The Ultimate Guide to Spaghetti Squash

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How to cook, buy, cut, and eat spaghetti squash!  Everything you will ever need to know if you want eat spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti squash is one of the most popular varieties of winter squash.  It is versatile, delicious, healthy, and easy to make!

Cooked Spaghetti Squash Half

What Is Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a type of winter squash.  They are usually oblong shaped and have a tough, inedible skin.  The inside is made of tiny strands of squash that look like pasta, but have a lot more water, like a summer squash.

What does spaghetti squash taste like?

The flavor is really mild. Similar to yellow summer squash, it works well in a variety of recipes. By itself with just a little salt, pepper and cheese, or mixed in with different foods. In my opinion, it has the taste of winter squash just much more mild.  Unlike banana, acorn, or butternut, the insides aren’t creamy but more like a zucchini texture.

Whole Spaghetti Squash

How to Choose a Good Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash Cut in Half

When you are at the store looking to buy a spaghetti squash, you should look for those that have a nice lemon yellow color.  If a squash is green, that means it isn’t ripe.   You will want to make sure the rind is smooth and doesn’t have any soft spots or cracks.  Squash should be heavy for its size.   You shouldn’t buy a spaghetti squash that has no stem because the stem helps to keep the bacteria out of the squash.

Spaghetti squash are available all year, but they are in their peak season early fall through winter.  You can store spaghetti squash up to 3 months if you store it in a cool, dry place.  Keep the squash out of direct sunlight and heat.  Don’t refrigerate a whole spaghetti squash because it will actually make it go bad faster.   It actually will only last a few weeks in the fridge!  If you want to store cut squash, place it in an airtight container and use within a week.

How to Cut Winter Squash

Cutting a spaghetti squash

Cutting winter squash is the worst!  The rind is so unbelievable hard that cutting into it is a straight up workout.  Not only is it difficult, but sometimes I’m afraid I’m going to chop my finger off!  We have some great tips for you on how to cut winter squash that will hopefully make the process easier and less miserable for all involved.

  1.  Make sure you are cutting your squash on a stable surface.  If your cutting board is sliding or wobbling that could cause problems.  You can put a damp towel or paper towel under your cutting board to make sure it doesn’t slide.
  2. Use the right knife.  The best knife is a chef’s knife with at least an 8-inch blade.  It needs to be sturdy with metal that is heavy enough to cut through a thick rind.  If your knife isn’t long enough, you will have to keep pulling it out of the squash to get all the way through which makes the cutting take longer and can be dangerous.  Don’t use a serrated knife even though you might be tempted to saw through the squash.  One of our favorite knife brands is Wusthof.  It is a family owned brand founded in Germany that makes amazing quality knives that make cutting so much better.  Their 8″ cook’s knife is the best all-purpose kitchen knife that makes cutting squash so much easier.  The weight and balance of the knife make it perfect for heavy duty vegetables like squash, but also other thick vegetables and meats.
  3.  Cut the ends of the squash first.  By trimming the ends, you will create more stability and less of a chance of your squash sliding or wobbling around.  It will make cutting into the middle of the squash so much easier.  Stand the squash upright and cut through it from top to bottom.
  4.  Cut through the middle of the squash vertically.  Because a spaghetti squash is oblong, if you cut into it horizontally you will end up with two fat halves that are harder to deal with.  This is true for pretty much all types of winter squash.  Cutting vertically leaves you with even halves that fit really good on a baking sheet and are also a better shape for stuffing.
  5. Use a melon baller or ice cream scoop to remove seeds.  These have sharper edges and a more sturdy handle than a spoon and will dig into the squash much better.

A common question we get is: “How do you make spaghetti squash noodles?”  Keep reading to see the different ways to cook a spaghetti squash to get the ‘noodles’.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Baking a spaghetti squash on a baking sheet

This is one of the most searched topics related to spaghetti squash.  There are SO many different methods to cooking spaghetti squash and each one has its pros and cons.  Read on to find out which method you should use to cook spaghetti squash.

Why is my Spaghetti Squash Watery? 

Spaghetti squash naturally has a higher water content than some other vegetables.  Just like zucchini or yellow squash, if you want to make it less watery, you need to draw some of the water out.  There are a couple of ways to do this:

  1. After cutting the squash in half, sprinkle with salt and turn the squash halves face down and let some of the water drain out.
  2. Bake the squash in the oven following the directions below.

I have found that baking spaghetti squash produces the least moisture.

Microwave Cooking Spaghetti Squash

“How do I cook spaghetti squash quickly?”

If this is the question you are asking about cooking spaghetti squash, then this is the method for you. The main benefit to cooking squash in the microwave is that it is super quick.  It only takes about 12 minutes.  The con is that it doesn’t develop the rich, caramelized flavors that happen when you cook in the oven.

  1. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out.
  2. Place squash cut-sides down in a microwave-safe baking dish.
  3. Fill with about 1 inch of water.
  4. Microwave on high for 12 minutes or until you can easily pierce a fork into the squash.
  5. Let it cook for about 15 minutes until it is cool enough to handle.

Oven Baking Spaghetti Squash

The benefit of cooking squash in the oven is that it has time to bring out the natural flavors in the squash as well as caramelize and become incredibly delicious tasting.  The con is that it takes a long time. These are the most commonly asked questions about baking spaghetti squash in the oven:

“How do you make spaghetti squash in the oven?” and ” What temperature do I bake spaghetti squash at?” “Do you cook spaghetti squash face up or face down?” How do I bake a spaghetti squash in half?

These are the steps to baking spaghetti squash in the oven:

  1. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out.
  2. Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
  3.  Brush the inside of each half with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet.
  5.  Bake for about 40 – 50 minutes depending on the size of your squash.  Bake until the edges of the squash are turning golden brown.
  6.  Run a fork through the squash to ‘fluff’ up the strands and prepare as desired.  (or just eat it as is!)

Roasting Spaghetti Squash

Roasting spaghetti squash is just another way of saying baking spaghetti squash in the oven.  The steps are exactly the same as when you bake it in the oven.  Some people call it roasting because you are using dry heat to cook the squash.  If you like a more moist squash, instead of brushing the squash with oil, add a little bit of water to the bottom of your baking pan and bake like normal.


Cooking Spaghetti Squash Whole 

How do I bake a whole spaghetti squash?

Some people like to bake their spaghetti squash before ever cutting it.  Not a bad idea if you are nervous about having to cut through the hard rind.  To cook it whole takes longer than if you cut it before cooking, but it may be worth it!

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Wash the outside of the squash and dry it.
  3. Then pierce the skin with a sharp knife on all sides.
  4. Place the spaghetti squash in a baking dish or baking pan and bake for one hour.
  5. Remove it from the oven (you aren’t done yet) and cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.
  6. Drizzle a little bit of oil on the inside of the squash halves and then place them face down on the baking pan.
  7. Bake for another 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your squash.  When the squash is done is should look brown on the edges and be caramelized with the strands of squash easily separating.

Keep reading for more ways to cook a spaghetti squash whole.


Cooking Spaghetti Squash in the Instant Pot

Cooking spaghetti squash in the pressure cooker (Instant Pot) basically requires zero prep and comes out so soft that you can cut into it with a butter knife.  It is definitely the easiest method for cooking a winter squash in my opinion.  You don’t have to deal with cutting into the hard rind, and you don’t have to cook it twice like in the oven if you are baking it whole.

  1. Add one cup of water to the bottom of your Instant Pot.  Put the steamer basket insert in the pot.
  2. Wash the spaghetti squash and pierce the squash with a small knife all over for vents for the steam.
  3. Select manual and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.
  4. Use the quick release when 15 minutes is up and release the pressure immediately.  Carefully open the lid and remove the squash.
  5. Cool the squash until you are able to handle it, then slice open, remove seeds and shred the squash with a fork.

Cooking Spaghetti Squash in the Crockpot

Spaghetti squash cooked in a crockpot is basically like cooking it in the Instant Pot it just takes longer, and you can set it and just leave it.  No watching or staying close by while it is cooking.  That is the beauty of the crockpot!

  1. Wash the spaghetti squash and pierce the squash with a small knife all over for vents for the steam.
  2. Place the entire squash in your crockpot.  You do not need to add water.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.  You will know it is done when you can easily pierce the outside with a fork.
  4. Carefully open the lid and remove the squash.
  5. Cool the squash until you are able to handle it, then slice open, remove seeds and shred the squash with a fork.

Health Benefits of Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash Closeup

Spaghetti squash is definitely considered a health food.   And it should be!  It is not only packed with nutrients, but it is unique in its ability to satisfy because of its similarity to pasta.   Unlike other winter squash, spaghetti squash is not the typical deep orange color and contains a lot less vitamin A.  There are a lot of questions floating around about spaghetti squash and its health benefits.  These are some of the most commonly asked questions on google and answers to them.

What are the health benefits of eating spaghetti squash? Why is spaghetti squash healthy?

Spaghetti squash is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, B-vitamins, manganese and potassium.  Some of the benefits of getting enough of these vitamins and minerals include:  regular bowel habits, stronger immune system, and an increased ability to use and metabolize nutrients in food.  These are all important things for kids!

One of the most popular things that people talk about with spaghetti squash is that it is low calorie and low carb.   It has become a popular food to eat for people on diets like the Keto diet, and other weight loss diets that are calorie or carbohydrate restricted.  These are commonly search questions on google:

Is spaghetti squash ok for Keto? How many carbs are in spaghetti squash baked? How many calories are in 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash?

Spaghetti squash is generally accepted to be ok if you are following a ketogenic diet.  There are about 10 grams of carbs in one cup or cooked squash and only about 40 calories.

Is spaghetti squash good for weight loss?

If you are restricting calories as part of your weight loss plan, then you will likely want to include spaghetti squash in your diet.  It is low in calories, but contains fiber and other nutrients that can satisfy your hunger and make you feel fuller for longer.  Regular whole wheat pasta has about 210 calories in one cup of cooked spaghetti.  Spaghetti squash has about 40 calories for one cup of cooked spaghetti squash.

Is spaghetti squash fattening?

The answer to this question is no!  Spaghetti squash has about 0.6 grams of fat for 1 cup.  This is considered a very low fat food.

Is spaghetti squash a carb or vegetable?

Spaghetti squash is categorized as a vegetable and not a carbohydrate.  Generally vegetables that have a higher water content have both fewer carbohydrates and fewer calories.

Is spaghetti squash better than pasta?

This depends who you are talking to. 🙂  If you are talking to a young child, then they would probably answer no.  But if you are talking to a more health conscience adult, then the answer might be yes.  When you are thinking about if one food is better than another, there are a lot of factors to consider.  Taste, texture, nutrient composition, cost, availability, and on and on.  A lot of people like to compare spaghetti squash to spaghetti pasta, when really the only thing similar is their shape.   I would not recommend telling your kids that you are having pasta for dinner and then serving spaghetti squash!


Recipes to Try

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Bake

One of our VERY favorite spaghetti squash recipes on our site!

21 Best Spaghetti Squash Recipes

So many good recipes to make your spaghetti squash super delicious.

Italian Baked Spaghetti Squash

Tastes like a lighter version of lasagna!

GIVEAWAY!!!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED – Congrats to our winner, Daph!

We want you to be able to cook spaghetti squash as much as you want, and have a better experience with cutting it.  We are giving away a WÜSTHOF’S best-selling 8″ Cook’s Knife to one of you! (Valued at $150)

Knife for cutting spaghetti squash

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The Ultimate Guide to Spaghetti Squash | Healthy Recipes for Kids

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224 Comments

Thank you! Love all the methods and options of cooking and preparing this wonderful veg! … any and all recipes for this would be fantastic!! … love your site!

My little one likes it baked work a little spaghetti sauce. I only have one good sharp knife. I’d love to have another. Last weekend my mom was helping me prep for a big family dinner but we kept having to wait for the good knife to be free, it took us forever! Thanks and love all you do.

I have yet to try spaghetti squash with my 3 y.o. but I remember my mom making it as replacement for spaghetti noodles when I was a teen. I liked it, I just never think to do it!

My favorite way to eat spaghetti squash is baked, adding shrimp, garlic and olive oil, Alfredo sauce and some Italian seasoning. A healthier version of shrimp fettuccine Alfredo, it’s delicious and my 16 month old adores it!
I’ve actually broke a knife trying to cut one open before!

We do not currently eat spaghetti squash but I would love to become more comfortable with it and add it to our meals.

My family and I LOVE the cheesy broccoli spaghetti squash recipe from you guys!! I add shredded chicken and it turns out delicious every time. I make it seriously like once a week!

Great post thank you! My kids and I love eating spaghetti squash pulverized and in place of mashed potatoes or baked potato with butter and sour cream.

We love it shredded with meatballs and red sauce! Would looooove to win this knife 🙂 Thanks for this awesome and helpful post!

They love it in a casserole that has butternut squash mixed into it and then topped with a white cheese sauce. It’s really great left over too!

As pasta noodles with marinara. I can’t wait to try cooking it in the Instant Pot as I get scared I’m going to chop my hand off every time I slice a raw one!

Saving this link, love all these (and your other) recipes! I use spaghetti squash for everything…my kids favorite way to eat it is with meatballs on top in place of pasta. I also blend it in with anything I make into patties (turkey burgers, etc.) to sneak in some extra veggies and they love it that way too. That knife looks amazing!

I love eating spaghetti squash when I make spaghetti with meat sauce for my family. They eat traditional spaghetti (pasta & sauce) and I bake a spaghetti squash and eat it with the meat sauce and parm cheese on top! Or meatballs with sauce on top! Delish!

My kiddo is not a squash person. I am trying to make him into one, no pressure there:) He does love his veggies so it won’t be too hard I think.

We love Spaghetti Squash!! I make a spaghetti squash casserole that has hamburger, red pepper , onion, garlic, diced tomatoes, and is topped with mozzarella cheese. So delish and is a fave of even my pickiest eater.

Our favorite way to eat spaghetti squash is with a nice classic red sauce, with a few extra grated veggies thrown in, plus some meatballs 🙂

My kids love spaghetti squash in Asian stir fries or made into cheesy, veggie “hash browns”.
Would LOVE to win this knife!!

My daughters favorite way is with tomato, spinach and a little lemon cooked down to make a light sauce on top with some chicken!

And I was already planning on making spaghetti squash this coming week, thank you!! This post is full of helpful information!

While I don’t have any kids yet, I LOVE the recipe for avocado pesto spaghetti squash that @SuperHealthyKids has posted on PrePear. Super delicious and that app is a lifesaver!!!

We love spaghetti squash just about any way but the kid-favorite is anything with cheese! We discovered the Orangetti variety and it’s great. Mmmm

My kids love it with taco meat, tomtoates, olives and cheese. So like a taco amazing texture and always a win. Baked in oven

My kiddo loves it with spaghetti sauce and hamburger – we replace our wheat noodles with spaghetti squash all the time 😉

My 2 year old loves it when I make spaghetti squash with garlic butter and scallops. We use it like we would spaghetti!

Truth be told, my kids don’t really enjoy spaghetti squash! I love it with butter and salt and pepper. Hopefully after some more exposure my littles will like it more!

Love the tips! Thank you for this wonderful opportunity! Pretty basic but, my children love when I substitute spaghetti noodles with the spaghetti squash. Such an easy way to make a family favorite a little more healthier and unique!

Favorite way used to be just with pasta sauce until I tried the spaghetti squash bake-the one with broccoli and the cheese sauce-what a hit, we had leftovers that were eaten immediately the next day!

I’ve only ever tried spaghetti squash one way and that was with a meat marinara sauce. It was absolutely delicious! I ate that at someone else’s home and have been hesitant to try and cook it for my family. This post is super helpful and I dare say I’m going to try to cook it for my family.

I’ve made it with sugar free pizza sauce, various cheeses and whole eggs that backed together. Super yummy.

I’ve also mixed it with shredded zucchini for a pasta-less spaghetti bake!

I love this post! I haven’t tried much with spaghetti squash but would love to try more so this is super helpful. The times that I have made it my child’s favorite way to eat it is with spaghetti sauce!

My kids favorite way to eat spaghetti squash is with butter! Lol. Just simple butter. Maybe a little sugar. I know there are many ways to make it and I’ll keep trying more ways with him. That’s just his fave so far.

Kids love to eat spaghetti squash with ground turkey and spaghetti sauce they think it’s regular spaghetti there’s still small so constantly try new healthy meals for them.

My kids love eating spaghetti squash mixed with spaghetti and topped with maranara and a cauliflower/walnut crumble.

My three boys love their squash! We like to roast and eat squash with savory fixings on the side of a meal (butter/salt/pepper, spaghetti sauce). Thank you for all of the great kiddo recipes!

They like it in the crockpot! I put the halved squash in the crockpot and pour spaghetti sauce over the top and add frozen meatballs. After a couple hours of cooking, I scrape the spaghetti squash out and discard the shell. They like it better than traditional spaghetti noodles.

My 3 girls like it turned into “Mac” and cheese. I made a cheese sauce and toss the spaghetti squash in with some chicken and roasted veggies. Delish!

Love spaghetti squash and all the tips! We like to eat it at our house with a vegetable marinara sauce and a little mozzarella on top!

my Daughter loves it when I cut it in half width inside of lengthwise. After scooping out seeds we fill the center with onions, garlic and tomatoes (chopped) season with salt and pep, and bake in oven until ready. Then we “string” the spaghetti right in the “bowl” while mixing the other ingredients and eat it right out of the bowl (peel) it’s a fun way to eat it!

My kiddos enjoy my “spaghetti & meatballs” but they don’t know its spaghetti squash haha. BUT, they do like my tuna casserole I make with spaghetti squash. Also, these tips are great!! I feel like a lot of people get nervous when they are trying to cook a new food. Thanks for the great tips!

My girls love making and eating spaghetti squash pizza boats. 🙂

What a great technique for cutting the squash. I will def be trying that way of cutting next time!

My kids love it when I bake it! But the cheesy spaghetti recipe is one I will definitely have to try! Looks delicious; thank you!

We love spaghetti squash at thanksgiving served as a side with brown sugar and butter. Not really on the healthy side.

I wish I could get my kids to eat more spaghetti squash, I’m definitely going to try some of these recipes! I did get them to try a bite of it when I replaced my spaghetti noodles with it and they didn’t hate it!!

My kids favorite way to eat spaghetti squash is when I mix it half and half with regular spaghetti noodles. Then they still get the texture of regular pasta, but also the benefits of the spaghetti squash. My kids are great veggie eaters and know it’s in there, but they don’t mind one bit. I would love to win this knife! My nice knife just split down the middle!

My daughter likes to eat it just like spaghetti with meat sauce over it. My younger kids haven’t warmed up to spaghetti squash yet, but I’ll keep offering it!

My kids are such picky eaters but they actually ate and enjoyed the Italian baked spaghetti squash. I will definitely have to try the cheesy squash bake next.

I love eating spaghetti squash with meat sauce made with marinara and ground turkey, and of course lots of Parmesan cheese! Yum!

My kids are still trying to like it but I’ve just started this summer cooking it they way that you guys posted earlier in the year or last and topping it with the sausage and mozzarella and my husband says it is way better than regular spaghetti so thanks for the idea and it’s a gluten free idea— even better for my husband who can’t eat white flour!

I’m going to be totally honest, my kids have never eaten spaghetti squash ? I’ve never known what to do with it until I saw this blog post! I’ll have to try the cheese squash bake!

My kids will eat it mixed with noodles and marinara or pasta sauce. My oldest is the pickiest and she won’t eat it yet but I still try!

We love making “spaghetti pie” (similar to your “Italian Baked Spaghetti Squash”. Another favorite recipe is adding peanut sauce and chicken to spaghetti squash for an Asian/Thai flair.

My kids like it with butter, salt and pepper! They have also had it with spaghetti sauce, but definetly prefer spaghetti noodles! ?

I like to make spaghetti squash and put my mom’s delicious (and easy) alfredo sauce over it and tomatoes on top. My 1.5 year old LOVES it!

I’m not sure what my life was before spaghetti squash! So yum! The classic spaghetti squash spaghetti is amazing but recently I ventured out and tried making spaghetti squash pizza! You just drain it of all the water, mix it with some cheese and an egg and you’ve got yourself a gluten free pizza crust! Everyone in my family LOVES it!

My son loves it with any kind of tomato based sauce but especially with a hearty mushroom ragu. My daughter loves it spritzed with coconout oil, salt and pepper then roasted.

My son loves spaghetti squash as the classic spaghetti and meatballs! Mommy loves that we can create a dinner he loves without the added carbs and sugars!!

I haven’t tried it lately, since my son has been pickier. But when he was little, he ate it with marinara and cheese on top. This is a good reminder to try it again!

My kids LOVE the cheesy squash bake. I mean they love anything covered in cheese. They love to put Braggs Sprinkle Seasoning on top. (I love that that stuff has no added sodium.)

We love pasta and if it’s in a healthy way, even better!!!
My kids love to eat spaghetti squash with tomate sauce and lots of cheese ?

My kids eat it the simple way: Baked, scooped out and topped with butter, salt, and shredded gouda. The adults love it just as much 🙂

We like to toss ours with some pasta sauce and some yummy parm cheese and make a spaghetti…maybe even make some meatballs to add in. It’s always a hit. So simple and so very good!

My kids eat it with spaghetti and meatballs, although we are still transitioning so I mix some regular whole wheat spaghetti noodles in there. ??‍♀️??‍♀️

My two year lives it! Usually a little garlic, tomatoes, and cheese does the trick on a busy weekday after work but we’ve tried all different ways from sweet to savory!

My kiddos haven’t warmed up to spaghetti squash ,but I keep offering! Meat sauce with hidden veggies and parmesan cheese!? I will have to try different ways as I experiment more!!!

Wow! I just read through all the comments and learned so many new ways to cook it!!! To be honest my kids don’t eat spaghetti squash but I sure would like to find a recipe to try new things with them…I love spaghetti squash, one of my favs, just don’t cook with it often because they don’t really care for it. Now I have lots of ideas… Sure could use the knife to help! Thanks for doing the giveaway!!!

The only way I have done it for them is in replacement of typical spaghetti. Can’t wait to try s few of your other recipes

My family isn’t overly particular about how I serve spaghetti squash, but they do not like it overcooked! I like it baked, then served with simple but flavorful tomato based sauce.

My kids use to turn their noses up at it until I told them no one could play with friend me until they all tried it lol. Now they like it with meat sauce.

I don’t recall the last time I had spaghetti squash or if I have ever had it. I am very excited to try these recipes. Hopefully my family loves them Because they sound delicious.

Love this! My kids love spaghetti squash simple with either garlic/oil and lots of parm or sauce with parm! Yum!!

We are simple when it comes to eating squash, butter, salt and pepper. I am sure putting cheese on it would be delicious too. Cheese just makes everything taste better, ha!

My kids might not even question what they were eating if I served this like spaghetti. I’ve never made spaghetti squash, but my girls love zucchini so I’m sure they would like it. It’s my son that is pickier.

We love spaghetti squash in spaghetti pie (similar to your Italian Bake) or paired with a sweet peanut sauce to give the “noodles” an Asian flair. So many delicious ways to prepare it, thanks for the tips!

My favorite way is roasted with veggies and tomatoes. My daughter is picky, so she likes playing with the spaghetti squash while eating.

I love to eat it as a replacement for pasta when making spaghetti! I am excited to try some of the other suggestions you mentioned ?

I really appreciate the article as I have never tried much in the way of winter squash.
However, it leaves me a little confused, as it says to cut the ends off so it’s stable, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in any of the photos. It also says stand your squash on end and cut from the top all the way down, but again that’s not help it shows in any of the photos. It also says to place it face down on the baking sheet and every picture with a baking sheet shows it face up. So aside from the couple of typos, the pictures in the words don’t match up so it leaves me a little confused.
on the upside, if I can figure out how to do this, there are lots of good ideas in the recipes in the article, and also in the comment – and BOY are there LOTS of comments!