How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
How to break down a spaghetti squash - plus how to cook it in the oven, microwave and Instant Pot.
By Derek Laughren for Food Network Kitchen
Derek is a contributing writer at Food Network.
While many squash species are indigenous to the Americas, spaghetti squash seems to have originated in China: consumption was first recorded in China in the 1850s. It was not commercially available in the United States until 1936, when a successful strain from Japan was introduced to American markets by Chinese seed distributors. Today, spaghetti squash is a popular low carb alternative to pasta because its flesh can be shredded into spaghetti-like strands that absorb the flavor of classic pasta sauces. It’s no surprise that the vegetable is a popular health food: it owes its vibrant natural hues to beta carotene, is packed with antioxidants, is low in calories and is a good source of fiber. There are many ways to cook it; here, we walk you through the easiest.
How to Cut Spaghetti Squash
How to Prep a Spaghetti Squash 00:48
Like its cousin butternut squash, spaghetti squash has a very tough skin. If you find yourself struggling to cut the squash, you’re not alone. Try microwaving it whole for about 2 minutes to soften the skin for easier slicing.
1. Slice both ends off to create a stable surface.
2. Slice the squash in half lengthwise, from top to bottom. This method exposes a large amount of surface area for even cooking and uniform browning across the cut surfaces. There is, however, another camp. The fibrous strands of flesh that give spaghetti squash its noodle-like texture circle the interior of the squash horizontally, not top to bottom. This means that slicing the squash widthwise leaves the circular strands in both halves intact, producing significantly longer ‘noodles’ after cooking.
3. Scoop out seeds and pulp with a spoon.
How to Bake Spaghetti Squash
How to Roast a Halved Spaghetti Squash
This is the fastest way to roast a spaghetti squash, but it does require a tad bit of prep work first.
1. Slice off both ends of the spaghetti squash with a chef's knife, then position the squash upright and halve it lengthwise.
2. Scoop out the seeds and connective tissue with a spoon. You can discard the seeds, but spaghetti squash seeds – like pumpkin seeds – can also be roasted for a tasty snack.
3. Place the squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet.
4. Roast in a 400 degrees F oven until fork-tender, about 25 minutes. Once the squash is cool enough to handle, use the tines of a fork to loosen and separate the strands of squash from the skin. Discard the skin.
5. Serve spaghetti squash "noodles" with the simple and satisfying trio of butter, salt and pepper — grated Parmesan is nice too.
How to Roast a Whole Spaghetti Squash.
This technique takes longer than cooking spaghetti squash halves but requires no prep work first.
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the whole spaghetti squash on a sheet pan.
2. Roast until the squash is tender, browned and wrinkly in spots and gives when squeezed with a kitchen towel, about 1 hour.
3. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and scrape the flesh into long strands. Discard the skin.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash In the Microwave
Want to go from zero to squash faster? Follow these easy steps.
1. Poke small holes into the skin of the squash using fork tines. About ten pokes should do it.
2. Microwave the spaghetti squash in 5-minute increments, rotating the squash after each.
3. The squash is done when it is tender and gives when squeezed with a kitchen towel, 10 to 15 minutes total.
4. Still using the kitchen towel to hold the squash, cut it in half.
5. Use a fork to scoop out the seeds from the middle of the spaghetti squash.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash In the Instant Pot
Your Instant Pot is perfect for cooking spaghetti squash. You’ll get tender results in very little time.
- Add 1 cup water to a 6-quart Instant Pot. Put the rack in the bottom with the handles going up the sides. Deeply pierce the squash all over 12 to 16 times with a fork, then place on the rack.
- Follow the manufacturer's guide for locking the lid and preparing to cook. Set to pressure cook on high for 12 minutes (see Cook's Note).
- After the pressure-cook cycle is complete, follow the manufacturer's guide for quick release and wait until the quick-release cycle is complete. Being careful of any remaining steam, unlock and remove the lid. Use 2 kitchen towels to remove the rack and squash to a cutting board. Allow the squash to cool slightly.
- Split it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the seeds, then use a fork to scrape the strands of squash from the inside of the skin.
How Long to Cook Spaghetti Squash
How long you cook spaghetti squash will largely depend on the method you use. Dry roasting spaghetti squash halves in a 400 degrees F oven will take about 25 minutes. Microwaving a whole spaghetti squash will take 10 to 15 minutes. Cooking spaghetti squash in an Instant Pot on high will take about 12 minutes. No matter how you choose to prepare it, the important thing to pay attention to is texture. The tines of a fork should easily pierce the flesh, separating the fibrous threads of the squash into spaghetti-like strings that, while tender, still retain an al dente bite.
Spaghetti Squash Recipes
This fast and easy recipe pairs microwaved spaghetti squash with all the classic flavors of carbonara - a creamy garlic sauce with salty pancetta and Parmesan cheese.
Roasted spaghetti squash forms the base of this hearty chicken casserole with rich mushroom and onion flavor, topped with a comforting quantity of cheddar cheese.
Ready for a slider that’s packed with fiber and antioxidants? Try this quick mix for bbq spaghetti squash burgers.
Take your shrimp scampi up a notch: toasted spaghetti squash shines in this creative version of an Italian classic.