Learn How to Cook Spaghetti Squash for a Low-Carb Pasta Alternative

Spaghetti squash is not only delicious and nutritious but also super easy to cook. (Once you get it cut in half, it's totally hands-off)! Here we'll show you how to cook spaghetti squash in just a few simple steps.

Reducing carb intake is no easy task, and it's challenging to find healthy alternatives that still taste good. Enter spaghetti squash. Even if carbs aren't your top concern, spaghetti squash is still a lot more naturally nutrient-rich than traditional pasta. Instead of reaching for a box of pasta, use this golden-threaded squash in healthier spaghetti squash and meatballs, in place of pizza crust, or as the foundation of a baked spaghetti squash casserole. Shaped like a small watermelon and light yellow in color, spaghetti squash is a winter squash that gets its name from its inner flesh, which, once cooked, can be separated into yellow-gold threads that resemble spaghetti noodles. If you're new to cooking this winter squash, we have you covered with spaghetti squash basics and our Test Kitchen's easy steps on how to make spaghetti squash.

whole yellow spaghetti squash
Jason Donnelly

How to Cut Spaghetti Squash

Before making roasted spaghetti squash, you'll need to prep it. Rinse the squash with cool, clear tap water and scrub with a clean produce brush. Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.

To begin cutting your squash, lay it on its side. Using a large, sharp chef's knife ($40, Target), trim the top and bottom to remove the stem. Stand the squash upright, then cut straight down lengthwise through the middle. Once the squash is cut, use a spoon to remove the seeds.

halved spaghetti squash lying face-down on baking sheet
Jason Donnelly

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven

The most common way of cooking spaghetti squash is to bake or roast it. Place prepped squash, cut sides down, on a baking sheet ($5, Walmart). Bake in a 350°F oven 45 to 50 minutes or until the squash is tender. You can test it for doneness by piercing it with something sharp like a knife or fork. If it goes in smoothly, the spaghetti squash is done.

Arugula Pesto with Spaghetti Squash
Jason Donnelly

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave

If you're short on time, microwaving spaghetti squash can get dinner on your table faster. Place your prepped squash half cut-side down in a microwave-safe baking dish ($17, Target) with ¼ cup water. Microwave, covered, on 100% power (high) for about 15 minutes or until tender.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in a Pressure Cooker

Since roasting spaghetti squash can be a bit of a chore, you can turn to your Instant Pot to speed things along nicely. All you have to do is place prepped halved spaghetti squash in the pressure cooker liner, add some water, and cook under pressure for 7 minutes. See our full detailed instructions here.

Buttered Spaghetti Squash
Mike Dieter

How to Serve Spaghetti Squash

With just a nudge of the fork (or a spoon works, too!), that golden-yellow cooked flesh separates into spaghetti-like strands. Make sure you're holding the squash with a pot holder in one hand so you don't burn yourself while loosening the fibers. Then use a large, sturdy fork or spoon to scrape strands from the squash.

How Many Servings Is One Spaghetti Squash?

A 3-pound spaghetti squash will yield about 8 servings. If that's too many servings, you can store spaghetti squash (uncooked), wrapped in plastic, for up to four days. If you'd rather freeze the squash, place the squash in a freezer-safe storage bag. Be sure to squeeze out as much air as possible and it'll be tasty out of the freezer for up to eight months.

How Long Does Spaghetti Squash Last?

Uncut spaghetti squash can last up to two months stored in the pantry.

Spaghetti Squash Nutrition

By the cup (cooked without adding fat), there are 42 calories in spaghetti squash and 10 grams of carbs. Compare that to the 160 to 190 calories in a cup of pasta (it varies by pasta shape) and 33 to 37 grams of carbs and it's clear why it's a healthier swap. Spaghetti squash also offers vitamin C, vitamin A, dietary fiber, and potassium.

Choosing Your Spaghetti Squash

You can generally find this winter squash year-round, though the peak spaghetti squash season runs October through January. Luckily, uncut spaghetti squash can last up to two months stored in the pantry. When buying spaghetti squash, look for firm squash that feels heavy for its size. Avoid those with soft spots or a green tint, which is a sign of under-ripeness.

There you have it! Spaghetti squash is here to keep your comfort food cravings satisfied at only a fraction of the calories, plus many nutritional benefits. We like tossing ours with butter and Parmesan for a quick, simple meal, but it can easily be used in place of your favorite pasta along with any sauce.

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