Cook Spaghetti Squash as a Low-Carb Alternative to Pasta

© Verywell, 2017

Spaghetti squash is a substitute for pasta that is lower in carbs and calories. Once cooked, it is easy to scrape into spaghetti-like strands that have much the same texture, flavor, and color of pasta, and with more nutrients. 

Ways to Prepare Spaghetti Squash

The biggest advantage of cutting up the squash before cooking is that it cooks faster. However, the disadvantage is that it takes muscle and a sharp knife or cleaver to cut up a spaghetti squash.

It also is more work to scrape out the seeds and pulp when the squash is raw.

Cooking the whole squash is very easy, and the pulp and seeds are easy to remove after it has been cooked. The disadvantages are that it takes longer to cook and you will also have to be careful of the hot steam when removing the pulp and seeds.

There are four methods to use for cooking spaghetti squash. Cooking times vary dramatically depending on whether you cut it up or cook it whole.

Cooking MethodCut or WholeProcedure




Place the rind side up (cut side down) on a baking pan and add a half-inch of water. Bake at 375 F for about 30 to 40 minutes. 

Place the squash in a baking pan in the oven for an hour.






Place the squash in a microwave-safe bowl or on a plate and microwave it for 6-8 minutes.

Place the squash on a plate and microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes.




Place the pieces of squash into a pot of boiling water for 20 minutes until soft.

Place the squash in a pot of boiling water for a half hour.

Slow CookerWholeAdd the squash and a cup of water to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 2.5 hours.

Substitute Spaghetti Squash for Spaghetti Noodles

Once your squash is cooked, use a fork to separate the inside fibers into strands, which look much like spaghetti.

You can also use spaghetti squash along with spaghetti pasta to lower the calories and carbs in your favorite spaghetti recipe. A cup of cooked spaghetti pasta has 210 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrates compared to a cup of cooked spaghetti squash at 42 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates.

Mix the two and you have lowered the calories per serving by a third. Or, enjoy a 3-cup serving of spaghetti squash for only 126 calories and 30 grams of carbohydrates.

Do Not Toss the Squash Seeds

Squash seeds, including spaghetti squash seeds, can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds (pumpkin is a squash). The seeds are low-carb, nutritious, and delicious.

Spaghetti Squash Storage Tips

Like pumpkin and other winter squashes, whole uncooked spaghetti squash is best stored between 50 to 60 F and will last up to six months. Spaghetti squash will keep several weeks at room temperature.

A Word From Verywell

Spaghetti squash is one of the fun substitutes you can make for pasta, whether you are trying to eliminate gluten or you want to reduce carbs and calories. Learn how to cook it and use it in different ways to expand your kitchen tricks.