Learn how to roast delicata squash to perfection before stuffing it with quinoa and spinach. This vegan and gluten free recipe makes for the perfect fall side dish for the holidays.

When the chilly fall weather rolls in, you know it’s time to head to your local farmer’s market to pick up hearty vegetables, especially squash. You can find me indulging in butternut squash soup, spaghetti squash noodles, and this Quinoa and Spinach Stuffed Delicata Squash all season long.

two delicata squash stuffed with quinoa and spinach, walnuts and cranberry on a black plate. A hand holding the plate.

Delicata squash seems to be one of the lesser recognized varieties of winter squash but it’s one of my favorites! This step-by-step guide will show you how to cut delicata squash, roast it, and stuff it with grains, meat, cheese, and all kinds of other delicious ideas.

Stuffing it with quinoa and spinach is my go-to. This combo makes for a healthy and hearty side dish you can serve for the holidays, plus it’s naturally gluten free and vegan. 

There are plenty of more stuffing options to customize your roasted delicata squash. Keep reading to explore all of the options!

If you love squash as much as I do, then you’ll have to check out my Simple Roasted Squash Recipe and these 15 Winter Squash Recipes.

delicata squash being cleaned with a spoon removing seeds.

What is delicata squash?

This yellow, pinstriped winter squash may look ornamental, but it’s completely edible, hearty, and delicious. It tastes similar to sweet and creamy butternut squash but requires less work. The skin is soft and delicate, so there’s no peeling needed!

Delicata squash is a fantastic source of potassium, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals, so stock up and treat yourself to this nutritious squash all season long. 

delicata squash being brushed with olive oil

Ingredients and substitutions

  • Delicata squash – Ripe delicata squash is bright yellow with vertical dark green stripes and feels heavy when picked up. Avoid light green delicata squash or ones with discoloring. 
  • Olive oil – This adds moisture and helps to achieve lightly crisped caramelized edges around the squash. If dairy isn’t a concern, feel free to use butter or ghee instead. 
  • Quinoa – Quinoa is my grain of choice when stuffing roasted squash. It’s hearty, filling, and rich in fiber.
  • Spinach – Fresh spinach is best.
  • Garnish – Chopped walnuts and dried cranberries are folded into the cooked quinoa for a pop of color and extra texture. The finished meal is topped with crispy fried onions for plenty of crunch!
delicata squash being seasoned with salt and pepper.

How to prep delicata squash for roasting

All you need is a chef’s knife, a cutting board, and a few other simple tools to prep the squash for cooking:

  • Delicata squash doesn’t need to be peeled before cooking. Therefore, it must be cleaned well. Scrub the outside of the squash thoroughly with water and a vegetable brush, then rinse and dry well. 
  • Place the squash on a cutting board with the flattest side facing down so it feels supported. This way, you’re less likely to lose control as you slice it. 
  • Cut the squash in half, slicing down the center lengthwise with a sharp knife. Use a spoon to scrape the seeds and fibers from the inside. 
  • Coat the inside with olive oil using a kitchen brush, then season with salt and pepper. 
delicata squash in a roasting plan. Seasonings on the table.

How to make stuffed delicata squash

After prepping the squash halves, you’re ready to roast:

Step 1: Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast until the squash is soft with deep amber-colored edges.

Step 2: Cook the quinoa while you wait for the squash to finish roasting. Once it’s done, fold in the spinach, nuts, and cranberries.

Step 3: Take the squash out of the oven and carve out some of the flesh with a fork to make room for your stuffing. Add a scoop or two of the quinoa to each half, top with crispy fried onions and herbs, then enjoy! 

roasted delicata squash out of the oven. Ingredients on the table

Tips and tricks

  • The sharper your knife, the easier the squash will be to cut in half.
  • To air fry the squash halves instead, cook in a 400ºF air fryer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the squash is tender and golden brown (you may need to work in batches depending on the size of your air fryer basket).

Stuffing variations and substitutions

This Thanksgiving side dish is so easy to play with. You can mix and match the stuffing using any of these tasty suggestions:

  • Grains: You can substitute the quinoa for wild rice, brown rice, farro, barley, bulgar, or another grain you love.
  • Vegetables: Instead of spinach, use kale, broccoli, peas, carrots, beets, celery, parsnips, any other vegetable you love, or a mixture of all of them.
  • Cheese: Delicata squash pairs well with a variety of creamy and soft cheeses, such as goat’s cheese, blue cheese, or feta.
  • Meat: Keep it simple with cured meats, like pancetta or prosciutto. 
  • Garnish: Choose a handful of garnishes to finish off the stuffing. I love to use chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios), dried fruit (cranberries or raisins), seeds (pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, or sunflower seeds), and fresh or dried herbs (parsley, thyme, sage, or oregano).
roasted delicata squash stuffed with quinoa, spinach, walnuts and cranberries

Customize the flavor

Pack the roasted squash full of uniquely customized flavors using these suggestions:


Keep any leftover roasted squash halves and the filling stored separately in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. 

Looking for more winter squash recipes?

two delicata squash stuffed with quinoa and spinach, walnuts and cranberry on a black plate. A hand holding a fork.
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stuffed delicata squash with quinoa

Quinoa and Spinach Stuffed Delicata Squash

by Silvia Dunnirvine
This Quinoa and Spinach Stuffed Delicata Squash is the perfect vegan and gluten free side dish for the holidays. You’re left with a hearty, filling, and healthy dish that’s full of fall flavors. Bonus: customize the stuffing any way you like!
Prep: 12 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 57 minutes
Servings: 2 servings


  • 1 delicata squash, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp crispy fried onion (optional)


  • Pre-heat oven to 400F degrees.
  • Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and gunk from cavity. Brush each side with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place squash cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast for 40-45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile cook quinoa according to package instructions. When done fold in spinach, walnuts and craberries and set aside.
  • Remove squash from oven. Using a fork carefully carve out some of the flesh loose. Scoop in the quinoa and spinach mix to fill the squash cavity. Top with crispy friend onions if using. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve.


Tips and tricks

  • The sharper your knife, the easier the squash will be to cut in half.
  • To air fry the squash halves instead, cook in a 400ºF air fryer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the squash is tender and golden brown (you may need to work in batches depending on the size of your air fryer basket).


Calories: 463kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 53mg | Potassium: 1188mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 4512IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Keyword: Delicata Squash, Quinoa Stuffed Squash, Roasted Squash, Vegetarian Thanksgiving Sides
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Like this? Leave a comment below!
stuffed delicata squash

Hi! I’m Silvia.

My goal is to make cooking simple and enjoyable.

Garden in the Kitchen is full of easy and balanced recipes for busy families. Classics get a healthier twist with additions of veggies or alternative ingredients.

I hope my recipes will inspire you to cook more home meals and above all have fun in the kitchen!

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  1. Love this idea…I’ve been looking for some inspiration for Squash recipes. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. You’re welcome Stephanie! I am currently on a sweet potato/ squash boat kinda wave, so expect more to come! 🙂

  2. I’m sorry but this is titled vegan yet it says to soak in chicken broth for flavor?? There are plenty of other ways to get the flavor than using animal stock.

  3. This is such an amazing recipe. Me and my family had some squash left over from doing something else and, being someone whose vegetarian and has celiac disease, this is the perfect recipe. It is so good and organic, and overall pretty simple when it comes to cooking. This will definitely be something that I cook and enjoy more than once.

    1. That’s really great Kenzie, I am so glad to hear 🙂 and thanks so much for stopping by to share you feedback!