Sausage Stuffed Butternut Squash is a Fall comfort food that features Italian sausage, pecans, cranberries, and spinach. This flavorful family-friendly dinner is packed with veggies, fiber, and protein, and is gluten-free. It's simple enough to make on a weeknight and perfect to serve as a side dish or main course for the holidays!
Cozy Autumn dinner
This sausage-stuffed butternut squash recipe has quickly become my family's favorite Fall dinner because it is incredibly easy to make and is a complete meal all on its own! This flavorful comfort food dinner has everything: protein (sausage), veggies (roasted butternut squash and spinach), carbs (pecans and cranberries), and fiber! It will keep you full and you don't really need anything else to serve with it! Perfect to make when you need a simple and quick weeknight dinner. You can also serve this as a holiday side dish or main course for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other Fall and Winter holidays!
Sausage stuffed butternut squash recipe in a nutshell
This recipe was inspired by my sausage-stuffed acorn squash and it uses pretty much the same ingredients. This delicious and comforting dinner is perfect for colder days in the Fall and Winter. Here is this recipe in a nutshell:
- First, I roasted the butternut squash halves in the oven.
- While the squash was roasted, I prepared the sausage filling by cooking the onion, sausage, garlic, spices, and then adding spinach, dried cranberries, and pecans.
- Then, I basically stuffed the filling into roasted squash halves and served it with fresh herbs.
- You can also add shredded or grated cheese, such as Parmesan, Gruyere, or Asiago cheese on top if you like. I didn't use the cheese - the stuffed squash was already tasty without it. But cheese would be a nice addition!
- It's an easy meal that makes 4 generous size dinner portions or 8 moderate-sized portions. Great to make for family and friends on busy weeknights. It also makes a beautiful presentation - perfect for serving during the holidays or entertaining guests.
Is butternut squash a fruit or vegetable?
Even though we usually view butternut squash (and really all types of squash) as vegetables, did you know that it is botanically considered a fruit? Why? Because, botanically speaking, fruits contain seeds and develop from the flowers of a plant. And, since all types of squash have seeds and come from the flowering part of plants, all types of squash are considered fruit!
What kind of sausage to use?
I used spicy crumbled Italian sausage which added lots of savory flavors and a bit of spice to the squash. You can use any other type of spicy sausage (except breakfast sausage - I don't think it would work well here). If you don't like spicy sausage, use mild or sweet Italian sausage. You can also use chicken sausage. I used crumbled sausage, however, you can use the one in casings, too - just remove the casings and crumble it as you cook it.
- Butternut squash is rich in dietary fiber and is an excellent addition to your menu. This winter squash is a great source of vitamins A, B6, C, and E, as well as several minerals, including magnesium, manganese, and potassium.
- Sausage. I used spicy crumbled Italian sausage.
- Onion. The onion is lightly caramelized in the beginning and then combined with the sausage. You can use any variety of onions: sweet onions, yellow onions, or white onions.
- Spinach. It’s high in fiber and a good source of many vitamins and minerals. I used fresh spinach which I added to the skillet with the cooked sausage. You can also use frozen spinach (thawed completely and drained of any liquid). Another option is kale.
- Nuts. Pecans add crunch and texture to this stuffed winter squash. Or, use walnuts.
- Dried cranberries. They add sweetness to the sausage mixture.
- Italian seasoning combines dried herbs, such as thyme, sage, and oregano. Or, use Herbs de Provence.
This is a quick overview of recipe instructions along with helpful step-by-step photos. For a complete and detailed recipe, scroll down to the recipe card.
1) Roast the squash. You will need 2 medium or large-size butternut squash. Carefully slice each one in half, and scoop out the seeds. You will have 4 butternut squash halves. Roast in the preheated oven at 400 F for 30 or 40 minutes.
2) Make the filling. While the squash is being roasted, prepare the sausage filling. First, cook together onions and sausage. Then, add Italian seasoning and minced garlic. Finally, add spinach, cooking it until it wilts. Then, mix in dried cranberries and pecans.
3) Prepare the roasted butternut squash halves for stuffing. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh leaving about a 1-inch border along the sides. See photos for more clarity:
4) Stuff the squash. Reheat the sausage filling on the stovetop if needed and then add it into the cavities of each of the 4 butternut squash halves. The dinner is ready!
- Use cooking time efficiently by preparing the sausage stuffing while you roast the butternut squash in the oven.
- Salt. I did not add any salt to the sausage mixture, because the sausage I used was salty enough. I did season the squash generously with salt and pepper when I roasted it.
- Reheat the sausage mixture. Before you stuff the butternut squash with the sausage mixture, reheat the sausage filling in the same skillet on the stovetop right before adding it to the freshly roasted squash halves to keep everything hot before serving.
Storage and reheating tips
- Refrigerate. Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freeze. You can easily freeze this dish in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
- Reheat. Reheat the squash in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until all the ingredients are heated through.
What to serve with it
- Fresh Salad. Serve this winter squash with a basic salad by tossing together your favorite greens with nuts and a small amount of grated Parmesan cheese. This simple spinach salad is a good option, or try a basic arugula salad with lemon zest, Parmesan, and pine nuts.
- Bread. Sausage stuffed butternut squash pairs well with warm garlic bread, Italian bread, or a slice of olive bread loaf.
- Autumn salad recommendations. If you'd like to make a simple Fall salad, try this beautiful arugula salad with apples, pears, and cashews, or make roasted Brussels sprouts salad with walnuts, mandarin oranges, and cranberries.
Other butternut squash recipes you might like
If you want more Fall-inspired meals that use this wonderful vegetable (or fruit! - depends on how you look at it), don't miss these recipes:
- Creamy Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sausage, Thyme, and Sage
- Stuffed Butternut Squash with Spinach, Bacon, and Cheese
- Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta with Sausage and Spinach
- Creamy Ground Turkey Pasta with Butternut Squash and Spinach
- Autumn Chicken Dinner with Roasted Vegetables (Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts)
Sausage Stuffed Butternut Squash
Roasted Butternut Squash
- 2 butternut squash medium or large
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt or more
- black pepper freshly ground
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion small, diced
- 14 oz Italian sausage spicy, crumbled
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 4 oz spinach fresh
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup pecans chopped
How to roast butternut squash
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Prepare the butternut squash. Slice each one in half lengthwise. Keep fingers away from the knife to avoid injury. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and fleshy strands tangled with the seeds.
- Place butternut squash cut sides up on a baking sheet. Drizzle the cut sides of the butternut squash halves with olive oil and rub the oil into the squash. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Turn the squash halves over, and place it cut sides down on a baking sheet. Tip: you can line the baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
- Roast in the preheated oven at 400 F for 30 or 40 minutes.
Make sausage filling
- Make the sausage filling while the squash is being roasted in the oven.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil, add diced onion, and cook it on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes until cooked and a bit charred.
- Add crumbled sausage, minced garlic, and Italian seasoning and cook for about 5 minutes or more on medium heat until the sausage is completely cooked through.
- Add fresh spinach and cook for another 5 minutes on medium heat until the spinach wilts.
- Add dried cranberries and chopped pecans and mix everything.
- Season with salt and pepper. Probably not necessary since the sausage is already usually salty (unless you use sweet sausage which I do not recommend).
- By this time, you have roasted the butternut squash for 30 or 40 minutes. Remove them from the oven and turn the cooked squash halves cut sides up.
- Let it cool slightly. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh leaving about a 1-inch border along the sides. (For reference, I provide the step-by-step photos for this step above the recipe card).
- Reheat the sausage mixture in the same skillet in which you made it to warm it up.
- Divide the sausage filling among the 4 halves and stuff the squash until the mixture is leveled or a little bit higher.
- Top with freshly ground black pepper and fresh thyme.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This came out delicious. I also added some goat cheese crumbles and a drizzle of balsamic glaze, right before serving!
Erin, I love your toppings - so delicious and creative! ❤️
My husband and I are on the Daniel Fast. I substituted quinoa for the Italian sausage. It was wonderful!!!
Sheryl, I am so glad this recipe tasted delicious with quinoa instead of sausage! Thank you for the comment and 5-stars! 🙂
Excellent tasting recipe. Our first time eating butternut squash. We will be making this again.
Melissa, your positive comment makes me happy! 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to share the feedback and 5-star review! 🙂
I hate to cook I don't cook yet since a friend posted your recipe I have made this 4 times!! I had never eaten butternut squash till this Fall when a friend gave me some from her garden. This recipe is amazing delicious and I just prepped some for 2 meals this week and 2 for the freezer. I do always add cheese and broil it on top. Yum!
Tawny, your comment made my day! 🙂 So glad my recipe gave you the inspiration to cook! 🙂 Adding cheese on top and broiling it is delicious!
Can't wait to try this! Do you mix the scooped out squash with the sausage
Lynne, yes, mix the cooked scooped-out squash with the sausage mixture. Or, add it to the largest indentation, and then top with the sausage mixture. Enjoy! 🙂
Used veggie chorizo in place of sausage. Delicious side dish at our Christmas Eve dinner.
Susan, I am so happy you chose this recipe for your Christmas celebration. 🙂 Glad it was enjoyed! 🙂
Can one cook in oven the butternut squash with filling to heat it up.
Linda, yes, the best way to reheat this would be to cook the stuffed squash in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 30 minutes.
I’m sorry…this was a pretty dish, but the flavour to me was lacking. They just didn’t come together…they just didn’t mesh well. I too added the scooped squash back into the sausage filling…it just feels like there’s an ingredient missing to pull everything together.
Patricia, I am so sorry to hear you did not enjoy this. Did you use spicy Italian sausage? Mild or regular sausage might not be flavorful enough for this recipe, but spicy Italian should do the trick!
This was our first time trying butternut squash & it was delicious! The only substitution I made was pine nuts instead of pecans because my husband can’t eat those. We will be making this again! Good job Julia!!
Karen, thank you for this glowing review! Using pine nuts in this recipe is so delicious!
Any ideas to make this vegetarian??
Use plant based sausage.
I would add mushrooms instead of sausage. I recommend sauteeing chopped portobello with olive oil, minced garlic, and salt. Portobellos have this rich, deep, almost "meaty" flavor. And I would add more seasonings (definitely salt, and maybe Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes to taste). Or, you can also use plant-based sausage, such as Beyond Sausage.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays! 🙂
I made it today and used quinoa instead of meat and added some peppers.
I love your meatless version!
We loved this recipe! Definitely a keeper.
Michelle, I am so happy to hear that! Happy Holidays! 🙂
This recipe created a delicious and easy dinner in my house. I will say I made only half a recipe (one squash and half of everything else) but it was great for two dinners here. One change, when I cut away pieces of the squash I threw them into the filling that was already hot. I couldn't see wasting good flavor. Thank you for sharing this recipe!
Danielle, I am so glad you tried this recipe and loved it! I added that scooped-out squash into the large cavity of each butternut squash half and then topped with the stuffing. 🙂
Made it tonight and everyone loved it! I added the scooped out squash to the filling mixture. Plus I've been told it's aesthetically pleasing. Wish I could share a pic
Katja, I am so-so happy this recipe was a success! This recipe does make a great presentation thanks to all the colorful ingredients! 🙂
How do you serve this and what did you do with the scooped out nutritious squash?
Judi, add the scooped-out cooked squash back into the large cavity of each squash half. Then top with the sausage mixture.
How to serve it?
If your butternut squash halves are large, slice each one in half (not lengthwise). Serve each individual half of each half in a deep pasta bowl and use a fork or spoon to scoop out the filling + the squash right out of the shell, without eating the shell.
Can I use fresh cranberries instead of dried cranberries.
Linda, if you use fresh cranberries, I suggest this:
1) Roast them in the preheated oven at 400 F on the parchment paper line baking sheet (spread out the cranberries) for about 15-20 minutes or until most of the cranberries have popped. You can do it at the same time you roast the squash but on a separate baking sheet.
2) Add roasted cranberries to a heat-proof medium bowl. Add a little bit (or more) of honey (to taste), and mix. And then use them in the recipe.