How to Cook Spaghetti Squash Perfectly (Every Time!)
From cutting to cooking to exploring plenty of delicious savoury recipes, this is the ultimate guide on how to cook spaghetti squash perfectly, every time you do it!
What is spaghetti squash?
Spaghetti squash is a member of the winter squash family. It’s low in calories and high in fibre, which is why a lot of people use it as a healthy substitute for pasta in many dishes. It’s also a non-starchy vegetable with almost a neutral flavour, though some may think that it is slightly sweet!
Spaghetti squash also has a high Omega-3 and Omega-6 content, making it a great source for essential fatty acids. So not only is it low-cal, it’s great for heart health!
Tricks for finding a ripe spaghetti squash
You want to purchase a spaghetti squash when it’s ripe, though you can still let it ripen at home before cooking it. A ripe spaghetti squash will be firm, a golden yellow or dark yellow colour, and should feel heavier than it looks! Pick a spaghetti squash that’s free of soft spots, and doesn’t have any cracks in the skin on the outside.
To pick a good spaghetti squash, you should also look for a stem that’s firm and dry. The skin on the outside should also be firm. To test if the squash is ripe, use your fingernail to poke the skin – if it doesn’t go through, it’s ripe and ready to be cooked!
How to cut spaghetti squash
To prepare a spaghetti squash, you need to know how you’re going to cook it – you can bake it, microwave it, steam it, or roast it. You can cook it whole, cut in half, or cut into thin slices to lay on a baking sheet. Cutting in half will yield a faster cook time, so your dish will be ready quicker! (I would recommend cutting it before cooking.) In order to prep the squash, you will need a sharp knife and a cutting board.
First, rinse the skin on the outside of the spaghetti squash, and place it on the cutting board. Very carefully, slice the squash long-ways down the center, from the tip of the stem to the bottom of the spaghetti squash. You may need to rock the knife back and forth very carefully, as the skin is tough to cut through.
Once your squash is cut, take a metal spoon and scrape out the seeds in the center. Some of the ‘spaghetti’ may come up while you do this, which is fine. Throw the seeds away.
If you’d like to roast your spaghetti squash in semi-circles on a baking sheet, prepare the squash as described above, and then cut the cleaned squash into thin slices.
How to cook spaghetti squash
There are a lot of ways to cook spaghetti squash, depending on the dish you’re preparing! You can roast it in the oven, in the microwave, or in a pressure cooker. The pressure cooker is probably the fastest
In an Instant Pot
A pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot) is the fastest way to cook a spaghetti squash. To cook spaghetti squash in an Instant Pot, prep the squash as described above. Then place a trivet in the bottom of the pot, add a cup of water, and place the two halves of the squash in the pot. Close the lid, make sure your pressure valve is sealed, and use the Manual or Pressure Cook button to cook on high for 7 minutes.
After it’s done cooking, turn the valve to quick release the pressure, and be careful when removing the squash from the pot! There will be a lot of steam coming out of the pot, so protect your hands and use tongs to pull the squash out. Drain the water at the bottom of the pot, and shred the squash with a fork to scrape it out of its shell. Add the spaghetti strands to a separate bowl for eating, and throw the shell away!
In a microwave
To microwave a spaghetti squash, cut it in half first. Do not microwave a whole spaghetti squash without cutting it open – the steam will cause it to burst, causing some major damage (and a huge mess)! Simply prepare the squash as described above, and fill a glass 8×8 dish, or a large shallow bowl, with about 2 inches of water. Place the squash flesh-side down in the bowl, and microwave for 12-15 minutes, depending on the wattage of your microwave.
In the oven
There are a couple ways to cook a spaghetti squash in the oven. If you cut your squash in halves, preheat your oven to 375˚F, and line a baking sheet with foil. Cut and de-seed your squash, then drizzle the inside of the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place the squash flesh-side down on the foil, and bake for 45-60 minutes.
You can also bake spaghetti squash sliced into rings. After cutting it in half and de-seeding it, place the squash flesh-side down on the cutting board, and slice cross-wise to create 1-inch thick half-circles. Lay them out flat on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake them at 375˚F for 15-20 minutes. You can peel the shell off, or scrape the spaghetti strands out of the strand as normal (they just cook faster when they’re smaller!)
If you’ve cut your spaghetti squash in half or in slices, you can follow the directions you’ve listed above. If you’ve left your spaghetti squash whole, double the cook time in the oven to ensure that your squash will be cooked all the way through. Once the squash is cooked, cut it in half, clean out the seeds, and then scrape the ‘spaghetti’ out of the skin to serve.
- How long does spaghetti squash last? An uncooked spaghetti squash should last you anywhere from 7-10 days, depending on when you bought it from the supermarket. After it’s cooked however, I wouldn’t keep it for more than 2-3 days.
- How do I keep it from getting watery? You can salt your spaghetti squash and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before cooking. The salt absorbs the excess moisture from the squash, preventing it from getting ‘watery’ when you go to eat it.
- Can I eat the skin? We wouldn’t recommend it! Think of it as more of a shell than a skin – it’s not the kind you can really chew.
- Should I peel the spaghetti squash before cooking? Not only would this be incredibly difficult, but you really don’t need to! Just scrape the spaghetti strands out of the shell after cooking, and throw the shell away.
- How do I store cooked spaghetti squash? You can freeze spaghetti squash after cooking, or in the refrigerator for a few days. Either way, it might get soggy quickly, so I would let it thaw and drain before using it again as leftovers.
Spaghetti squash recipes to try
You can easily swap spaghetti squash out for any of the standard spaghetti in these recipes! The flavour of spaghetti squash makes it a great and simple substitution.