This acorn squash casserole features tender, caramelized acorn squash and rich brown butter pecan topping. The squash filling is sturdy and scoopable and the topping adds a nutty, sweet crunch. All of the flavors are a perfect combination for a Thanksgiving table.
You're looking at a cozy casserole of roasted acorn squash, mixed with brown butter, brown sugar, and a thick layer of pecan topping.
Because 1) butter generally adds a rich flavor and 2) browning the butter adds a nutty, almost sweet flavor, perfect for the holidays.
When you imagine taking a bite of this cozy dish, think of your favorite sweet potato casserole. We wanted to make a variation of that to mix things up. When it comes to Thanksgiving side dishes, this is one of the best.
Our goal this holiday season is to offer new recipes that put a spin on the holiday table classics (see savory bread pudding and boursin mashed potatoes(coming soon))!
Why this Acorn Squash Casserole Works
- Delicious flavor: Your taste buds will love this acorn squash recipe that's creamy, indulgent, fragrant, and flavorful.
- Perfect fall meal: This dish is colorful, warm, and inviting. It's full of the best fall ingredients like squash, brown sugar, and pecans.
- Fun Thanksgiving side dish: it features classic ingredients and casserole basics, with a new ingredient.
Ingredients You Need
Here are the simple ingredients for this acorn squash casserole. Most are pantry staples and easy (and affordable) to find in grocery stores. Jump down to the recipe card for exact measurements and nutritional information.
- Acorn squash: The star of the show, you'll use the whole acorn squash.
- Olive oil: Substitute with avocado oil.
- Kosher salt: Kosher salt is the best salt to cook with. Add to taste.
- Light brown sugar: A great coconut sugar substitute, so feel free to replace with coconut sugar or maple syrup if needed.
- Flour: Use gluten-free if needed. Bob's Red Mill is our favorite gluten-free brand.
- Unsalted butter: Use vegan butter if needed.
- Eggs: Help to bind the ingredients together.
- Cinnamon: Just a pinch of cinnamon adds natural sweetness and a subtle spiciness.
- Vanilla extract: Adds sweetness and warmth.
- Raw pecans: Gives a nice crunch and makes the most amazing topping.
How to Make Acorn Squash Casserole
The complete recipe is below, but let’s walk through the steps with some photos and a video so you have a clear idea of what to expect. This acorn squash casserole is really easy and these step-by-step instructions will make sure it turns out every time.
Roast the squash. Place the squash on a cutting board on its side and slice the acorn squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Brush the insides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste. Place them skin-side-down on a large baking sheet and roast for 40-45 minutes.
Success tip: put the whole squash in the microwave for 1-2 minutes to soften the skin and make it easier to cut in half. We like to do this with spaghetti squash and butternut squash.
Make the brown butter. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook for 4-5 minutes, until it bubbles, froths, and browns.
Make the pecan topping. In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients and set aside.
Mash the squash. Remove the squash from the oven and peel away the skin or scoop out the inside with a large spoon. Add the baked acorn squash to large bowl and use a potato masher to roughly mash.
Tip: For an even smoother squash mixture, use a food processor or electric mixer to blend it well for a smooth.
Mix the filling: Mix in the brown sugar, milk, flour, melted butter, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, and a pinch of kosher salt.
Bake. Transfer the acorn squash filling to a casserole dish. Sprinkle with the topping and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Cover the whole dish with aluminum foil if the topping starts to brown too much.
The skin of acorn squash is generally safe to eat and contains some nutritional value, but it can be tougher and less appealing compared to the flesh. If you decide to eat the skin, you should wash the squash thoroughly to remove any dirt or contaminants. You can also cook the squash with the skin on, which can make it more tender and easier to eat.
Acorn squash can be cooked with or without peeling, and the decision to peel it or not depends on your personal preference and the recipe you're following. Leaving the skin on adds a nuttier flavor. If you prefer a smoother, creamier texture, you can peel the acorn squash before cooking.
Acorn squash is a starchy vegetable and does contain carbohydrates, but is not extremely high in carbs when compared to other starchy vegetables or grains. The carbohydrate content of acorn squash can vary depending on the size and preparation method, but on average, it contains approximately 15-20 grams of carbohydrates per 1-cup (205-gram) cooked serving.
It's up to personal preference how you might change up the original recipe, but here are a few ideas:
- Add pumpkin pie spice, allspice, or fresh ginger.
- Top with Parmesan cheese or mascarpone.
- Season with black pepper for a little spice.
- Instead of pecans, top with walnuts or hazelnuts.
What to Serve with Acorn Squash Casserole
Serve this acorn squash casserole as part of your Thanksgiving menu, or just a fall dinner. Have it with flavors that complement it well like this Thanksgiving salad or dairy-free green bean casserole.
Meal Prep and Storing Tips
Roast the squash in advance and store in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Alternatively, make the entire casserole and store it in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight and reheat it the next day. Reheat in the oven at 350 until warmed through.
More Squash Recipes
We love winter squashes - and have plenty of recipes to show for it!
For something lighter, try this fall salad with chicken, apples, and butternut squash or airfyer butternut squash.
Maple roasted brussels sprouts and butternut squash has the perfect amount of savoriness and sweetness combined.
Acorn Squash Casserole
- 3 large acorn squash halved and seeded (yields 9-10 cups roasted squash) (Note 1)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- ½ cup (100g) light brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup (30g) all-purpose flour gluten-free if needed
- 4 Tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter melted
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Brown Butter Pecan Topping
- ½ cup (8 Tbsp; 57g) unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 1 cup (200g) light brown sugar packed
- ½ cup (60g) all-purpose flour gluten-free if needed
- 1 ¾ cups raw pecans roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Large baking sheet
- 9x13-inch (or 3-quart) casserole dish
- Roast the squash. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Slice the acorn squash in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seedy centers. Brush the insides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste. Place them skin-side-up on a large baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.
- Make the brown butter. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir for 4-5 minutes until it bubbles and froths. The froth will subside and you should start to see small brown bits form on the bottom of the pan. Remove it from the heat when you start to see the brown bits and smell a distinct nutty flavor.
- Make the pecan topping. Add the brown sugar, flour, pecans, sage, salt, and brown butter in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
- Mix the acorn squash. Allow the squash to cool for 10-15 minutes, or until it’s cool enough to handle. Peel away the skin from the flesh or scoop it out with a spoon. Add the acorn squash to a mixing bowl and mix well with a potato masher. For really smooth filling, use an electric mixer to blend it well. Mix in the brown sugar, milk, melted butter, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, and a pinch of kosher salt. Taste the filling with a spoon and add more salt as needed.
- Bake. Turn the oven temperature down to 350°F. Transfer the acorn squash filling to a 9x13-inch or other 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the brown butter pecan topping evenly over top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the sides are bubbling and the pecans are golden brown. Cover with foil with the nuts are becoming too brown too quickly. Serve warm with crispy sage or flaky sea salt.