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 long strands to mimic noodles. This squash is an incredible grain-free substitute for low-carb and healthy meals.

How to cook spaghetti squash tutorial three different ways.

What’s unique about the Cucurbita pepo winter squash is when it cooks. The inside yellow flesh reveals long, fibrous spaghetti-like strands, making it an excellent stand-in for wheat-based pasta. This sizeable oval gourd has a neutral taste, twirlable texture, and the slightest crunch. You can use it in various ways 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. I’ll show you how to make baked spaghetti squash in the oven using simple roasting techniques. Alternatively, you can make spaghetti squash in the microwave. You’ll be surprised just how easy and fast it is to prepare!

How to cut spaghetti squash before cooking

The oblong spaghetti squash shape can make it tricky to cut. Rinse and dry it to remove any dirt or debris. Place it on its side on a sturdy cutting board. You can also place the squash on a kitchen towel to prevent rolling and use the towel to hold one side while cutting the other end. Make sure to use a sharp chef’s knife. If you are making halves, cut lengthwise, starting from the bottom end until you reach the stem.

For larger squash, I start cutting from the center to the bottom, then rotate to finish cutting to the stem end. Use your hands to pull apart the halves instead of cutting through the tough stem. Alternatively, you can first trim off both ends. Then cut lengthwise through the squash. It is easier to stand the squash on its cut end and slice it straight down. Similar to cutting a watermelon.

How to make spaghetti squash easier to cut

If you find that the outer skin gives you a tough time to cut through, there is an easy way to soften the squash. Prick the side with a fork, about 5 times, a few inches apart, which will allow steam to release, so the squash doesn’t burst. Microwave with the pricked side up for 5 minutes on high.

It will be warm, so let it rest for a few minutes until you can touch it. It will make the spaghetti squash softer on the outside, making it easier to slice.

How to make the longest spaghetti squash strands (halves vs. rings)

Since the squash is long and oval, it’s a common misconception that to yield long strands, cut it lengthwise. 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!

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

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Halves

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. Cutting the squash in half lengthwise is the fastest way to prepare it. Cut 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 the flesh with 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. The skin and edges of the flesh will have a nice browned color. Fluff strands with a fork and eat straight from the bowl, or scoop out with a spoon and transfer to another serving dish.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Rings

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. However, more of the flesh is exposed to the hot baking pan and air in the oven for a better taste. Season both sides with olive oil and salt. Roasted at 400°F (204°C), it’s ready in about 30 minutes. Use a fork to pull out the flesh from the rings gently.

Microwaved Spaghetti Squash Halves

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 spaghetti squash

You’ll find the squash available at markets in early fall through the winter. Ripe spaghetti 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 for up to 7 days in the refrigerator. Cooked spaghetti squash lasts for about 4 days when refrigerated and stored in an airtight container.

Nutritional benefits of spaghetti squash

Not only does spaghetti squash taste pretty darn good, but it’s also a nutritional powerhouse! According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, for a one-cup serving, spaghetti squash 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.

Spaghetti squash recipes and what to serve it with


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 5 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” do a spaghetti squash yield?

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

How do you cook squash so it’s not watery?

Roasting 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. You could also wait to salt the flesh, which will draw out water due to osmosis. When microwaving, steaming, or cooking in a pressure cooker, you can first salt the flesh, let it sit for 15 minutes, then drain off the moisture that is extracted, then cook to reduce a watery texture.

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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.
4.79 from 23 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American


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


Roasted Spaghetti Squash Halves

  • Heat Oven – Place the oven rack in the center position and preheat to 400°F (204°C).
  • Prepare Pan – Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  • Cut 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. This will give shorter strands.
    For longer strands, trim off both ends to give a flat base. Cut the squash down the middle to create deep bowls.
  • Remove Seeds – Use a spoon to remove the seeds. Discard or save for roasting.
  • Season Squash – Brush olive oil on the cut sides of the flesh. Sprinkle with salt.
  • Roast – 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

  • Heat Oven – Place the oven rack in the center position and preheat to 400°F (204°C).
  • Prepare Pan – Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  • Cut Squash – Trim off the stem and bottom end. Cut spaghetti squash into 1-inch wide rings, and remove the seeds. 
  • Season Squash – Brush each side with olive oil. Sprinkle salt on both sides.
  • Roast – 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 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


  • 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. 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!

  2. 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!

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