How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
Learn how to break down and bake spaghetti squash — plus how to cook it in the microwave or Instant Pot.
By Derek Laughren for Food Network Kitchen
Derek is a contributing writer at Food Network.
While many squashes are indigenous to the Americas, many historians believe spaghetti squash originated in China. According to some sources, consumption was first recorded in China in the 1850s. It was not commercially available in the United States until 1936, when a strain from Japan was introduced to American markets by Chinese seed distributors.
Today, spaghetti squash is popular across the United States. It's a versatile veggie that some use as a low-carb alternative to pasta, shredding its tender interior into spaghetti-like strands that absorb the flavor of classic pasta sauces. Spaghetti squash 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 how to bake spaghetti squash, how to cook it in the microwave and Instant Pot, and more.
How to Cut Spaghetti Squash
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.
Step one: Trim. Slice both ends off to create a stable surface.
Step two: Halve the squash. 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.
Step three: Remove seeds and pulp. 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 bit of prep work.
Step one: Arrange on baking sheet. Place the squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet.
Step two: Roast and shred. Cook 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.
Step three: Serve as "noodles." You can top them with your favorite pasta sauce, dust with grated Parmesan or try the simple and satisfying trio of butter, salt and pepper.
How to Roast a Whole Spaghetti Squash
This technique takes longer than cooking spaghetti squash halves but requires no prep work.
Step one: Prepare to bake. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pierce the spaghetti squash all over with a sharp paring knife (in 5 to 7 spots). Place the whole squash on a sheet pan.
Step two: Roast the squash. The squash is done when it's tender, browned and wrinkly in spots and gives when squeezed with a kitchen towel, about 1 hour.
Step three: Halve the squash and turn it into strands. 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.
Step one: Poke with a fork. Poke small holes into the skin of the squash using fork tines. About ten pokes should do it.
Step two: Microwave. Microwave the spaghetti squash in 5-minute increments. Rotate the squash after each. The squash is done when it is tender and gives when squeezed with a kitchen towel, 10 to 15 minutes total.
Step three: Halve and remove seeds. Still using the kitchen towel to hold the squash, cut it in half. 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.
Step one: Prep the Instant Pot. Add 1 cup water to a 6-quart Instant Pot. Put the rack in the bottom with the handles going up the sides.
Step two: Pierce the squash. Deeply pierce the squash all over 12 to 16 times with a fork, then place on the rack.
Step three: Pressure cook on high. 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).
Step four: Quick release the Instant Pot and remove the squash. 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.
Step five. Scrape out the strands. 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.