This roasted honeynut squash recipe hits all of the best fall flavors—the sweetness of oven-roasted squash, a warming note of cinnamon, and the heartiness of ground beef. A touch of ground coriander and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds really elevate this simple weeknight meal!
I love a simple weeknight recipe that can pull double duty as a dinner party meal. A couple of my faves are this one-pot Moroccan chicken stew and this whole roasted branzino. I recently made this sweet and savory stuffed honeynut squash for guests, and it was a huge hit!
For this recipe, try to find honeynut squash if you can—it’s a bit sweeter than butternut squash and actually tastes a bit like honey (hence the name). It’s a perfect backdrop for the ground cinnamon and coriander. Also, I like to use grass-fed or pasture-raised beef or lamb, but use whatever you can find or afford. Adding pomegranate molasses and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds makes this dish pop! If you can’t find them, I have suggestions in the substitutions section below. This is a great stand-alone dish; however, you can serve it with a side of buckwheat, mashed potatoes, or a refreshing and simple fennel salad.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- You can make it ahead of time and keep it warm in the oven.
- It’s a showstopper on the table, and it’s cost-effective!
- Roasted honeynut squash can be on the table in under an hour!
- Honeynut Squash - a small winter squash that tastes like butternut squash with more intense flavor and notes of honey. Roasted honeynut squash is soft and tender with a thin edible skin.
- Oil - you can use any neutral flavored oil for roasting, like avocado oil or olive oil.
- Cinnamon - freshly or recently opened cinnamon will have the best flavor.
- Coriander - made from grinding dried seeds from the cilantro plant.
- Paprika - a ground spice made from dried red peppers. Can range from mild to spicy and also smoked.
- Ground Beef - use whatever you can find or afford. I prefer grass-fed or pasture-raised beef that is 85% lean, 15% fat.
- Pomegranate Molasses - a sweet and sour syrup made by reducing pomegranate juice.
- Pomegranate Seeds - also called arils, are the juicy edible bits of a pomegranate. Here is an easy method on how to cut pomegranate without the mess.
- Honeynut Squash - you can use butternut squash in place of honeynut. However, butternut squash is much larger. Use one large butternut squash for this recipe if making the swap.
- Paprika - Aleppo pepper is a great substitute for paprika, but be mindful that it does have a slow heat.
- Ground Beef - ground lamb is a perfect alternative to beef.
- Pomegranate Molasses - if you can’t find pomegranate molasses at your local market, balsamic vinegar would work.
- Cilantro - for garnish, any fresh herbs like parsley or mint, will work.
STEP 1 - Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and pulp.
STEP 2 - Drizzle oil on the cut side of the squash and place it, cut side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes.
STEP 3 - Sauté the onions, garlic, and dried basil in a pan until the onion is softened and golden.
STEP 4 - Add the ground beef to the pan, and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.
STEP 5 - Lower the heat to medium and stir in the pomegranate molasses.
STEP 6 - Add the tomato paste and water. Mix to combine, cook for about 5 minutes, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
STEP 7 - Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh of each roasted honeynut squash, keeping the skin intact. Add the spices, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil to the flesh and mash with a fork, and even out the surface.
STEP 8 - Top each with ground beef, and finish with pomegranate seeds and fresh herbs.
- If you’re expecting guests, make the stuffed squash ahead of time and keep it warm in the oven set on low heat.
- Roast the squash on the middle rack.
- If using fattier ground beef, like 80% lean 20% fat, drain any excess fat or cook it for a bit longer before adding the pomegranate molasses.
- This stuffed honeynut squash recipe is naturally dairy-free and gluten-free.
- Honeynut squash is a wonderful choice for fall recipes! It cooks quickly, is easy to handle, and there’s no need to peel the outside. It’s also a perfect size for individual portions.
- To store the roasted honeynut squash boats, keep them in an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid in the fridge for up to three days.
What is honeynut squash?
Honeynut squash is a winter variety that is smaller and sweeter than butternut squash. It’s perfect for roasting as it cooks quickly, and has tender skin, so no need to peel.
Can you eat the skin of honeynut squash?
Yes! The skin of a roasted honeynut squash is completely edible because the skin is much thinner than other varieties.
Where do you buy honeynut squash?
Honeynut usually shows up at farmers markets in late September and is generally available until sold out. They have been popping up at the local food markets, or you can also check with the produce manager of your local grocery store and ask if they can order them.
More Fall Recipes
Lastly, if you try this recipe, I would love to hear about it! Be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! And if you snapped some photos, tag and share them with me on Instagram.
Honeynut Squash with Spiced Beef
- 4 honeynut squash
- avocado oil
- Aleppo pepper or paprika
- olive oil
- 1 small onion , diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried basil, optional
- 1 lb ground grassfed beef or ground lamb
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup Pomegranate seeds
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Use the convection roast option if available.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scoop out the seeds and extra pulp.
- Drizzle some avocado oil on the cut side. And lay out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Roast in the oven for about 30 min or until soft and easily pierced with a fork, and slightly caramelized.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes so its not to hot to handle.
- In a skillet, over medium - high heat, add a drizzle of olive oil, enough to coat the pan. Saute onions, garlic, and dried basil. Mix with a spatula. Cook for about 4 min or until onion is golden and softened.
- Add meat to the pan. Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, break it up into pieces, and mix. Season with salt. Let the meat brown/ cook for about 5 min, mixing it periodically.
- Lower the heat to medium, add pomegranate molasses, mix with a spatula. Add tomato paste, and water. Mix for everything to combine and cook for about 5 min.
- Lower the heat to medium low and cook for about 15-20 min, so most of the liquid will be absorbed.
- Make sure the squash is cool enough to handle. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh of each squash, carefully keeping the skin intact. Sprinkle the scooped-out flesh with spices (cinnamon, paprika, salt, coriander), and a drizzle of olive oil. Using a small fork mash up the flesh with the oil and spices, and evenly spread it out in its shell. It will look messy.
- Top each honeynut squash half with ground meat. Sprinkle with cilantro and pomegranate seeds.
- Can prepare the squash ahead of time and then reheat it or keep it warm in the oven.
- If swapping with butternut squash, one large can be swapped for 4 small honeynut. The butternut squash is typically much larger in size.
- Any fresh herbs like parsley or mint can be used to garnish.
- Ground beef can be swapped with ground lamb. Lamb goes really well with pomegranate flavors.