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Chicken Chili Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

Chicken Chili Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe is a complete meal. The natural sweetness of baked squash is combined with spicy chicken chili for a deliciously filling, south of the border, recipe in one bowl.

A close up shot of a baked half of an acorn squash brushed with chili powder and stuffed with chicken chili then garnished with cheese and cilantro sitting in a blue bowl with an adobe red edge. The title "Chicken Chili Stuffed Acorn Squash" is in the upper left corner.

Stuffed Acorn Squash makes a complete meal that’s good for you and tastes great. 

Why we love stuffed acorn squash recipes

  • Roasted acorn squash is naturally sweet and is the perfect contrast to the spicy chicken chili.
  • Everyone gets their own serving. Who doesn’t love a one-dish meal where you can eat the bowl?
  • As decadent as this recipe tastes, it’s a good choice. An entire serving is under 500 calories.
  • Any recipe that you use with sweet potatoes, you can use with squash. The consistency and mild flavor are very much the same. I’ll be sharing some of my favorites with you.
  • So many squash varieties store amazingly well. By keeping squash in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated area, they will last for 3 months or more.
    • Check the squash regularly. Once they start to soften or show signs of rot, it’s time to throw them out.
  • Squash is loaded with vitamins and fiber.
Top-down view of two blue bowls containing a half acorn squash stuffed with chicken chili sitting on a baking sheet over a wooden background. A gray napkin is in the background and fresh cilantro is scattered about the bowls.

How to pick an Acorn Squash

  • Once the Acorn squash turns dark green, they’re ripe. It’s not uncommon to have yellow or orange coloring on acorn squash. That’s generally the side that was laying on the ground. As long as it doesn’t have soft spots, it’s still fine to use.
    • If the skin is glossy, it’s immature and wasn’t ready to be picked. Choose a dull-skinned acorn squash.
    • When cut open, if you see mold or rot, don’t use it.
  • Choose squash that feels like it’s heavy for its size. Avoid squash that has punctures or slits in the skin.

Our favorite winter squash varieties to bake are acorn, butternut, and delicata. There are a ton of varieties that we haven’t tried so don’t let our opinion hold you back! What’s your favorite? Share in the comments below.

 I found What’s Cooking America a lot of great information on the different varieties and the best ways to prepare each variety.

Ground chicken stuffed acorn squash ingredients

  • Acorn Squash. This is my preferred squash for this recipe because it has a deep well to hold all of the chicken chili.
  • Ground chicken. You could also use turkey or beef.
  • Butter. Salted or unsalted.
  • Maple syrup. Adds a touch of sweetness to the squash.
  • Seasoning. Salt, pepper, chili powder, and ground cumin.
  • Onion. Yellow or white onion is what I recommend.
  • Jalapenos. Fresh.
  • Black beans I used canned.
  • Diced tomatoes. Fire-roasted were great in this recipe but any will work.
  • Cilantro. Fresh in the chili ingredients and additional as a garnish.
  • Garnishes. Shredded cheese, fresh cilantro, and sour cream. Any or all are optional

How to prepare acorn squash for baking

Two photo grid of how to prepare acorn squash for roasting. The first photo is a cut squash in a loaf pan that's been brushed with melted butter, salt & pepper. The second photo shows the cut acorn squash that's been rubbed with cumin and chili powder.
  • It’s important to wash the outside of the squash.
    • When you cut a squash, any debris on the outside is transferred to the inside.
  • Microwave the entire squash for only 3 minutes.
    • This will steam the skin and make it much easier to cut. It will not cook your squash for this short amount of time.
    • Handle the squash with a potholder or paper towel because it will be hot.
  • Lay the squash on its side, and use a large enough knife to cut through the squash.
    • Be careful not to let the squash roll as you cut it. Placing it on a kitchen towel placed over a cutting board can help.
  • Scoop the seeds out of the squash.
    • A large spoon or an ice-cream scoop works well.
    • Save the seeds. Baked and seasoned (pepitas) make a healthy snack.
  • Loaf pans work well to bake acorn squash because they will keep them from tipping over.
    • Some recipes have you roasting acorn squash flesh side down. I’ve never found that necessary. You can always cover it if you want.

How to make chili stuffed acorn squash

Please note, that the recipe card has more complete instructions. This is intended as an overview.

Step 1: Prepare and bake acorn squash

  1. Prepare the squash for baking as explained in the section above.
  2. Season the inside of the squash.
  3. Bake in a preheated oven.

Step 2: Make chicken chili

  1. Brown the ground chicken and the onion together. Drain if necessary.
  2. Add spices and cook until aromatic. Add the black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapeno.
  3. Cook until heated through.

Step 3: Assemble and serve

Put the cooked squash in a serving bowl. Add the chicken chili. Garnish as desired and serve.

Tips for baking and stuffing squash

  • Lining the baking dish or pan with parchment paper or foil will ensure easy cleanup.
  • You can add as much or as little stuffing to acorn squash as you want. Be sure not to let liquids such as juice or butter overflow the squash cavity. It will have no benefit or offer flavor sitting at your dish’s bottom.
Close-up front view of a baked half of an acorn squash brushed with chili powder and stuffed with chicken chili and garnished with cheese and cilantro sitting in a blue bowl with an adobe red edge. A second baked squash is in the background next to a bowl of shredded cheese sitting over a gray napkin.

Stuffed squash variations

  • Chili variations: The spicy chicken chili that I made for this stuffed acorn squash recipe is simple to make. It works well because of the spicy contrast to the sweetness of the squash.
    • Ground turkey, beef, or sausage can be substituted evenly for ground chicken.
    • You can certainly use your own favorite recipe. You can also make this one and leave out the chicken for a vegetarian stuffed squash recipe.
  • Rice, spelt, farro, or other whole grains are delicious for stuffing squash.
  • Leftover dressing or stuffing is delicious and a great way to repurpose leftovers.
  • Add fresh or dried fruit or nuts.

I’ve never frozen a Stuffed Acorn Squash. You can prepare the chili ahead of time and freeze it and then bake your squash when you need a delicious homemade dinner.

What to serve with Stuffed Acorn Squash

We consider this chili-stuffed acorn squash our main dish. Adding just a side dish or some homemade bread will have the family rushing to the dinner table. Here are a few of our suggestions.

If you tried this delicious recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave me a comment telling me what you think. I love hearing from you!

A close up shot of a baked half of an acorn squash brushed with chili powder and stuffed with chicken chili then garnished with cheese and cilantro sitting in a blue bowl with an adobe red edge. The title "Chicken Chili Stuffed Acorn Squash" is in the upper left corner.

Chicken Chili Stuffed Acorn Squash

Author: Julie Menghini
This Chili Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe combines naturally sweet squash with spicy chicken chili for a delicious meal under 500 calories.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Dish, Sides
Cuisine American
Keyword: Baked Acorn Squash, chili stuffed acorn squash, stuffed acorn squash
Servings: 4 Servings

Ingredients
 
 

Squash

  • 2 Acorn Squash
  • 4 tsp butter divided
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin

Chicken Chili Filling

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 onion
  • 2 jalapenos seeded, ribs removed, and diced (use 3 for more spice)
  • 14 oz black beans
  • 14 oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes Do not drain
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 3 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Garnishes – shredded cheese and additional cilantro.

    Instructions
     

    Squash

    • Preheat the oven (or grill) to 400 °F
    • Wash the outside of the squash.
    • Microwave the whole acorn squash for 3 to 3-1/2 minutes.  Remove with hot pads or a towel.  Lay the squash on its side (not end) and slice the squash in half.  Scoop out the seeds using a spoon.  Put the squash in a baking dish lined with parchment paper. A loaf pan works well too.
    • Melt the butter in a small dish and add the maple syrup. Brush the mixture over the cut halves of each acorn squash. Pour any remaining equally into the cavity of each squash.
    • Stir the salt, pepper, chili powder, and cumin together and sprinkle it over each half of the squash.
    • Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the squash is fork-tender.

    Chicken Chili – Make while squash is baking

    • Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ground chicken and onion. Cook until the chicken is completely cooked. If necessary, drain off any fat.
    • Stir in cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Cook until the spices are aromatic.
    • Add black beans, tomatoes. cilantro and jalapeno.  Stir to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until heated through.
    • Spoon the chicken chili into the cooked squash. Garnish with cheese and cilantro and serve.

    Notes

    If you need more moisture in the chili mixture, you can add water. Make sure to taste it after each addition. Adjust salt, pepper, chili powder, and cumin levels.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 484kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 32gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 108mgSodium: 1101mgPotassium: 1874mgFiber: 15gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 2742IUVitamin C: 36mgCalcium: 177mgIron: 7mg

    Nutritional Disclaimer

    This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. My calculations are intended as a guide only.

    Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

    If you like this Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe, you may enjoy these recipes too.

    Pin this delicious Spicy Acorn Squash Recipe

    Two photo collage for Pinterest with the title "Chicken Chili Stuffed Acorn Squash" running through the center. The top photo is an angled view of a roasted acorn half filled with chicken chili and rubbed with chili spices in a blue bowl. The bottom photo is of two raw halves of an acorn squash that's been brushed with butter and maple syrup sitting in a parchment-lined loaf pan next to maple syrup in a small glass dish.,
    Recipe Rating




    Jennifer Stewart

    Wednesday 23rd of September 2020

    Acorn squash is so fun to eat and so pretty too! I love the chili inside. Makes it perfect for cool weather nights!

    MICHAELA KENKEL

    Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

    I saw this on facebook and I knew I HAD to make it for my husband. He LOVES acorn squash, and just like I thought- this recipe was a keeper!

    Michelle

    Monday 21st of September 2020

    Definitely a yummy way to enjoy acorn squash. We had a leftover rotisserie chicken so we used that instead. Delicious!

    Madi

    Monday 21st of September 2020

    Stuffing an acorn squash is such a good idea! So excited to try this!

    Kathleen

    Sunday 20th of September 2020

    We loved this, I have not made many Acorn squash recipes, so the tips of what to look for when picking acorn squash were so very helpful!

    Julie Menghini

    Sunday 20th of September 2020

    Thanks, Kathleen! We love them, especially this time of year.