How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

An Excellent Low-Carb Alternative to Pasta

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Spaghetti squash is a fantastic substitute for pasta. It's easy to cook, lower in carbs and calories, and high in fiber and other important nutrients. One cup of cooked spaghetti squash has 40 calories and 10 grams carbohydrate. Spaghetti squash also has 2 grams fiber per one-cup serving and is a good source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and niacin.

Once cooked, it is easy to scrape into spaghetti-like strands that have nearly the same texture, flavor, and color of spaghetti. This non-starchy vegetable is a helpful substitution or addition to pasta dishes to increase fiber and nutrients.


How to Select and Prepare

Spaghetti squash is a popular variety of winter squash. It is large and yellow and is readily available in grocery stores. Select a squash that is firm, has a hard rind, and feels heavier than it looks. Avoid squash that has soft spots or visible mold.

Once you get it home, spaghetti squash is very easy to prepare and there are a few ways to do it. You can choose to cut it in half or cook the whole squash as is.

The biggest advantage to cutting the squash before cooking is that it cooks faster. However, it takes muscle and a sharp knife or cleaver to cut it, and this can be dangerous. It is also more work to scrape out the seeds and pulp when the squash is raw.

If you would like to cut it first, score the squash in a few places and place it in the microwave for 5 minutes. It will come out just soft enough to be easier to slice through the rind.

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

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

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 Method Cut or Whole Procedure
Bake Cut Place the squash halves cut side down on a baking pan and add a half-inch of water. Bake at 375 F for about 30 to 40 minutes.
Bake Whole Place the squash in a baking pan in the oven for one hour.
Microwave Cut Place one squash half in a microwave-safe bowl or on a plate and microwave it for 6-8 minutes.
Microwave Whole Score the squash in a few places. Place it on a plate and microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes.
Boil Cut Place squash halves into a pot of boiling water for 20 minutes until soft.
Boil Whole Place the squash in a pot of boiling water for a half hour.
Slow Cooker Whole Add the squash and 1 cup water to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 2 1/2 hours.

Serving Ideas

Once your squash is cooked, let it cool for a few minutes, then use a fork to separate the inside fibers into strands. These will look much like spaghetti and can be used in your favorite pasta recipes. You can also serve the squash along with pasta to increase the fiber and nutrients of a dish while enjoying a smaller portion of pasta.

Spaghetti squash is excellent when topped with tomato sauce, and also pairs well with extra vegetables or with beans to replace meat with a plant-based protein source. Keep in mind that alfredo and other popular cream-based pasta sauces will likely add extra saturated fat and calories to your meal.

When you're cleaning out the squash, don't toss the seeds. Just like those of a pumpkin (also a squash), spaghetti squash seeds can be roasted. They make a delicious and nutritious low-carb snack and can adorn all sorts of dishes, including salads.

Storage Tips

Like pumpkin and other winter squash, whole uncooked spaghetti squash is best stored between 50 to 60 degrees 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. Learning how to cook is a great way to expand your kitchen tricks.

By Laura Dolson
Laura Dolson is a health and food writer who develops low-carb and gluten-free recipes for home cooks.