Candied Acorn Squash Slow Cooker Recipe

Squash is terribly good for you--it has magnesium, potassium, vitamins A and C, and even has a bunch of calcium.
But people don't cook it very often. Because they think it's too hard. Or they don't know how.

That's okay. I didn't really know how for a long time, either. But now I do, and since it's on sale in every grocery store, my family has been eating it more often.

Our new favorite way? Candied.

but not with marshmallows----these guys are candied with apples, walnuts, and a touch of brown sugar.

The Ingredients.
serves 4
1 acorn squash (you can certainly cook more, but use a larger crockpot)
2 apples: peeled, cored, and diced
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts (or almonds or pecans)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

The Directions.

Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Cut the acorn squash in half. This is hard! I've found the easiest way (thanks to my mom) is to microwave the squash for a minute on high to soften the skin. Then use a knife to cut it right down the middle.

Scoop out the seeds (which guinea pigs don't like for some reason) and discard. Put the squash into an empty slow cooker, skin side down. 

In a small mixing bowl, combine the cut up apple, melted butter, brown sugar, walnuts, salt, and cinnamon. Scoop this concoction into the acorn halves.
Lick the spoon. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours, or on high for 2 to 3.

The Verdict.

I get a lot of emails 
(side note: if you've written recently and I haven't gotten back to you, I'm sorry. I needed to declare an email bankruptcy on the First because the 373 left in my inbox just weren't going to happen. I'm so sorry.) about child eating habits.

I have some people who think I pander to the kids and they walk all over me and kids should eat whatever they are served, no matter what. And I have others who are amazed that my kids eat curry, brussels sprouts, artichokes, and lentils.

I'm certainly not perfect, nor are my kids, but I feel like we have a pretty good give-and-take relationship with food. If the family meal isn't pleasing, I usually ask for a try or two, but then they can make a quesadilla or a bowl of cereal or something.

Hmm. Maybe I AM a pushover!

anyway. My kids happily eat a bunch of squash each time it's prepared this way. I'm okay with the bit of sugar and butter, but if you prefer to cut back, I'd suggest trying it this way first, and then cut back after your kids are convinced squash isn't squished bugs.

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at December 07, 2010

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What they say about this article

  1. This sounds great! I'll have to try it with my kids soon...thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for the microwave tip - I never buy squash because it's so hard to cut.

  3. Sorry to read people are hassling you about the way you feed your kids. I always asked my kids to give it a try. I got one that doesn't like mushrooms, one that doesn't do cooked carrots but loves them raw, one that didn't like candy or meat, and the other doesn't do peas. They all love raw veggies any way I will serve them, go figure. I going to try this squash recipe and see if I can get Hubby to eat squash.

  4. awesome!! I am going to try this

  5. Brilliant idea about the quick zap in the microwave to soften the skin. I'm a college kid with crap knives (if I buy decent ones, roommates ruin them, so I just suffer and try not to cut my fingers off) so squash is always...a challenge.

  6. Anonymous12/07/2010

    Sounds wonderful! Could you use a pumpkin instead of acorn squash? I have two the size of a softball that I am trying to think of a different use instead of baking pie/bread etc.

  7. Anonymous12/07/2010

    You can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. I am a huge fan of your comments regarding the kids reaction to the dishes you make. It's probably my favorite part since I'm a mother too, and I try to choose my kid food battles carefully. Learning how your kids react to each recipe & whether or not they chose to eat it provides valuable clues for me! Keep doing what you are doing! -Camille

  8. I love squash!! Can't wait to try it out.

  9. I also think you should keep doing what you are doing. Just more of it! I love your posts and your recipes. This one is sure worth a try. Thanks for the microwave hint.

  10. Love the sounds of this yummy recipe! MMmmmmm cannot wait to try it!

  11. I don't know about your kids, but those guinea pigs need a stern talking to! (Hope that makes you smile.)

    I've read that you can roast the squash seeds just like the pumpkin ones. Maybe the kids would like those?

  12. Anonymous12/07/2010

    I love how you say that it's okay to cut back on the amount of butter and sugar...
    Last week when I made acorn squash (love the microwave tip, it's the only way to do it!) I used 4-5 tablespoons of butter and a good sized handful of brown sugar. It was tasty, but this version looks much healthier!

  13. We call it "taking a thank you bite," as a thanks to the cook. If my kids don't want more after that, they don't have to eat it, but at least they tried it. This works well with my husband, too, who despises broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus...pretty much if it's green, he doesn't like it. The kids love that Dad has to have thank you bites, too.

    This looks yummy! Do you think it would work with almonds?

  14. almonds are great, and so are pecans!

  15. I was a picky eater as a kid and turned out to be an adult who will each pretty much everything. I'm pretty much the same way as you. I always want them to try a bite, but I can't imagine sending a child to bed hungry. If that's a pushover, I'll gladly be one. :) Sorry to hear people bothering you about it!

    This sounds really good! I love acorn squash. Haven't done any squash in the crockpot yet.

  16. Oh I miss cooked squash!! Since I eat a raw and living foods diet I can't have your wonderful recipe but the kids sure can! They still eat smaller portions of gluten/dairy free cooked items. I'll use a dairy free spread vs the butter. Thanks for sharing your gifts! Your recipes are amazing and easy.

  17. Sounds delicious!! I love squash. I am having a hard time convincing my husband that it is as yummy as I think. I am going to try this recipe! I just pre-ordered your new book! I can't wait to get it!! YAY! Still looking forward to a Totally Together book someday! :)

  18. Anonymous12/07/2010

    This has been one of my favorite recipes for years, but in the oven! I hadn't thought of trying it in the crockpot--thanks!!

    (And whoever mentioned it, YES, acorn squash seeds can be roasted and munched just like pumpkin ones--and are just as delicious!)

  19. I ate a left-over half of these for lunch today! I make mine in the oven but do everything else the same way- microwave first is key to any squash! When I do them in the oven I also take a bit of foil, snake it and then form a little nest for the squash to sit in. This way it won't tip over. I must have been strange because even as a tiny girl I would beg for acron squash with dinner- haha.

  20. Hey, that looks like a really good idea for the christmas table... hmmm...

  21. My kids often eat cereal at night.

    This looks awesome. Even thought it's way more work, I like to dice it up first though, for some reason I just think it's creepy to eat it out of the shell. It's super pretty though and I know, I'm just a freak! Either way, I saved this and want to make it!

  22. Looks great! I'm gonna try it! Do you guys eat the skin of the squash?

  23. Thanks for the microwave tip. I'm always worried that I'm going to cut off an appendage while trying to cut through the skin. Squash is going on my grocery list this week!

  24. I'm an idiot when it comes to squash and have the same question as Atwood - do you eat the skin after it's roasted?

    Also, do you poke a hole in the squash before microwaving it so that it doesn't explode?...

  25. You're not an idiot. No, don't eat the skin, and no hole is needed---you'd have to microwave it for quite a while to get it to explode.

    although that would be a fun experiment!

  26. Anonymous12/08/2010

    This tip is redundant if using the slow cooker, but if you are going to bake the squash (or have the oven on for another reason) you can also soften the skin by putting the squash in a hot oven for 10 minutes. This tip has saved my knives (and my fingers).
    A skewer into the squash first can't hurt if you plan to microwave it. I've tried to do gem squash in the microwave and, even skewered, they exploded. It was not a pretty sight. (Gem squah are small round squash with VERY hard skin that I've only found in Africa. You can't cut them nohow until they are fully cooked--tricky, as you can't tell when they are cooked... But my kids loved to eat them and pretend they were igloos.)

  27. I'm making candies too out of squash. It's really awesome!!!

  28. Thank you for this recipe! I love butternut squash and have stayed away from acorn squash because I didn't know what to do with it.I will definitely give this recipe a try.

  29. Squash is something I discovered after becoming an adult and we really love it. Acorn squash is our favorite but I have some cooked butternut squash in my freezer that I want to make as soup. Yum! Oh, and I just heard recently that it takes a child up to 12 times of trying a food before we can absolutely say that he or she really doesn't like it. I wish I had known this when my girls were little. As someone that rarely didn't not like any food, I didn't know how to handle a couple of my more picky eaters.

  30. Awesome!! I have 2 acorn squash sitting on my counter mocking me right now. HA!

    And we have "One bite per age" rules, and the rule is if you really don't like it, you can fix whatever you want as long as it doesn't dirty up another pan.. cereal, oatmeal, yogurt or PB and J.

  31. Remember half the battle is getting good foods on the table, the other is getting them to try it. The war is not won at a single dinner, It's growing healthy adults who have learned to make good choices. I love the idea that it is our job to make the foods available, be a model of good eating and to encourage kids to try new foods. Studies show children who are forced to clean their plates eat unwanted foods etc have much more chance of developing eating disorders and obesity. Besides, we as adults cook\eat what we like... My family isn't perfect but my kids eat a lot more variety than they used to, and from what I have seen other children. And yes we have cereal nights too sometimes everyone if dinner is a flop(makes for a happy dog). BTW haven't run into a recipe we havent liked may have had to tweek a few for our families taste. But you have inspired better eating, less fast food for our family and I now use my 7 crockpots regularly making my life so much easier.

  32. So about food and kids, when my kids were a bit older (8ish or old enough to know likes/dislikes) we had a New Years tradition that was kid friendly. They got to choose 1 vegetable they did not have to eat in the new year, everything else was fair game! You know you are doing a good job when your kids eat lentils and brussel sprouts. Take care (and don't let'em get you down!).

  33. Jane91712/10/2010

    We bake squash quite often, and I am going to use the slow cooker tonight using this recipe. Is there any easy way to print your recipes? I can't find a print format anywhere.

  34. This is one of those vegetarian holiday centerpieces that I keep meaning to try and just haven't found the right recipe. I think this is the one! Thanks again.

  35. I made this last Thursday, and both my husband and daughter watched me cut it up, and announced "I don't eat squash"!!

    I proceeded anyway, as it looked like a great compliment to the pork roast I was putting into my other crock pot (1 roast, 1 bottle honey chipolte BBQ sauce, cook on low 6-8 hours).

    The squash turned out so tender, I could easily scoop a serving, along with the baked apples, onto each dinner plate. Not a bite was left on the plates!! It tasted like baked apples, and with little sugar or butter, is pretty healthy as well!!

    Definitely a "Home Run" meal!!

    Thanks for your great ideas and recipes!! You rock, Stephanie!!

  36. Anonymous12/14/2010

    I've made a number of your dishes and this is by far my favorite! So so so good! I used granny smith apples and pecans. The leftovers were even good the next day! Thank you!

  37. I just had to tell you I made this last night and it's the best squash EVER. I loved it so much that I snacked on cold leftovers about midnight right before going to bed. THANK YOU!!

  38. This sounds delicious! I love acorn squash.

  39. So excited you shared your mom's "guick zap" secret. Squash has sat in my house for months because I despised the idea of cutting it!! It's so darn hard �� This worked like a dream �� Now if only there was an easy way to get that slimy pulp out ��