Stuffed Acorn Squash with Ground Turkey

4.84 from 25 votes
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Roasted acorn squash with turkey quinoa stuffing recipe is a meal all in one edible bowl! Each serving is filled with healthy lean protein, vegetables, and fruit.

Stuffed acorn squash with ground turkey.

Do you ever wonder how in the world are you supposed to cook acorn squash? I feel that way when I reach the lonely forgotten collection of winter squash and gourds at the grocery store. They just seem to serve better as food inspired decorations instead of edible ingredients. Boy was I so wrong!

I’ve become a pro at making butternut squash soup and butternut squash mac n cheese, but acorn squash was a new one for me to tackle. I wanted to create a healthy satisfying meal all in one. Being inspired by autumn and the holidays, I decided to make a recipe for roasted acorn squash with turkey quinoa stuffing.

Pan roasting ground turkey mixed with quinoa and vegetables to make a delicious stuffing.

I confess! I could eat a whole pot of this turkey quinoa stuffing all by itself. It’s a tasty concoction of grains, vegetables, and fruit. I didn’t mean to add so many ingredients, but as I was recipe testing the list got a little longer. I asked myself what the stuffing was missing or needed and went for it.

To create these edible acorn squash cups, I made some simple knife cuts. A small amount on both ends of the squash was cut to form a base and then split in half the create two portions. Super simple! There are some seeds so make sure to scoop the inside nice a clean before roasting. I chose smaller sized squash that I thought would work for a single portion to hold about a ½ cup of stuffing.

Acorn squash roasting on a baking sheet.

I have this insatiable need to make squash even sweeter than it already is. That’s why these acorn squash are drizzled with maple syrup, cinnamon, and spicy savory seasonings. As they roast, the flesh softens and becomes perfectly scoopable with each spoonful.

A good stuffing has a base of aromatics like carrots, onions, celery and bell pepper. Sauteed Honeycrisp apples (Fuji can be substituted) and dried cranberries add a hint of sweetness. Spinach boosts the nutrition in each bite, plus the protein-packed quinoa and lean ground turkey. Fresh lemon zest, chives, and parsley brighten up the stuffing. Crunch fan? Pecans are the icing on the cake and make this stuffing even more addicting.

Side view of an acorn squash loaded with turkey quinoa stuffing.

These roasted acorn squash cups are Thanksgiving served up in one adorable edible bowl. A wonderful starter, appetizer or dinner meal, you can’t go wrong. I like to serve generous amounts of stuffing for each portion. A light, healthy and wholesome dish ready to devour in under an hour. I’d love to hear about your experience cooking with acorn squash!

Recipe Science

Is the skin on the acorn squash edible?

Yes! It absolutely is. Once you’re done roasting the flesh is tender, and the skin becomes soft and palatable. The skin is pretty thin, so once you cook the acorn squash go ahead and take a bite. With that being said, since you are already oiling the inside and outside of the squash, you can also season the skin with some salt and pepper as well. Don’t forget to save your seeds, you can roast them and eat them as a crunchy snack or topping later!

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Ground Turkey

Roasted acorn squash with turkey quinoa stuffing recipe is a meal all in one edible bowl! Each serving is filled with healthy lean protein, vegetables, and fruit.
4.84 from 25 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing squash
  • 3 small acorn squash
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon black pepper, divided, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4¼ teaspoon chili powder, plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • ½ cup yellow onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup carrots, ⅛-inch dice
  • ½ cup celery, minced
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, minced
  • ¾ cup fuji apples, or honeycrisp apples, unpeeled, ¼-inch dice
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons parsley, minced, plus more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons chives, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon rosemary, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon thyme, chopped
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped

Instructions 

Roasted Acorn Squash

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with foil and lightly oil.
  • Prepare acorn squash by cutting off a small amount of the bottom to create a flat surface, and then cut a small portion of the stem off to create another flat surface.
  • Cut the squash in half width-wise through the center, scoop out the seeds. Repeat with the other squash. Place them on the sheet pan
  • Lightly brush olive oil on the outside and inside of the squash halves.
  • Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, and a light drizzle of maple syrup on the inside cavity and rim. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the flesh is fork-tender. Meanwhile, make the filling as the squash roasts.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Turkey Stuffing

  • Cook 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of water, bringing the liquid to a boil then reducing heat to low to simmer, cover and cook until light and fluffy, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • In a large sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink, breaking it into small pieces, about 6 minutes.
  • Season the meat with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery, cook for 6 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the bell pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add the apples and cook for 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes, then add to a large bowl.
  • Add 2 cups of the cooked quinoa, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon chili powder, garlic powder, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons parsley, 2 teaspoons chives, ½ teaspoon rosemary, ½ teaspoon thyme, ½ cup pecans, and ¼ cup cranberries to a large bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¾ teaspoon black pepper, stir to combine and season more as needed. Return mixture to the large pan to reheat if needed.
  • Scoop about ½ cup of the turkey stuffing into each acorn squash.
  • Garnish with more parsley, chives, and pecans, serve warm.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 6 servings
Calories 401kcal (20%)Carbohydrates 51g (17%)Protein 24g (48%)Fat 14g (22%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 37mg (12%)Sodium 520mg (22%)Potassium 1090mg (31%)Fiber 8g (32%)Sugar 8g (9%)Vitamin A 4700IU (94%)Vitamin C 69.3mg (84%)Calcium 110mg (11%)Iron 4.7mg (26%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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16 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Elizabeth says

    Delicious! I substituted spicy chicken Italian sausage so modified the spices a bit. Loved the cinnamon and the little sweetness from the apples and cranberries. One of the best recipes I’ve tried this year! And I love almost all of Jessica’s recipes.

  2. Sierra says

    I made these for dinner tonight and my two year old loved the stuffing she even ate it without the squash. I’m sure this will be a staple in the house. Thank you for the recipe.

  3. Beth says

    Hi Jessica,
    I made this and it was totally delicious! I was a little confused about the stuffing directions. It called for chili powder and cinnamon in the directions, but left out the garlic powder from the ingredients list. I used the garlic powder, not the chili and cinnamon. It tasted great, but can you tell me what it’s supposed to be? Thanks!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much for making the recipe Beth! I restructured and updated the recipe so it’s less confusing. I really appreciate your feedback, it helps me improve my website!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great question Jill! I just updated the recipe, Thanks! Just drizzle a small amount over the cut squash before roasting 🙂