Instant Pot acorn squash is the quickest, most fuss-free way to prepare this nutritious squash. Start to finish, this cooking method only takes about 20 minutes! Serve as a side dish, or stuff the acorn squash halves with pre-cooked rice and veggies. You can also scoop out the flesh for mashing or make a creamy soup!
What is acorn squash?
Acorn squash is part of the same family as zucchini and other summer squashes. But because it has more in common with winter squashes, like tough skin and drier flesh, most of us think of it and treat it as a winter squash.
You can recognize acorn squash by it's small round shape, dark green color, often with bright orange patches, and vertical ridges.
Acorn squash has a mild, sweet flavor that pairs well with both savory and sweet seasonings. It is often cut in half and stuffed with savory filings, but it also works well in soups, baked goods, and even pie.
Instant Pot to the Rescue
Recently a friend gifted us several large, beautiful, heirloom acorn squashes from their garden.
And while there are many ways to prepare acorn squash, this past weekend I was finalizing an upcoming holiday recipe (this Vegan Turkey Roast), and I wanted an easy way to cook the acorn squash for lunch.
The kitchen was a total wreck, and the oven was in use. So as it often does, the Instant Pot saved the day!
I'll come straight out and admit that as much as I enjoy eating winter squashes, I'm just not always excited about the two main roadblocks involved in preparing them:
- there's usually either a lot of difficult (and sometimes downright dangerous) chopping involved, or...
- if left whole or halved, they take forever to cook!
But for this recipe all you need is one simple slice down the middle followed by a few minutes in the Instant Pot. So amazing!
Sort of like learning to make your own vegan yogurt or that you can have delicious lentil curry in minutes, this is another example why the Instant Pot is a kitchen hero.
What You'll Need
- an Instant Pot - pictured is the 6-quart size
- one acorn squash
- optional seasonings -
- sweet - rub the cut side with maple syrup and sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin spice.
- savory - rub with oil (optional), and season with dried rosemary and thyme, plus salt and pepper.
How to Prepare Acorn Squash
Use a sturdy knife to cut the squash in half through the stem end, rather than horizontally. Even with the best quality chef's knife, this can be a challenging task! Be careful and take your time. Or let the microwave lend a helping hand...
To make carving an acorn squash easier, pierce the skin of the squash several times with a fork, then microwave it for about a minute and a half. Let it cool for a few minutes before you handle and carve it.
Scoop out the strings and seeds, and now you're ready to season the squash and cook it in the Instant Pot.
How to Cook Acorn Squash in the Instant Pot
Add 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot, and set the trivet inside. Season the acorn squash halves as desired, and place cut-side up. Secure the lid and set to sealing.
- small/medium acorn squash (about 5 inches across) - high pressure for 5 minutes, natural release 5 minutes.
- large squash (6 to 6.5 inches diameter) - high pressure 6 to 7 minutes, natural release 5 minutes.
Right out of the Instant Pot the acorn squash is delicious as is!
You can also scoop the squash from the skins and mash with a bit of vegan butter or a touch of olive oil if you're in the mood for something richer, more akin to a sweet potato casserole.
Try them with a sprinkle of nuts or seeds, like pecans, walnuts, or toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
Serve Instant Pot acorn squash as a healthy side dish with a hearty plant-based main like:
You can also stuff the acorn squash when it comes out of the Instant Pot.
Try it filled with a mixture of sautéed veggies, rice or quinoa, and crumbled tofu. Or add sweet & smoky tempeh or seitan chorizo.
Get creative with flavor pairings and season the filling any way you like!
Can you freeze acorn squash?
Absolutely. Once the squash has cooled, scoop out the flesh, and freeze in an airtight container. It should keep for at least a few months.
I hope you enjoy this super quick way to prepare acorn squash! If you give it a try be sure to comment below and let us know.
More Instant Pot Recipes
Instant Pot Acorn Squash
- 6-quart instant pot - or larger
- 1 acorn squash
- 1 cup water
- generous pinch of sea salt
- generous pinch of dried rosemary
- generous pinch of dried thyme
- black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup - Sub brown sugar, if desired.
- a few dashes of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
- Wash the outside of the squash and pat dry. Carefully slice in half through the stem end, and use a large spoon to clean out the seeds.
- Select either savory or sweet toppings, and sprinkle onto the cut sides of the squash. Place trivet in bottom of Instant Pot. Add 1 cup water.
- Arrange squash halves cut-side up on the trivet. Close and secure the Instant Pot lid, and set to sealing. For a small/medium acorn squash (about 5 inches diameter): cook at high pressure for 5 minutes, then let the pressure naturally release for 5 minutes. Quick release remaining pressure. For a large squash (6 to 6.5 inches diameter): cook at high pressure for 6 to 7 minutes, followed by natural release for 5 minutes. Quick release remaining pressure.
- Carefully remove the Instant Pot lid, tilting it away (careful of the steam). Let the squash to cool for a few minutes. The cooked squash can be tricky to remove from the Instant Pot. The easiest way I've found is to use two large wooden spoons (or similar utensils) to grab each squash half and carefully lift out onto a plate.
- Serve immediately, or cool completely before placing in a storage container and refrigerating.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.
Thank you for this super simple idea. The most difficult part is cutting the squash in half. Six minutes wasn't enough time, my squash was still quite firm, so I cooked it for a few more minutes and it was perfect.
Thanks, Kristin! You're so right about that one slice being the hardest part. I thought about cooking the whole acorn squash in the IP but was afraid it would explode. 😀 I'm glad you enjoyed it, and it all worked out in the end!