How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

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This is the best way to prepare this versatile winter squash (which, yes, looks much like spaghetti once it's cooked!).

Woman scooping seeds out of a halved spaghetti squash.

My friend Jenny once emailed me with the subject line, “Spaghetti squash?” The accompanying message was brief: “Never made it before in my life, and tonight’s the night. Any words of wisdom?”

Jenny is certainly not the first person to look at the pale yellow gourd and wonder how exactly to get it to transform itself into golden, silken noodley strands. For those who are looking to lighten up on the carbs or in search of gluten-free alternatives to pasta, spaghetti squash can be quite a discovery…though I hasten to add that while it becomes spaghetti-like in shape, it really doesn’t resemble pasta in texture or taste.

Still, it has a lovely (albeit bland) buttery flavor, is filled with nutrition, and is just plain fun to make as well. If you have kids, this is just the most perfect kitchen project. It’s like a vegetable decided how to spiralize itself! You can also cook the squash in the microwave, but I’m a fan of roasting.

Toss the cooked spaghetti squash with meat sauce, bolognese sauce, garlic oil, or tomato sauce.

Halved spaghetti squash on a wooden surface.

What Is Spaghetti Squash?

Spaghetti squash is a member of the winter squash family. They’re oval in shape, and they range in size from quite large to small. There are lots of seeds inside, and the thick flesh is firm when raw. But when cooked, it falls apart into spaghetti-like strands. (Hence the name.)

What Does Spaghetti Squash Look Like?

You’ll find spaghetti squash sold in its gourd form, a yellow, oblong squash. When it’s cut open and roasted, you can rake a fork against the interior walls and come out with thin strands of squash that look an awful lot like spaghetti.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash: The best way to prepare this versatile winter squash with step by step photos (and yes, it looks much like spaghetti once it’s cooked!)

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Whole spaghetti squash and a knife on a wooden board.

What Does Spaghetti Squash Taste Like?

The flavor of spaghetti squash is actually quite neutral. It’s naturally a little buttery, but that’s all this gourd offers in terms of flavor. That means it’s up to you to decide if you want to go easy on the seasonings so you can taste the squash or use it as a vehicle for a more fully seasoned sauce or ragu of some sort. But first, let’s get that squash to turn into spaghetti.

How to Prepare Spaghetti Squash

  1. Remove ends: First, cut the ends off the spaghetti squash using a heavy knife, rocking it back and forth with control. Cutting off the ends helps stabilize the squash so you have more leverage and stability, which makes it safer to cut the squash in half lengthwise.
Woman cutting the end off of a spaghetti squash.
  1. Cut it in half lengthwise: Turn the squash onto one of its flat sides, then cut a notch midway into the top. Stabilize the squash with your non-knife hand, like below, and guide the knife through the rest of the gourd length-wise, rocking it back and forth to cut all the way through.
Woman cutting a spaghetti squash in half the long way.
  1. Scrape out seeds: Scrape out the seeds and any pulpy strings with a spoon. Just like most winter squashes, the inside is hollow, filled with seeds and some stringy fibers; you can roast the seeds like pumpkin seeds if you wish.
Woman scooping seeds out of a halved spaghetti squash.
  1. Roast: Place the halves cut side down in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Add ¾ cup of water, and roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes. The halves should look somewhat browned, wrinkly, and slightly collapsed, and the squash will be tender. Check as the cooking time gets towards the end to make sure there is still a bit of water in the pan, adding more if necessary.
Two spaghetti squash halves in a baking dish.
  1. Cool: Remove the squash from the oven and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes.
  2. Make spaghetti: Using a fork, scrape, scrape, scrape the inside of the squash to release the insides from the skin. You may want to hold the squash with a dishtowel as it will still be quite hot. You’ll see the squash form spaghetti-like strands as you do this; it’s pretty cool. Transfer all of the squash to a serving bowl (or individual bowls), then use it or top it as you wish. Toss the outside shells.
Woman scraping roasted spaghetti squash into bowl.

FAQs

How do you pick a good spaghetti squash?

Look for even color all over the gourd, with no dings, cuts, or dark spots. And pick it up — you’re looking for a squash that feels heavy for its size, meaning there is a lot of firm flesh inside.

Is spaghetti squash good for you?

This gourd is actually great for you! It’s high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants while being low in calories. It’s a great alternative to pasta. A cup of cooked spaghetti squash contains about 49 calories and 2 grams of fiber, according to the USDA.

What to Serve With Spaghetti Squash

Spatula taking Greek-Style Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp from a skillet into a bowl.
Greek-Style Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp

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5 from 1 vote

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

This is the best way to prepare this versatile winter squash (which, yes, looks much like spaghetti once it's cooked!).
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 4 People
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Equipment

  • 1 9×13-inch baking pan

Ingredients 

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • ¾ cup water

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • First, cut the ends off the spaghetti squash using a heavy knife, rocking it back and forth with control. Cutting off the ends helps stabilize the squash so you have more leverage and stability, which makes it safer to cut the squash in half lengthwise.
  • Turn the squash onto one of its flat sides, then cut a notch midway into the top. Stabilize the squash with your non-knife hand, like below, and guide the knife through the rest of the gourd length-wise.
  • Scrape out the seeds and any pulpy strings with a spoon. Just like most winter squashes, the inside is hollow, filled with seeds and some stringy fibers; you can roast the seeds like pumpkin seeds if you wish.
  • Place the halves cut side down in a 9×13-inch baking pan, add ¾ cup of water, and roast for 45 to 55 minutes until the halves look somewhat wrinkly and slightly collapsed, and the squash itself is tender. Check as the cooking time gets towards the end to make sure there is still a bit of water in the pan, adding more if necessary.
  • Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool about 15 minutes.
  • Using a fork, scrape, scrape, scrape the inside of the squash to release the insides from the skin (you may want to hold the squash with a dishtowel as it will still be quite hot. You’ll see the squash form spaghetti-like strands as you do this; it’s pretty cool. Transfer all of the squash to a serving bowl (or individual bowls), then use it or top it as you wish. Toss the outside shells.

Notes

Look for spaghetti squash that has an even color all over the gourd, with no dings, cuts, or dark spots. And pick it up — you’re looking for a squash that feels heavy for its size, meaning there is a lot of firm flesh inside.

Nutrition

Calories: 299kcal, Carbohydrates: 67g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Sodium: 164mg, Potassium: 1043mg, Fiber: 14g, Sugar: 27g, Vitamin A: 1159IU, Vitamin C: 20mg, Calcium: 222mg, Iron: 3mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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