How to Cook Spaghetti Squash 7 Different Ways—Including Roasted, Sautéed, and More

Here are seven simple ways to make spaghetti squash at home, no matter your kitchen setup.

Baked spaghetti squash with vegan bolognese sauce made from lentils, leeks, and carrots
Photo: Susan Brooks-Dammann/Getty Images

The internet loves spaghetti squash, and for good reason. It may look like a normal squash from the outside, but when cooked and pulled apart, its inner strands resemble noodles. With a mellow, subtly sweet flavor and angel-hair-like texture, spaghetti squash is the perfect blank canvas for whatever you want to cook. Riff on a classic Bolognese, toss it with pesto, or even try it out as a substitute for rice noodles in pad Thai; it's up to you!

As for preparing spaghetti squash, we've discovered that multiple methods work, so whatever your setup is, we've got you covered. Keep reading for a roundup of step-by-step instructions to help you transform your hearty squash into tender noodles.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven

By roasting your squash halves in a hot oven with a bit of olive oil and salt, you'll get a caramelized flavor that highlights the squash's natural sweetness. The process takes almost an hour, though, so keep that in mind when you're planning dinner.

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Drizzle each half with olive oil and season with salt.
  3. Place squash cut side down on a baking sheet and roast until tender, 45-50 minutes.
  4. Use a fork to scrape out "spaghetti."

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave

If you're in a pinch, the microwave is your best bet for cooking spaghetti squash. It won't yield the same caramelized result as the oven, but it'll take a quarter of the time, and sometimes that's just what you need!

  1. Slice squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
  2. Place squash cut side down in a microwave-safe baking dish (9-inch-by-13-inch) should be a good size); pour water into the dish until it fully covers the bottom of the squash.
  3. Microwave on high for 15 minutes, or until the squash has softened.
  4. Use a fork to scrape out "spaghetti."

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Instant Pot

We love the Instant Pot for hands-off, foolproof cooking, and spaghetti squash thrives when paired with the popular appliance. If you're looking for ease, this technique is your best bet; just set up the machine, step away for 10 minutes, and it's ready to go.

  1. Slice squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
  2. Using a fork, pierce the skin of the squash several times down the middle of each half.
  3. Place a steam rack or trivet on the bottom of the Instant Pot, then pour in 1 cup of water.
  4. Add the squash, cut the side down, and close the lid. Turn the steam valve to "sealing."
  5. Select pressure cook setting on high; set timer for 10 minutes.
  6. When the timer goes off, release steam using the "Quick Release" method, and open the lid.
  7. With tongs, carefully lift the squash out of the Instant Pot.
  8. Use a fork to scrape out "spaghetti."

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Air Fryer

By circulating hot air around, the trendy air fryer will ensure that your spaghetti squash isn't watery but perfectly al dente. Plus, it only takes 20 minutes to cook a whole squash!

  1. Preheat air fryer to 360 degrees.
  2. Slice squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
  3. Drizzle each half with olive oil and season with salt.
  4. Place halves in the air fryer basket, cut side up.
  5. Cook for 20 minutes, or until softened.
  6. With tongs, carefully transfer each squash half to a dish.
  7. Use a fork to scrape out "spaghetti."

How to Grill Spaghetti Squash

It may be untraditional to grill spaghetti squash, but we love this approach for the smoky, charred flavor it lends the vegetable, balancing its inherent sweetness.

  1. Preheat the grill to 350 degrees using indirect heat.
  2. Slice squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
  3. Drizzle each half with olive oil and season with salt.
  4. Place squash cut side up over indirect heat on the preheated grill.
  5. Close the lid and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until tender.
  6. With tongs, carefully transfer the squash halves to a dish.
  7. Use a fork to scrape out "spaghetti."

How to Boil Spaghetti Squash on the Stove

Go old-school and boil your squash whole on the stovetop. This process will make it much easier (and safer!) to slice your squash in half, since the skin and interior will soften as it boils.

  1. Place the squash in a large pot, and cover with a few inches of water.
  2. Season your water with salt to bring out the flavor of the squash.
  3. Bring to a boil on the stovetop, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes, or until tender. (You may need to turn the squash a few times so it cooks evenly.)
  4. Drain in a colander and let the squash cool slightly. Then, slice it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  5. Use a fork to scrape out "spaghetti."

How to Sauté Spaghetti Squash

Once you've cooked your squash and have your "spaghetti," you may want to sauté it to infuse it with flavor for an easy standalone dish. If you're a meal prepper, try any of the above methods for cooking spaghetti squash, then bring your leftovers to life with a quick sauté—just a few minutes from start to finish.

  1. Heat some olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add aromatics, like a few cloves of crushed garlic, and spices, such as a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  3. Once fragrant, add squash strands, tossing until coated and heated through. (This step will only take a minute or two.)
  4. Season with salt and pepper, then serve!

How Long to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Cooking spaghetti squash isn’t a perfect science. Each squash has its own unique shape and size, and each method to prepare spaghetti squash involves different cooking times. Luckily, you can look for the same signals for all of those methods to determine if the squash is done. First, look at the skin, which should be slightly softened (though still firm) once the squash is cooked. Next, take a fork and fluff the interior, scraping the flesh from the skin. If the squash separates easily into strands, then it’s ready to eat. Just keep in mind that spaghetti squash is like pasta in that the strands can get mushy if cooked for too long. With a little experimentation, you’ll find a happy medium.

Due to the many variables in play, we can only provide estimates of how long each approach will take. For the best results, keep an eye on the squash and check it periodically to make sure it’s cooked to your liking. 

Roasting spaghetti squash halves in a 400 degree oven takes about 45-50 minutes, while boiling a whole spaghetti squash takes roughly 30 minutes. On a grill over indirect heat, spaghetti squash takes 20-30 minutes to cook through. In an air fryer, spaghetti squash halves cook in 20 minutes. If you’re short on time, the microwave and Instant Pot are your friends. In a microwave on high, spaghetti squash halves take about 15 minutes to cook, and in an Instant Pot at high pressure, they take only 10 minutes.

Once you have the spaghetti squash strands cooked to your liking, you may want to sauté them to infuse them with flavor (or warm them up if you cooked the squash in advance). Over medium heat, sautéing the strands will take a minute or two max. The point isn’t to cook them any further; you’re just giving them a little life.

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