The Ultimate Guide to Spaghetti Squash

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.

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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 squashC

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.
  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!

 

The Ultimate Guide to Spaghetti Squash | Healthy Recipes for Kids
written by
Natalie Monson

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Comments(1)
Cris says:

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!

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