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Spicy Acorn Squash with Cranberries Recipe

Acorn squash is beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. So why waste your precious squash on a boring recipe?

That’s the idea behind this Spicy Acorn Squash with Cranberries. It’s pretty enough to serve for a holiday, but it’s tasty enough to eat anytime.

acorn squash


It all starts with acorn squash, which is so called because it’s shaped like… an acorn. You’ll recognize it at the store for its dark green ribbed exterior, sometimes mottled with orange and white. Its orange flesh is sweet and a little bit nutty. And just like many of your favorite winter squashes, it’s high in vitamins (especially Vitamin C) and minerals.

acorn squash

Acorn squash

In the fall, you can find this variety of squash in most large supermarkets, and if you’re lucky, at local farmers’ markets too. (We got ours from Melissa’s Produce, which you can find in many grocery stores around the country.)

To make this recipe, we cut the squash into slices, then roasted it. But we also tried air-frying it, which is a super-easy alternative (and you don’t sacrifice any taste).

Spicy Acorn Squash with Cranberries Recipe

acorn squash
5 from 1 vote

Spicy Acorn Squash with Cranberries

This acorn squash is a little bit spicy with tangy cranberries and a sweet cranberry sauce.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword acorn squash, cranberry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4


For the Squash

  • 1 medium acorn squash
  • 1 tbsp chili oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries

For the Cranberry Topping

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water


For the Squash

  1. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds from both sides. Cut the squash into "C" shapes about 1/2 inch thick (removing the stem from the center piece). Place the squash slices in a bowl and toss them with chili oil and maple syrup.

  2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Lay the squash slices out onto a large cookie sheet. Roast the squash for about 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and add the 1/2 cup of whole cranberries to the pan. Continue roasting for another 15 minutes, or until the squash is golden brown and tender. Transfer the squash and cranberries to a serving platter.

For the Cranberry Topping

  1. Meanwhile, combine the cranberries and sugar in a food processor and chop the cranberries coarsely. Transfer the cranberries to a small saucepan, add water, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cranberries have dissolved well. Remove from heat and drizzle over the squash. Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired, and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Air Fryer Note: If you want to cook the squash in an air fryer instead of in the oven, you can fry it at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Put the cranberries in for the last 2 to 3 minutes.

One thing we like about acorn squash over, say, butternut squash, is that it’s fairly easy to cut open. (Have you ever nearly sliced yourself while trying to open a rock-hard butternut squash?) Maybe it’s just the smaller size, or maybe it’s the ribs that are easier to grip. But either way, you can feel confident approaching this squash without feeling like you need to get out a chainsaw.

Sliced squash tossed in chili oil and maple syrup

So here’s a question we’ve pondered: Do you eat the skin? Yes, but… well… it’s kind of like sweet potato skin. Some people like to eat it and some won’t touch it. We’ve found that it sometimes depends on the acorn squash. If you have a squash with tougher skin, you probably won’t want to eat it. The good news is, if you choose not to eat the skin, it separates from the flesh very easily.

We are pretty sure you’ll love it, so we hope you’ll try it. And if you do love it, pin it!

Spicy acorn squash with cranberries from JollyTomato.com

Oh, and if you want to try different kinds of squash, we’ve got other ideas for you too. Check out these Jolly Tomato recipes:

Fall Salad with Butternut Squash and Amaranth

Butternut Squash Muffins with Mulling Spices

Sweet Dumpling Squash Bars

Honey/Balsamic Kuri Squash

Blogger disclosure: We received acorn squash from Melissa’s Produce to sample. We did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are our own.

2 Responses to Spicy Acorn Squash with Cranberries Recipe

  1. Ruth Stroud November 3, 2021 at 6:28 am #

    5 stars
    This recipe sounds perfect for Thanksgiving, Jeanne! The pictures are so colorful and festive. I laughed at your question about who’d nearly sliced off a finger while attempting to chop a hard winter squash. I’d have to raise a mangled paw in response. I’ve shed some blood while preparing kabocha and butternut. Perhaps acorn may work better—and clearly a visit to a knife sharpener is in order!

    • Jeanne November 3, 2021 at 10:42 am #

      Ha! Yes, you and me both, Ruth! Some of those winter squashes are hard as rocks.
      I’ve made a tradition of taking my knives to get sharpened every year before Thanksgiving…the timing probably works out well in relation to winter squash as well. : )
      Thanks for stopping by!

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