How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (3-ways!)

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Learn how to cook spaghetti squash using the oven and microwave. The cutting technique is crucial to yielding fork-tender, long strands to mimic noodles. This squash is an incredible grain-free substitute for low-carb and healthy meals.

Do you have a pressure cooker? If so, you can also try making Instant Pot spaghetti squash.

How to cook spaghetti squash tutorial three different ways.

When the cucurbita pepo winter squash cooks, the inside yellow flesh yields long, fibrous spaghetti-like strands, making it an excellent substitute for wheat-based pasta. This sizeable oval gourd has a neutral taste, twirlable texture, and the slightest crunch. You can use it to make exciting side dishes or vegetable mains.

For this tutorial, you will learn tips on how to make the squash easier to cut and ways to cook it. Using simple roasting techniques, I’ll show you how to make baked spaghetti squash in the oven. Alternatively, you can make it in the microwave. You’ll be surprised how easy and fast it is to prepare!

For long spaghetti squash strands (halves vs. rings)

Person cutting a spaghetti squash lengthwise into halves.

Slice into halves for short strands.

Person cutting a spaghetti squash into rings.

Cut into rings for long strands.

Since the squash is long and oval, it’s a common misconception that you must cut it lengthwise to yield long strands. Wrong! It’s best to cut into rings to deliver elongated pieces. Cutting the squash from stem to end slashes the stringy flesh in half, which yields shorter strands, but it does create a boat or bowl to eat out of. The type of cut may or may not matter, but if you’re a fan of spaghetti and meatballs, go for the rings.

Eat the seeds!

Like roasted pumpkin seeds, the ones in the spaghetti squash are also edible. Scoop out the seeds, but don’t throw them away. Instead, clean, dry, and toss in oil and roast for a crunchy snack. It only takes 15 minutes to cook!

Three ways to cook:

Choose the method that best suits you.

#1) Roasted spaghetti squash halves

Brush olive oil on the cut-side then flip and roast.

Oil the flesh and place cut-side down.

Knife pierces into the bottom of a roasted spaghetti squash to check for doneness.

Puncture the skin to check for doneness.

Fork lifting spaghetti squash strands out one of the halves.

Roasting is the best way to add a caramelized flavor to the flesh and prevent soggy strands. Cut the squash in half lengthwise for large boats. Alternatively, cut the ends off the side to make a flat bottom, then cut through the center to create round bowls. Brush or drizzle the flesh with butter, olive oil, or other high-smoke point cooking oil.

You can keep it simple with salt, pepper, or other desired seasonings. Roast at 400°F (204°C), cut side down until the skin pierces easily with a knife, about 40 minutes to an hour. Fluff the strands with a fork and eat straight from the squash, or scoop it out with a spoon and transfer it to a serving dish.

#2) Roasted spaghetti squash rings

Person brushing olive oil on the flesh of spaghetti squash rings.

Brush oil onto the cut flesh.

Several roasted spaghetti squash rings on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan.

Roast the rings on a sheet pan.

Fork lifting roasted spaghetti squash from the sliced rings on a sheet pan.

Cutting the squash into sliced 1-inch wide rings gives the longest strands. It takes a little more prep time, but more flesh is exposed to the elements for a better taste. Season both sides with olive oil and salt. Roast at 400°F (204°C); it will be ready in about 30 minutes. Use a fork to pull out the flesh from the rings.

#3) Microwaved spaghetti squash halves

Spaghetti squash faced down in a baking dish while water is being poured inside.

Partially submerge the squash in water.

Spaghetti squash half on a white plate after being microwaved.

Transfer to a plate after microwaving.

Fork lifting strands from a microwaved spaghetti squash.

Cooking the squash halves in a microwave-safe baking dish boils and steams the flesh, creating flakey and tender strands. I cook one half at a time—place one-half face down in the dish and add enough water to go about 1 inch up the side.

Microwave in increments until you can easily pierce the skin with a knife, about 15 minutes per half. Use a fork to fluff the flesh and serve with desired seasonings and sauces.

Selecting and storing

You’ll find spagYou’llsquash available at markets in early fall through the winter. A ripe squash has a golden yellow or dark yellow color. The skin will be very thick yet smooth and should feel firm. Avoid ones with soft spots and cracks on the surface. When you pick it up, it should feel heavier than it looks.

Store in a cool, dark area for up to 3 months or at room temperature for up to 1 month. Tightly wrap cut pieces in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Cooked spaghetti squash lasts about four days when refrigerated and stored in an airtight container.

Nutritional benefits

Not only does this spaghetti squash recipe taste pretty darn good, but it’s also a nutritional powerhouse! According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, for a one-cup serving delivers just 42 calories, 0.4 grams of fat, 10 grams of total carbohydrates, 2.2 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of protein. It also contains vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Serve with

Frequently asked questions

How do you cut spaghetti squash to make it soft?

Softening the outer skin makes it easier to cut. Pierce one side with a fork about five times, a few inches apart. Then microwave with the pierced side facing up on high for 5 minutes. Let it cool until it’s easy to handle, then cut!

How long does it take for squash to be cooked?

Cooking time depends on the size of the squash, how it’s cut, and the cooking method. Roasting in the oven at 400°F (204°C) can take around 40 minutes for rings or up to 60 minutes for halves. Microwaving takes about 15 minutes per half. In the Instant Pot, it takes about 20 minutes.

How much “noodles” does a “spaghet” i squash yield?

A 2 ½ pound spaghetti squash yields about 4 cups of “noodles.”

Recipe Science

How cook squash so it’s not watery

Cutting the spaghetti squash in halves or rings is the best way to remove excess water from the gourd. The exposure to the hot pan and environment evaporates moisture while adding a caramelized flavor. When microwaving, steaming, or cooking in a pressure cooker, you can first salt the flesh, let it sit for 15 minutes, drain off the moisture that is extracted, and then cook to reduce the watery texture.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (3 Ways)

Learn how to cook spaghetti squash using the oven and microwave. The ring cutting method is key to yielding long strands to mimic noodles.
4.81 from 26 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients  

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • olive oil, as needed for brushing
  • kosher salt, as needed for seasoning

Instructions 

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Halves

  • Preheat the Oven – Place the oven rack in the center position and preheat to 400°F (204°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  • Cut the Squash – Cut lengthwise from the bottom end to the stem using a rocking motion. If the stem is thick, pull it apart with your hands to separate it. Alternatively, for a large squash, trim off both ends, stand up on one cut side, then cut straight down in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the seeds. Discard or save for roasting.
  • Roast – Brush olive oil on the cut sides of the flesh. Sprinkle with salt. Place squash cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake until tender, the skin can be easily pierced with a knife, and the flesh is golden brown, about 40 to 60 minutes, depending on size.
  • To Serve – Use tongs to flip the squash over. Use a fork to create strands, and serve in the skin as a bowl or transfer to a plate.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Rings

  • Preheat the Oven – Place the oven rack in the center position and preheat to 400°F (204°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  • Cut the Squash – Trim off the stem and bottom end. Cut spaghetti squash into 1-inch wide rings, and remove the seeds. 
  • Roast – Brush each side with olive oil. Sprinkle salt on both sides. Roast until tender and the flesh is golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.
  • To Serve – Use a fork to remove and separate the strands. Transfer to a serving plate.

Microwaved Spaghetti Squash Halves

  • Cut the Squash – Cut lengthwise from the bottom end to the stem, using a rocking motion. If the stem is thick, pull it apart with your hands to separate it. Alternatively, trim off both ends, then cut in half. Alternatively, for a large squash, trim off both ends, stand up on one cut side, then cut straight down in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the seeds.
  • Microwave – Cook one half at a time. Place the halve cut-side down in a microwave-safe baking dish. Add enough water to reach 1-inch up the sides of the squash. Microwave for 5 minutes.
    Continue to cook in 2-minute increments until the skin can be easily pierced with a knife and the squash is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on size. Repeat with the remaining half.
  • To Serve – Use tongs to flip squash over, and drain and water. Transfer to a plate. Use a fork to separate and remove the spaghetti squash strands.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: A 2 ½ pound spaghetti squash yields about 4 cups.
  • Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
  • Reheating: Cover and microwave on high setting in 30 second-increments until hot.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 74kcal (4%)Carbohydrates 16g (5%)Protein 1g (2%)Fat 1g (2%)Sodium 41mg (2%)Potassium 260mg (7%)Fiber 3g (12%)Sugar 6g (7%)Vitamin A 290IU (6%)Vitamin C 5mg (6%)Calcium 56mg (6%)Iron 0.8mg (4%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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9 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Iselchyresse says

    OK- I don’t want to embarrass you and hope that you don’t take my compliment that way, but I LOVE the authentic look of your baking sheets, how they look kinda old, and well used… rustic, maybe. SO cool. SO REAL!

  2. Andrew Olson says

    “Bachelor Style” – use a serrated knife to cut 1/2″ off each end — just saw it. Much easier now to cut it lengthwise.

    DON’T scoop out the seeds … yet. That is a big pain when the squash is raw.

    Put both halves cut-side down in a baking pan with about 1/2″ to 3/4″ water.

    Roast for 40-45 minutes.

    Let cool enough to handle. NOW you can scrape out the seeds easily!

    Then fork out the spaghetti strands and you’re ready to go!