The Ultimate Guide on Cooking Spaghetti Squash: For Beginners (And 10 Best Spaghetti Squash Recipes)
Find here the complete guide on how to cook spaghetti squash, tips on how to properly prepare them and some help from experts to try different popular recipes!
It is good news that when it comes to diet, people have awakened to the idea of eating healthy. So it is not surprising that when it comes to menus, recipes and food advertisement, conversion to a healthy food substitute is trending.
Shall we miss it, or join and enjoy the ride?
You do not need a long time to decide. Health is wealth!
Do you want a new healthy living? Let us start by adding spaghetti squash to your favorite dish!
Overview of Spaghetti Squash
What Is Spaghetti Squash?
Spaghetti squash is a nutritious vegetable that belongs to the cultivar category under the family Cucurbita where cucumbers also come from. This is a winter squash or vegetable squash that are commonly called acorn squash or “Spaghetti Squash"
Since it is easy to grow and has a high value of nutrients, Spaghetti Squash growing is a popular gardening competition activity. Its harvest time is during late summer or early autumn. However, you do not need to worry since you can find it anywhere in the market or grocery stores anytime of the year.
Did curiosity raise about the spaghetti? Stay with me and you will know why!
What Does Spaghetti Squash Look Like?
From all the squash variety we can find, this round or oblong spaghetti squash differs from others because its flesh resembles ribbons or thin strands of spaghetti when cooked. That is why it is called, “spaghetti” squash.
Its color also varies from a range of yellow to an orange shade. It has been said that the orange ones are rich in carotene and its seed found inside are larger than others. The flesh is a range of bright yellow or orange when ripe.
A monoecious kind of plant, it contains both the male and the female flower. You will observe that the male flowers have long stems that extend to the vines and the female ones with small round shape parts found under its petals.
What Does Spaghetti Squash Taste Like?
Take note: No matter what color the spaghetti squash brings, it really does not matter since it all tastes the same
Once your spaghetti squash is already cooked, its flesh will separate in strands and this yellow flesh will look like spaghetti!
But, does it really taste like spaghetti?
The texture of the strands resembles angel pasta, that is tender and chewy but more breakable. It indeed does not taste like spaghetti. It tastes like a normal stringy and flavorful squash. The strands give you a crunchy sweet taste that is enough to please your longing to eat pasta.
However, if you mix a little bit of marinara sauce or any sauce you fancy, it acts like magic, it would be delightfully tasty. Let us stop saying that it takes like spaghetti since it really is not. It has its own unique sweet, light, and nutty good taste that can turn out super delish when made.
Spaghetti Squash Comparison To Other Food
Now, if we are really into comparing spaghetti squash to other food, the nearest I can think of is the comparison between this and other variety of squash. A comparison also with the ever-popular spaghetti pasta will do.
Shall we start?
I have always thought that substituting spaghetti squash to a real pasta is smart because the veggie is more nutritious than pasta. As I found out, both of them has its own good nutrients to offer. It is just a matter of choice, which one you will choose.
And in the comparison between spaghetti squash and butternut squash, our spaghetti squash has fewer nutrients to offer than the butternut. However, we can’t cook butternut like spaghetti, right?
Spaghetti Squash VS Pasta
Its flesh separates into thin strands when cooked
These thin spaghetti strands are made of egg, flour, oil, and salt
Crunchy, sweet, tender and chewy
Soft, crunchy, soggy and no taste
Spaghetti Squash VS Butternut Squash
Nutrition per 1 cup serving
Nutrition Facts of Spaghetti Squash
There is a huge reason why we opt for spaghetti squash as an alternative to pasta. It is a low-calorie (42 calories) and a low- carbohydrate (10 grams) veggie. It simply is an irresistible offer for someone who has implemented a strict diet.
You see, when you eat spaghetti squash rather than the pasta, you saved yourself from taking in additional 170 calories and 30 grams of carbohydrates per serving! Fewer carbs mean less blood sugar.
Well, Paleo, as we all know, is a low-carb diet. Of course, spaghetti squash should be a strong contender when it comes to their recipes. The only thing you need is the perfect sauce and you can now dig in for a tasty meal.
Spaghetti squash is not limited to just a substitute for spaghetti pasta. It works great as in some ways for Paleo recipes.
- A great binder for Paleo recipes like a casserole.
- A pair for unlimited Paleo sauces and stews
- A vegetable for any Paleo salads, stir-fries and so much more!
I will share with you a favorite Paleo spaghetti recipe later, at the bottom part of the article.
So, stick with me!
Benefits of Spaghetti Squash
I have already mentioned some of the nutritional benefits of spaghetti squash. In this part, let us focus on the all over the contribution of this vegetable to our health.
How useful do you think this winter squash is?
Aids weight loss
If you want to shed some fat in order to reduce weight, this spaghetti squash is the best candidate for diet
- Spaghetti squash is low in calories, carbohydrates but high in dietary fiber. This dietary fiber helps makes you full and satisfies your hunger, but it helps you shed off weight.
- Spaghetti squash slower down the rate of the ability of your body to absorb sugar and glucose. With this, the blood sugar levels in our body are stabilized and discourage the release of insulin responsible in storing fat.
- Important: Simply eating this squash does not make you lose weight alone. A strict dietary discipline and plenty of exercises would greatly help to do the trick.
- We already know that spaghetti squash is more nutritious compared to pasta. This useful squash contains vitamin A and vitamin C which can aid in avoiding free radical damage to cells.
- Spaghetti squash has a high-level content of Vitamin B riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin which encourages finest cellular function.
- It also contains Beta-carotene that lessens the risk of atherosclerosis by dropping the cholesterol level and is important to people with insulin resistance
Aside from those antioxidants that I have mentioned, this winter squash also boasts with lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are related to healthy vision and optimal eye health.
Helps Prevent Birth Defects
Surprised that Folate is also found in this spaghetti squash? Folate supports the creation and growth of new cells and aids prevention of birth deficiencies. So, this bright colored squash is ideal for pregnant women.
Promotes Cardiovascular Health
- It is a fact that spaghetti squash is packed with potassium and so it is an ideal diet for people suffering from high blood pressure. It would surprisingly lower the blood pressure if eaten over time.
- Potassium is a mineral that preserves proper muscles and nerve function thus making it beneficial for people with high blood pressure
- The folate found in this squash helps toughens the walls of the blood vessels besides enhancing blood circulation
Anti-inflammatory to Fight Cancer and Arthritis
- This winter squash can offer a large amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to stop heart diseases, infection, arthritis and different type of cancers.
- The Omega-6 fatty acids are also ideal for stimulating proper brain function and are also vital for proper functioning of the body
Other Health Benefits
- The most updated studies found out that this squash is good for prostate health and is also useful in treating benign prostate enlargement.
- Another mineral found in this squash is manganese. Manganese helps in bone and tissue health, metabolism, calcium absorption and nerve function
Different Ways to Cook Spaghetti Squash
After all the benefits that you can get out of a simple spaghetti squash, who would not want to eat it?
If you have been cooking spaghetti squash for a long time, probably, you have tried cooking them in so many ways. And if you never cook before, you may want ot visit our cooking tips for beginner. You see, there are recipes that call for it and surprisingly, they all end up yummy too!
Quick and Easy: Microwave Baked
Do you want to cook your spaghetti squash the speedy way? Of course with all those hectic schedules we have in our daily routines, we need to find a way to cook in a snap!
Cooking it in the microwave would only take a few minutes. Quick and easy, making it ready to go for any meal you planned for.
The Best Way: Traditional Oven Baked
Cooking spaghetti squash in a microwave is fast and easy. Anyhow it is still a delicious meal after all. However, the best way to cook it is the traditional oven way. Sure it takes a lengthy time matched to microwave but the tastes of the squash develop further in the oven.
Optional Way: Grilling Spaghetti Squash
The baking way is the most popular in cooking spaghetti squash. But do you know that there are other ways to do it too? Yes, you are not just limited to baking, but you can grill, boil, steam or cook it in an instant pot too!
You do not need to worry, there are just slight changes in the steps of trying other methods. You will be able to do it like a breeze!
How to do it?
Heat the grill to medium-high. Prepare the squash like what you did in baking
Put the spaghetti squash on the grill, this time, the cut side facing up
Grill for 20-25 minutes or until it is soft enough to pierce with the fork
Serve it hot, drizzled with your favorite cheese
For you to be able to see how is done, here is a video showing how to grill a spaghetti squash
How to Grill a Spaghetti Squash Via Halle Cottis
4th Way to Cooking Spaghetti Squash: In an Instant Pot
How to do it?
Prepare your squash in the same way you prepared using the ovens and the grill
Get your 2 halves of spaghetti squash and place it in the instant pot or rice cooker
Pour in one cup of water before closing the lid
Set timer for 7 minutes
When time is up, release the lid and let it cool down
Prepare it as needed in your recipe, and serve!
Squash Recipes - How to Make Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash Via Allrecipes
How to cut a spaghetti squash?
What you will need:
Steps on how to cut:
- STep 1
- Step 2
- Step 3
- step 4
With the squash standing, cut the squash to half, lengthwise
Using the spoon, start scooping the seeds or innards from the squash
Your spaghetti squash is ready for cooking!
For you to see how cutting a spaghetti squash is being done, here is a video for your convenience. Enjoy!
How To Cut a Spaghetti Squash Via Melissa Joulwan
How to Boil your Spaghetti Squash?
Boiling Spaghetti Squash
How to do it?
Get a stock pot that is huge enough to hold the spaghetti squash and put water in it, cover and let it boil
When the water is boiling, drop the spaghetti squash gently inside
Cover the pot and lower the heat. This will prevent the water from rising and spilling from the pot
Cook for 30 minutes
Turn off the heat, put the spaghetti squash in a colander and let it cool
Do the same steps in cutting and preparation of the squash
Here is a video to show you in detail how to boil a spaghetti squash
HOW TO PREPARE SPAGHETTI SQUASH Via YourProduceGuy
How to Bake Spaghetti Squash?
Using the Microwave Oven:
You can also call this microwave baking process as steaming
What you will need:
- STep 1
- Step 2
- Step 3
- STEP 4
- STEP 5
- STEP 6
With your well-prepared spaghetti squash, coat each half with oil. Dip the brush into the oil and start coating the inside of the squash
Dash it with salt and newly crushed black pepper
Place it on the baking pan, the cut sides facing down. Fill the pan with 1” water
Put it in the microwave and bake for an average of 12 minutes or until it is soft enough to penetrate it with a fork. Please take note that length of time when cooking varies. It depends on the size of the squash and how fast your microwave bakes
Let it cool. If you think the spaghetti squash is cool enough for you to hold, get your fork and start scraping out all the spaghetti-like strands.
Prepare according to your recipe.
Here is a short video showing you how to bake spaghetti squash in the microwave oven!
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in Microwave Via HowToCreatorss
Using the Traditional Oven:
In baking or roasting spaghetti squash in the oven, you can use the same steps like what you did with the microwave, except two (2) changes.
- You need to pre-heat oven to 375 deg. F before starting step 1
- Instead of 12 minutes cooking time in the microwave, you need 40 minutes in the oven
All other steps stay the same
Here is a video showing you how to bake or roast a spaghetti squash using the microwave oven:
How To Roast Spaghetti Squash Via Clean & Delicious
How to Stuff Spaghetti Squash?
Stuffing a Spaghetti squash is just simple. For a quick tutorial, here are the steps on how to do it:
When you are done scraping the spaghetti squash strands, place it all in a bowl
Set aside the shells for future use
Meanwhile, prepare the recipe you plan to stuff the squash. If you are planning to stuff it with “chicken enchilada”, prepare the mixture.
When you are done with the chicken enchilada mixture, you blend it with the spaghetti squash carefully
Get the two spaghetti squash shells and put the enchilada-spaghettisquash blend evenly to both shells.
Garnish it with sauce on top
Put it back to the oven for a quick bake
Enjoy your stuffed spaghetti squash!
You will enjoy videos of spaghetti squash recipe at the bottom of this article that will show how to stuff them well
What to serve with?
Actually, you can serve anything with spaghetti squash. However, I’m going to share with you some of my own favorites so that you will have an idea. I made it a point that you will have dietary advantages for those who have special diets, reactions, and intolerances. So, pick one that you like.
Cheese and Vegetables
If you are into eating more vegetables, you can serve any of your favorite vegetable like spinach together with some cheese. You can garnish grated parmesan cheese on top or make cheese cuts as sidings. The cheesy cream sauce is perfect too!
It wouldn’t be spaghetti without meat sauce! Of course, serve the squash with meat sauce. Ground beef is a perfect base for tomato sauce. It is just like having pasta the healthy way. This would also be great if you eat it with beef stew.
Would it be awesome to eat your spaghetti squash strands with a smoking roasted lamb? Just toss some olive oil and your favorite herbs to the squash for add on flavor and you can eat it together with your delicious lamb.
If there is anything that is natural to pair with spaghetti squash, it is the chicken stir-fry. One of those on-the-go meals, this pair is a hit. The herbs, peas, and spices blended with the chicken add in a lot of flavors. If you top the spaghetti squash with some roasted duck, well it truly is a rich and superb dish.
How can we forget the meatballs? Spaghetti squash serves good meat sauce but adding meatballs will add more flavor to the hearty meal. The squash serves well with some pork recipes too!
Imagine your spaghetti squash served with a meat sauce eaten along with your favorite salad. It is a ravishing full meal indeed. What is your salad of choice? Mine is a vegetable salad mixed with nuts, tomatoes, and cabbage.
Serve your baked spaghetti squash with your favorite dressings. Mine is Greek with feta and roasted peppers. It is perfect to serve with grilled tuna. A perfect combination!
Well, collecting all these helpful tips and information would not be possible with the help of the experts. They are the guide in making every recipe to perfection. We owe to their experiences and expertise what we know now. Let me share with you some of their techniques that they freely give for people like us who are interested in the passion of cooking.
The Kitchn- concentrating on the kitchen, this website parts all that happens around the kitchen like guidelines, cooking lessons and making the cooking place spic and span. The people behind this blog have made it all very convenient and helpful for the readers.
- Emma Christensen said that “Spaghetti squash has a very mild flavor. It's not something you'd necessarily serve all on its own, but it's fantastic when paired with sauces and other richly seasoned main dishes.”
Eat Within Your Means
- Beth shared that she discovered, “Salting the squash first draws out a ton of moisture, which really helps reduce the mushy/wet texture. Take the extra 15 minutes and salt the squash first.”
Chocolate Covered Katie
Chocolate Covered Katie- voted as the #1 blog for healthy comfort recipes, needless to say, this website offers a long list of hearty meals for you and the family. They also have a question and answer page for readers who needs some answers. Quite useful!
- Katie wants to tell us that “Roasting spaghetti squash is higher than any other recipe I’ve ever seen and works beautifully to caramelize the natural sugars in the squash and zap away extra moisture, leaving it perfectly cooked.”
Recipes Mercola- this website not only talks about recipes but all about health. Healthy recipes, fitness and even about pets.
- Dr. Mercola says, “If possible do the traditional way of cooking the spaghetti squash. Cooking it in the microwave may alter their nutritional composition. It is good to choose organic too.”
Inspired Taste - if you are looking for quick and easy recipes to recipes that are made from scratch, this blog is the right one for you. This website is flooded with recipes and videos to guide you in the kitchen.
- Adam and Joanne advised, “When it comes to cutting spaghetti squash, you will need a heavy chef’s knife, a towel to keep it steady and some muscle power. This vegetable is a little tricky!”
Craftsy - do you like crafts? This blog offers a lot of interesting ideas for crafty minds. Ranges from recipes to sewing, crochets, and arts, it has it all.
- Jessie Oleson Moore wrote “It is nice to let you know that you can season a spaghetti squash ahead of time. As a suggestion, oil, salt, and pepper will do fine. You see, it saves time!”
The Spruce- Looking for vegetarian recipes? This blog has a lot to offer. It gives you effective guides on how to cook veggies the delicious way.
- Molly Watson commented, “In my opinion, cooking spaghetti squash with tomato sauce is not the greatest combination. I prefer this Spicy Spaghetti Squash with Asian flavors or this Spaghetti Squash In Jalapeño Cream—both are over-the-moon delicious!”
She Knows - Sarah focuses on food and entertainment. In her blog, you will find a lot of recipes and advises that is useful for the readers.
- Sarah Brooks said, “Overcooking spaghetti squash changes their glycemic index, which can increase your blood sugar. So not only are you altering their taste and texture but their nutritional value as well.”
Correcting Common Problems
Too short spaghetti strands
The best way to cut a spaghetti squash is not lengthwise but through the middle. This way, the strands will be long like the pasta noodles. Why? Because the strands run around the circumference of the squash and not down the length. Cutting it lengthwise will result to shorter strands.
Too watery outcome
Poking whole in the spaghetti squash and adding water to the bottom of the pan when cooking is not advisable. The extra water will make it watery. Better choose another method instead to avoid that problem. Roasting the squash is a better alternative.
Does not taste like real pasta
Several blogs have stated that spaghetti squash is the best substitute for spaghetti pasta since it tastes like real pasta. This should be corrected. Spaghetti squash does not take like real pasta. It has its own unique taste of a squash. Try it and taste the difference.
Too much pasta sauce
Cooks sometimes make the mistake of tossing spaghetti squash with robust pasta sauces that obscure the delicate taste. You need to treat it gently, tossing the cooked strands with a simple sauce.
Try minced garlic and shallot warmed in olive oil, black pepper, and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The natural taste of the squash will still stand out.
Mushy spaghetti squash
The mushy result of your squash could probably be because you have overcooked it, or you have set up the wrong temperature. To correct, you need to make sure that the required time and temperature for cooking has been met.
Some causes of bitter spaghetti squash are when the squash you bought is already overripe. Another reason is when you undercooked it. Learn to spot an old spaghetti squash when buying. Usually, it is yellow in color with no dark spots in it. You need to cook your spaghetti squash at least 20 minutes to ensure it is well done.
Soggy Overcooked Noodles
Overcooked spaghetti noodles give you soggy noodles. You can prevent it by following the temperature required in the recipe, set an alarm to remind you when it is time or simply watching over it diligently so not to overcook.
However, there are times that we can’t prevent it from happening. To save your soggy noodles, you can sauté them in the pan with a little butter. It will make them crispy again for dinner.
Best Spaghetti Squash Recipes
It is time to share with you the best recipes that are popular for spaghetti squash. You will be surprised to know that this vegetable is easy, economical and versatile to cook.
Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bowls
This roasted spaghetti squash is mixed with grated chicken and is oozing with melted mozzarella cheese. The taste is so creamy thanks to the yogurt ingredient. Garnished with green onions and diced jalapeno peppers, the added hot sauce gave this recipe a kick!
Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash | 5 Second Rule with Julie Via Tastemade
Spinach Artichoke Spaghetti Squash
Age doesn’t matter when it comes to spaghetti squash. This cheesy recipe is a great opportunity to blend in more veggies for those who are so picky when it comes to food. Packed with cream and cheese, it tastes so good you wouldn’t notice the artichoke and spinach in it. Really a healthy meal!
How To Roast Spaghetti Squash Via Clean & Delicious
Spaghetti Squash Carbonara
Have you ever enjoyed spaghetti carbonara with zero carbohydrates? Yeah, there is a little bit of bacon in it, and eggs, and lots of cheeses. This oven baked recipe is something that you mustn’t miss!
Spaghetti Squash Carbonara Via Squash Blossom Kitchens
Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
I have no better idea for a delicious and nutritious meal ever! The broccoli mixed with Italian herbs are being bombarded with lots of parmesan and oozing mozzarella cheese. I couldn’t ask for more!
Stuffed Baked Spaghetti Squash Via Foodie Photography
Lemon and Herb Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Shrimp
What is so great with lemon and shrimps? It really boosts up my appetite. Can’t wait to eat this stuff! Not only that, the white wine adds up to its yummy and creamy taste so this oven-baked recipe is truly a hit!
Baked Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Meat Sauce
Sounds like the familiar pasta recipe? Yeah, eat your heart out with this meal without even feeling guilty. No, it does not taste the regular pasta. It is even more! This nutritious spaghetti strand goes well with the ground beef and the sprinkled cheeses on top. Dig in!
Paleo Recipes - How to Make Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce Via Allrecipes
Cheesy Garlic Parmesan Spinach Spaghetti Squash
No need to keep in troubling yourself thinking of a load of cheese and garlic you’re going to devour in this delish recipe. Try to focus on the bag of spinach mixed with it. Want more of this super creamy meal?
Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns
This is a superb alternative with the hash browns that you usually love. It will give you a healthy and energetic start to conquer your day. The recipe is enriched with eggs and cheese for a more flavorful taste.
Easy Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns Via Paleo Kitchen TV
Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes
If it comes to herbal Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes, anything goes. You’ll never go wrong. Just add up a little bit of lemon and you’ve got yourself a fresh, wholesome meal. If you prefer, serve this cheesy dish with more roasted vegetables!
Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes Via LEAF
Marinara Spaghetti Squash
The flavorful marinara sauce is great mixed with this nutritious spaghetti squash. The crunchy texture of the squash strands is unique that a pasta can never give. Just sprinkle parmesan cheese and some favorite herbs and you are ready to go!
Spaghetti Squash Marinara - My Healthy Dish Via MyHealthyDish
Chicken Alfredo Spaghetti Squash
Let’s go Italian this time! This creamy and satisfying comfort food would always be a hit for family dinner and special occasions. This is a low-carb food so it is totally safe for your diet and you won’t be craving for that pasta again.
Quick Easy Chicken Alfredo Recipe!! (with Spaghetti Squash) Via Yum Yumz
Resources and Further Reading
- Spaghetti Squash 101 | Clean & Delicious - Clean & Delicious
- Spaghetti Squash 4 Ways - Tasty
- How to Cook Spaghetti Squash | Eat Within Your Means - Eat Within Your Means
- How to Cook Spaghetti Squash - Damn Delicious - Damn Delicious
- How To Cook Spaghetti Squash - Chocolate Covered Katie
- How to Cook Spaghetti Squash - The Spruce
- How to Perfectly Bake a Spaghetti Squash - Empowered Sustenance
- Oven Baked Spaghetti Squash • The Healthy Foodie - The Healthy Foodie
- How To Cook Spaghetti Squash In The Microwave - The Gunny Sack
- Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Kale | The Pioneer Woman -The Pioneer Woman