How to Cook Spaghetti Squash – 4 Easy Methods

5 from 6 votes
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We’ve got 4 easy methods for cooking Spaghetti Squash. Plus a recipe for Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti! It’s the perfect gluten-free, low-carb meal when you are craving pasta. The squash is nutritious and tastes great with any pasta sauce.

A bowl of spaghetti squash, a half of a squash, and a bowl of parmesan cheese on a table.

Cooking spaghetti squash can be tricky, and making it taste good can be even trickier (more on that below). I know many recipes you will find out there will tell you to cut the spaghetti squash into half or into pieces before cooking but I REALLY don’t like doing it that way. Why? Because I am afraid I will end up in the ER. The skin is so tough and it is so thick to cut through and it is round and wobbly. Even with the sharpest, strongest knives it is difficult. That is why with each of these methods below, you will pre-cook the squash a little first and THEN cut it up. Trust me, it’s SO much safer!

uncooked spaghetti squash on a table

How to Pick a Spaghetti Squash

Before we even get to spaghetti squash cooking methods, I want to share a few tips on how to pick the perfect spaghetti squash. You want your spaghetti squash to…

  • Have a dry, smooth rind with no cracks or soft spots.
  • Have an attached stem (sometimes the little stem falls off allowing bacteria to enter)
  • Feel Heavy

In The Microwave

I like the microwave method because you can cook your spaghetti squash quickly. You just stab it a few times and pop it in. You can also use the microwave method if you are just wanting to soften the rind enough to prepare for a different method. Sometimes I will microwave it for 10 minutes no matter what method I end up doing, just so I can cut it easily.

PROS: It will cook quickly. You can cook it whole.
CONS: You can’t pre-season it. Sometimes it cooks unevenly.

spaghetti squash in a microwave

How to Microwave Spaghetti Squash:

  • Using a knife, pierce the spaghetti squash 7-8 times all over
  • Place in a shallow dish and place in the microwave
  • Microwave on high for 15 minutes (or more if needed. It should be soft and easy to cut)
  • Cut open the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti squash strands

In The Instant Pot

spaghetti squash in an instant pot

This is my personal favorite way of cooking spaghetti squash. It is still fairly quick (although not as fast as microwaving) and you can season it to get some added flavor while it is still cooking.

PROS: Cooks fast. Cooks evenly. You can still season throughout the process.
CONS: Not as fast as microwaving.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Instant Pot

  • Place trivet in the Instant Pot and add 1 cup for water
  • Using a knife, pierce the spaghetti squash 7-8 times all over
  • Place spaghetti squash in the Instant Pot, cover, and place tab to “sealing”
  • Using manual pressure, set time for 5 minutes (high pressure)
  • Quick release and remove squash from IP
  • Cut into pieces cross-wise (see above picture), remove seeds, season with salt or seasonings, and place back in the Instant Pot
  • Set to manual and cook again for another 5 minutes (it will come to pressure faster this time)
  • Allow to slow release for 10 minutes. Do a quick release and carefully remove pieces from the Instant Pot.
  • Scrape out the “spaghetti” strands with a fork

In The Crock Pot

cooked spaghetti squash on a fork

I like using the Crock Pot method when I want to prep it and forget it. It is nice to just throw it in the Crock Pot around lunchtime and have it be ready for dinner.
PROS: Fix it and forget it. When it comes crush time for dinner it’s already done. It’s EASY.
CONS: It takes the longest amount of time (not great for when you are in a pinch)

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in a Crock Pot or Slow Cooker

  • Using a knife, pierce the spaghetti squash 7-8 times all over
  • Place spaghetti squash in the slow cooker and add ½ cup water
  • Cover and cook on low for 6 hours
  • Cut in half, remove seeds, and scrape strands out with a fork

In The Oven (Roasted Spaghetti Squash)

Close up of half of a cooked spaghetti squash

The only time I choose to cook spaghetti squash in the oven is when I am wanting to add seasoning to it. For instance, I like adding olive oil and rosemary over the top of it and it adds a really nice flavor. Even when I am oven roasting, I will still put it in the microwave to soften and then cut cross-wise into slices (like rings) and place on a roasting pan or baking sheet.
PROS: Best way if you are wanting to infuse with seasoning
CONS: Takes longer. A little more involved than other ways.

How to Bake Spaghetti Squash

  • Preheat oven to 375-degrees
  • Using a knife, pierce the spaghetti squash 7-8 times all over
  • Place in a shallow dish and microwave for 10 minutes to soften
  • Cut into 5-6 cross-wise slices and remove seeds from the middle
  • Place on a greased baking sheet and
  • Drizzle olive oil over the top of each slice and season with salt and any other seasonings you like
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the tops get golden brown and the squash is no longer crunchy
  • Scrape strands out with a fork and serve

How To Make Spaghetti Squash Taste Especially Good

Once you have cooked your spaghetti squash using any of the ways above, now you can use my simply trick to make it taste good. If you just serve it as-is it will be OK, but not great (at least in my opinion). It can still be a little crunchy and have that rough texture that just doesn’t seem like actual spaghetti. You can add some flavor and a softer texture by following these steps:

Shreds of spaghetti squash in a large skillet with butter
  1. Melt 3-4 tablespoons of butter in a large non-stick skillet (if it’s not non-stick this won’t work as well, the squash will stick and tear).
  2. Add spaghetti squash and sautΓ© over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash softens (8-10 minutes). Add salt to taste.
  3. Turn off the heat (you can leave it on the stove top) and sprinkle ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese evenly over the top. Cover until the cheese has melted then serve immediately with sauce. Now you will have softer, buttery spaghetti squash that you can twirl on your fork (thanks to the cheese).
Spaghetti squash being pulled up from a bowl showing cheese pulling from the fork.

What Sauce To Use

If you follow the tips above, you can easily use your favorite pasta sauce to make your transfer your spaghetti squash into your favorite pasta dish. We love using our canned homemade spaghetti sauce, our fresh garden tomato spaghetti sauce, or our homemade Alfredo sauce. You can even toss it in homemade pesto, or put your own spin on Carbonara by adding some bacon and a cracked egg.

A close up of a bowl of spaghetti squash with sauce, meatballs, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil.

Looking For More Ways To Use Squash? Check These Out:

A bowl of spaghetti squash with red sauce and meatballs over the top next to a roasted spaghetti squash

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

5 from 6 votes
Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti is the perfect gluten-free, low-carb meal when you are craving pasta. The squash is nutritious and tastes great with pasta sauce.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash, prepared (see methods above)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • spaghetti sauce (to taste)
  • cooked meatballs (optional)
  • parmesan cheese & fresh basil (optional)

Instructions

  • Prepare spaghetti squash using your favorite method mentioned above. Drain well and season lightly with salt and pepper.
    spaghetti squash in a microwave
  • Melt butter in a large non-stick skillet (non-stick works best or it will stick and be clumpy.
    Add spaghetti squash and saute for 10 minutes or until squash becomes soft. Season with more salt and pepper if desired. Turn off the heat but keep the skillet on the stove top.
    Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top and cover. Heat your sauce while cheese is melting. When cheese has melted, remove from heat and serve immediately with the sauce.
    Shreds of spaghetti squash in a large skillet with butter
  • Top with optional toppings such as meatballs, parmesan cheese and/or fresh basil.
    A close up of a bowl of spaghetti squash with sauce, meatballs, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 529kcalCarbohydrates: 118gProtein: 19gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 5132mgPotassium: 4175mgFiber: 29gSugar: 67gVitamin A: 5255IUVitamin C: 86.5mgCalcium: 345mgIron: 12.7mg

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About the author

Emily Walker

Emily lives in Meridian, Idaho, with her husband, Beau, a physician assistant, and her three incredible children: a son and two daughters. Travel is one of her favorite ways to experience new cultures and cuisines, and she has a love for all things Disney.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These are some great and useful tips! I love cooking with spaghetti squash in the fall; excited to give these methods a try!

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks for the guide to prepare this lovely squash in so many different methods. I usually simply roasting them in my oven, but I’ll probably try the other methods too in the future. πŸ™‚

  3. 5 stars
    I usually bake my spaghetti squash but tried your tips for the microwave last week and it turned out perfectly! Thanks!

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this. I have always made it in the oven. Very happy to have other ways to do this if I’m in a time crunch.

  5. Just read my comment and it doesn’t really make sense…….so if I do it in the crock pot, do I cut it in half or leave it whole? And if I decide to bake it, do I cut it in half and put it in with the shell side up? Hopefully this makes more sense, sorry.
    Thanks! πŸ™‚

  6. This looks yummy. Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚ A few years ago I decided to eat healthier and gave up alot of favorites dishes including pasta. So upon seeing this meal is added bonus.

  7. I make this, I cut the squash in half remove the seeds and then loosen the “noodles” then pour my sauce into each half of squash and top with the cheese then broil it till the cheese starts to brown a little, we eat it right out of the squash.

  8. Tried this last night and my husband and I have now dubbed this a "family favorite" of our own. I think I made it a little too spicy for my 2 year old, so she didn't care for it. I will try again another day with her.

  9. I {Heart} spaghetti squash and have so many this year! Oh yeah! I just tried roasting mine in the oven a different way…drizzling the inside with EVOO and salt and pepper. KILLER good! You don't need anything on it like this…even tastes good cold! Try it. You'll thank me. πŸ™‚
    Lisa
    gourmified.blogspot.com