onion and celery in the Instant Pot just until they being to change color. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on high pressure for 22 minutes. Allow for natural pressure release.
More warming vegan recipes
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- 2 medium-sized acorn squash
- 3-4 teaspoons refined coconut oil, for sautéing
- 8oz mushrooms, sliced (white, bella or cremini)
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 cup vegetable broth, I use low sodium
- 1 and 1/4 cups wild rice blend, uncooked
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- Lay the squash on its side. Carefully cut off the bottom point and trim the stem so it can lay flat on both sides. (see above post for more details)
- While the squash is on its side, use a sharp knife to cut horizontally through the center of it into 2 flower-shaped halves. This may take a bit of work, which is why a sharp knife is important. If you’re having a bit of trouble cutting through it, rock the knife back and forth to help ease it through.
- Scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon, ice cream scoop or melon baller. Discard them, or save them for roasting.
To bake the acorn squash, preheat your oven to 425ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Brush/rub the top and inside of the squash with coconut oil. Lay them cut-side down on the baking sheet and roast for about 30-40 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces through the center.
- Remove the squash from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes before handling.
Wild rice and mushrooms
- While the acorn squash are in the oven, prep the wild rice and mushroom filling.
- Sauté the onion and celery in a saucepan with a bit of oil, just until they begin to change color and texture. About 5 minutes.
- Add the broth, wild rice, and seasonings to the pot. Cover and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked. If the rice is still firm after cooking, add 1-2 Tablespoons broth and cook slightly longer.
- While the rice cooks, add a bit of oil to the bottom of a skillet and sauté the mushrooms until they are tender. About 10-15 minutes.
- Mix the mushrooms, cranberries, and walnuts into the pot with the fully cooked wild rice.
Stuffing the acorn squash
- Once the squash is cooled enough to handle, flip each one over. Leave them on the baking sheet and spoon the wild rice mix into the cavity of each squash half.
- Pop them back into the oven and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.
- Serve as-is or garnish with freshly chopped parsley or thyme.
- I use low sodium vegetable broth and add 1/4 teaspoon pink salt. You may find your broth has enough salt. If so, simply omit it from the recipe.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 156Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 28mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 7gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g