Parmesan Lemon Spaghetti Squash with Chicken
Easy baked spaghetti squash recipe with butter cooked chicken, parmesan, and fresh lemon. Healthy and delicious! Jump to the Spaghetti Squash Recipe with Chicken
Spaghetti Squash with Chicken, Parmesan and Lemon
I find spaghetti squash alone a bit dull since it doesn’t have the sweetness and flavor of many other winter squash. That being said, this baked spaghetti squash recipe is anything but dull. It’s amazing what butter cooked chicken, parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, and plenty of lemon can do. What used to be boring turns into to something that’s almost impossible to stop eating.
This recipe is easy and absolutely delicious. It keeps well, too. Leftovers make a perfect lunch the next day.
Thanks to the hard shell, spaghetti squash can be tricky when it comes to cutting it, but don’t worry, with our tips you’ll be an expert in no time. You will need a heavy chef’s knife, a towel to keep it steady as you cut (as well as to protect your hand), and some muscle power.
Cut the squash from stem to end, but don’t try to cut through the stem (it’s too tough). When you’ve cut through the squash, just pull each half apart. The force will pull one half away from the stem. (You can see us do this in the video above.)
Here’s a trick we learned recently that helps make cutting the squash a little easier. Pierce the squash in a few places and score it where you eventually want to cut. Pop it into the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes. This short time in the microwave softens the outer shell, making it a little easier to cut. We don’t recommend microwaving a whole squash longer than that, though — steam will build up inside the squash and it could lead to a pretty dangerous situation. [To see us cut spaghetti squash on video, head over to our video showing how we cut and cook spaghetti squash.]
Once you’ve cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds. We won’t need the seeds in this recipe, but if you’re a fan of roasted pumpkin seeds, you can use these to make something very similar.
If you take a look in the notes section of the recipe, we’ve given tips for how to roast them. After some olive oil, salt and pepper, we flip the halves so that they are cut-side-down and bake until soft. [Here’s our recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds, which can be used for spaghetti squash seeds]
Roasting Spaghetti Squash
To bake spaghetti squash in the oven, follow these easy steps:
- Rub the inside of the squash halves with olive oil (or use melted butter). I also like to season with salt and pepper. This is also a good time to sprinkle on your favorite spice blend.
- Place the squash halves cut-side-down onto a rimmed baking sheet. By baking the spaghetti squash halves cut-side-down, the edges caramelize and brown, which adds flavor. It also lets excess moisture fall away from the squash and onto the baking sheet. If you were to bake the squash halves cut-side-up, the liquid would pool in the middle of the halves.
- Bake until fork tender, but still a little firm. I like the strands to still have a bit of bite to them so we try not to over bake spaghetti squash, which produces a mushy result.
Recipe Shortcut, Use the Microwave
If you’ve looked online, you’ve probably noticed that you can microwave spaghetti squash instead of baking it. This is absolutely true and microwaved squash can definitely be used in place of roasted squash in this recipe.
Whether we microwave or not is dependent on the time we are willing to wait. Baked (or roasted) spaghetti squash is more flavorful in the end. The extra bake time also gets rid of a lot of excess moisture that the microwave doesn’t.
That being said, if you are short on time, the microwave is your friend. For more tips for cooking spaghetti squash (including how to cook it in an Instant Pot or Slow Cooker), here is our ultimate guide.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave
Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and season the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a microwave-safe baking dish. Fill the dish with water so that it is about 1-inch deep. Microwave for 5 minutes, check the squash and continue to microwave for 2 to 5 minutes until the squash is soft and easily pierced with a knife. Allow the squash to cool and then scoop out the flesh with a fork.
The Chicken, Cheese, and Lemon
We reach for chicken thighs for this recipe. Thighs cook just as quickly as chicken breast and are more forgiving when it comes to overcooking them. With that said, there is no reason you couldn’t swap thighs for chicken breast.
After cooking the chicken in some butter and olive oil we squeeze in the juice from half a lemon. This helps up scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. These browned bits have lots of flavor. After that, all we need to do is add the squash, cheese, and lots of fresh parsley.
And that’s it, incredibly delicious spaghetti squash with butter cooked chicken, parmesan cheese, and fresh lemon.
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Parmesan Lemon Baked Spaghetti Squash with Chicken
Spaghetti squash alone can be a bit dull, but it’s amazing what butter seared chicken, parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, and plenty of lemon can do. What used to be boring turns into to something that’s almost impossible to stop eating.
We use chicken thighs, but there’s no reason you couldn’t swap them for chicken breast.
Watch Us Make the Recipe
You Will Need
1 medium spaghetti squash (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for baking the squash
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 lemon, halved
2 ounces grated parmesan, pecorino or a mixture (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves and tender stems, chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Bake Squash
- Cook Chicken
- To Finish
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet (or large baking dish) with parchment paper.
Using a heavy chef’s knife cut squash in half lengthwise — see the notes section for how to do this safely. Remove the seeds and discard. Lightly drizzle the cut side of each squash half with olive oil, and then season with salt and pepper. Place cut-side-down onto the baking sheet and bake 40 to 50 minutes until it is soft and easily pierced with a knife.
About 20 minutes before the squash has finished baking, cook the chicken. Cut the chicken into 1-inch chunks, season with salt then let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and the butter in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter sizzles, add the chicken thighs and cook until nicely browned on one side, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Add the juice of one lemon half and cook for about 30 seconds, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
When the squash is done, flip them so that the cut-side is facing up and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
Run a fork through the flesh to separate the “spaghettilike” strands, and place in the skillet with chicken. Stir in most of the cheese, parsley, and some fresh ground pepper. Serve with more cheese and an extra squeeze of lemon juice on top.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- To safely cut the squash, you will need a heavy chef’s knife, a towel to keep it steady as you cut as well as to protect your hand, and some muscle power. Cut the squash from stem to end, but don’t try to cut through the stem (it’s too tough). When you’ve cut through the squash, just pull each half apart.
- If you are short on time, you can microwave the squash. To do this, cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and season the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a microwave-safe baking dish. Fill the dish with water so that it is about 1-inch deep. Microwave for 5 minutes, check the squash and continue to microwave for 2 to 5 minutes until the squash is soft and easily pierced with a knife. Allow the squash to cool and then scoop out the flesh with a fork.
- How to Roast Spaghetti Squash Seeds: Remove pulp and fibrous threads from seeds. Simmer seeds in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Toss seeds with olive oil and lightly season with salt. Roast in a 325 degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The seeds will not change much in color, but will crunch when done.
- Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values. We omitted salt from the calculations since you will need to add to your tastes.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste
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Sooo disappointed. I followed the recipe exactly, the squash was tender as was the chicken. But wound up with soup. So much liquid off the squash that it diluted the lemon butter flavor. I drained it, added more parmesan and a touch of salt. No flavor, lenon made it vaguely tart. Will not make again. Sorry.
Oh no, we are sorry that you did not enjoy the final outcome. We are not sure why there would have been so much liquid — maybe it needed a bit more time roasting in the oven? If this happens again, you can try simmering the liquid in the skillet to reduce.
Delicious!! Added mushrooms and a tiny clove of garlic and that’s it. Thanks for the recipe!
Wow! Absolutely delicious with just a few key ingredients. The lemon really brings out the flavours. Thank you for sharing a great recipe.
Absolutely delicious! I had some leftover smoked chicken breast so I used that. I added some chopped fresh rosemary and a bit of minced garlic to the chicken. I can see using the basics of this dish and adding different ingredients to make several different varieties of it. I’ve been strict clean keto for 3 years but have never been a fan of spaghetti squash but this fresh tasting recipe has changed that. This is definitely a keeper recipe!
This was amazingly good. I followed the recipe except add sautéed red onion, yellow & red pepper in lemon flavored olive oil. Will definitely make this again. Yum!
This was really good and I followed the recipe exactly.. was tempted to add and change but sometimes i just want to try like the creators instruct and glad I did.. hard to stop eating!! The herbs under the squash was a great idea and added another level subtle flavor.. will definitely do again .. suggest ghee butter
Great recipe. I’m in WW, so I made it with breast tenders to reduce the points (so I didn’t have to skimp on the cheese.). The brightness of the lemon really makes this dish! I also used a lot of pepper. My husband and son were eating meaty and cheesy baked ziti, but I was more than satisfied with my own dinner! Will make this again and again!
I found this last night and decided to make it today. I figured it would be worth the time spent cooking, but I had no idea how worth it it’d be! Lemon and butter are my two favorite flavors. Put tender thighs and cheese with it and you’d think it would be a gut bomb. It isn’t! The spaghetti squash balanced the meal perfectly and I can’t wait to play with add-ons! Thank you so much for posting.
I am going to try this tonight, looks very good
Made it. Was terrific. I added blanched green beans at the end. I had both chicken breast and thighs, probably about 3.5 pounds, two tablespoons of butter, one of olive oil, full lemon, cayenne pepper and chili flakes.Yum!
I’ve got to say this was the nicest, freshest tasting Meal, both my husband and I loved it! We’ve eaten spaghetti squash many times but the Parmesan with the Lemon was the best topping so far! I had about 1 1/2 lb. chicken tenders instead of the thighs so cooking time for them was reduced a bit. This will be an easy go-to dinner any time I’ve picked up a spaghetti squash for sure! Thanks, Joan
Just made this and it was delicious! Will definitely make again
I made this for dinner this evening and it was so delicious!!! The only thing I changed was I swapped parsley out for chopped green onion. I ran out of parsley, though still had green onion. Loved it. Will do this again. Thank you
This showed up in my Google news feed. My first time with a spaghetti squash. Definitely a workout splitting it, but so worth it. I made the recipe as written, with 2 small changes. First was adding 2 cloves of minced garlic as the butter melted. Second was reducing the cheese added before serving. We really enjoyed it and will make it again. Thank you.
Prepared just as described. Excellent!