Here’s how to cut and cook spaghetti squash without breaking a sweat. It’s terrific for you, and makes a healthy, low-carb meal any day of the week.
Roasted spaghetti squash makes a perfect base for Homemade Meat Sauce or a healthy side dish for Outback’s famous Alice Springs Chicken. Spaghetti squash with pesto is also quick and delicious! When you need more interesting vegetable recipes, there’s only one place to go.
However, unless you have the upper-body strength of an Olympian and a knife to match, this tough squash can be a little unwieldy to slice in half.
Help is on the way. Pre-softening spaghetti squash in the microwave is one of the best ways to prepare it for roasting. Here’s a super-easy technique for cutting this mighty vegetable that you’ll love.
Never again will a tough winter squash get the best of you. (Psst! This nifty technique works for butternut squash, too!)
What does spaghetti squash taste like?
Spaghetti squash has pale yellow flesh that pulls apart like fine spaghetti. It’s very mild, tender yet delicately crunchy, and has a pleasant taste that doesn’t interfere with other flavors. It’s also a tiny but nutty with just a touch of sweetness. It’s much less sweet than butternut or acorn squash.
In other words, it’s the perfect vehicle for tomato sauce, pesto, marinara sauce, Alfredo sauce, meatballs, chicken, or shrimp. Mmm….spaghetti squash with shrimp scampi or shrimp skewers would be incredible.
Buying spaghetti squash:
Look for hard-skinned squash without any soft spots or damage. The squash should feel heavy (a sign of freshness). Store your squash in a cool, dry place. A whole uncooked spaghetti squash will usually last up to 2 months. That gives you plenty of time to cook it.
Spaghetti squash vs. Butternut squash:
While both of these beautiful winter squash varieties are great for you, high in fiber and vitamin A, they’re not interchangeable in recipes.
- Appearance: Spaghetti squash is uniformly oblong, and can be ivory yellow, or even orange. Butternut squash is creamy white or beige, but has more of a curvy shape that gets wider towards the bottom of the squash.
- Texture: Spaghetti squash can be crunchy, stringy, and tender all at the same time. Butternut squash is smooth and velvety.
- Taste: Spaghetti squash is mild with a neutral taste. In contrast, butternut squash is creamy and quite sweet.
- Calories: Spaghetti squash contains 42 calories per 1-cup serving. Butternut squash contains 82 calories per 1-cup serving.
- Shelf life: Both varieties have amazing longevity if stored in a cool dry place. Spaghetti squash can last up to 2 months, while butternut can last up to 3 months.
- Preparation: You don’t have to peel spaghetti squash before cooking it. However, you can peel butternut squash before cooking it, especially if you want cubes of butternut squash.
Spaghetti squash vs. pasta:
First of all, pasta is…pasta. Loaded with carbohydrates. That’s what makes it so delicious! A one-cup serving of regular pasta has about 221 calories, compared to spaghetti squash’s 42.
However, both semolina pasta and spaghetti squash have low amounts of fat, salt and fiber.
If you’re looking to control your calorie intake, or eat more vegetables or plant-based food, then roasted spaghetti squash might be the way to go.
Spaghetti squash nutrition:
One cup of cooked spaghetti squash has:
- 42 calories*
- 2.2 gram fiber
- 1 gram protein
- .5 grams fat
- 109 mg potassium
- 2.8 grams sugar
- Relatively high amounts of vitamin A, C, B-6, and magnesium
*Whole spaghetti squash calories are difficult to estimate, due to variances in the size of the squash.
How to cut spaghetti squash:
If you don’t have a microwave available, you have to cut the squash by hand. Get your biggest, strongest knife—a large chef’s knife works—and place the squash down on a sturdy work surface.
Then take the tip of the knife and press it into the center of the squash so that the blade is parallel along the length of the squash.
Next, press the knife into the squash to cut the squash in half. Depending on the size of the squash, you may have to repeat this step to complete the job. Go slowly and carefully until the squash is cut in two long pieces.
The easiest way to cut spaghetti squash:
If the how-to above sounded like a lot of muscle work, that’s because it is. Here’s the best way to cut spaghetti squash, in the microwave. Softening the squash up makes it a million times easier (and safer) to cut, which will make dinner a million times easier, too.
- First, with the tip of a sharp knife or an icepick, poke some slits in a neat line around the squash, exactly where you plan on slicing it. Don't skip this step, though, otherwise the squash will explode in the microwave.
- Next, microwave the whole squash, one squash at a time, for 5 to 6 minutes. Let the squash cool down before handling it. If you can’t wait, wrap a clean dish towel around the squash to protect your hands.
- After microwaving, the softened squash will be much, much easier to cut in half. All you need to do is cut off the stem and then slice the squash in half along the slits you made with the knife.
Cooking spaghetti squash:
Once you’ve softened up your spaghetti squash sliced it in half, you’re ready to cook it. Scoop out the seeds (save them and roast them like pumpkin seeds, if you like—they’re completely edible) and rub some olive oil on the halves.
Oven roasted spaghetti squash. Roast spaghetti squash in the oven at 400 degrees. Place the cut sides down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until the squash is tender, usually about 40 to 60 minutes.
When ready, you should be able to easily pierce the squash with a fork or the tip of a knife.
Cooking spaghetti squash in the microwave. You can certainly continue to cook squash in the microwave. Place the squash, cut-side down, in a baking dish with about 1/2” of water in the dish.
Then microwave the squash (leave it uncovered) on HIGH for 10 to 15 minutes. If you used the microwave method to cut the squash in half beforehand, this might not take as long.
How long does spaghetti squash last?
Uncooked, left whole, up to 2 months if stored properly.
Cooked, 3 to 5 days if stored in the refrigerator.
Can you freeze spaghetti squash?
Yes! Cooked spaghetti squash freezes well, which is a great thing if you’re making meals ahead for the week.
To freeze spaghetti squash, let the cooked squash cool completely. Then store it in freezer safe containers or zipper-top bags.
Frozen spaghetti squash lasts up to 8 months. When you’re ready to eat, thaw out the squash in the refrigerator. To reheat squash, steam the fibers until warm throughout, about 5 minutes.
How to Cut and Cook Spaghetti Squash
For the spaghetti squash:
- 2 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 to 3 1/2 pounds each)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
- To make the spaghetti squash easier to cut, using a sharp knife, poke several slits in a line around the squash where you plan to cut it.
- Microwave the squash for 5 to 6 minutes (microwave each squash individually). Cool slightly before handling (or use a kitchen towel to remove from the microwave). The slightly softened squash will be much easier to cut in half.
- On a cutting board, slice off the stem on each end and then slice the squash in half along the line of slits you made. Rub each squash half with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Place squash halves cut-side down on prepared baking sheet. Roast until the inside of each squash half is tender and easily pierced with a fork, about 40 to 60 minutes (exact baking time will depend on your specific squash). Cool slightly and use a fork to fluff and remove the strands from the squash halves.