Today, let’s talk about spaghetti squash. This vegetable was my sworn enemy in the kitchen for years. I could never quite get it cooked the way I wanted it. But now, I’ve conquered it, and I’m sharing my tips and tricks for how to cook spaghetti squash.
First of all, spaghetti squash is one of my new favorite vegetables. It joined my regular meal prep rotation late last year, once I finally conquered cooking it. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, is a great fit for carb-conscious diets, and it carries other flavors very well.
For the longest time, I could never quite cook spaghetti squash the “right” way, or at least the way I wanted it. I tried different methods (oven, microwave), cutting it longways vs. short-ways, minimal oil, higher and lower oven temperatures. It either came out underdone or overdone and mushy.
Here’s how to cook spaghetti squash and make it delicious.
Before we get cooking, how do you pick a good spaghetti squash?
Spaghetti squash is a big, yellow vegetable, usually a medium golden yellow in grocery stores. When selecting your spaghetti squash, pick one that’s darker golden yellow in color, has a firm rind with no soft spots or cracks, and is heavy for its size (source). I usually opt for a medium-sized squash, comparatively.
One of the best things about spaghetti squash is you can get a lot out of one preparation. When I cook spaghetti squash, I can usually eat it for the rest of the week. This makes meal prepping for work lunches really easy.
When you’re ready to prepare and cook your squash, make sure you have a good cutting board and a solid chef’s knife, because spaghetti squash can be tough to cut. A sharp chef’s knife will be your best choice for this part.
To make it a little easier to cut, I start my spaghetti squash in the microwave. But before microwaving, first poke holes around it with your knife, like you would a potato, to give the steam little openings to escape so your squash doesn’t explode (that’s not a mess I’d want to clean up). Then place your squash in the microwave and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove carefully, and let it cool for a minute before cutting that baby open.
Grab your chef’s knife and slice off the ends of the squash, just enough so it can stand up straight. When that’s done, carefully slice the squash in half long ways down the middle. Scoop out the seeds and any stringy bits, until it’s relatively smooth. You can save the seeds and roast them later, if you’re into that.
Drizzle 1-2 tbsp olive oil over each squash half, and then season generously with salt, pepper, and your other desired spices. I usually go with a very light dust of garlic powder and some thyme.
When each squash half is oiled and seasoned, place each half face down on your baking sheet. Put squash in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on size. When that time is up, remove from oven and carefully flip squash to be face up. Put back in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes more.
When the second bake is done, remove squash from the oven. You can optionally flip it back face down to rest, or leave it face up. Let the squash cool for 5-10 minutes, and then use a fork to pull the “spaghetti” from the sides.
It’s not exactly a low-maintenance veggie, but spaghetti squash makes a great base for a meal, or a yummy side to go with your entree. Some of my favorite ways to eat spaghetti squash include:
- Base for “healthier” chicken parmesan.
- Mix with chicken sausage and pasta sauce, and top with cheese.
- Top with pasta sauce and meatballs.
- Stir fry with chicken and other veggies.
- Base for a Mexican taco bake: top with preferred taco meat and toppings (beans, cheese, salsa, etc.).
- Side dish with my favorite protein entree.
For more delicious spaghetti squash inspiration, check out this recipe roundup from The Kitchn.
If you’ve never made spaghetti squash, I hope this guide helps break it down and inspires you to try to cook spaghetti squash this week. If you do make it, find me on Instagram @hellokaterobertson and let me know what you made! And lastly, if you enjoyed this post and want more, sign up for my email list to get exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox every week!
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
- 1 spaghetti squash, medium-sized
- 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp other preferred spices
- Desired toppings or mix-ins (meatballs, chicken, pasta sauce, etc.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with silicone baking mat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil.
Poke small holes in the squash's skin with tip of knife.
Place squash in microwave and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Remove squash from microwave, and slice the ends off so it can stand up straight.
Carefully slice the squash long ways, down the middle.
Scoop the seeds and loose stringy bits from each half. Coat in olive oil, salt, pepper, and spices.
Place squash halves face down on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on size.
When that time is done, remove squash from oven and carefully flip to be face up. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.
Remove from oven, let cool for 5-10 minutes, and then create the "spaghetti" by pulling the flesh away from the sides with a fork.
Top and serve as desired.
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