Stuffed Acorn Squash

This stuffed acorn squash is as delicious as it is pretty! Filled with a whiskey-spiked mix of brown rice, apples, walnuts and cranberries, then drizzled in maple tahini sauce, this healthy main dish is perfect for holidays and special dinners.

Plate with Stuffed Acorn Squash and Thanksgiving Sides on a Wooden Table with Skillet and Water Glass

Stuffed squash is a dish that I usually file in the underwhelming category. It often sounds great in theory, but usually tastes kind of meh.

I mentioned last week that I feel the same way about rice pilaf. So as I did with my wild rice pilaf, I challenged myself to create a stuffed acorn squash that would knock my socks off when it came to flavor.

Guys, I spent weeks thinking about how to turn the stuffing into a flavor-bomb, and once the answer hit me it seemed so obvious. Whisky!

I mean, whiskey is my answer to making all kinds of things delicious, from gravy to granola to baked beans. I put some whisky into my stuffed squash filling and, as usual, it did not disappoint!

This is one vegan holiday main dish that’ll wow everyone at your table. Let’s talk about how it’s made!

How to Choose an Acorn Squash

Four Stuffed Acorn Squash Halves on a Baking Sheet

You’ll need to buy a good squash for the best flavor and texture. Look for acorn squash that are heavy and firm, without any soft spots. The skin should be dull (not shiny) and the color should be dark green, ideally with a blotch of orange.

How to Roast Acorn Squash

This is the easy part! In fact, the toughest thing about roasting acorn squash for a dish like this is cutting it. Use a heavy chef’s knife, some elbow grease, and a good deal of caution!

I like to cut my acorn squash lengthwise (i.e. parallel to the stem), because the halves come out identical that way, and each one makes a pretty little heart shape. Feel free to cut yours height-wise if you prefer though!

Once they’re cut, scoop out the seeds with a spoon and rub the entire outer surface of each half with some olive oil.

Hand Scooping Seeds from an Acorn Squash Half

Arrange the squash halves on a baking sheet, pop it in the oven, and roast the squash until it’s tender.

How to Make Acorn Squash Filling

You can make the filling while your squash roasts. Gather and prep all of your ingredients so they’re ready to go when you need them. Keep in mind that this recipe calls for cooked brown rice. You can use leftover rice if you’ve got it on hand, or cook some while prepping the ingredients. Just make sure it’s fully cooked and ready to go before you get started!

Heat some oil in a medium skillet. Once the oil heats up, add some diced apple. Let it cook for about 5 or 6 minutes, flipping it at least once. The apple is done cooking when it’s soft and has some brown spots. Use a spatula to take the apple out of the skillet and transfer it to a plate.

Next, add a bit more oil to the skillet, let it heat up, and add some shallots. Sweat the shallots until they soften up, for about 5 minutes. Now add some garlic and cook it for about a minute more.

Chickpeas, spices and whiskey go into the skillet next. Bring the liquid up to a simmer and let it cook for a few minutes, until the liquid has significantly reduced. You want all of the alcohol to cook off, so give your ingredients a sniff and taste test before moving on: if you can detect any alcohol it needs a few minutes more to cook.

Collage Showing Steps 1-4 of How to Make Acorn Squash Filling: Cook Apples, Cook Shallots, Add Chickpeas and Whiskey, and Simmer

Once the alcohol is gone you can add your rice and some soy sauce. You can also return those apples to the skillet. Cook everything for a minute or two, just until the ingredients are hot.

Collage Showing Steps 5 and 6 for Making Stuffed Acorn Squash Filling: Add Rice and Soy Sauce, and Cook Until Heated

Take your skillet off of the heat, stir in some walnuts, dried cranberries, black pepper, and season the mixture with salt to taste.

Whiskey, Brown Rice, and Apple Filling in a Skillet with Wooden Spoon

Serve your stuffed acorn squash with a drizzle of tahini sauce.

Spoon Drizzling Tahini Dressing on a Stuffed Acorn Squash

FAQ & Stuffed Acorn Squash Tips

  • Make ahead option: the filling and tahini sauce can both be made up to two days in advance. Reheat the filling on the stove top or in the microwave before serving.
  • Need an all-purpose vegan holiday rice stuffing? The filling for this would work well with all kinds of dishes!
  • Can this recipe be made gluten-free? Yup! Just use gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
  • Is there a substitute for the whiskey? Not really. The whiskey is what gives the dish most of its flavor, but if you can leave it out if needed.
  • Is whiskey vegan? Most whiskey is vegan, but if you’d like to err on the side of caution, check with Barnivore to ensure the variety you’re using is.
  • What’s that herb on the squash shown in the photos? Just parsley, and it’s just for garnish!

Stuffed Acorn Squash on a Plate with Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Sauce

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Plate with Stuffed Acorn Squash and Thanksgiving Sides on a Wooden Table with Skillet and Water Glass

Stuffed Acorn Squash

This stuffed acorn squash is as delicious as it is pretty! Filled with a whiskey-spiked mix of brown rice, apples, walnuts and cranberries, then drizzled in maple tahini sauce, this healthy main dish is perfect for holidays and special dinners.

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 40 minutes

Total Time 1 hour

Servings 4

Calories 532 kcal

Author Alissa Saenz


For the Roasted Acorn Squash

  • 2 medium-sized acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 2-4 tablespoons water

For the Filling

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium apple (your favorite cooking variety), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup finely diced shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14 ounce or 400 gram) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Begin by roasting the squash. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

  2. Use a large chef’s knife to carefully cut each squash in half lengthwise.

  3. Use a spoon to scoop the seeds from each squash half.

  4. Rub the entire outer surface of each squash half with olive oil and arrange them, cut-sides up, on a baking sheet.

  5. Place the baking sheet into the oven and roast the squash halves until they are tender and easily pierced with a fork.

  6. While the squash roasts, prepare the dressing and then the filling. First, whisk all of the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl, thinning with as much water as needed. You want the dressing to be thick, but thin enough that it pours and drizzles easily.

  7. To make the filling, begin by coating the bottom of a medium skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil and placing it over medium heat.

  8. When the oil is hot, add the apple.

  9. Cook the apple for about 6 minutes, flipping it once or twice, until the pieces are soft and lightly browned in spots.

  10. Remove the apple from the skillet and transfer it to a plate.

  11. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and give it a minute to heat up.

  12. When the oil is hot, add the shallot. Cook the shallot, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, for about 5 minutes.

  13. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute more, until very fragrant.

  14. Add the chickpeas, sage, thyme and whiskey. Stir everything together, raise the heat, and bring the liquid up to a simmer.

  15. Lower the heat and allow the whiskey to simmer until most of the liquid has cooked off, about 5 minutes. Sniff or taste the mixture to see if any alcohol is detectable — if so, let it cook for a minute more.

  16. Stir in the rice and soy sauce, and return the apples to the skillet.

  17. Cook everything for just a minute or two more, until heated throughout.

  18. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the walnuts and cranberries. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

  19. When the squash comes out of the oven, spoon the filling into each half. Transfer the squash to place and drizzle each half with tahini dressing. Serve.

Nutrition Facts

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Amount Per Serving (1 squash half with filling and dressing)

Calories 532 Calories from Fat 197

% Daily Value*

Fat 21.9g34%

Saturated Fat 2.6g13%

Sodium 714mg30%

Potassium 1235mg35%

Carbohydrates 69.2g23%

Fiber 12.2g49%

Sugar 12.7g14%

Protein 13.6g27%

Calcium 13mg1%

Iron 33mg183%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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