Should you remove the skin from acorn squash?

Quick Answer

It is not necessary to remove the skin from acorn squash before cooking and eating it. The skin is edible and contains beneficial nutrients like fiber. However, some people may prefer to peel acorn squash if the skin is tough or they don’t like the texture. Peeling can also allow seasonings to better penetrate the squash during cooking.

What is acorn squash?

Acorn squash is a winter squash that is round or oval shaped and has distinctive ridges along its exterior. It gets its name from its acorn-like appearance. Other common names for this veggie include pepper squash and Des Moines squash.

Some key facts about acorn squash:

  • It has green skin that turns orange or yellow when ripe.
  • The flesh inside can be yellow, orange, or white.
  • Acorn squash has a sweet, nutty taste.
  • It’s harvested in early fall and available through winter.
  • The average size ranges from 1-3 pounds.

Acorn squash belongs to the Cucurbita genus along with butternut squash, pumpkins, zucchini, and other winter and summer squash varieties. They are native to North and Central America.

Nutrition in acorn squash skin

The skin of acorn squash contains beneficial nutrients including:

  • Dietary fiber – Squash skin is high in fiber, which aids digestion, heart health, and weight management.
  • Vitamin A – This vitamin supports immune function and healthy eyes.
  • Potassium – Potassium helps regulate fluid balance and blood pressure.
  • Various antioxidants – These compounds fight cellular damage from free radicals.

By leaving the skin on, you retain these nutrients in each serving. Fiber is especially concentrated in the skin versus the flesh.

Benefits of leaving the skin on

Here are some of the top advantages to keeping the skin on your acorn squash:

  1. Maximizes its nutritional value – As mentioned, the skin contains beneficial fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  2. Adds textural contrast – The smooth flesh and tender skin provide textural variety.
  3. Enhances flavor – When roasted, the skin develops a slightly sweet and crunchy taste that adds to the squash’s overall flavor.
  4. Avoids waste – Leaving the nutritious skin on reduces food waste.
  5. Saves prep time – Not having to peel the squash saves time in the kitchen.

Many recipes keep the skin intact to highlight acorn squash’s natural properties. The skin often becomes tender during roasting or baking while providing complementary texture.

Reasons some choose to peel

While the skin is edible, there are a few reasons why peeling acorn squash is preferred in some instances:

  • If the skin seems thick or tough – Older, larger squash may have thicker skin that doesn’t soften well during cooking.
  • To allow seasoning penetration – Removing the skin means spice rubs, oil, etc. directly coat the flesh.
  • For a softer consistency – Those who prefer a spoonable squash dish may want to peel first.
  • If appearance matters – The orange/yellow flesh without skin has a homogeneous look.
  • Personal preference – Some simply don’t like the texture of squash skin.

For purees, soups, or recipes where skin texture doesn’t complement the dish, peeling makes sense. But even then, the skin can be retained for its nutrients by roasting or sauteing it separately to add to the finished dish.

How to peel acorn squash

If you opt to remove acorn squash skin, here are some tips for prepping:

  1. Wash the squash – Give it a good scrub with cool water to remove dirt or wax.
  2. Trim off the ends – Using a sharp knife, slice a thin piece off the stem and blossom ends.
  3. Score the skin – Carefully cut into the skin lengthwise from end to end. Make slashes into the ridges.
  4. Microwave briefly – Heating for 2-3 minutes makes peeling easier.
  5. Cool slightly before peeling – Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before handling.
  6. Peel with hands or vegetable peeler – Grab edges of skin with fingers and pull pieces off. A peeler also works.

The skin should separate from the flesh fairly easily. Trim any remaining bits with a paring knife. Once peeled, the squash is ready for cutting, seed removal, and cooking.

How to cook acorn squash

Acorn squash can be prepared using a few simple cooking methods:


Cut squash in half, season flesh side up, add butter/oil, and bake cut-side down on a sheet pan at 400°F for 40-60 minutes until tender.


Chop into wedges, toss with oil, season, and roast at 425°F for 25-35 minutes until browned and cooked through.


Peel, dice into 1-inch pieces, saute in butter or oil over medium-high heat for 8-12 minutes until caramelized and softened.


For mashed squash, cook squash until very soft, scoop out flesh, then mash with butter/oil, seasonings, and splash of warm liquid like broth. Puree in a blender or food processor for smoother texture.


Cut squash into pieces, add to a steamer basket, and steam for 15-20 minutes until fork tender. Toss with butter and seasonings.

Acorn squash pairs well with flavors like brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, maple syrup, nuts like pecans or walnuts, onion, garlic, apple, cranberries, feta cheese, bacon, sage, oregano, curry powder, chili powder, cumin, and more.

Storing acorn squash

Fresh acorn squash keeps for 1-3 months in a cool, dry place. Do not refrigerate raw squash. Once cut, leftover baked or cooked squash should be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-5 days. Frozen cooked squash keeps for 8-12 months.

To freeze: Cook squash, let cool, scoop flesh into freezer bags or airtight containers leaving 1-inch of headspace. Freeze up to 12 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before using in recipes.

Acorn squash facts

  • The word “squash” comes from the Narragansett Native American word “askutasquash” meaning “eaten raw or uncooked.”
  • Acorn squash has a bush-like growth habit on the vine versus trailing like other squash.
  • They contain over 90% water when fresh.
  • Popular varieties include Sweet REBA, Honey Bear, and Carnival.
  • Other names include pepper squash and Des Moines squash.
  • Acorn squash contains over 100% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C per serving.
  • The seeds are edible when roasted, though acorn squash has fewer seeds compared to butternut or pumpkin.
  • They are believed to have originated in Central America over 10,000 years ago.

Acorn squash recipes

From side dishes to entrées, here are some delicious ways to cook acorn squash:

Roasted Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar

Cut squash in half, fill with butter/oil and brown sugar, bake until tender. The sugar caramelizes in the cavity.

Acorn Squash Soup

Roast squash, then blend with broth, onions, garlic, ginger, cream or coconut milk, and spices like cumin or curry. Garnish with yogurt.

Risotto with Acorn Squash

Make classic risotto, folding in diced roasted acorn squash at the end. Finish with parmesan cheese.

Acorn Squash Tacos

Roast squash wedges, cool, and scoop flesh into warmed tortillas or taco shells. Top with salsa, black beans, avocado, cheese, etc.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Bake halved squash, then fill cavities with quinoa, wild rice or stuffing mix along with sauteed veggies, nuts, cranberries, etc.

Acorn Squash Lasagna

Make lasagna swapping noodles for thin slices of acorn squash. Layer with cheese, sauce, and other fillings.


Acorn squash skin is completely edible and contains beneficial fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Leaving the skin on when cooking maximizes nutrition and flavor. However, peeling may be preferred if the skin seems tough, to allow seasonings to penetrate, for a softer texture, or by personal preference. Peel using a vegetable peeler or knife then slice, bake, roast, or steam until tender. Store raw squash up to three months in a cool place or refrigerate cooked leftovers 3-5 days. With its unique look and sweet, nutty taste, acorn squash makes a great low-carb ingredient for side dishes, soups, tacos, risotto, and more.

Leave a Comment