Tender, baked Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce is a healthy dinner dream come true. No one will miss the pasta, and everyone will ask for seconds.
Homemade Meat Sauce is glorious on everything, from Turkey Meatballs to Garlic Mashed Potatoes. All this dinner needs is a quick salad with Homemade French Dressing to round it out. After all, no one said low-carb had to be low-fun, and these recipes prove it.
If you’ve ever walked by a pile of gigantic, bright yellow oblong squash in the produce section, but have been unsure about what to do with it (besides using it as a decorative gourd), prepare to be amazed.
And since it's a vegetable, spaghetti squash spaghetti is very healthy, high in fiber, and low in calories.
With only 42 calories and 10 carbs in a 1-cup serving of cooked spaghetti squash, there’s no excuse not to grab a few of these gorgeous vegetables at the store to turn into a guilt-free pasta dinner any night of the week. It makes eating more veggies a snap...because one can eat only so much cauliflower rice.
Paired with a quick and easy meaty tomato sauce, you get one outstanding high protein, low-carb meal. Now if only there was a garlic bread squash....
Making extra Homemade Meat Sauce to freeze for future dinners? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
How to make meaty marinara sauce:
If you're pressed for time, of you happen to have your favorite jar of Rao's in the pantry, go ahead and use it. But if you want to make a quick-and-easy pasta sauce from scratch, this one is the one to make.
No exact amounts of ingredients are listed here, in case you’re making a double or triple batch! Look at the recipe card below for specifics.
- Dig out your Dutch oven or find a large saucepan.
- First, brown the ground beef and onion. At this point, you can drain off any extra fat, if you like, depending on the fat content of your ground beef.
- Next, mix in the garlic, basil, and oregano and give it all a quick stir until fragrant.
- Then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, a little sugar, bay leaf and some salt and pepper. Simmer the meat sauce for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When ready to serve, take out the bay leaf and taste. Then adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. It's ready for serving.
The easiest way to cut a squash in half (seriously):
Baked spaghetti squash recipes are insanely good and easy to prepare, with one big BUT.
It’s really difficult to cut any raw squash in half. You need a very big sharp knife and the upper body strength of Adonis. If you have a microwave, use this neat hack instead. You can microwave the spaghetti squash before cutting.
- First, with the tip of a sharp knife, poke some slits in a line around the squash, in the place where you plan on slicing it. Don't skip this step, otherwise the squash will explode in the microwave.
- Then microwave the whole squash, one squash at a time, for 5 to 6 minutes. Let the squash cool before handling it. If you can’t wait, wrap a clean dish towel around the squash to protect your hands.
- As a result, the microwaved squash will be much, much easier to cut in half. Slice off the stem and then slice the squash in half along the slits you made with the knife.
- Then rub each half with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You're ready to bake the squash.
How to bake spaghetti squash:
Make more than you think you need--kids and adults gobble this up.
Spaghetti squash bakes at 400 degrees, so preheat the oven while you prepare the squash.
- First, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, so clean-up is easier. Once you’ve cut the spaghetti squash in half, (hopefully using the advice above) rub each half with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Next, place the squash halves on the rimmed baking sheet, cut-side down. Then roast the squash until the inside of the vegetable is tender and you can easily pierce it with a fork or sharp knife.*
*Squash comes in all sizes, therefore cooking time may vary. Most average-sized squash should be ready in 40 to 60 minutes.
- When finished roasting, flip the squash over and carefully fluff the strands of squash away from the skin with a fork. Keep the squash warm until you're ready to serve.
- To serve, place the squash in bowls and top with a generous amount of tomato sauce, fresh herbs, and grated Parmesan cheese.
How to cook spaghetti squash in the microwave:
Want to use the microwave to cook spaghetti squash? Certainly!
Microwave spaghetti squash is easy and usually quicker than oven baking. Microwaving is great technique when you're cooking smaller amounts of squash.
- First, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
- Then set the squash cut side down in a baking dish and add about 1/2 inch of water to the pan.
- Microwave the squash, uncovered, on high for 10 to 15 minutes (sometimes longer, and sometimes shorter, especially if you use the microwave method outlined above to cut the squash) until the squash deepens a bit in color and a small, sharp knife can slide easily into the flesh.
- Let cool for a few minutes before handling. Then fluff the flesh with the tines of a fork.
To season, drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce Recipe
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
For the meat sauce:
- 1 pound ground beef or ground Italian sausage
- 1 small onion chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar optional (see notes)
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
- fresh basil leaves for garnish, optional
To make the spaghetti squash:
- 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. Keep warm until serving time (the sauce will probably be done before the spaghetti squash is).
To make the meat sauce:
- In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook beef and onion over medium heat until mostly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain if desired. Stir in garlic, dried basil, and Italian seasoning until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste (I like 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve warm spaghetti squash strands with the hot meat sauce. Garnish with parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves if desired.
- I love a little sugar in my Italian meat sauce, but you can reduce the amount or omit it entirely if you like. If you aren't sure, start with a teaspoon and go from there.