Main Dishes

November 13, 2020

Turkey Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash

Enjoy all the flavors of Thanksgiving with this Turkey Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash! Ground turkey is tossed with cranberries, celery, and apples, then stuffed in an acorn squash and slow roasted in the oven. It is so easy to make and so delicious!

As a food blogger, I live and breathe for holidays, events, celebrations, and new seasons.

Sure, there are recipes that are good any time of year, like Chicken Cordon Bleu, homemade dinner rolls, or these Strawberry Cheesecake Crepes, but these special occasions really allow me to be creative with my flavors, techniques, and recipes. I love it!

Today's recipe is one of those dishes I've had on my list for a few months just waiting to test.

Every flavor in this Turkey Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash reminds me of all the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, but each dish is woven together to create one amazing and unique dinner!

No, I'm not talking about my best friend's little brother's Thanksgiving smoothie he created after getting his wisdom teeth out. That was gross.

I'm talking about the perfect sweet and savory, soft and crunchy combination that you taste in this stuffed acorn squash!

A tray of stuffed acorn squashes

Ingredients you'll need

You probably thought of roast turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, warm stuffing, and pumpkin pie, right?

Well, good news for you, this stuffed acorn squash recipe has exciting variations of all of those elements! Check out what's stuffed inside:

  • Ground turkey: I've chosen 93% lean ground turkey for this dish, but you could easily use your leftover roasted turkey for this as well!
  • Dried cranberries: I always use these reduced-sugar cranberries in my cooking and baking. They are still incredibly sweet with half as much refined-sugar!
  • Diced celery: traditionally used in a bread stuffing. Although it's mostly water and fiber, adding celery to this recipe actually adds some good flavor! Make sure to slice them thinly so they soften faster.
  • Crisp apples: adds another element of sweet to this savory dish. You can use any type of apple here, I just recommend choosing a red one like honeycrisp, gala, or fuji.
  • Diced shallot: the sweeter cousin of an onion that gives that classic onion flavor and texture without overwhelming the other ingredients.
  • Chopped pecans: a classic partner to pumpkin pie that adds a creamy crunch and heart-healthy fats to this dish.
  • Fresh spinach: for a boost of greens, vitamin K, and texture
  • Sugar-free maple syrup: the magic stuff that pulls everything together. You can grab some here on Amazon!
  • Fresh thyme sprigs: one of the most important ingredients in my opinion. Add them to the skillet mixture to infuse incredible flavor, then remove them when you're ready to serve. You can find fresh herbs in the produce section of the supermarket.

Acorn squash on a baking tray

Expert tips

  1. Slice the stem off the squash, then set the squash down flat and cut in half, top to bottom. Then, slice a small portion of the shell off so you can set the squash down flat. Look at the picture above for reference.
  2. Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray and brush the squash with oil as well. This will prevent it from sticking to the pan and really help it get nice and tender with a crispy edge.
  3. Roast the squash open side down. This prevents the squash from drying out but also helps it retain all the flavor from the oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Prepare the filling while the squash is roasting. When everything is done cooking, cover with a lid and turn the heat down to low to let all the flavors really combine. This will take your stuffed acorn squash to the next level!
  5. Before stuffing the squash with the filling, mash the inside like you would a baked potato. I find I get more squash per bite if I do this.
  6. Don't eat the skin! Unlike potatoes, acorn squash skins are tough and not very yummy (nor do they have much nutritional value). If you've ever had a spaghetti squash, you don't eat the skin right? Same thing here.

A stuffed acorn squash with fresh rosemary on top

Why you'll love this recipe

Minimal dishes: one skillet and one sheet pan. That's it! Perfect for quick and easy weeknight meals or busy holiday feasts.

20 minutes of work: all you have to do is prepare the squash and make the stuffing. The oven will cook the squash and you'll leave the stuffing on low heat for 20 minutes to really infuse all those delicious flavors. Simple!

Portioned servings: one serving is one squash half with stuffing, so it's easy to pass around the dishes and minimize the risk of a messy table.

Classic Thanksgiving flavors: like I mentioned before, there's a bit of everything mixed in here the best way possible. Just the right amount of sweet and savory!

Wholesome ingredients: we're using lean ground turkey, lots of produce, and immune-boosting herbs and spices. This dish is also naturally gluten-free and dairy-free!

Macro-friendly: this means the ratio of carbs to fat to protein are balanced so you get a good amount of all of them.

A stuffed acorn squash being cut into pieces

More Squash Recipes You'll Love

How to Roast a Spaghetti Squash

Summer Squash Turkey Sausage Hash

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

The Best Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole

Healthy Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

Roasted Veggie and Quinoa Salad with Turmeric Honey Mustard

An acorn squash stuffed with ground turkey and seasonal produce

If I'm being totally honest, the first time I'd had an acorn squash was when I developed this recipe. But this recipe converted me! It's so tender and different than any other squash I've had before. I know you'll love it too!

I'd love to hear if you try this recipe at home! Be sure to leave a star rating and review below so other readers know how you liked it, then tag me on Instagram! I love seeing you try my recipes and I try my best to respond to each comment. Happy [almost] Thanksgiving!

Enjoy all the flavors of Thanksgiving with this Turkey Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash! Ground turkey is tossed with cranberries, celery, and apples, then stuffed in an acorn squash and slow roasted in the oven. It is so easy to make and so delicious!


Brooke Harmer













  • 1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 red apple, finely diced
  • ¼ C chopped pecans
  • 3 Tbsp sugar-free maple syrup
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 oz. packed spinach
  • ¼ C dried cranberries, reduced sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Slice the stems off the squashes, then set flat side down and cut in half top to bottom. Now, cut a flat piece off the skin on each side so the squash can lay flat on the baking sheet.* Scoop out the excess flesh and seeds, then spray with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 50 minutes in the oven.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing. Heat a large skillet to medium heat with the olive oil. Sauteé the shallot, celery, apples, pecans, garlic, and thyme for 10 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add in the ground turkey, maple syrup, and nutmeg, cooking the turkey until brown. Reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid. Simmer on low until the squash is finished.
  4. Remove the fresh thyme, then fold in the cranberries and spinach until the spinach has wilted.
  5. To serve, spoon the stuffing into the acorn squash halves. Divide the remaining stuffing into four servings and add those servings to each squash.


*See blog post for more details if this step is confusing.

Nutrition facts are a calculated estimate of one squash half and a quarter of the stuffing.