How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (5 Ways!)

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Learn the best ways to make spaghetti squash! Easy to make spaghetti squash in the oven, microwave, slow cooker, and instant pot.

Spaghetti squash is one of the best options out there for replacing pasta with a low-carb or lighter option. It's easy to cook, soaks up the flavor of any sauce, and is packed with nutrients. It is a staple in our house!

For those looking for a light and healthy option, spaghetti squash is one of the best. It’s low-calorie with only 31 calories per cup. That means you can eat a huge portion – let’s say 3 cups if you are ambitious – for under 100 calories.

The same amount of pasta would have six times as many calories.

It’s also low-carb, gluten-free, plant-based, Paleo-friendly, and clean-eating friendly.  It works for almost any style of eating and any dietary needs.

But we still haven't talked about the best thing about spaghetti squash, the fact that it’s delicious and super versatile. You can use it to replace pasta in almost any recipe, it’s delicious in Asian stir-fries, it makes an excellent side dish, and it can even be used as a pizza crust! Looking for spaghetti squash recipes, click here.

Now that you are hopefully convinced that spaghetti squash is the best thing ever. Let’s talk about how to cook it.

Whole spaghetti squash on a cutting board.

Roasting Spaghetti Squash

Roasting is probably the most popular way to cook spaghetti squash. In my opinion, this is the most flavorful way to cook it, especially when you choose to do it in halves or pieces since you can season it and you get some of the great roasted vegetable flavors.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Oven temp: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Whole spaghetti squash: If you are roasting the whole spaghetti squash, pierce it all over with a fork, like you would with a potato. Place it on a baking sheet. Make sure to pierce it all over so it doesn't explode.  Roast for 50-60 minutes until tender.
  3. Halves: To roast halves, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and any seasoning you like. Place the spaghetti squash flesh side down on a baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes until tender.
  4. Rings: When you are in a hurry, you can also roast spaghetti squash in rings. Cut the squash into one-inch wide rings and scoop out the seeds. Roast for 30 minutes, flipping the rings halfway. 
  5. Pull into strands:  With all the methods, carefully scrape out the squash using a fork to separate the strands from the skin. 

Spaghetti squash cut in half with someone scooping out the seeds.

Microwaving Spaghetti Squash

Much like roasting squash, when you microwave squash you can do it as a whole squash, in halves, or in smaller pieces. Since cooking time doesn’t change much (like it does with roasting), I usually stick to the whole squash since it requires the least amount of prep.

  1. Whole squash: To microwave, a whole squash, pierce it all over with a fork or paring knife. This step is very important or the squash will explode in the microwave. Then microwave it for 10-12 minutes (varies based on oven strength) until it's tender to the touch. Let it cool slightly. Then carefully cut in half. This will release a lot of steam if it is still hot. Scoop out the seeds and scrape out squash strands. 
  2. Spaghetti squash halves: For spaghetti squash halves, set them in a container with about 1 inch of water, flesh side down. Microwave for 8-10 minutes until tender and squash can be easily scraped out. 
  3. Pieces: For squash pieces (quarters or eighths), place them in a microwave-safe container with a lid. Add about 1/4 cup of water to the dish and cover. You can season the squash here as well. Microwave for 6-8 minutes or until tender.

Spaghetti squash on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash

Many people don’t know that you can cook your spaghetti squash right in the slow cooker. It's actually an easy way, hands-off approach to cooking spaghetti squash had some people even cook it alongside their sauce and protein. 

  1. Whole spaghetti squash in the crockpot: To cook the whole squash, pierce it all over with a fork or knife. Then add to the slow cooker whole with 1 cup of liquid. You can use water or broth. Cook the spaghetti squash on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
  2. Squash halves: You can also cook spaghetti squash halves in the slow cooker the same way. Cutting the squash in half cuts off about 1 hour of cooking time.
  3. Cook the squash in the sauce: As long as you clean the outside of the squash well, you can actually cook the squash (halved is better so they absorb flavor) in a slow cooker sauce like Bolognese. Just add everything you need for the sauce to the slow cooker then nestle the squash halves into the sauce flesh side down. They will cook alongside the dish and then you can just scrape out the squash when you are done cooking. No separate cooking is required! Please note that the squash does release some liquid as it cooks, so plan on a thicker slow cooker sauce.

Roasted cooked spaghetti squash on a baking sheet with caramelized edges.

Stovetop Spaghetti Squash

The final method for cooking spaghetti squash is on the stovetop in boiling water or using a steamer.

  1. Squash pieces: The easiest way to do this is to cut the squash up into pieces and boil it in broth or water for 15-20 minutes until tender. Remove and strain off the liquid. Let cool and scrape the strands from the squash.
  2. Whole squash: It is possible to boil a whole squash, but it takes a long time and I find the flavor isn’t as good so I don’t recommend it.

Spaghetti squash strands being removed from a roasted squash.

Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash

The best way to cook the spaghetti squash in the Instant Pot is to cut it into halves or pieces. Here's what to do:

  1. Prep squash and Instant Pot: Slice the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Place a steamer basket in the Instant Pot and place the spaghetti squash onto the trivet. Add 1 cup of water or broth to the Instant Pot.
  2. Cook until tender:  Close the lid and set it to manual mode for 7 minutes. Once finished, manually open the vent and let the steam release. Then carefully open the lid once the pressure has been released. Drain any excess water from the squash and scrape the strands from the skin. Larger squash could take up to 10-12 minutes. 

Spaghetti squash pulled into strands with a fork.

Spaghetti Squash Basics

Now that we know all the different ways to cook spaghetti squash, let's talk a bit more about cooking with it!

How to Pick Spaghetti Squash

Even though spaghetti squash can be found in your produce department year-round, early fall through the winter is the peak season, when they are the freshest and most flavorful.

When choosing a squash, make sure it’s free of spots and cracks and feels firm to the touch. Ideally, you should pick one that still has its stem, as that helps keep bacteria from spoiling the inside of it.

How to Store Spaghetti Squash

You can keep your whole spaghetti squash in a cool, dry place for up to three months. It’s best not to refrigerate the squash, as that will accelerate the ripening process, but it can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Cut squash should be stored in tightly wrapped plastic wrap or an air-tight container for one to two weeks.

Can You Eat the Seeds?

Don’t pitch the seeds because you can eat those, too. Prepare squash seeds much like you would pumpkin seeds: Pull them from the squash, rinse them, and roast them in the oven.

You can eat the whole seed or discard the hull and only eat the kernel inside. They make a great snack and can be stored for up to three months at room temperature.

10 Delicious Spaghetti Squash Recipes

Now that you know all about how to cook spaghetti squash, here are ten delicious recipes to try!

Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls are nourishing, easy to make, and loaded with flavor. Ready in under an hour, these delicious bowls are the perfect healthy weeknight dinner to add to your weekly rotation this season.

Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Sausage is a low carb dish that's filling and packed with flavor from a homemade basil pesto and lean turkey sausage. Topped with melted cheese, this dish is one you will make again and again.

Mediterranean Turkey Spaghetti Squash is a low carb and Keto friendly dish that's full of flavor and seriously delicious. Made with lean ground turkey, tomatoes, veggies, and melted feta cheese!

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

82 CAL 1 HOURS, 30 MIN
Spaghetti squash gratin in a glass baking dish with parmesan cheese and basil.

This Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin packed with a combination of Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses with garlic, onion, and fresh herbs is absolutely delicious and surprisingly healthy,

Cajun Chicken Spaghetti Squash is made with Cajun-spiced chicken and roasted spaghetti squash tossed in a delicious cream sauce. This healthy low-carb recipe is packed with indulgent flavors that will have the whole family going back for more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions about cooking spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti squash is full of good-for-you vitamins and nutrients. When comparing the calories of a cup of pasta which has 200 or more calories,  a cup of spaghetti squash has just 42 calories.

More specifically, according to the USDA, 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash contains 42 calories, 1 gram of protein, 0.5 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of sugar. It is also a good source of B vitamins, fiber, folate, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Although they do contain some carbohydrates, they are not considered particularly starchy when compared to other fruits and vegetables. Spaghetti squash is part of a group of plants called Cucurbita pepo and is actually considered a fruit.

On How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (5 Ways!)
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why is 45 still...
April 8, 2020 - 15:51
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I use a cast iron skillet, on the stovetop. Cut squash in-half and remove seeds. Butter (season) each half. Place cut-side down, in hot skillet. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. When water has cooked away, turn heat to lowest setting. Add another 1/4 water. Elevate pan with inverted pie tin, or wok cooking ring. Continue cooking until a toothpick can be inserted into the skin side with no resistance. (About 15 to 20 minutes).

If the water hasn't cooked away, uncover, place skillet directly on medium heat and boil off remaining water.
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Patty Prat
February 9, 2023 - 19:16
Sounds like that water is key! Thanks for sharing!
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January 30, 2022 - 20:25
Thank you. I as well I knew there had to be a good stove top method that would also retain flavor and cook well.
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Andrew LeFleur
November 16, 2020 - 14:21
Awesome advice - just what I was looking for, thank you!