Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce

One of the tastiest ways to enjoy roasted Spaghetti Squash is with a batch of homemade Meat Sauce. It’s easy and delicious and a great way to eat more vegetables!

Spaghetti squash with homemade meat sauce on a white plate.

Ingredient notes:

  • Spaghetti squash: Look for hard-skinned squash without any soft spots or damage. The squash should feel heavy (a sign of freshness). Store whole uncooked squash in a cool, dry place; it will usually last up to 2 months.
  • Ground beef: Substitute all or part of the ground beef with ground Italian sausage or ground turkey.
  • Sauce: Substitute a 24-ounce jar of store-bought sauce if you don’t want to make your own (add it to the skillet with the browned beef and onion).
  • Sugar: Add sugar to taste. For some, that means omitting it entirely. For others, you can increase the sugar up to 1/4 cup.
  • Italian seasoning: Make your own  Italian seasoning or use store-bought.
  • Fennel seeds: These are important because they provide the bulk of the Italian flavor.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. First, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, for less clean-up later. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, rub each half with some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
    Two squash halves hollowed out on a wooden cutting board.
  2. Next, place both halves on the baking sheet, cut-side down. Roast the squash until tender and you can easily pierce it with a fork or sharp knife. The skin will look puckered and a bit loose.
    Two halves of a yellow squash on a baking sheet.
  3. Remove from the oven and flip the squash over. Using a fork, carefully fluff the strands of squash away from the skin. Keep the squash warm until you’re ready to serve.
    Spaghetti squash on a sliver baking sheet.
  4. Meanwhile, brown the ground beef and onion. After that, you can drain off any extra fat, if you like, depending on the fat content of your ground beef. Stir in the garlic until fragrant.
    Ground beef and onions cooking in a silver pot with a wooden spoon.
  5. Then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, dried basil, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, and a bay leaf. Simmer the meat sauce for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper.
    Homemade meat sauce ingredients in a silver pot with a wooden spoon.
  6. To serve, place the squash in bowls and top with a generous amount of tomato sauce, fresh herbs, and grated Parmesan cheese.
    Spaghetti squash with homemade meat sauce on white plates.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Yield:  You should get 1 1/4 cups of “spaghetti” from each pound of spaghetti squash you buy.
  • Cutting spaghetti squash: Spaghetti squash can to be dangerously hard to cut, so it’s best to soften it in the microwave first. See my full tutorial on How to Cook Spaghetti Squash for all the details.
  • Baking times may vary: Squash comes in all sizes, therefore cooking time may vary. Most average-sized squash should be ready in 40 to 60 minutes.
  • Make ahead: The meat sauce is a fabulous candidate for making ahead, so go ahead and triple the batch for meal prep or for freezing.
  • Freezing: Both the sauce and the cooked spaghetti squash freeze well. Let the cooked, cooled strands drain in a colander set over a mixing bowl overnight in the refrigerator. (Discard any water left behind.) Then package up, label, and date, pressing out any excess air. To eat, take it out of the freezer and thaw for 1 hour before reheating. Freeze the sauce separately, in case you’re in the mood for real pasta someday.

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Spaghetti squash with homemade meat sauce on a white plate.

Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce

One of the tastiest ways to enjoy roasted Spaghetti Squash is with a batch of homemade Meat Sauce. It's easy and delicious and a great way to eat more vegetables!
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 261kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

For the spaghetti squash:

  • 2 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 to 3 1/2 pounds each, see note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the meat sauce:

  • 1 pound ground beef or ground Italian sausage (see note 2)
  • 1 small onion chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (see note 3)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar optional (see note 4)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning (see note 5)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (see note 6)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

  • Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
  • fresh basil leaves for garnish, optional

Instructions

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. Remove the seeds. 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 over medium-high heat, add beef, sausage, and onion and cook until mostly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain if desired. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, and bay leaf. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper (I like 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper).

To serve:

  • Serve warm spaghetti squash strands with the hot meat sauce. Garnish with parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves if desired.

Notes

  1. Spaghetti squash: Look for hard-skinned squash without any soft spots or damage. The squash should feel heavy (a sign of freshness). Store whole uncooked squash in a cool, dry place; it will usually last up to 2 months. 
  2. Ground beef: Substitute all or part of the ground beef with ground Italian sausage or ground turkey.
  3. Sauce: Substitute a 24-ounce jar of store-bought sauce if you don't want to make your own (add it to the skillet with the browned beef and onion).
  4. Sugar: Add sugar to taste. For some, that means omitting it entirely. For others, you can increase the sugar up to 1/4 cup.
  5. Italian seasoning: Make your own  Italian seasoning or use store-bought.
  6. Fennel seeds: These are important because they provide the bulk of the Italian flavor.
  7. Yield:  You should get 1 1/4 cups of "spaghetti" from each pound of spaghetti squash you buy. 
  8. Cutting spaghetti squash: Spaghetti squash can to be dangerously hard to cut, so it's best to soften it in the microwave first. See my full tutorial on How to Cook Spaghetti Squash for all the details.
  9. Baking times may vary: Squash comes in all sizes, therefore cooking time may vary. Most average-sized squash should be ready in 40 to 60 minutes.
  10. Make ahead: The meat sauce is a fabulous candidate for making ahead, so go ahead and triple the batch for meal prep or for freezing.
  11. Freezing: Both the sauce and the cooked spaghetti squash freeze well. Let the cooked, cooled strands drain in a colander set over a mixing bowl overnight in the refrigerator. (Discard any water left behind.) Then package up, label, and date, pressing out any excess air. To eat, take it out of the freezer and thaw for 1 hour before reheating. Freeze the sauce separately, in case you're in the mood for real pasta someday.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.25cups squash with sauce | Calories: 261kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 81mg | Potassium: 427mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 290IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 2mg
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  1. Candace

    I might try the meat sauce, sounds good, but NEVER with spaghetti squash. Not a fan of that particular squash at all.

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