Let this tasty fall vegetable shine.

Acorn squash is probably one of the most underrated squashes out there. While zucchini and butternut squash show up in recipe after recipe, far fewer dishes take advantage of this simple, sweet squash—and learning how to cook acorn squash is easy. While you can always sauté or microwave acorn squash, make acorn squash in the oven to allow the flesh to caramelize a bit (especially if you make roasted acorn squash). Baking acorn squash helps enhance the sweetness of the acorn squash and makes it the perfect fall side dish (or even the star of the meal).

The acorn squash's round shape makes it perfect for stuffing: just slice the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and fill in the cavity with your favorite ingredients. It's delicious with a variety of wonderful fillings, whether you're looking for something savory, or on the sweeter side (we also love stuffing acorn squash with apples, dried cranberries, and rice). If you don't want stuffed squash, baking acorn squash in the oven helps soften it for use in creamy (but still healthy) soups or purees.

Like other squashes, acorn squash is rich in fiber and antioxidants like vitamin A, several of the B vitamins, and vitamin C—and it can be served in many of the same ways you use potatoes, whether you prepare it mashed, roasted, or baked.

Acorn squash in oven - how to guide (acorn squash in oven)
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How to cook acorn squash in the oven

To prep an acorn squash for baking, you can cut off about a quarter inch at each end to make it more stable and easy to handle. Peel the squash if you want—the skin is perfectly edible, but it can be a little hard to chew. (Skip peeling if you're planning on stuffing the squash, as the skin makes it look beautiful for presentation and helps it keep its shape while it's baking.)

The simplest way to make acorn squash in the oven is to roast it, like our fabulously easy and delicious maple squash recipe. Just quarter the squash, top it with a little maple syrup, butter, salt, and pepper, and bake at 400° F until it's tender, about 45 minutes. If you'd rather make it a little more savory (and a little faster, for those quick weeknight meals), you can slice the squash into smaller pieces, toss the pieces with olive oil, thyme, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper, and roast the acorn squash in the oven at 400° F for 25 minutes.

And if you're really in a hurry, there's a perfect trick for making acorn squash in the oven in less than 10 minutes—broiling. For this method of cooking acorn squash in the oven, simply heat up your broiler with a rack six inches below the heating element, cut your squash how you like it, and cook for about 10 minutes. For extra flavor, try a sweet and spicy broiled acorn squash, where you slather the slices in a tasty combo of sriracha and maple syrup.