5 Fantastic Winter Squash Recipes to Try For Dinner

The association with calorie-rich holidays and a general fear of carbs often scares people away from eating winter squash. As long as you’re not covering the produce with copious amounts of butter  pumpkin, butternut squash, and other gourds can give your diet a serious boost. They’re filled with vitamins, minerals, and plenty of fiber, which is especially good for heart health. Start enjoying more of this healthy winter food with these five recipes.

1. Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup

Source: iStock

Butternut squash soup | iStock.com

With a sweet flavor and a texture that turns luxuriously creamy once cooked, butternut squash is a favorite for soup. Many versions look to the same cast of ingredients, often flavored like a curry or a pie, which can get old after a while. Give new life to your next batch with Tasty Ever After’s chipotle-infused soup. The recipe calls for topping the finished dish with toasted pumpkin seeds, but you can roast the seeds inside the squash to score the same flavor and nutritional boost.

Though we’re focusing mostly on squash, it’s worth looking at the nutrient-packed seeds as well. They contain phytosterols, which are particularly good for those seeking to help out their hearts. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a diet rich in these compounds can improve the body’s cholesterol metabolism.


  • 1 (5-pound) butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 cups chicken o vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, canned chipotle in adobo or chipotle hot sauce

Optional toppings

  • Sour cream or yogurt
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Chopped fresh cilantro

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pierce the outside of the squash with a knife in three to four places. Place squash on a baking sheet and roast for 1 to 1½ hours, or until a knife easily pierces the flesh. Let cool.

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy pot set over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots and cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Reserve seeds for roasting or discard. Scoop squash pulp into the pot, then stir in the broth and chipotles. Mix to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Carefully purée soup in a blender or with an immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper and serve with toppings.

2. Wild Rice, Lentil, and Cranberry Stuffed Delicata Squash

Source: iStock

Squash | iStock.com

Though most people reach for a sharp knife or peeler to remove the outer layer of winter squash, the skin on many varieties is entirely edible and filled with nutrients. If you’re new to eating the exterior, delicata squash is a good choice because its skin is quite thin. Try it out with Oh My Veggies’ squash boats filled with lentils and wild rice. This meatless meal is pretty substantial thanks to plenty of fiber. It also tastes phenomenal, so get cooking.

If you’re still feeling skeptical about eating more squash, consider what the fruit’s high dose of alpha-carotene can do. Like beta-carotene, this antioxidant is a member of the carotenoid family. A 2011 study found that consuming adequate levels of alpha-carotene was linked to a reduced risk of death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.



  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup wild rice
  • ¼ cup green lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ½ teaspoon rubbed sage
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • Salt and pepper


  • 2 (1-pound) delicata squashes, ends trimmed, squashes halved and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in wild rice and lentils. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until rice and lentils are tender, about 50 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid.

Meanwhile, rub squash halves with olive oil. Place, cut-side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, sage, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens and begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add wild rice and lentils, then stir in cranberries. Increase heat to medium high and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, just until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

Stuff each squash half with rice and lentil filling. Serve.

3. Roast Chicken with Acorn Squash and Radicchio Salad

cast-iron skillet filled with roast chicken and pumpkin

Chicken and vegetables | iStock.com

A simple roast chicken becomes a complete meal with just a handful of other ingredients. Instead of the standard potatoes and carrots, try introducing the bird to some acorn squash and radicchio with Martha Stewart’s simple chicken supper. Just roast the whole bird on top of the squash for about 45 minutes, then assemble a quick salad with radicchio, parsley, and a basic dressing.

Opting for orange-hued squash over potatoes is particularly smart for this dish, and a lot of it has to do with the vibrant color. A recent study found a diet rich in colorful produce, including yellow and orange varieties, can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Since the fiber in this dish is also good for your digestive system, this meal is a complete winner.


  • 1 large acorn squash, halved, seeded, and cut into ½-inch slices
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 (3½- to 4-pound) chicken
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 head radicchio, cored and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange rack in upper-third position. Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub chicken with 1 tablespoon oil, then tie legs together and tuck wing tips underneath body. Place chicken on top of squash and season both with salt and pepper. Roast until chicken is fully cooked, about 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, mustard, and remaining olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange radicchio and squash on a serving platter, drizzle with dressing, and sprinkle with parsley. Serve salad with chicken.

4. Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

Spaghetti Squash Pasta

Spaghetti squash | iStock.com

If you stick to a paleo diet, pasta is probably one of the foods you miss most. Though nothing can perfectly mimic noodles, spaghetti squash comes close. Eating Well’s preparation topped with turkey meatballs and tomato sauce is a great imitation of the Italian-American classic that fits into a grain-free diet. And since the squash steams in the microwave, this meal comes together in no time.

In addition to serving as a grain-free, lower calorie alternative to pasta, spaghetti squash also boasts impressive levels of beta-carotene. Surprisingly, this compound could actually protect you from the sun. Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found beta-carotene can offer protection against UV rays and help maintain your skin’s appearance. But it’s no replacement for sunscreen, so don’t skip the SPF 25.


  • 1 (3-pound) spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1¼ teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions: Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish. Add water and microwave on high until flesh can easily be scraped with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Scrape squash flesh into skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until moisture evaporates and squash begins to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup parsley. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine remaining parsley, ¼ cup Parmesan, ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, onion powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Add turkey and mix gently to combine. Form into 12 meatballs.

Heat remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs, reduce heat to medium and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 4 to 6 minutes. Push meatballs to side of pan. Add garlic to center of pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, crushed red pepper, remaining Italian seasoning, and remaining salt. Stir to coat meatballs. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are fully cooked, 10 to 12 minutes longer.

Serve sauce and meatballs over squash. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.

5. Pumpkin-Pie Pudding

three glass bowls of pumpkin custard with a spoon

Pumpkin pudding | iStock.com

Eschewing all dessert when you’re trying to eat healthier isn’t a very good idea because it often leads to binge eating later on. Regularly treating yourself to some sweets is a much better idea and you can even score some nutrition from your dessert. We like Health’s Pumpkin-Pie Pudding, because it tastes like the Thanksgiving favorite, but does a lot less damage. You even score some vitamins and fiber. Add a sprinkle of toasted pistachios if you like a little bit of crunch.


  • 2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice

Directions: Whisk milk, sugar, and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and let cook for 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Beat eggs with a whisk in a large bowl. Gradually add half of the hot milk mixture to eggs, whisking constantly. Return milk and egg mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes or until thickened, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in pumpkin, salt, and pumpkin-pie spice. Spoon into six ramekins or custard cups. Let cool, then chill for 30 minutes or until pudding is set. Serve.

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