Ultimate Guide For Cooking Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is simple to cook and can be used 100 different ways. We’re sharing lots of tips for how to cut, cook, and serve spaghetti squash! Below we share how to cook it in the oven, slow cooker, pressure cooker (Instant Pot) or, if you are short on time, in the microwave. Jump to the recipe showing How to Cook Spaghetti Squash or watch our quick video showing you how we do it.

Watch Us Cut and Cook Spaghetti Squash

The Best Way to Cut Spaghetti Squash

Don’t let spaghetti squash’s hard shell scare you! We’ve got the trick to cutting spaghetti squash safely. I’ve outlined the steps we take to cut the squash in half below and you can watch me do it in the video above.

What You’ll Need: You need a heavy chef’s knife, a towel to keep the squash steady as you cut (as well as to protect your hand), and a little bit of muscle power. You’ve got this!

  1. Use the towel to steady the squash. I like putting half of it underneath the squash so it can’t roll around on me. Then the other half sits underneath my hand so I can hold the squash firmly.
  2. Cut the squash from stem to end. Pierce the knife into the middle of the spaghetti squash and cut the squash from stem to end, but don’t try to cut through the stem (it’s way too tough).
  3. Pull the halves apart. Wiggle the knife out out the squash, then pull each half apart. The force of pulling will release one half away from the stem. (Watch us do this in the video — it’s simple.)
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven or Microwave -- How to Cut Spaghetti Squash
Use a dish towel to steady the spaghetti squash when cutting it in half.

If the squash is just too hard to cut through, here’s a trick to soften the shell: Pierce the squash in a few places with a knife or fork and score it where you eventually want to cut. Pop it into the microwave for three to four minutes.

This little bit of time in the microwave helps to soften 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. A few minutes should do it.

Scooping Out The Seeds

When you’ve cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds. If you’re a fan of roasted pumpkin seeds, you can use spaghetti squash seeds to make something very similar. If you take a look in the notes section of the recipe, we’ve shared tips for how to roast them.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven or Microwave -- Scooping Out the Seeds

Note: There is another way to cut spaghetti squash: If you watch the video above, we show you a second way to cut the squash. Instead of making squash boats, we cut it in half crosswise. You can see us do it around the 1:45-mark.

Four Ways To Cook Spaghetti Squash

We’re calling this the ultimate guide for cooking spaghetti squash for a reason 😊 Read on for our tips on baking or roasting spaghetti squash, cooking it in the microwave, using a slow cooker or crockpot, and how to cook spaghetti squash in a pressure cooker (Instant Pot).

All four methods work extremely well, but I will tell you up front that roasting spaghetti squash is my favorite method. I love how the edges get a little caramelized.

Baking Spaghetti Squash in the Oven

To bake spaghetti squash in the oven, follow these easy steps:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 overbake spaghetti squash, which produces a mushy result.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven or Microwave
Baking spaghetti squash in the oven is easy and develops the most flavor.

Here’s one more tip for roasting squash: Sneak a few sprigs of fresh herbs under each squash half before you bake them — rosemary, thyme, sage, and mint are all excellent.

What Is Best Oven Temperature for Baking Spaghetti Squash?

A 375-degree Fahrenheit oven is ideal, but adding or reducing by 25 degrees is fine. So if you have something else in the oven at the same time, there’s no need to worry about changing the oven temperature. Just keep an eye on the squash as it roasts and pull it out when it’s soft, but full a bit firm.

Bake the squash for 40 to 50 minutes (at 375F). Keep in mind that the bake time will vary depending on how small or large your squash is.

Cooking Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave (Quickest Method)

If you are looking to cook spaghetti squash quickly, the microwave is your answer. Microwaved squash can be used in place of roasted squash in most recipes.

Whether we microwave or not is dependent on the time we are willing to wait. Baked 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.

To cook spaghetti squash in the microwave, follow these easy steps:

  1. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and season with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  2. 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.
  3. Microwave for 5 minutes, check the squash and continue to microwave for 2 to 5 minutes until the squash is easily pierced with a fork. Allow the squash to cool, and then scoop out the flesh with a fork.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven or Microwave
A fork makes quick work of turning the baked squash into strands

Using a Slow Cooker or Crockpot

To cook spaghetti squash in a slow cooker, follow these easy steps:

  1. Rinse the spaghetti squash with water and leave whole. There is no need to cut the squash in half for this method.
  2. Use a fork or pairing knife to prick the squash several times to allow steam to escape while it cooks.
  3. Place the lid onto the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 3 or more hours, depending on how large the squash is. Check for doneness and add more time as needed. I’d expect a 3 to 4 pound squash to take 3 to 4 hours. Or cook on LOW for 5 or more hours, depending on size.

Using a Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot

To cook spaghetti squash in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, follow these easy steps:

  1. Slice the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Place a steamer basket or trivet down into the pressure cooker (some models come with one).
  3. Set the cut squash halves on top of the trivet and seal the lid.
  4. Cook on High Pressure for 7 minutes (for a 3 pound squash). The pressure cooker will take some time to get up to pressure, so the cook time will not start for 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. When the cook time is done, release the pressure by pressing the quick release button. When the floating valve at the top of the pressure cooker drops, it is safe to open the lid.

For safety, we recommend that you read the manual that came with your pressure cooker before following our recipe.

Spaghetti Squash Recipes and Serving Ideas

As I mentioned above, we love spaghetti squash around here. It’s a low-carb, low calorie veggie that can be added to so many delicious dishes.

My favorite spaghetti squash recipe is this chicken and spaghetti squash dish (pictured below). In it, we combine spaghetti squash strands with chicken, fresh lemon, and parmesan. It’s incredible!

Parmesan Lemon Baked Spaghetti Squash with Chicken
See the recipe: Spaghetti Squash with Chicken, Lemon and Parmesan

Here are a lots more suggestions for serving spaghetti squash:

Ultimate Guide For Cooking Spaghetti Squash

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

How to cook spaghetti squash four ways: in the oven, microwave, slow cooker, and pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot). For the most flavor, we love roasting the squash, but if you are short on time, use the microwave. This recipe will make four side portions or will generously serve two as a full meal.

Makes 4 servings as a side

You Will Need

1 medium spaghetti squash, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds

1 tablespoon olive oil or melted butter

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Fresh herbs, optional

Directions

  • Prepare Squash
  • Using a heavy chef’s knife cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise — see the notes section or our video for how to do this safely.

    Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Lightly drizzle the cut side of each squash half with olive oil, and then season with salt and pepper.

    • Oven-Baked Spaghetti Squash
    • Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet (or large baking dish) with parchment paper.

      Place the squash cut-side-down onto the baking sheet and bake 40 to 50 minutes until it is soft and easily pierced with a knife. (If you have some, sneak a few sprigs of fresh herbs underneath in the cavity of the squash — rosemary, thyme, sage, and mint are excellent.)

      When the squash is done, flip the halves 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/noodles.

      • Microwaved Spaghetti Squash
      • 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.

        When the squash is done, flip the halves 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/noodles.

        • Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash
        • For this method, do not cut the squash in half and instead leave it whole.

          Place the whole spaghetti squash into a slow cooker. Add the lid and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or on LOW for 5 to 6 hours. Depending on the size of the squash, you may need more cooking time.

          When the squash is done, allow to cool for about 5 minutes, and then cut in half. Run a fork through the flesh to separate the “spaghettilike” strands/noodles.

          • Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Spaghetti Squash
          • Place a steamer basket or trivet into the pressure cooker.

            Place the squash halves down on top of the trivet. Secure the lid. Select the “Pressure Cook” or “Manual” function and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Note that the timer will not start until there is enough pressure inside the pot so the timer may not start for a few minutes.

            When the cook time is up, manually release the pressure by using the quick release button (be careful to keep your hands and face away from the venting steam). When the floating valve at the top of the pressure cooker drops, it is safe to open the lid. (We recommend that you read the manual that came with your pressure cooker since not all models are exactly the same).

            Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, and then run a fork through the flesh to separate the “spaghettilike” strands/noodles.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • To safely cut spaghetti squash, you 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 hard). When you’ve cut through the squash, pull each half apart.
  • 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 database to calculate approximate values. We omitted salt from the calculations since you will need to add to your tastes. We assumed four side portions.

Nutrition Per Serving: Serving Size 1/4 of the squash / Calories 70 / Protein 1 g / Carbohydrate 9 g / Dietary Fiber 2 g / Total Sugars 4 g / Total Fat 4 g / Saturated Fat 1 g / Cholesterol 0 mg
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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29 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Dee April 13, 2018, 8:39 am

    Gonna try making this tonight. Heart healthy eating habits is part of change.

    Reply
  • April Stevens March 31, 2018, 11:37 am

    Thank you for your instructions, they were easy to follow. I absolutely loved how the spaghetti squash turned out. Putting it in the oven really gives the best flavour and keeps the spaghetti dry and easy to separate.

    Reply
  • Ingrid Cordone March 6, 2018, 1:45 pm

    Will make this tonite

    Reply
  • Hilary February 2, 2018, 6:08 pm

    YUM!! Made and served homemade meat sauce over it- so happy the whole family loved it!

    Reply
  • Melvin Baylor January 15, 2018, 4:54 am

    Real good!

    Reply
  • Melvin Baylor January 15, 2018, 4:53 am

    Love it!

    Reply
  • Liza January 7, 2018, 8:02 pm

    Turned out perfect! I baked it!

    Reply
  • Mel B December 31, 2017, 12:02 pm

    Great tips, thanks! Just read on another site that cutting the spaghetti squash cross-wise gives you longer, spaghetti-like strands. Softened the shell with just 2 minutes in a powerful MW; CUT with a large, serrated bread knife. Will bake later per your tips. ☺

    Reply
  • Sissy December 20, 2017, 9:35 pm

    Fantastic. So much flavor-no guilt 👍☺. My new favorite dish. Thank you

    Reply
  • Jean Blanchard December 14, 2017, 7:28 am

    I cook it in microwave, add real butter, and Parmesan cheese ! Love it

    Reply
  • Loyd November 8, 2017, 11:25 am

    We use the spaghetti squash like spaghetti, just pour on your favorite sauce and sprinkle with cheese!

    Reply
  • Chelle November 3, 2017, 6:35 pm

    Lovely post. Wonderful with my homemade marinara.
    Is there a reason for simmering the seeds and not just roasting them?

    Reply
    • Joanne November 14, 2017, 6:35 pm

      Simmering in the salted water helps to season them — like when cooking pasta.

      Reply
  • Marie October 26, 2017, 11:26 am

    I never eaten spaghetti squash before until I was at work smelled this awesome smellI asked her what it wasshe told me spaghetti squash it so I decided to get some your recipe is wonderful thank you

    Reply
  • Mona Thompson October 24, 2017, 12:45 pm

    For long strands of spaghetti squash, cut squash width wise. Cut into rings to bake. Using a fork, gently rake the long spaghetti strands out of the squash.

    Reply
  • Anna October 4, 2017, 8:00 pm

    Just tried the oven method. Came out awesome. Not too crunchy, very tender. I tried spaghetti squash once and hated it because I didn’t cook it right. Decided to give it another shot with this method. Glad I did! I used salt, italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Was more tastier than regular spaghetti. Thanks for sharing this method!

    Reply

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