How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

If you’re cooking spaghetti squash, it may look like you’re making pasta from scratch, but what you’re working with is actually an easy-to-prepare vegetable. There are a few things to keep in mind when you are leaning how to cook spaghetti squash, from finding a good squash to preparation methods.

Mr. Potato Head and Squash with Cartoon Face

In spite of its name, spaghetti squash has little to do with pasta. It’s an oblong winter squash with seeds and pulp in the middle, not unlike the inside of a pumpkin. When cooked, the squash inside separates from the rind in strings, which resemble strands of spaghetti. Hence the name “spaghetti squash.”

Owing to its resemblance to actual pasta, it is sometimes actually used as a low-carb substitute for the Italian cuisine staple. Although it doesn’t necessarily taste like pasta, it tends to work harmoniously with the flavors of many Italian dishes.

Spaghetti Squash Being Put on Plate

When cooking spaghetti squash, you’ll be delighted to know that it responds well to just about any type of cooking, and can be boiled, baked whole or in pieces in the oven, or even cooked in the microwave. Here, we’ll explore the ways to cook spaghetti squash and give some inspiration on how to cook with it.

First, some helpful facts about spaghetti squash.

When choosing a spaghetti squash, pick one with a firm, matte rind with no soft spots or cracks. It should have a firm, dry stem. The peak season for this squash is between early fall and winter.

Top of Spaghetti Squash
To slice a spaghetti squash, you’re going to need a cutting board, a muscular arm (or a friend with a muscular arm) and a long, sharp knife. The rind is rather thick, and trying to hack at it with a dull or small knife could result in a medical emergency. Be especially careful when slicing the portion of the squash with the stem, as this is very thick. Slice carefully.

Cutting Spaghetti Squash Open
To store spaghetti squash, keep it a cool, dry place for up to two months. Do not refrigerate the squash for more than a few days, as it will hasten any spoiling. Cut uncooked squash can be kept, well wrapped in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator; cooked squash will keep in the refrigerator for several days.

Now, let’s talk about the different ways to prepare spaghetti squash.

How to cook spaghetti squash in the oven – whole:

Outside of Spaghetti Squash

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Step 2:

Prick the squash all over with the tines of a fork.

Step 3:

Place on a baking sheet, and put the squash on its side in the preheated oven. Bake for about 1 hour, or until soft to the touch. Turn once mid-baking.

Step 4:

Remove from the oven. Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing. Slice it horizontally, and scoop out the seeds and pulp.

Step 5:

Separate strands with a fork, and serve.

How to cook spaghetti squash in the oven – sliced:

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Step 2:

Slice the squash into quarters, or more pieces if you don’t mind short strands. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Step 3:

A nice aspect of baking the spaghetti squash in pieces is that you can season it beforehand. As a suggestion, season with a generous glug of olive oil, salt, pepper and whatever other spices you’d like (cinnamon works nicely).

Adding Oil to Spaghetti Squash

Step 4:

Place the sheet in the preheated oven. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges and soft on the inside. Test one piece by seeing if the strands remove with minimal resistance.
Separate strands with a fork, and serve.

How to boil spaghetti squash:

Adding Water to Pan

Step 1:

Fill a large pot 2/3 full with water. Over high heat, bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium, and place the squash in the water, making sure it doesn’t displace the water too much.

If the water doesn’t cover the squash, be sure to turn it every 10 minutes or so. Don’t let the water boil.

Step 2:

Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until soft to the touch. Slice, first horizontally, then scoop out the seeds and pulp.

Step 3:

Separate strands with a fork, and serve.

How to cook spaghetti squash in the microwave – whole:

Testing Spaghetti Squash with Fork

Step 1:

Prick the squash all over with the tines of a fork.

Step 2:

Lightly moisten a paper towel and place it on a plate. Place the squash on top.

Step 3:

Microwave on high for 10 minutes, or until soft to the touch. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing to let the steam settle.

Step 4:

Separate strands with a fork, and serve.

How to cook spaghetti squash in the microwave – pieces:

Step 1:

Prick the squash with the tines of a fork all over.

Step 2:

Slice the squash into quarters. Remove the seeds and pulp.

Step 3:

Lightly moisten a paper towel and place it on a plate. Place the squash on top.

Step 4:

Microwave on high for 5 minutes, or until soft to the touch. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Step 5:

Separate strands with a fork, and serve.

Frying Spaghetti Sauce Seeds

Note: Don’t throw away the seeds!

Like pumpkin seeds, they can be baked and toasted, making them a great addition to trail mix or a garnish for salads or baked goods.

To bake, place the seeds in a single layer on top of a sheet of parchment paper or foil. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 20 minutes or until crunchy and toasty.

High energy, high protein and highly delicious!

Now that the spaghetti squash is cooked, here are a few different ideas for how to cook with it.

  • Substitute it for pasta, or do a mix of part pasta, part spaghetti squash. Serve with tomato sauce and meatballs, or with alfredo sauce.
  • Substitute spaghetti squash for macaroni in your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe.
  • Use spaghetti squash as a pie filling (substitute it for pumpkin or sweet potato).
  • Mash spaghetti squash and mix with butter, salt and milk for a low-carb mashed potato substitute.
  • Stir-fry vegetables and serve them atop a bed of spaghetti squash.

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4 Comments

Margie Marshall

WOW this is very helpful, easy to understand and to do!!! Thanks

Reply
Judith

Now that I have my squash, I was wondering: can I freeze the leftovers?

Reply
Sandy

Did exactly as posted for microwave. BAM it exploded at 7 minutes…so I won’t need to cut it open!!!

Reply

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