3 Surprising Facts about Acorn Squash

ingredients and nutrition Nov 07, 2022
Acorn squash

Acorn squash is one of the most nutritious squashes around. It is also a vegetable that can be used in a myriad of ways in the plant-based kitchen. In this article, I will show you some surprising facts about acorn squash, how it compares nutritionally to a few other squash vegetables, and just how versatile and easy it is to use!

Surprise #1: Not Quite a Winter Squash

Although we often refer to acorn squash as a winter squash, and they are often grouped into this category, botanically they fall in the same family as summer squashes like zucchini and crookneck squash. The reason that many squashes fall into the ‘winter squash’ category is that they tend to have thicker skins and can be stored for quite a while before needing to be eaten. These include squashes like butternut, pumpkin, delicata, and spaghetti squash. In North America, acorn squash tends to be harvested in September and October before the first frost.

Surprise #2: More Than Green

More often than not, the acorn squash you see in grocery stores will likely be of a vibrant green hue. These tend to sport smooth dark green skin with grooved ridges and have bright orange flesh inside. But did you know? Although green is the most common variety we see at supermarkets, acorn squash can come in other colors too, such as orange and white.

Surprise #3: Super Nutritious

What’s extra special about these beauties? They’re gorgeous on the inside too! When compared alongside butternut squash and spaghetti squash, the same serving amount of acorn squash gives you MORE protein, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, thiamin, vitamin B6 and folate than these other two squashes. For instance, one cup of roasted acorn squash cubes (205 grams in weight) already provides you with 2.3 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber, 90 milligrams of calcium, 1.9 milligrams of iron, 88 milligrams of magnesium, 22 milligrams of vitamin C and 896 milligrams of potassium! In contrast, though, the same weighted amount of one cup of baked butternut squash cubes only provides 1.8 grams of protein, 6.6 grams of fiber, 582 milligrams of potassium, 1.2 milligrams of iron, 31 milligrams of vitamin C, 59 milligrams of magnesium and 84 milligrams of calcium.

How to Cook Acorn Squash

A simple, albeit, time-consuming way to enjoy acorn squash is to roast them. Want to try this? For a slightly sweet overtone, roast acorn squash halves in the oven glazed with a light coating of maple syrup. For a savory dish, try stuffing the acorn halves with cooked brown rice or cooked wild rice, vegetables, beans and nut mixtures. I have even stuffed the acorn squash halves with a delicious citrusy fruity mixture using diced apples and oranges with wonderful results. Some of the spices that work well with acorn squash are garlic, sage, nutmeg and cinnamon.

But while many people assume that acorn squashes always need to be baked or roasted, that’s not true. In addition to roasting them, there are other ways to prepare acorn squash. You can microwave, steam, braise, sauté or grill them too. I have cooked and pureed acorn squash into smooth soups, used them in a chili and even turned them into a nourishing pasta sauce. You don’t always have to peel them too as the skin is pretty thin and edible. Just roast or cook the acorn squash well until the skin is tender before enjoying the acorn squash with the peel on. This is a real timesaver when compared to cooking some other squashes!


USDA FoodData Central Database. Squash, winter, acorn, cooked, baked, without salt. Accessed October 18, 2022.

USDA FoodData Central Database. Squash, winter, butternut, cooked, baked, without salt. Accessed October 18, 2022.

Filippone PT., Acorn Squash Facts, Selection, and Storage. Updated Jan 7, 2021. Accessed October 18, 2022.