Reducing carb intake is no easy task, and it's challenging to find healthy alternatives that still taste good. Enter spaghetti squash. Even if carbs aren't your top concern, spaghetti squash is still a lot more naturally nutrient-rich than traditional pasta. Instead of reaching for a box of pasta, use this golden-threaded squash in healthier spaghetti squash and meatballs, in place of pizza crust, or as the foundation of a baked spaghetti squash casserole.
Shaped like a small watermelon and light yellow in color, spaghetti squash is a winter squash that gets its name from its inner flesh, which, once cooked, can be separated into yellow-gold threads that resemble spaghetti noodles.
By the cup (cooked without adding fat), there are 42 calories in spaghetti squash and 10 grams of carbs. Compare that to the 160-190 calories in a cup of pasta (it varies by pasta shape) and 33-37 grams of carbs and it’s clear why it’s a healthier swap. Spaghetti squash also offers vitamin C, vitamin A, dietary fiber, and potassium. If you're new to cooking this winter squash, we have you covered with these easy steps to bake spaghetti squash at home.
Choosing Your Spaghetti Squash
You can generally find spaghetti squash year-round, though its peak season runs October through January. Luckily, uncut spaghetti squash can last up to two months stored in the pantry. When buying spaghetti squash, look for firm squash that feels heavy for its size. Avoid those with soft spots or a green tint, which is a sign of under-ripeness.
Uncut spaghetti squash can last up to two months stored in the pantry.
Prepping Spaghetti Squash
Rinse the squash with cool, clear tap water and scrub with a clean produce brush (like this Vegetable Brush with Natural Bristles, $3.99, Bed Bath & Beyond). Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
To begin cutting your squash, lay it on its side. Using a large, sharp chef's knife (we like this Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-in. Chef's Knife, $44.95, Williams Sonoma), trim the top and bottom to remove the stem. Stand the squash upright, then cut straight down lengthwise through the middle. Once the squash is cut, use a spoon to remove the seeds.
Related: Learn to Grow Your Own Winter Squash
How to Bake Spaghetti Squash in the Oven
The most common way of cooking spaghetti squash is to bake or roast it. Place prepped squash, cut sides down, on a baking sheet (Set of 2 Classic Half Sheet Pans, $36.50, Sur La Table). Bake in a 350°F oven 45 to 50 minutes or until the squash is tender.
A 3-pound spaghetti squash will yield about 8 servings. If that's too many servings, you can refrigerate uncooked squash, wrapped in plastic, for up to four days. If you'd rather freeze the squash, place the squash in a freezer-safe storage bag. Be sure to squeeze out as much air as possible and it'll be tasty out of the freezer for up to eight months.
—Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen
How to Microwave Spaghetti Squash
If you're short on time, microwaving spaghetti squash can get dinner on your table faster. Place your prepped squash half cut-side down in a microwave-safe baking dish (like this Simax Glassware Clear Oval Casserole Dish, Walmart, $30.36) with ¼ cup water. Microwave, covered, on 100% power (high) for about 15 minutes or until tender.
How to Serve Spaghetti Squash
With just a nudge of the fork (or a spoon works, too!), that golden-yellow cooked flesh separates into spaghetti-like strands. Make sure you're holding the squash with a pot holder in one hand so you don't burn yourself while loosening the fibers. Then use a large, sturdy fork or spoon to scrape strands from the squash.
There you have it! Spaghetti squash is here to keep your comfort food cravings satisfied at only a fraction of the calories, plus many nutritional benefits. We like tossing ours with butter and Parmesan for a quick, simple meal, but it can easily be used in place of your favorite pasta along with any sauce.