How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
Here, three simple methods for making spaghetti squash: in the oven, in the microwave, and in an Instant Pot. Take your pick.
Spaghetti squash is a pretty incredible veggie. While it doesn’t exactly taste like the silky, creamy carbohydrate that shares its name, spaghetti squash does look nearly identical to a thin noodle and can take on many of the same flavors. This winter squash is a low-calorie, antioxidant rich veggie that can be transformed into a cheesy casserole or a nutty side dish. All varieties of squash are notoriously hard to cut, so be sure to use a sharp chef’s knife while prepping (refer to our guide if you’re unsure how to sharpen your knife). After the squash is cooked, the flesh can be pulled apart with a fork and the squash strands resemble spaghetti in a completely unbelievable and fascinating way.
We found three ways to easily cook spaghetti squash—roasted in the oven, steamed in a microwave, and pressure cooked in an Instant Pot. Of course, there are benefits to each method. If you’re rushing to get dinner on the table during the week (we’ve all been there) but still want to provide something nutritious for you and your family, microwaving spaghetti squash is a fast, easy solution. Cooking spaghetti squash in an Instant Pot gives you another excuse to use your favorite all-purpose appliance. Roasting spaghetti squash is the most time-consuming method but creates sweet, caramelized notes that are hard to achieve any other way. Read along for our step-by-step instructions for each method, then try them out at home.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven
With a drizzle of olive oil and 45 minutes in the oven, the unassuming squash transforms into tender, spaghetti-like strands. Be sure to start with a sharp knife, and slice the squash lengthwise. After you’ve sliced a little more than three-quarters of the way through, you can break the two halves apart with your hands. And that’s it! No more cutting necessary—the squash does the rest of the work on its own. Before you roast it, you’ll want to scoop out the seeds—which can be tossed in oil and spices and roasted for a seasonal snack. Use your hands to rub the squash halves in oil (being sure to cover the edges and the cavity), then place it cut-side down on the baking sheet. You’ll know it’s ready if the squash feels tender when pierced and the underside has become beautifully golden brown. If you’re serving the squash as a side dish, scrape the strands out of the squash with a fork, then top with salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and freshly-grated Parmesan. But don’t stop there. Top with a black bean slaw and avocado for a lightened-up burrito bowl (which can be served directly in the squash!) or serve with marinara sauce for a healthier take on traditional spaghetti. When choosing a squash, keep in mind that the larger the squash, the better the flavor.
What You Need
- Spaghetti squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Black pepper
- Grated Parmesan for garnish
Follow These Steps
- Heat oven to 400°F. Slice squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Drizzle halves with the olive oil and season with salt. Place squash cut side down on baking sheet and roast until tender, 45-50 minutes. Use a fork to scrape out “spaghetti.”
- Top with salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and grated Parmesan.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave
Prepping spaghetti squash couldn’t be easier. Unlike some varieties of squash, spaghetti squash does not need to be peeled before cooking, since the “spaghetti” gets pulled and shredded from the skin. To cook spaghetti squash in the microwave, follow the initial prep steps as noted below (cutting in half lengthwise and de-seeding). Then, place the squash cut-side down in a 9”x13” glass baking dish. Pierce the skin several times with a fork, which will help the steam penetrate the thickest parts of the squash. Add one cup of water, or enough to fill the baking dish about halfway. Microwave on high for 15 minutes, until the squash is fully cooked and the “spaghetti” tastes al dente. We recommend covering your baking dish with a microwave-safe lid to prevent the water from boiling over, and using pot holders when removing the baking dish from the microwave since it will be very hot. Spaghetti squash cooked in the microwave takes just 15 minutes, which cuts down on the total cook time of recipes like Spaghetti Squash Parmesan and Lamb Chops with Minted Spaghetti Squash. For a simple side that enhances the mild flavor of the spaghetti squash, toss the strands with maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and black pepper. For a low-carb version of a simple pasta dish, mix the “spaghetti” with marinara sauce, ricotta cheese, fresh basil, salt, and pepper.
What You Need
- Spaghetti Squash, approximately 2.5 lbs
- 1 cup water
- 9”x13” microwave-safe baking dish
Follow These Steps
- Carefully slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds with a large spoon and discard.
- Place spaghetti squash cut side down in the baking dish; pour water into baking dish until it fully covers the bottom of the squash.
- Microwave on high for 15 minutes, or until the squash has softened.
- Scrape the “spaghetti” out and serve as desired.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in an Instant Pot
Instant Pots have been growing in popularity every year since their initial release in 2010. We can understand why—they are one of the handiest kitchen gadgets that can truly do it all, including cooking spaghetti squash. This fast, hands-off method takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, which makes it the perfect tool for tackling weeknight, family-friendly dinners. Our 3 pound spaghetti squash cooked in 10 minutes on the “Pressure Cooker” setting, so you may need to increase the cook time if your squash is significantly larger. To cook spaghetti squash in an Instant Pot, place both halves of the prepared spaghetti squash on top of the steam rack with one cup of water. Turn on the “Pressure Cooker” setting and move the steam valve to “sealing.” Set the timer for 10 minutes, then wait for the Instant Pot to heat up. Once the spaghetti squash is done cooking, carefully release the steam using the “Quick Release” method and transfer the squash to a plate. Spaghetti squash makes a delicious veggie side with Teriyaki Salmon or as an easy add-on to Chicken with Salsa, Olives, and Lime. We also love using it in place of spaghetti in some of our favorite pasta dishes like Spaghetti with Shrimp, Feta, and Dill or as a low-carb twist on classic Spaghetti and Meatballs and Chicken Parmesan.
Spaghetti squash vary in size—while the majority of spaghetti squashes found in grocery stores weigh between 4 and 7 pounds, smaller squashes that weigh around 2 pounds can still produce a large serving of “spaghetti.” Consider the size of your Instant Pot when choosing which size spaghetti squash to buy. Smaller squashes fit snugly in a 3 quart Instant Pot, so a larger model will be more accommodating for an even bulkier gourd.
What You Need
- Spaghetti Squash, approximately 2.5 lbs.
- 1 cup water
- Instant Pot (any size)
Follow These Steps
- Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise using a sharp knife. Scoop out seeds with a large spoon and discard. Using a fork, pierce the skin of the spaghetti squash several times down the middle of each half.
- Place a steam rack or trivet on the bottom of the Instant Pot; pour in 1 cup of water; add spaghetti squash cut side down.
- Close the lid of the Instant Pot. Turn the steam valve to “sealing.” Select pressure cook setting on high; set timer for 10 minutes.
- Once the timer goes off, release steam using “Quick Release” method and open lid. Using tongs, carefully lift the spaghetti squash out of the Instant Pot and set on a plate. Serve as desired.