Vanilla Cardamom Roasted Acorn Squash

Add a touch of exotic fragrance and indulgence to your holiday side dish with easy to prepare  Vanilla Cardamom Roasted Acorn Squash. 


Vanilla Cardamom Roasted Acorn Squash from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen

Every morning I have the same routine, I get up and walk the pug then come back in to the apartment and sit down at my computer to check the weather (to see if I have sun that day) and my calendar for what’s on the docket.  Then I proceed with the same reaction every time after looking how my calendar.  How is it already the first, middle, last or whatever point of the month?

Every time.  You’d think my brain would just be used to the fact that time seems to move in a faster pace than I currently need it to be moving.   As such, the calendar is reading that the holidays are fast approaching us! I’ve already spotted Christmas decorations in the stores and you know once Halloween is over it’s a fast and furious race until the end of the year.

I say, let’s get a head start this year but not by shopping instead in the kitchen!

Vanilla Cardamom Roasted Acorn Squash |


Holiday meals with my family generally consist of the same foods every year.  As adventurous cooks we are every other day of the year, for some reason if it’s a holiday we stick with the old standards.  There have been a few attempts at change, some that failed (a cauliflower souffle that hardly anyone touched) and others with more success (adding some roasted squash to the menu).

We never really ate any variety of squash growing up and it wasn’t until the last few years that I really developed a love for it, especially acorn squash.  It’s sweet with a nutty flavor that lends itself to a number of flavor pairings.

My favorite though has got to be with a touch of vanilla to really make the sweetness of the squash shine.  I bet most of you have your bottle of vanilla extra (the real stuff I hope) at home and only break it out when baking.  Believe it or not vanilla is just as amazing with a savory dish as it is sweet.   My most favorite to use at home is anything from Nielsen Massey.   From their Organic Fairtrade Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract to their Vanilla Bean Paste, which I will put on anything I can possibly think of.

Vanilla Cardamom Roasted Acorn Squash |


However it’s the holidays and we should treat ourselves to a little extra indulgence, which is why I broke out my vanilla beans for this dish.   As much as I love the vanilla bean paste, I wanted to be able to mix those little specks of bean scraped from the inside of the pod with brown sugar, melted browned butter and aromatic cardamom.  Plus a touch of salt and cayenne pepper to make sure the sweetness doesn’t take over.

Our flavor pack mixture gets brushed onto the squash and into the oven to be roasted.  After just a few minutes your house will start to smell amazing and you’ll wonder why you don’t use those vanilla beans more often.

The finished product is golden brown and crispy on the outside with that brown sugar, vanilla and cardamom coating but perfectly soft on the inside.  Little specks of vanilla decorate the roasted squash and scream I’m ready for the holiday table!  Of course, I hope you don’t want until then and give yourself a little weeknight indulgence with this side dish.

To learn more about Nielsen-Massey Vanillas visit them on facebook, twitter, and pinterest.

Vanilla Cardamom Roasted Acorn Squash
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  • 1 acorn squash, seeds removed and cut into 1/2 inch half moons.
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted or browned
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • parsley for garnish


  1. Heat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl combine the butter, brown sugar, vanilla beans scraped from the pod, cardamom, salt and pepper.
  3. Lay the sliced acorn squash on the baking sheet in a single layer and with a pastry brush, brush the top of each piece.
  4. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the squash, flip and brush with the remaining mix. Return to the oven to roast for another 20-25 minutes or until the squash is golden brown on both sides.
  6. Transfer to serving bowl and garnish with a touch of chopped parsley.
Recipe Type: Side Dish, Vegetables

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This post is sponsored on behalf of  Nielsen-Massey Vanillas.  As always all opinions are my own and thanks for supporting brands that I work with.  

Vanilla Cardamom Roasted Acorn Squash |

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13 thoughts on “Vanilla Cardamom Roasted Acorn Squash

  1. Jennie @onesweetmess

    I’m hoping to get a head start on the holidays this year, too. We’ll see how that works out for me in the end. I love everything about this stunning fall side dish. The flavors you used make this dish so unique.

  2. Nutmeg Nanny

    Nielsen Massey is my favorite! I swear I haven’t used a product of theirs I didn’t love. Also why have I never thought to add vanilla to my roasted squash? This must happen ASAP!

  3. Carla

    I always forget about acorn squash when I’m planning my menu, whether it’s for everyday dinner or for the holidays. I can’t wait to try this out next time I’m at the farmer’s market!


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