10 Best Ways To Cook Spaghetti Squash

Of all the winter squashes, spaghetti squash is perhaps the only one forever masquerading as something else. When cooked until tender, this pale yellow squash can easily be transformed into spaghetti-like strands simply by dragging a fork through the flesh. Mild in flavor with just the slightest hint of nutty sweetness, it's a delicious spaghetti stand-in, and that's not all. Spaghetti squash can be stuffed, puréed into soup, stir-fried, and more.

Aside from being a low-carb alternative to spaghetti (6.5 grams of carbs per 3.5-ounce serving according to Nutritionix, compared to a whopping 75 grams in the same amount of pasta), spaghetti squash also boasts an impressive nutritional profile, rich in antioxidants and fiber, according to Healthline.

Once you cook the squash according to your method of choice, the most popular way to serve it is to shred it into spaghetti-like strands with a fork. From there, it can be topped with your favorite sauce, stir-fried like Asian noodles, or baked into a casserole. To transform it from the solid, raw squash to the sought-after spaghetti imitation, a number of methods are at your disposal. What follows is an exhaustive list of the best ways to cook this low-carb favorite before you use it in one of many delicious recipes

Whole roasted spaghetti squash

The oven is one of the most popular methods to cook spaghetti squash, but there are many ways to go about it. Undoubtedly, the easiest is roasting it whole. According to Wholesome Yum, while this method takes a bit longer and yields squash with a milder and more neutral flavor, it has one major benefit: no cleaver is needed. And as you'll soon see, cutting a spaghetti squash is half the battle.

Thankfully, this method can get your spaghetti squash from rock-hard to al dente in under an hour. The first step, according to Wholesome Yum is to score the outside of the squash with a knife, which will help it cook through more easily (and prevent it from exploding as the steam inside builds up). Place it on a lined baking sheet, and roast at 425 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, flipping it halfway through so that it cooks evenly. 

Before cutting into the cooked squash, the outlet cautions, be sure to let it rest for 10 minutes, during which time it won't just carry-over cook, but it will also cool a bit, making it less dangerous to handle.

Halved and roasted spaghetti squash

If you're willing to put in just a touch more effort, you can also halve your spaghetti squash before roasting it. This method exposes some of the surface to direct heat, which lends a touch of sweet caramelization to the finished product.

To begin, Cookies and Kate recommends first setting your cutting board on a damp towel to ensure it doesn't slip while you're cutting through the hard skin. Next, trim off the top and bottom so that the squash stands up straight, making it easier to halve. Once you've halved the squash, it's time to scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Drizzle the flesh lightly with olive oil, and then season it with salt and pepper. (A word of warning from Love and Lemons: Go sparingly with the oil and salt at this point, as too much could make the squash watery.)

Once the squash is seasoned, place it cut-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet, poke a few holes in the skin with a fork, and roast it at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes; any more, Love and Lemons contends, and it will be mushy instead of delightfully al dente. Cookies and Kate dubs this the best method for cooking spaghetti squash, noting that once it's cooked, it can either be shredded into strands or stuffed with your favorite sauce and toppings for a spaghetti squash boat that's as fun to eat as it is delicious.

Roasted spaghetti squash rings

There's one last way to roast spaghetti squash, and that is to first cut it into rings. It requires a bit more time with a knife, but for Bless this Mess, it's by far the easiest method. Why? Though there are more slices to make, the outlet asserts, it's far easier slicing rings than one long, straight cut through the middle, which can easily go wrong, leaving you with two very uneven pieces! In addition, the outlet asserts, rings cook through more quickly than halves –- an added bonus for busy weeknight cooks.

To try this method for yourself, first trim off the ends of the squash, and then cut it into two-inch rings. Scrape out any seeds and then place the rings on a baking sheet. Season with salt and if possible, Bless this Mess recommends letting them rest for a few minutes to draw some of the water out to the surface. Cover the sheet with foil and bake for 10 minutes to steam, then uncover and continue baking 20 to 30 minutes more to caramelize and finish cooking through. 

The cooked rings can either be strung, as you would with halved or whole spaghetti squash, or they can be filled with your choice of sauce and toppings and served as individual portions.

Grilled spaghetti squash

If you've got the grill fired up, it's the ideal method by which to cook not just meat and veggies but also spaghetti squash, according to Gimme Some Grilling. A mild char on the outside also adds a slight smokiness to the sweet, nutty flesh.

To grill spaghetti squash, the outlet explains, you'll first want to preheat the grill to 350 degrees; you'll be grilling over indirect heat to ensure the squash cooks all the way through to the center. Next, cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out and discard any seeds. Brush the surface with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper. You can also add some garlic powder or minced garlic for more flavor. Whole Lifestyle Nutrition takes it a step further and suggests adding two to three whole garlic cloves to each squash half. 

Once your squash is seasoned, grill it cut side-up with the grill lid shut for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a fork glides through with ease. As a finishing touch to add even more flavor, transfer the cooked squash flesh-side down to direct heat and char it for three to five minutes before serving.

Slow cooked spaghetti squash

If you're looking for a method for cooking spaghetti squash that requires almost no active effort whatsoever, the slow cooker is definitely the equipment for the job. For Bless This Mess, it's the ideal "set it and forget it" method. Case in point: You don't even have to slice it!

To cook a whole spaghetti squash in the slow cooker, the outlet explains, simply place the entire squash into the slow cooker with a cup of water. (Well Plated also recommends pricking the outside of the squash with a paring knife to create space for steam to escape while it cooks.) Cook the squash in the slow cooker for three to four hours, or until a fork goes in easily through the skin. Then, simply cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and start shredding those spaghetti-like strands! The resulting squash is ready to be used in any of your favorite spaghetti squash recipes.

Spaghetti squash in the Instant Pot

If you've got an Instant Pot, you're in luck! It's a great way to cook spaghetti squash, and perhaps the quickest if you're short on time. According to recipe developer Miriam Hahn, this method begins with one step no other method uses: cutting the washed squash widthwise instead of lengthwise. This allows the whole squash to fit into the Instant Pot with ease. Scoop out the seeds and place the squash halves face-down onto the wire trivet that comes with your Instant Pot. 

Add a cup of water, close the lid, and seal it. Select the pressure cook button, and set the timer for seven minutes. Detoxinista notes that you can also cook the squash whole in the Instant Pot, though you'll want to pierce it in a few spots with a knife to allow the steam to escape and cook it for double the time. Once the squash is cooked, switch the nozzle to venting (being careful to avoid the steam escaping). When the pot has fully vented, open the lid, remove the squash halves or whole squash, and use a fork to separate out the strands. They're ready to use –- and all in under half an hour!

Microwaved spaghetti squash

The microwave is yet another ultra-quick method for cooking spaghetti squash. According to The Kitchn, it will only take 15 minutes from start to finish. Begin by cutting the squash in half and scooping out the seeds. Next, place it cut-side down in a baking dish with an inch of water and microwave it for about five to 10 minutes, until it is soft. (Allrecipes contends that this process takes about 12 to 15 minutes, so use a fork to test how tender the flesh is and adjust the time accordingly.) 

And that's it! Your spaghetti squash is ready to eat. The Kitchn contends that the microwave doesn't just make it easier to cook the squash all the way through; it's also a great way to soften the squash to facilitate slicing into it before cooking it using another method. Scoring the squash with a knife and then microwaving it for a few minutes makes it much simpler (and safer) to crack open the beast.

Boiled spaghetti squash

To cook spaghetti squash easily on the stovetop, Martha Stewart recommends boiling it in a large stockpot of boiling water. This method is great if you're a bit nervous about cutting the tough squash when it's still raw, as the whole thing can go right into the pot, weighted down with a heatproof plate or bowl. After 30 to 45 minutes, it should be tender when pierced with a knife tip and ready to remove, halve, and serve.

While boiling spaghetti squash reduces the need for knife-wielding skills, it does result in another potential danger: excess heat. Be sure to work carefully when removing the squash from the boiling water to avoid burning yourself. Martha Stewart recommends using tongs and a clean kitchen towel and allowing for some time to let the squash cool down until you can handle it safely. Then, go ahead and halve it to remove the seeds.

Steamed spaghetti squash

According to Underwood Gardens, steaming is yet another great way to cook spaghetti squash with ease. Quicker and easier than boiling, steaming spaghetti squash allows the vegetable to retain more of its natural flavor, according to the outlet. So while it doesn't impart quite as much flavor as methods like grilling or roasting, it's a great choice if you're serving your squash with a super-flavorful sauce -– or if you plan to sauté it afterward. 

According to the outlet, you can actually steam spaghetti squash whole, no cutting required. Simply place the whole squash in the steamer basket and steam it for about 25 minutes. Underwood Gardens notes that often the skin will pop off when the squash is cooked, which is a sign it's time to rinse it under cold water until it's cool enough to handle. Then, halve it, remove the seeds, and shred it for use in your favorite recipe.

Sautéed spaghetti squash

Sautéeing spaghetti squash is possible ... but only as a second step in the cooking process. It can be a great way to add flavor and sweetness to squash that has been cooked using an indirect heat method like an Instant Pot, steaming, or boiling.

Once you've cooked your squash fully through using one of the methods described, Rouxbe recommends shredding the flesh and rinsing it under cold running water to remove any excess starch. Next, heat some butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat and sauté the squash in batches, seasoning it if you wish. Resist the urge to stir it too much, the outlet cautions, lest the strands break up causing the squash to become mushy. Cook each batch of squash until lightly browned, then continue with the remaining squash until it has all been cooked through. It's now ready to be served with your favorite sauce or toppings!