Spaghetti squash is an ingredient that’s as fun as it is flavorful. True to its name, it works perfectly as a gluten-free pasta alternative. But spaghetti squash is tender, rich, and creamy, and can be used for so much more than just pastas.
Spaghetti squash is a popular ingredient for many reasons. When cooked properly, it’s so tender that it melts in your mouth. And it has a mouth-watering balance of savory and sweet flavors.
Yet for all the tasty flavors in spaghetti squash, the primary selling point is often the vegetable’s resemblance to spaghetti. After being cooked, you can shred the squash with a fork, which will create spaghetti-like strands. This is great for anyone who wants a gluten-free alternative to pasta.
While spaghetti squash is daunting to some home cooks, it’s surprisingly easy to make. Not only that, but there are numerous options for how to cook spaghetti squash, so you can choose the method that’s best for you.
What You’ll Need
Cooking a spaghetti squash is very straightforward. It only requires one ingredient!
- Spaghetti squash
How to Pick a Spaghetti Squash
Before cooking your squash, you need to buy one. And that means picking one out.
You want to pick a squash that is between a golden yellow and a dark yellow color, and feels heavier than it looks. Avoid squashes that have soft spots, or cracks in them. The stem should also be quite dry.
The Oven Method
Baked spaghetti squash is the most traditional method of cooking, and makes for a very tender and flavorful vegetable.
- Prep. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Ready the squash. Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds.
- Cook. Place the squash cut side down on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of your squash, until easily pierced with a fork.
- Cool and shred. Remove from the oven, flip cut side up, and let cook for a few minutes before shredding with a fork.
Microwave Spaghetti Squash
If you've wondered how to cook spaghetti squash in the microwave and save some time, this section is for you! This method is quick, convenient, and doesn’t require any special equipment.
- Cut the squash. Slice the it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds.
- Prep. Place the squash cut side down in a baking dish. Add water to come ½ inch up the sides of the pan.
- Cook. Microwave for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. If the baking dish won’t fit inside your microwave, use a smaller dish and cook one half of the squash at a time, for 8-10 minutes, or until fork-tender.
- Cool and shred. When done, remove the dish from the microwave (careful, the water will be very hot!), drain, and flip the squash cut side up to cool for a few minutes before shredding with a fork.
The Instant Pot Method
If you have an instant pot, then this is a very simple method for cooking spaghetti squash.
- Prep. Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds.
- Put it in the instant pot. Place a trivet and 1 cup of water in the pressure cooking pot. Place the squash cut side down on the trivet.
- Cook. Lock the lid in place and select high pressure and a 10-minute cook time. When the time ends, turn off the pressure cooker and let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes. Finish with a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. Test the squash with a fork. If it is not easy to fluff into strings, cook at high pressure for another 3-4 minutes and finish with a quick pressure release.
The Slow Cooker Method
Cooking a spaghetti squash in the slow cooker results in a remarkably tender and moist squash.
- Stab the squash. Use a sharp paring knife to carefully poke holes all over the squash, making sure the knife goes through to the center of the squash. Poke 15 to 20 holes.
- Cook. Add 1 ½ cups of water to the slow cooker. Place the squash in the pot, cover, and cook on low for 4-6 hours, until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork.
- Cool, clean, and shred. Remove from the pot and cool for 5-10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Slice the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and separate the strands with a fork.
Ways to Serve It
There are tons of great ways to eat spaghetti squash. Here are some of my favorites.
- As a pasta. The most common way to eat it is as a spaghetti substitute. The squash pairs well with hearty pasta sauces, such as a roasted cherry tomato sauce, a spicy vegan vodka sauce, or a quinoa and lentil bolognese.
- As a boat. You can also serve it straight out of the squash itself, by adding ingredients on top to make a squash boat. I recommend these 5-ingredient pesto boats, or these 30-minute vegetarian boats.
- By itself. Spaghetti squash has a milder flavor than some other squashes, but it’s quite delicious all on its own, as it has a mild buttery, nutty flavor. Instead of turning it into a meal, you can eat it as a snack or a side dish by simply drizzling olive oil over the top, and seasoning with salt and pepper.
How to Store Spaghetti Squash
You can store cooked spaghetti squash in the fridge for up to 4 days, as long as it’s in an airtight container. Reheat in the microwave, the oven, or on the stovetop.
Can You Freeze It?
Yes! You can freeze spaghetti squash in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
- 1 spaghetti squash
The Oven Method
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
- Place the squash cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. It should be easy to pierce with a fork.
- Remove from the oven and flip the squash over. Let them rest for 5 minutes then shred with a fork.
The Microwave Method
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.
- Place the squash cut side down in a baking dish, then add 1/2 inch of water.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. It should be easy to pierce with a fork.
- Remove from the microwave, flip, and let rest for 5 minutes. Then shred with a fork.
The Instant Pot Method
- Slice the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.
- Put a trivet in the instant pot with 1 cup of water, then place the squash cut side down on the trivet.
- Heat on high pressure for 10 minutes.
- Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then do a quick release.
- Check that the squash is fork tender. If not, cook for 3-4 more minutes.
The Slow Cooker Method
- Poke the squash 15-20 times with a paring knife.
- Add the squash and 1 1/2 cups of water to the slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 4-6 hours, until the squash can easily be pierced with a fork.
- Remove from the slow cooker and cool for 5-10 minutes, then cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.