Acorn squash with butter and cinnamon-sugar is a delicious side dish that is ready in just 15 minutes. I’ve served it to guests who had no idea what it was, but loved it once they tasted the sweet, buttery topping and tender squash.
I was grown and married before I ever ate acorn squash, and I realize I am probably not alone. This tutorial breaks down preparing and cooking acorn squash in the microwave step-by-step. If you’ve never tried it, I hope this will help you venture out of your comfort zone and give it a try. I first learned to cook it in the oven, but I prefer quick recipes so I adapted it to an acorn squash microwave version.
⏲️ Time needed
Using the microwave is the secret to having this easy side dish on the table in under 15 minutes. It takes about 5 minutes to cut and clean the squash, then about 10 minutes of microwave cooking time.
The squash can be roasted in the oven instead, but it will take about an hour at 375ºF to cook. Instructions for the oven are included in the cooking instructions below and in the notes in the recipe card.
In addition to the acorn squash (1 squash yields 2 servings), this easy recipe uses:
- brown sugar or honey
- water for steaming
🛒 Choosing acorn squash
Season: Acorn squash it is a popular fall/winter variety, but is available all year long in most grocery stores. I find it a bit heavy for summer cooking, but we enjoy it year round other than in hot weather.
Color: Although heirloom acorn squash varieties are available that are more orange in color, the most common variety of acorn squash found in grocery stores is best when mostly green and dull in color. Too much orange indicates an overripe squash which will be stringy.
Sheen: A shiny squash indicates that it was harvested too early and the sweetness of the flesh was not allowed adequate time to develop.
🔪 Preparing acorn squash for cooking
Like all of the winter squash varieties, acorn squash has a center filled with soft, stringy pulp and large seeds. To prepare the squash, wash the outside and slice it in half from stem to blossom end.
Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and stringy flesh from the center and discard.
The cleaned squash will look like this.
♨️ How to cook acorn squash in the microwave
For this recipe, prepare enough squash for each person to have one half of a squash. Pour just enough water to cover the bottom into a microwave-safe dish large enough to fit all of the squash. Place the squash upside down in the pan (not pictured).
I find that the squash cook faster if I prop the squash on each other and the sides of the pan. The steam can circulate around the flesh of the squash better this way.
Cook in the microwave on high for several minutes until squash are tender but not mushy. Usually this takes 4-6 minutes but it will depend on the number of squash you are cooking and the strength of your microwave.
When the squash are tender, drain the water from the pan and turn the squash over (careful, they’re hot!). Place a pat of butter in the center of each half.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar to taste.
Heat until butter is melted and the butter/cinnamon/sugar mixture is bubbly. Serve immediately. To eat, just scoop the flesh of the squash out with a spoon or fork (don’t eat the skin). It’s delicious!
How to cook acorn squash in the oven: You can make roasted or baked squash in the oven if you prefer—skip the steaming step and put it face down on a baking sheet with shallow sides, and cook it in a preheated 375ºF oven for about 30-40 minutes (or until the insides are tender when pricked with a fork) Remove and turn skin side down and fill the hollow with the butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Cook until butter is melted and bubbling, about 15 more minutes.
Easy 15 Minute Microwave Acorn Squash
- 1 acorn squash
- 2 tsp. brown sugar or honey
- dash of cinnamon
- 2 tsp. butter
- dash of salt
- 2 Tbsp. water, for steaming
- Wash acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise; scrape out seeds.
- Place upside down into a glass baking dish containing 2 Tbsp. water.
- Cook in microwave until squash is tender, about 6 minutes (time depends on your microwave strength and the number of squash you are cooking).
- Remove from microwave, turn squash right side up in same dish.
- Into each hollow, place butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cook in microwave until butter mixture is bubbly, about 2-4 minutes. Serve hot.
- Cook in microwave until butter mixture is bubbly. Serve hot.