How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

An Excellent Low-Carb Alternative to Pasta

how to cook spaghetti squash
© Verywell, 2017

Spaghetti squash is fantastic a substitute for pasta. It's easy to cook and is gluten-free, lower in carbs and calories, and full of healthy nutrients for your diet. Once cooked, it is easy to scrape into spaghetti-like strands that have nearly the same texture, flavor, and color of spaghetti.

A Healthy Alternative

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. Squash that is soft or has visible mold should be avoided.

This is a very nutritious squash and its unique fibers make it a popular low-carb, low-fat, gluten-free, and vegan alternative to spaghetti noodles. One cup of cooked spaghetti noodles has about 200 calories and 40 grams carbohydrate. In comparison, one cup of cooked spaghetti squash has just 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. Overall, it really is a great addition to a healthy diet and a guilt-free way to enjoy your favorite pasta meals.

How to Prepare Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is very easy to prepare and there are a few ways to do it. You can choose to cut it into two slices 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.

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
BakeCutPlace 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.
WholePlace the squash in a baking pan in the oven for one hour.
MicrowaveCutPlace the squash in a microwave-safe bowl or on a plate and microwave it for 6-8 minutes.
WholeScore the squash in a few places. Place it on a plate and microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes.
BoilCutPlace the pieces of squash into a pot of boiling water for 20 minutes until soft.
WholePlace the squash in a pot of boiling water for a half hour.
Slow CookerWholeAdd 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.

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 in a dish to lower the carbs and calories while enjoying just a little pasta.

Spaghetti squash is excellent when topped with tomato sauce. You can also add a few extra vegetables to replace meat as well. Keep in mind that alfredo and other popular pasta sauces will likely add to your meal's calories.

Roast the Seeds

When you're cleaning out the squash, don't toss the seeds. Just like like pumpkin seeds (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 a salad.

Storage Tips

Like pumpkin and other winter squash, 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. Learning how to cook is a great way to expand your kitchen tricks.

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