Acorn squash is the perfect comfort food; it’s sweet, nutty, and incredibly versatile.
But sometimes you just can’t decide what to serve alongside it!
To help you create the perfect meal, we’ve gathered 43 delicious proteins and lip-smacking sides that go great with acorn squash.
Ready to test out some new tasty combinations?
Simply pick a protein and pick a side and you’ll have a wholesome and delicious meal to serve alongside your acorn squash.
Proteins that pair well with acorn squash
Since acorn squash is a low-protein vegetable, it’s a good idea to pair it with a protein for a balanced and satisfying meal.
Nearly any type of protein can be paired with acorn squash, from beef, pork, and lamb, to chicken, seafood, and vegan options, take a look at our list below and find the main dish that works best for you.
Spice rubbed chicken breast
One delicious way to enjoy acorn squash is by pairing it with spice rubbed baked chicken breasts.
The sweetness of the roasted squash provides a great combination with the smoky notes of the chicken.
Plus, it’s an easy dish to make with minimal ingredients. Just prepare a spice rub for the chicken before lightly coating both sides in it, then bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until juicy and tender.
Serve your delicious baked chicken overtop a slice of roasted acorn squash for an absolute flavor sensation! It’s sure to be a hit with family and friends alike.
Grilled chicken tenders
Grilled chicken tenders are a great addition to any meal with acorn squash. We make this Grilled Lemon Chicken all the time using chicken tenders and it’s a huge hit with the kids.
When grilling, marinating the chicken ahead of time with herbs, spices, and seasonings will really boost the flavor. Grill until slightly charred on the outside and moist on the inside – you’ll know it’s ready when the internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
Serve your grilled chicken with roasted acorn squash for a nutritious dinner that’s full of flavor.
Braised chicken thighs
Whether you have cubed, roasted, sautéed, or mashed acorn squash, the savory-sweet flavor of braised chicken thighs pairs up beautifully alongside it. The succulent flavors of the chicken contrast nicely with acorn squash’s earthy sweetness.
Be sure to season the thighs generously with herbs and spices to really intensify their taste. Think caramelized onions to add a tasty layer to it as well.
Serve this comforting combination over rice or couscous and you’ll have an easy weeknight dinner packed full of goodness!
Sliced turkey breast
Not only is turkey breast naturally juicy and tender, but you can season it with herbs for extra flavor.
Try grilling some up and serving with roasted squash wedges and another vegetable from the list below for a hearty meal your family will love!
Roasted duck breast
Crispy roasted duck breast is a great choice to serve alongside acorn squash.
Cooking requires some skill and preparation, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time and practice if you’re new to it. However, once you get your timing right, you’ll have a recipe that you’ll come back to again and again – a simple yet sophisticated accompaniment to your show-stopping acorn squash.
Grilled flank steak
Grilled flank steak has a great smoky flavor that helps bring out the nutty, sweet taste of acorn squash. The combination of these two ingredients is sure to delight your family or friends.
Flank steak also pairs nicely with other fall vegetables like Brussels sprouts and roasted carrots; so don’t be afraid to get creative! As always, remember to season the steak with your favorite herbs for maximum flavor before grilling over medium-high heat for best results. Serve hot and enjoy!
Braised short ribs
Braised short ribs are the perfect accompaniment to any acorn squash dish.
The secret to a perfectly cooked short rib is low and slow braising, which slowly breaks down the tough connective tissue and leaves you with tender, succulent bites of beef.
To get started, season the short ribs and brown them in a hot pan before covering them with liquid for braising. Once it’s finished cooking, be sure to check the doneness of the meat; it should be fall-apart-tender when checked with a fork.
Serve alongside your roasted or mashed acorn squash—the savory flavors of both pair wonderfully together—along with your favorite sides and you’ll have an unforgettable dinner on your hands.
It’s hard to top a deliciously pan-seared steak. This stand-out main doesn’t need anything fancy to make an incredible meal.
For the perfect steak, make sure you season your steak generously before searing it in a skillet over medium-high heat. And don’t forget to baste often garlic butter at the end of cooking for a rich silky finish.
Add in some roasted acorn squash and seasonal veggies. You won’t believe how delicious this meal can be!
Grilled pork chops
Grilled pork chops pair especially well with acorn squash. The mild sweetness of the squash complements the saltiness of the pork chop wonderfully, making for a delicious flavor combination.
To keep your pork chops tender and juicy, use thick-cut bone-in chops and definitely use a dry-rub or marinade before cooking. Not only will it add an extra layer of flavor, but you’ll also have yourself an attractive, rustic dish that’ll have your family asking for seconds!
Roasted pork tenderloin
Roasted pork tenderloin is an easy-to-prepare addition to any table featuring acorn squash.
As the pork cooks in the oven, infuse it with fragrant herbs for a truly decadent experience. Finish it off by slicing the tenderloin into medallions and layering over roasted squash halves for an impressive presentation.
Serve this dish with sautéed greens and mushrooms for a balance of flavor that’ll keep your guests satisfied all night long.
Slow-cooked pulled pork
Succulent, savory slow-cooked pork pairs beautifully with the sweet, nutty flavors of roasted acorn squash.
One delicious way to enjoy this combination is to cube the roasted squash and add it to a pulled pork sandwich. The slow-cooked meat also tastes amazing when served as an accompaniment to slices of roasted acorn squash, drenched in butter and maple syrup.
The possibilities are endless – all that’s left is for you to get creative in the kitchen.
Grilled lamb chops
Grilled lamb chops have a slight char that perfectly complements the sweetness and nuttiness of the acorn squash.
To prepare, marinade your lamb chops in oil and fresh herbs before popping them onto a hot grill. Grill until slightly charred and cooked through, then serve alongside roasted or mashed acorn squash for an unforgettable seasonal meal.
Baked halibut is a delectable accompaniment to acorn squash. Its mild flavor is perfect for allowing the sweet, earthy taste of acorn squash to shine while providing a light seafood flavor.
Baked halibut takes minutes to make and its flaky texture makes it irresistible. Serve up this gourmet-style dish with steamed green beans and roasted acorn squash and you’ll have an elegant fall entrée in no time. Just remember to season your halibut well with salt and pepper for the perfect amount of kick!
Baked salmon is rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, making it a nutritious choice for any meal. This tasty fish pairs perfectly with the sweet flavor of acorn squash.
It stays moist after baking and can be seasoned to perfection with herbs and spices. Pair with a green leafy vegetable for a balanced plate full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
A light and delicious white fish, such as cod, pairs excellently with acorn squash. Lightly dredging with flour and pan searing it provides a nice crispy exterior and a delicate, flaky inside. To add extra flavor, make a quick pan sauce garlic, herbs, and lemon juice after the fish is cooked.
We especially love how the light flavor of white fish compliments the acorn squash without overpowering it, so your side dishes can really shine. Try this easy recipe for Pan-Fried Cod with Slaw.
Perfectly cooked in a hot skillet and covered in Cajun spices, blackened catfish makes a great accompaniment to acorn squash.
Catfish is light yet flavorful, adding an element of sweetness that will bring out the buttery flavor of the roasted squash.
Serve it alongside some collard greens for an extra boost of nutrition and the perfect balance between acidity and heat brought by the blackening seasonings.
Poached salmon is an excellent addition to any acorn squash meal and is a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Simply poach some fresh salmon in water seasoned with white wine, salt, lemon, and herbs and you’re good to go. Serve this dish with roasted vegetables and, of course, some acorn squash – the combination is divine.
Seared tuna steak
For an easy yet sophisticated dinner party, seared tuna steak is an excellent pairing with acorn squash. The rich flavor of the tuna complements the sweetness of the squash perfectly.
When preparing your steaks, be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t overcook – and don’t forget to season generously. Serve your tuna steak and acorn squash with refreshing white wine and seasonal veggies. Your guests will love it!
Whether you go for spicy-sweet jerk seasoning, garlicky pesto, or a simple lemon and garlic marinade, getting that perfect grill marks brings shrimp to the next level.
Pro tip: get your grill hot before you add the shrimp for shorter cooking times and perfectly cooked seafood every time! Serve this shrimp alongside warmly spiced acorn squash and dinner is sure to be a hit.
The sweet, nutty flavor of acorn squash complements tender, briny scallops beautifully.
Prepare your scallops simply, by sprinkling them with salt and pepper then searing them in a hot pan with some melted butter or olive oil – just enough to keep them from sticking.
Once they’re cooked through, create a quick lemon-butter pan sauce and serve the golden-brown scallops alongside roasted acorn squash. This is the perfect combination for a special dinner that’s sure to impress!
Baked tofu is a delicious vegan accompaniment to acorn squash and you can easily roast it on the same pan for easy prep and clean up.
Tofu and squash pair well with salty umami, sweet honey or brown sugar, and bright fresh herbs and citrus. We enjoy Smitten Kitchen’s Roasted Squash and Tofu with Ginger as an easy yet impressive weeknight meal.
Grilled portobello mushrooms
Not only are portobello mushrooms tasty, hearty, and nutritious, but they can also be easily grilled, creating a smoky, savory flavor that pairs so well with acorn squash.
Try complementing their earthy flavor by seasoning them with garlic, thyme, and a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil before grilling. You can even stuff them for added texture and depth of flavor. Serve them alongside your favorite squash dish for an amazing meal.
Sides that pair well with acorn squash
Creamed spinach is a classic side dish that goes perfectly with any squash-based meal, especially acorn squash. It’s easy to make and super delicious. Combine sautéed spinach in a creamy garlic sauce with a pinch of nutmeg — the hint of spice will bring out the flavor of your acorn squash. Add your favorite cheese for extra oomph and you’ve got yourself a winning side dish to any dinner table.
Green beans with almonds
For a veggie side dish that packs a punch, consider sauteed green beans with almonds. Sauté the green beans in oil to get a nice crispness on the outside while keeping the center tender. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve this simple yet delicious side alongside your acorn squash.
Grilled asparagus goes great with acorn squash and is surprisingly easy to make. Just spread some olive oil on your asparagus stalks, sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper and either lay them directly on the grill or create a tinfoil packet before placing them on the grill. No matter how you choose to cook it, grilled asparagus will add an elegant touch to any acorn squash dish you serve.
When topped with just the right amount of salt and pepper, grilled zucchini adds a meaty texture to your dish that complements the creamy smoothness of acorn squash. It also packs in essential vitamins and minerals, making it both tasty and nutritious!
Roasted Brussels sprouts
Roasted Brussels sprouts make the perfect accompaniment to acorn squash. Their flavor is a delightful mix of nutty and earthy, making them the ideal complement to the delicately sweet and nutty taste of acorn squash.
Brussels sprouts become immensely more satisfying when roasted, creating irresistible crispy edges. Plus, this healthy and delicious vegetable is full of antioxidants and vitamins.
Sauteed kale with garlic and parmesan
One of the best things about kale is that it takes only minutes to cook, meaning you can have a healthy and flavorful dish on the table in no time. Simply wash and chop a head of fresh kale, heat oil in a skillet, toss in some chopped garlic and sauté until fragrant, then add the kale and salt, sauté for a few more minutes until tender and you’re done!
Tossing some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on at the end just adds to the flavor explosion—it goes perfectly with roasted acorn squash. Be sure to give this simple yet scrumptious side dish a try.
Sauteed power greens and mushrooms
Sauteed power greens and mushrooms is a tasty, vibrant side dish that pairs perfectly with acorn squash. Just sauté some fresh spinach in olive oil with sliced garlic and finish with flaky sea salt and a splash of lemon juice. With just a few ingredients and minutes in the skillet, you’ll have the perfect accompaniment for your acorn squash dishes.
It might not be the most exciting side dish, but steamed broccoli is an excellent accompaniment to acorn squash. Steaming is a great way to cook broccoli as it preserves a lot of the nutrition, yet remains tender and flavorful. Squeeze some fresh lemon and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese for a fancier finish.
Garlic mashed potatoes
Who doesn’t love garlicky mashed potatoes? They are a perfect pairing for acorn squash!
Such a versatile and easy side dish to make, garlic mashed potatoes can round out your meal. Serve alongside your favorite acorn squash recipe – from baked slices smothered in maple syrup, to stuffed and roasted halves – for an unforgettable comforting meal.
Roasted garlic and herb potatoes
Roasted garlic and herb potatoes are a delicious side dish to serve with acorn squash. To make them, simply start by preheating your oven to 400°F. Peel and cut the potatoes into bite-sized cubes and combine them in a large bowl with olive oil, minced garlic cloves, rosemary, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Toss the mixture together until the cubes are coated evenly before transferring everything onto a baking sheet. Bake the potatoes for about 30 minutes until just tender before serving hot with your cooked acorn squash. An unbeatable combination of garlicky herby goodness and scrumptious hearty flavor!
Roasted root vegetables
Whip up a cozy autumn feast by roasting your favorite selection of root veggies like carrots, beets, and turnips alongside your acorn squash. Depending on the size of the vegetable chunks, all you need is about thirty minutes in the oven to get that signature caramelized flavor.
Grains and pilafs
Quinoa is one of the best sides to serve alongside acorn squash, adding a flavorful and nutritious twist to your meal.
For an easy quinoa pilaf, simply combine cooked quinoa with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and garlic. For even more flavor and texture, consider adding in a handful of chopped nuts and some fresh chopped herbs. The addition of a homemade dressing like olive oil and white balsamic vinegar will take the pilaf from good to great!
Wild rice pilaf
Wild rice pilaf is a great accompaniment to acorn squash, as the nutty flavor of the wild rice complements the subtle sweetness of the squash. This dish is easy to prepare and provides an extra layer of texture to your meal.
Start by sautéing wild rice and diced celery with butter or olive oil, then add some garlic and spices for an extra punch. Once the rice has absorbed all of its liquid, add in your favorite broth, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until fully cooked. Serve your wild rice pilaf with roasted acorn squash slices for a delicious side dish that’s sure to impress!
Other vegetable dishes
Apple and walnut salad
Sweet apples pair wonderfully with crunchy walnuts and the nutty flavor of acorn squash. With some tangy feta cheese and a zesty dressing, this simple salad will bring a delicious touch of autumn to your table. Plus, it looks beautiful too! If you’re looking for something special to serve alongside your favorite acorn squash dish, try making this easy apple and walnut salad.
Miso honey glazed carrots
For a delicious side dish to accompany acorn squash, give miso honey glazed carrots a try. A perfect balance of sweet and savory, these carrots are quickly gaining popularity amongst vegetable lovers for their unique flavor. The sweet and savory glaze gives the carrots a high-end look and feel but is surprisingly easy to make. Best of all, the meal can be on your dinner table in no time. Serve up this incredible side dish with acorn squash and you’ll have dinner guests asking for seconds.
The sweetness of onions perfectly complements the earthy, nutty taste of acorn squash, creating a match made in culinary heaven. Plus, caramelizing onions is surprisingly easy – with just two ingredients and a little bit of patience – and you can use them for countless other delicious dishes.
Simply cook thinly sliced onions on low heat with a little oil until they become soft and golden brown, transforming entertaining humble white onions into an irresistible flavor bomb that’ll have your guests talking long after dinner ends!
Garlic and herb roasted cauliflower
Roasted garlic and herb cauliflower is simple to make but oh-so-tasty. Mix together some minced garlic, your favorite herbs and spices, generous drizzles of olive oil, and freshly squeezed lemon juice and toss with cauliflower florets. Roast in the oven on high heat until they turn golden brown on the outside while staying soft and tender on the inside. Serve with a sprinkle of salt and pepper as an excellent side for roasted acorn squash.
Roasted beets are one of the yummiest sides to pair with acorn squash. All you need is some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and about 45 minutes of time in the oven for a plateful of tender and sweet roasted beets. And the best part? You can easily make a double batch to have throughout the week – enjoy them as part of a salad or make a quick side dish by tossing them with some grilled chicken or salmon. No matter how you serve them up, adding succulent roasted beets to your acorn squash makes for an irresistible combination that’s sure to please.
It’s impossible to beat the earthy, umami flavor that mushrooms offer up, and when sautéed in butter or oil, they become even more flavorful. Try adding little garlic and a splash of white wine and fresh parsley at the end for extra depth and complexity. We love this simple recipe for pan sauteed mushrooms for an easy weeknight side dish.
Simple side salad
For a simple and light side to enjoy alongside a hearty dose of acorn squash, look no further than the classic side salad. This fan-favorite is easy to make with just baby greens and a homemade vinaigrette but feels like a fancy restaurant side.
Tomato and cucumber salad
When it comes to serving the perfect side dish with acorn squash, you can’t go wrong with a delicious tomato and cucumber salad. This refreshing and healthy combination is both flavorful and simple to put together.
To create the classic combo, all you need are some ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Try adding a sprinkle of oregano or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for some extra flavor. Serve the salad alongside your roasted acorn squash for an early autumn-inspired dinner that’s sure to impress all your dinner guests.
With so many ideas for acorn squash accompaniments, you can test your family’s taste buds with something new every night of the week!
So don’t be afraid to get creative and embrace the deliciousness of this fall favorite. It is not only easy to prepare but also incredibly versatile, making it perfect for any meal or occasion.
Medical Nutrition Board Member | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Erica Julson is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in sunny California. She has over a decade of experience in food writing and recipe development and is the proud founder of four blogs in the food and nutrition space. Erica has also been part of Healthline's Nutrition Team and is an expert at translating research into helpful information for readers.
- Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
- M.S in Nutritional Science - Cal State Los Angeles
- B.S in Psychobiology - UCLA
- Over 10 years of experience in food and nutrition journalism.
- Former medical nutrition writer for Healthline Nutrition.
- Six years of experience working in research labs at UCLA and Carnegie Mellon University.
- Co-author on four peer-reviewed journal articles.
- Completed 1,200 hours of supervised practice to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
- Interviewed on many popular podcasts, featured on the local news, and quoted in magazines.