In this recipe, we are going to talk about how to buy, cut, cook, and serve Spaghetti Squash and all the different ways you can prepare it. You’ll also learn why it’s good to eat this when you are on a low carb diet.
Spaghetti squash is such a nice veggie because it’s so versatile. It goes with so many things and is so delicious. One of the most unique benefits is that it’s actually a great replacement for spaghetti and other pasta dishes!
Maybe you haven’t made it before because you don’t know how to cook spaghetti squash or don’t know how to serve it. It can be intimidating to buy it and make it, not knowing how.
No worries, because we will show you everything you need to know! After all, it’s been said, that confused people do nothing. So we will show you how to accomplish this so you will no longer be confused but instead will be able to enjoy eating it.
What is Spaghetti Squash?
Spaghetti Squash is considered a winter squash because it has a hard outer skin like other similar seasonal squashes like butternut or acorn squash. Summer squashes differentiate themselves by having a softer outer skin like zucchini and yellow squash.
Even though it is considered a winter squash, in the United States we can usually buy it in the stores year-round because even if it doesn’t grow it in our area, it’s shipped in from other places.
Spaghetti squash lives up to its name in the respect that once it’s cooked, when you scoop it out it has long strands just like spaghetti and you can even put different sauces on it to make you think that you could be eating spaghetti while you are twirling it on your fork and eating it with your low carb meatballs.
It’s remarkable how much it resembles real spaghetti, my daughter-in-law from Italy was so surprised when she saw it for the first time!
What Does Spaghetti Squash Taste Like?
Unlike other winter squashes which have strong flavors like butternut or acorn, spaghetti squash has a very mild flavor, almost bland taste which makes it a good companion with tomato sauce, a scampi sauce or pesto…etc.
That way the taste of the squash doesn’t overpower the flavor or its partner, and you still get the spaghetti-like texture which is great for Italian dishes.
Does It Actually Taste Like Spaghetti?
Spaghetti squash does not really taste like spaghetti but neither of them has a very strong flavor. They are both very light in flavor. But what they both do have in common is the fact that they are so mild and have a slightly chewy texture. This means it’s really all about the topping.
Really when we eat pasta, do we eat it plain with nothing on it or do we really enjoy the sauce on top more? Isn’t that what gives us the flavor in our meal? Don’t get me wrong, I love pasta, it’s great comfort food and there is no total replacement, but I’m sure you will find similar comfort in your spaghetti squash.
It’s low in calories, unlike pasta which packs on the calories, because realistically who can just stop at eating ½ cup when you are eating pasta?
It is high in Vitamin A which helps in your vision and your immune system and helps your organs function properly.
Spaghetti squash also has a lot of B vitamins which help you with energy by breaking down the carbs you eat and turn them into glucose.
Manganese is a trace mineral in spaghetti squash that helps brain function and your nervous system.
This powerhouse squash also has magnesium which is good for your muscles and your blood pressure.
Like most vegetables, this one is no different and it contains a high level of vitamin C. This creates collagen that helps your skin, nails, and hair.
And last but not least is Potassium which our bodies use for everything from muscle function as well as our nerves, heart and kidney function…and the list goes on.
So all in all spaghetti squash is good for you.
Is Spaghetti Squash Low Carb?
With a name like spaghetti squash, if you have never had it or heard of it you may ask yourself if it’s low in carbs with a name like that.
Yes, spaghetti squash is low in carbs. In 1 cup there are only about 5.5 net carbs. So ½ cup is only about 2.7 net carbs.
That’s really good because depending on what else you have along with it, like meatballs or chicken…etc, you could eat 1 cup and be perfectly satisfied. It’s pretty filling, unlike some other vegetables. If you have enough carbs set aside for the day that you can eat, then feel free to eat a larger portion.
When is Spaghetti Squash in Season?
This is referred to as winter squash and is harvested mainly in the fall but you can usually buy it year-round in the stores because they ship it in from other areas. It may cost a little higher in the summer but it’s worth it because it’s so delicious.
It lasts a while in your refrigerator or in a cold place in your house and uncut your spaghetti squash can keep for 2-3 months. Later in this article, we will show you how to take advantage of buying it when it’s cheap and having it at your access throughout the year.
How to Choose the Right Spaghetti Squash
Choosing your spaghetti squash may seem difficult, but rest assured, we’re going to explain everything you need to pick out the right one when you’re shopping.
The best way to choose the right spaghetti squash is to make sure the outer part is as free as possible from cuts and scrapes and bruises. It should be yellow in color not a pale, off white color.
The size also matters. Ideally, if you put spaghetti squash on a scale and weigh it, you want it to be an average size of about 3-3.5 pounds. That will serve anywhere from 2-4 people. If you have more people you can choose a larger one or cook multiple spaghetti squashes of 3 pounds.
Plus it is good for leftovers, so buying extra may be a good idea. I love leftovers of all food and feel that as long as I am cooking a meal I may as well cook more to reap the benefits another day.
All the Ways to Cook Spaghetti Squash
There are so many possibilities for cooking your spaghetti squash and here is a list of all of the ways we’ve tried to make it so far. We will explain them step-by-step later on, but for now, here is a brief overview of each one.
Oven Halves – This is the traditional way of cooking spaghetti squash. Basically, you are cutting the squash in half and then roasting it in the oven. This is the most common way and used in many spaghetti squash recipes, especially casseroles.
Oven Whole – If you have never cooked spaghetti squash before or are afraid to cut it, this is your best option. You can roast it whole in the oven and cut it later.
Oven Rings – This is a cool way to cook it on a tray, and one of my personal favorites. If you are in a hurry to eat, this way will also cook a whole bunch faster than baking it whole or in half.
Microwave – Of course everything is quicker in the microwave, and this squash is no exception.
Instant Pot – This method of cooking is new to us but we are finding that things cook so quickly in the instant pot and cook thoroughly too. They are not too expensive and are a good addition to any kitchen.
Slow Cooker – This is a good method for cooking most things while you are at work or busy making other things in your kitchen. It cooks up tender and frees up your hands while doing other things.
What is the Easiest Way to Make Spaghetti Squash?
It is totally subjective to your own personal choice. Some of these methods may not be possible for you because you may not have a slow cooker or instant pot. Go ahead and try as many of these ways as possible and see what is your favorite way or ways.
Personally, I think cooking it whole in the oven is the easiest because cutting it and peeling it after its soft is easier, but most of the other methods are not too hard. Cooking it in rings might be the hardest because you have to cut it many times before cooking it, and the hard skin makes it difficult.
What is the Best Way to Cook Spaghetti Squash?
Once again I’m not sure that there is the best way to cook your spaghetti squash, but I think it depends on your recipe and your capabilities.
For instance, if you are not comfortable using a big knife to cut your squash before you cook it, then cooking it whole first and cut it later may be the best choice for you. That is my preference because I’m always afraid of cutting it by myself unless my husband is home to cut it for me.
If you are in a hurry, then you could use the instant pot because in just 20 minutes your squash is cooked through.
Or if you go to work and want your squash to cook while you are gone then use your slow cooker.
I like cooking it in rings because it cooks faster and you also get the long spaghetti-like strands to twirl on your fork. But once again I need my husband around to help cut the squash.
What Ingredients Do You Need to Cook Spaghetti Squash?
Spaghetti squash – An average of a 3 lb squash will feed 2-4 people. Pick a nice yellow one without cuts or bruises.
Olive oil -This is to coat your spaghetti squash when you roast is or to coat it after its cooked.
Salt, Pepper -No matter which way you cook your spaghetti squash, it’s very mild in flavor so some salt and pepper would be good for seasoning it.
How to Cut Spaghetti Squash
The best way to cut your squash is to use a good cutting board so that your squash isn’t rolling around while you are trying to cut it.
Use a sharp knife that will easily cut through the squash. The first thing to do to your squash is to cut off the stem. Then, cut it in half, either lengthwise, (shorter strands) or crosswise, (longer strands) depending on how you want your strands to come out.
If you want to use your spaghetti squash like spaghetti or linguini then cut it the shorter way, across the width of the squash. If you want to serve it in a casserole or just as a side veggie with butter then cut it the long way from top to bottom.
How to Soften Spaghetti Squash
If your spaghetti squash is hard to cut or slice then what you can do is pop it into the microwave to soften it up and then it will make it more manageable.
What you do first is poke it 8 or 10 times on the outside of the skin so that it doesn’t explode in the microwave.
Microwave it for 3-5 minutes depending on the size of your squash but don’t do it any longer or the steam will build up inside and it may explode.
How to Make Spaghetti Squash in the Oven (The Classic Way)
Now that we have talked about how to pick out your squash and how to cut your spaghetti squash, now we are going to learn how to cook it. There are 6 different ways that we can show you.
The first way is the classic way, cutting it in half lengthwise and roasting it in the oven.
The most popular way to cut spaghetti squash is to cut it lengthwise in half.
The first thing you do is to lay the spaghetti squash on its side on a sturdy cutting board. Cut off the stem as it will just get in the way.
Next with a sharp knife cut your squash in half lengthwise.
With a fork take out the seeds and strings surrounding the seeds. Throw out the strings and reserve the seeds aside in a small bowl.
The next step is to season your squash.
First, brush the flesh with olive oil.
Next, sprinkle your squash with salt and pepper and if you would like to add more flavor to your squash you could also sprinkle on some garlic powder.
Don’t go light on the flavor, it will all mix in later on. You should have a spaghetti squash that looks something like this when you are finished:
After you have cut your squash and seasoned it, place your two halves upside down on a cookie sheet or baking dish. This way it will keep your moisture in the flesh which is face down and the skin which is face-up will take the brunt of the oven.
Your squash will bake up like a charm, moist and very flavorful and carmelized…..Bake it on approximately 400 degrees for about an hour (more on this below).
How Long to Bake Spaghetti Squash?
Depending on the size of your spaghetti squash, it will determine how long you need to bake it for. There is not much difference in baking time but it does vary just a little. Here are some examples to follow:
For a 1.5-2 pound squash:
425 degrees for 35-45 minutes
400 degrees for 40-50 minutes
375 degrees for 50-60 minutes
350 degrees for 55-70 minutes
For a 3-3.5 pound squash:
425 degrees for 40-45 minutes
400 degrees for 45-50 minutes
375 degrees for 50-55 minutes
350 degrees for 55-60 minutes
Cooking times will also vary depending on your oven, some run hotter than others, and it also depends on if there is anything else cooking in the oven at the same time as your squash. Try to cook only the squash for the best results.
You can also add some water to your pan which may reduce the cooking time slightly because the steam helps the squash to steam.
How to Tell When Squash is Done
When you check your squash by poking it through the center it will have a soft feeling. If it’s still kind of hard in the center then just continue to bake it until it gets to the desired tenderness.
Once your squash is cool enough to handle then take one half at a time into your hand and with the other hand take a fork and pull out the strands. They will come out pretty easily.
The first time I did this it was a little strange to me until I got the hang of it. So don’t be afraid of it. Just pull it out with a fork and place it in a bowl. Then discard the skins.
Cooking Spaghetti Squash in the Oven (Whole)
Some people, including myself, are intimidated or even afraid to cut a spaghetti squash before baking it because of the hard outer skin on it. I’m happy to say that there is a remedy to this problem. Let’s go ahead and make it the lazy way, but the safe way if you’re not comfortable the other way.
The first thing you do is get out a baking dish or a baking pan. Wash your squash and then place your squash in the baking dish.
Use a fork or paring knife to poke a bunch of pierce marks in the squash to allow the steam to escape so that it won’t explode in the oven.
Bake the whole squash, (3-3.5 pounds) at 375 – 400 degrees for about an hour, depending on the size of your squash. You may have to turn your squash over halfway through its cooking time to ensure even cooking.
By doing this it will soften the outer skin to make it easier to slice. Let your squash cool enough to be able to handle it without burning yourself. Cut the ends off and then cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and keep them aside to roast later.
Making Spaghetti Squash in the Oven (Rings)
Now that we explored one way to cook your spaghetti squash, let’s explain another way, and maybe my personal favorite, cooking it in rings in the oven. This way was new for me because I had never seen it before and I was amazed!
Cooking spaghetti squash in rings may be the hardest way because it requires you to slice it across the hard skin a few times, which can be dangerous if you aren’t careful.
However, it’s worth the extra effort because it cooks quicker and since you cut it across the width, you end up getting the long strands like spaghetti. It’s an attractive way to make it, especially if you have guests over for dinner.
The first thing to do is to preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Clean the outside of the squash and then carefully take a sharp knife and cut the squash into rings 1-2 inches thick.
Scrape out the seeds and reserve aside for roasting them later.
Next coat the rings with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place the rings on a cookie sheet which is lined with a piece of parchment paper.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until tender.
Let it cool a few minutes until it’s easy to scoop out with a fork.
How to Make Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave
This is a quick way to make your squash and just like all the other methods of cooking, the first thing that you do is scrub the outside and then poke air holes inside the squash to let the steam escape so that it doesn’t explode in the microwave.
Just microwave it for 15 minutes which is just enough to turn a rock hard spaghetti squash into tender squash, but no longer than that or else it may build up too much steam and explode.
Cool it enough to slice in half. Then scoop out the seeds and pull out the strands with a fork.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Instant Pot
As always the first thing that you need to do is wash/scrub your squash and then carefully pierce it all over with a small knife or fork.
Place the steamer basket in the bottom of the instant pot and add 1 cup of water. Then add the squash to the basket.
Secure the lid and turn the valve to seal it and set the timer for 20 minutes on high. When the timer goes off, quickly release the pressure.
Carefully remove the squash and let it cool enough to handle. Then cut it in half crosswise for longer strands and lengthwise for shorter strands. Use a fork to pull out the strands.
How to Make Spaghetti Squash in a Slow Cooker
Scrub clean your squash and once again pierce it with a knife in several places.
Place the squash in a slow cooker and cover it. Cook on high for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
Remove the squash and let cool enough to be able to cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. If you cut across and the strands will be longer, cut it lengthwise and the strands will be shorter. Use a fork to pull out the strands.
What Other Diets is Spaghetti Squash Good For?
Vegetarian –This is a great dish for a vegetarian, delicious squash.
Gluten-free– Another delicious veggie that is gluten-free.
Nut-free – No nuts in spaghetti squash so if you are gluten-free no worries here.
Dairy-free – There’s no need for any dairy to make this spaghetti squash delicious.
Paleo– Anything from the earth is good for someone on the paleo diet and this sure is from the earth.
Can I Eat Spaghetti Squash Seeds?
Once you are ready to cut open your squash don’t throw the seeds out because the squash seeds are totally edible just like pumpkin seeds, which you may already be used to eating.
Just roast them with your favorite seasonings for a crunchy snack. If you like pumpkin seeds you will also like these seeds.
How to Roast Spaghetti Squash Seeds?
The first thing to do is preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
The next thing you do is scoop out the seeds and remove as much pulp as you can and then rinse the seeds in a bowl of water. The seeds will float to the top and the pulp will sink.
Take them out and pat them dry with paper towels and place them on a cookie sheet that is lined with aluminum foil.
Toss the seeds with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and other seasonings of choice.
Spread seeds out in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes, stir and then continue to roast for another 15 minutes.
What to Substitute Spaghetti Squash in For?
The name, spaghetti squash, is a dead give away….It’s the number one replacement for spaghetti or any other pasta. When you can’t have pasta because it has so many carbs, spaghetti squash is the next best thing, the best replacement and the closest thing to having pasta.
Just put your favorite sauce on it and you will hardly tell the difference! Or you can even make a delicious casserole with it, which you can also find on our website.
Your spaghetti squash can also be a great substitute for any other side dish that is loaded with carbs, like potatoes and rice and bread stuffing…etc
Can I Use Regular Squash for Spaghetti Squash?
Spaghetti squash and butternut squash are two entirely different types of squash, both in taste and texture.
Spaghetti squash is stringy whereas butternut squash is more smooth. When you are looking for a spaghetti replacement, only spaghetti squash lives up to its name and will do the trick.
Butternut squash has a sweet, nutty flavor but spaghetti squash has a very mild flavor which makes it perfect for different sauces. So they are not interchangeable.
As far as how to pick out either squash and how to store it they are both similar because they are both winter squashes with a hard outer skin. And they will both last a long time if you store them in a cool place.
What to Serve with Spaghetti Squash?
Spaghetti squash is a good side dish to have with any meal. Whatever meat or fish that you make, just put some butter, salt, and pepper on it and enjoy it on the side.
Put your favorite yummy sauce on your squash just like you would pasta. I always make homemade tomato sauce and pour it over my squash, serve it with meatballs and sausage and you will be fooled into thinking that its real spaghetti that you’re eating!
I have another family favorite recipe with shrimp and sausage and olive oil that goes wonderful with the spaghetti squash.
And my next venture is to make my clam sauce with garlic and pour it on top of the spaghetti squash too. I’ll be sure to let you know how that comes out!
Just be adventurous and try it out with your favorite sauce or topping. Cut it in half or cut it in rings, then you can prepare it with the olive oil and spices and whatever else that you choose.
How to Store Cooked Spaghetti Squash
If you haven’t finished all of your spaghetti squash after dinner then just put your leftovers in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to about a week. Then you can pull a portion out and make a different topping each night of the week.
How Long Does Spaghetti Squash Last?
If you have leftover spaghetti squash in your refrigerator, you can keep it in there for about a week. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container to assure better freshness.
Is Spaghetti Squash Good Reheated?
When you want to enjoy your spaghetti squash the next day, take it out of your refrigerator and you can heat it up several ways. It absolutely can be reheated and still tastes wonderful! See below for some ideas of heating your squash.
How to Reheat Spaghetti Squash
When you want to reheat your spaghetti squash, one way you can do this is to stick it in the microwave for a minute or two slightly covered. This way is always a quick way.
Or you can put it in a nonstick pan and heat it on the stovetop. It will take about 5 minutes on medium heat. If it sticks add a little water or olive oil or butter to the pan.
The oven is another way to reheat your spaghetti squash, just put into an oven-safe dish and heat on 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until desired hotness.
Can I Freeze Spaghetti Squash Before Cooking It?
It’s not recommended to freeze the spaghetti squash before cooking it. To do that you would have to freeze the whole thing, skin and all and it would not freeze well. It would be a frozen disaster.
It has to be cooked first to be able to get the strands out of it. That, of course, is the whole point of making spaghetti squash and you wouldn’t want to ruin it. Just use one of the cooking methods mentioned in this article that you prefer.
Can I Freeze Spaghetti Squash After Cooking It?
Once you are done cooking your spaghetti squash, you can freeze any leftovers for another time. Just be sure to drain any excess water out of it before you freeze it.
The way you do this is to put the squash into a colander. Put the colander inside a big bowl to catch any water that drains out. Store it in your refrigerator until all the moisture drains out so that you don’t have soggy or mushy squash when you do defrost it.
Take it out the next day and separate it into smaller portions in plastic freezer bags. Be sure to squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn. If you package it correctly it can last up to 7 or 8 months.
There are a few good reasons to freeze spaghetti squash…
In the fall/winter months when the squash is cheaper in the stores, buy a bunch and stock up and cook it all and freeze it. That way you will have it in your freezer and be able to take it out anytime you want to.
Another reason to freeze it is if you have it any in your refrigerator but aren’t planning to make anything to have it with, you can make it and freeze it so that it won’t spoil. They are pretty hearty and will last a while in your refrigerator but they won’t last forever so don’t let it spoil. Cook it and freeze it.
How To Reheat Frozen Spaghetti Squash
When it comes time to take your spaghetti squash out of the freezer, you can either thaw it first and then heat it, or you can heat it straight from the freezer without thawing it first. Either way, it will be fine.
If you remember to thaw it out ahead of time before heating that’s good. If you forget and now it’s dinner time, no worries, just heat it straight from the freezer.
Other Low Carb Side Dishes:
If you’re looking for some other Low Carb Sides then try our:
This is a very detailed explanation of how to cut and cook spaghetti squash in 6 different ways, and we hope will be a guide that you will refer to in years to come. Try making it several ways to see which way is your favorite.
One 3–3.5 pound Spaghetti squash
¼ cup Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
In these instructions, we are going to break it up into 6 different ways to prepare and cook your spaghetti squash. The first way is easiest for you to get your feet wet.
Whole in the Oven
The first thing that you need to do is get a large baking dish or cookie sheet.
While the oven is preheating wash your squash and then place it in your baking dish.
Poke holes in it with a knife or fork to allow the steam to escape.
Bake the squash at 375-400 degrees for about an hour or until the squash is soft.
When it is cool enough to touch then you can cut it in half either lengthwise or crosswise depending on how you want your strands to come out, either short or long, and use a fork to pull the strands out and serve with your favorite topping.
In Halves in the Oven
The first thing that you do is wash the squash and then cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds.
Put it in the baking pan or baking sheet and season it with salt and pepper.
Place your 2 halves upside down on the pan, flesh side down and skin side up.
Bake it on 400 degrees for about an hour or so.
When it cools enough to handle it, use a fork to pull out the strands.
Serve with your favorite topping.
Rings in the Oven
The third way to cook your squash is to cut it in rings.
The first thing to do is to wash the outside and cut off the ends and then cut the squash into rings about an inch or so thick. Cut out the seeds.
Lay them on a cookie sheet which is lined with a piece of parchment paper and season them with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Let cool a few minutes and then scoop it out with a fork.
In the Microwave
The fourth way is to utilize your microwave.
Just like all the other methods, the first thing to do is to srub the outside of your squash and then poke holes in the skin to allow the steam to escape.
Just microwave it for 3-5 minutes which is just enough to soften the squash. If you do it any longer it may explode in the microwave.
Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.
Pull out the strands with a fork.
Cooking your squash in an Instant Pot will give you quick results.
Wash your squash and then poke holes in it with a fork or knife.
Place the steamer basket in the bottom of the pot and add 1 cup of water.
Add the squash to the basket. Secure the lid and turn the valve to seal it. Set the timer for 20 minutes on high. When the timer goes off release the pressure.
Carefully remove the squash and let it cool enough to handle it.
Cut it in half and pull out the strands with a fork.
The 6th way to cook your squash is in a slow cooker.
Scrub clean your squash and pierce holes in it with a knife or fork.
Place your squash in the slow cooker and cover it.
Cook it on high for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
Remove the squash and cool it enough to cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.
Pull out the strands with a fork and once again serve with your favorite topping.
For ½ cup serving, 2.7 NET CARBS.
When you cut your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise (top to bottom) the strands are shorter than if you cut it across the short way the strands will be much longer, more like spaghetti that you can twirl on a fork.
Always use a fork to separate the strands. They will come right out with the fork.
Don’t throw away the seeds. Scoop them out and put them in a bowl of water along with the strands that they are connected to and rinse the seeds and throw away the strands. You can then season them and roast the seeds and eat them as a snack.
Don’t just stick to one way of making spaghetti squash, try them all!
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