Is Spaghetti Chicken All That Different From Spaghetti With Chicken?

When it comes to naming recipes, there is no one agreed-upon rulebook, nor is there a governing body to enforce it, so there is no definitive answer as to what separates "spaghetti chicken" from "chicken with spaghetti." For the most part, though, it appears that when you do a search for the former term, or its inverse "chicken spaghetti," you are likely to get some sort of baked casserole dish that combines both spaghetti noodles and chicken with other ingredients such as vegetables, cheese, and sauce.

A notable exception, however, is our creamy chicken spaghetti recipe, which is not a casserole, nor is it baked. Instead, it's more like what you might expect to see labeled spaghetti with chicken, which is to say, a pasta dish made with the specified type of noodle and incorporating chunks of chicken stirred into the sauce (cheese sauce, in this case). Other spaghetti-with-chicken dishes might reserve the meat to use as a topping, much as you'd make chicken and waffles or a chicken-topped salad. One such dish is our chicken bruschetta pasta recipe where spaghetti is combined with tomato sauce, then layered with basil, parmesan, and cooked chicken.

Spaghetti squash chicken is a bird of an entirely different feather

Yet another variant version on the theme of spaghetti and chicken is a dish made with spaghetti squash, which is almost entirely un-pasta-like except for its tendency to separate into longish strands when shredded. For that reason alone, or perhaps because of its name (which may have been derived from that characteristic), spaghetti squash is often used in place of its eponym. Interestingly enough, the first commercially available spaghetti squash was marketed in Japan as "Somen Nankin," a name that Google Translate interprets to mean "rough house arrest."

All nomenclatural hilarity aside, spaghetti squash does have the benefit of being lower in carbohydrates than pasta and is also high in nutrients. What's more, as squashes go, it has a relatively mild flavor so if you cover it with enough marinara sauce and parmesan you can manage to drown a lot of the squashiness. Our cheesy chicken spaghetti squash, however — which is more of a spaghetti chicken-type casserole than a spaghetti (substitute) with chicken — relies on condensed cream of chicken and mushroom soup and Colby cheese instead. Sauteed peppers and mushrooms, too, help flavor this noodle-free non-pasta bake.