Spaghetti squash is such a versatile vegetable and something I eat a lot of. It’s a great low carb swap for pasta and rice, tastes incredible with just a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and absorbs whatever flavors you add to it amazingly well. In this post I’ll show you how to cook spaghetti squash three ways: in the oven, microwave and air fryer!
I’ve noticed that there are a lot of people afraid of spaghetti squash. It might be because they’ve never tried it, or they look at it at the grocery store and think: “How on earth am I supposed to eat THAT THING?” But let me tell you! This vegetable is soooooo delicious, so easy to cook, and you can eat it with so much! Fear no more!
Spaghetti squash is such a staple in my diet. First of all, it’s a great low carb option. You can swap it for pasta or rice. You can also use it to add volume to casseroles or other recipes. It consistently helps me enjoy the flavors I love while I am trying to meet my macro goals.
Spaghetti squash also has great flavor and texture! It’s not the ball of mush you may be imagining it to be. A properly cooked spaghetti squash will have amazing caramelization and the perfect taste and crunch. And not only does it taste great on it’s own with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, but it’s a great absorber of whatever flavors you want to give it. Pair it with pesto or marinara sauce. Toss it in your favorite marinade. It tastes great on sandwiches with barbeque sauce, too!
Spaghetti squash may seem intimidating, but I’ve got plenty of tips and tricks to help you prepare it in a way that’s appealing to YOU. You’ll be a pro in no time!
WAYS TO COOK SPAGHETTI SQUASH
The way we cook vegetables, including what equipment we use, how we cut them, and how we season them determines their flavor and texture. I’ve cooked spaghetti squash a ton of ways and they all have come out a little differently.
No matter how you cook it, you’ll want to make sure you have a sharp knife and that you’re careful with it! Spaghetti squashes can be large and are usually very hard, and because they are round, they can slip around underneath you.
- Cut the spaghetti quash in half, scoop out the seeds, and then roast it in the oven. In my opinion, this is the best way to cook spaghetti squash! It gives beautiful caramelization and brings out the best flavor. I also love that I can leave it in the oven, set the timer, and do something else while it cooks to perfection.
- Slice the squash into rings and roast. This is a great way for beginners to learn how to cook spaghetti squash. Sometimes the cook time can be difficult to judge based off the squash’s size. With this method, you can watch the squash cook and decide when you’re happy with the texture and caramelization. But it can be difficult to cut the squash into rings as its so large and hard. You can try microwaving it for a few minutes to soften it up before you slice it.
- Stab the spaghetti squash a few times with a knife and roast it whole. This method is good if you don’t have the extra 5-10 minutes to scoop out the seeds beforehand. But means more work after the squash is baked, and you won’t get the crispy, brown caramelization.
- Cut the squash in half and cook in the air fryer. This doesn’t help the squash develop as strong of a flavor as roasting, but it’s still a great method if you are tight on time. You’ll just want to make sure you have an air fryer large enough to fit your squash—or a squash small enough to fit in your air fryer. See the recipe card for how to cook in the air fryer.
- Cook in the microwave. A good option if you are short on time. The microwave will cook your squash faster than the oven will, but it CAN be a little harder to judge the length of time needed. It’s easy to overcook your squash and get a mushy texture. But as long as you don’t overcook I have found it to work pretty well in a crunch! See the recipe card for how to cook in the microwave.
HOW TO CUT
I’ll admit, this is the hardest part of preparing spaghetti squash. But once it’s cut, the rest is smooth sailing! As I said above, I recommend you use a sharp knife.
- Slice lengthwise. This makes it easier to scoop out the seeds. You’ll get a more even caramelized roast, too.
- Scoop out the seeds. I use a spoon for this and run a fork through the strands a couple of times if I need to. Keep the seeds and roast them separately! They are delicious to munch on or toss on a salad. And you aren’t wasting any part of the squash!
Here are some tips to make the slicing easier:
- Make it softer. Stab the spaghetti squash a couple of times with a knife then microwave for 3-5 minutes.
- Cut the stem off. The stem is the hardest to cut through, so if you remove the end first, it will be easier to slice.
- Keep it steady. Spaghetti squashes are round and can move easily. Your cutting board can also move under the pressure you put on your knife. Lock it in place with other nearby kitchen items to prevent it from moving. Or place a slightly damp kitchen towel underneath your cutting board.
HOW TO COOK SPAGHETTI SQUASH IN THE OVEN
My favorite way to cook spaghetti squash is to cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and roast it in the oven. Here’s how I do it:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
- Spray the squash with cooking spray. You can use whatever kind you have or prefer. The spray allows the squash to caramelize and helps create a wonderfully smoky flavor. You could lather your squash in olive oil as well, but cooking spray has the same effect and uses less fat.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper over the insides of your squash. Then, place cut-side down on baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes. (See notes below for cooking variances.) You’ll know it’s done when the ends start to bubble and you can pierce the top and bottom easily with a knife. The inside of the squash will be golden brown on the edges when you flip it over.
- Remove from oven and flip the squashes over. Let cool enough to touch, and then use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti strands.
HOW LONG TO ROAST
I have found the exact time to roast spaghetti squash depending on a variety of things like the size and what type of oven you are using. Some squashes just need more or less time. A good rule of thumb is that you should roast it for 30-40 minutes.
Fore more al dente noodles, cook for less time. For softer noodles, cook longer.
Larger squashes will take longer to cook than smaller squashes.
Whatever you choose, just be careful not to leave your squash in too long or the strands will get mushy!
HOW TO STORE
To refrigerate: Let roasted spaghetti squash cool completely. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for 5-6 days.
To freeze: Let roasted spaghetti squash cool completely. Add spaghetti squash to an airtight container or freezer safe Ziplock bag and remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. If stored well, spaghetti squash will stay good frozen for 8-10 months.
How to defrost: Allow spaghetti squash to defrost in the refrigerator for about 12 hours. After that, you can toss the spaghetti squash into a saucepan for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Don’t cook it for much longer because the longer you cook it, the more likely it is to turn to mush.
Never freeze cooked spaghetti squash leftovers that have been in the refrigerator for a few days! It increases your chances of food poisoning when you go to defrost it and eat it.
HOW TO EAT YOUR COOKED SPAGHETTI SQUASH
- As a side dish: Serve up with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and pair it with your favorite meal! I love eating it alongside my One Pan Caprese Chicken Skillet.
- Make it into a casserole: Adding spaghetti squash is a GREAT way to add volume to a casserole while keeping the dish lower in carbs. It tastes excellent as is, but gets elevated when combined with other tasty ingredients! I make it frequently to add to my Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole and Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole. SO GOOD!
- Use it as a sub for pasta or cauliflower rice! Need a lower carb option? Swap with spaghetti squash. Don’t have cauliflower rice on hand? Cooked spaghetti squash will be a perfect sub! I’ve replaced cauliflower rice with spaghetti squash in my Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole and in my Egg White and Spinach Breakfast Crunch Wraps many times and they always turn out great.
- Stuff it to make a spaghetti squash boat: I don’t typically do this since I prefer to know how much spaghetti squash I am eating, but if you don’t track macros, adding meat, cooked veggies, cheese, or whatever your heart desires and eating it right out of the squash can be a fun way to switch things up!