How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

By Harper Wayne
Updated on 01. Mar. 2021

Spaghetti squash is the perfect weeknight ingredient. It takes minimal prep and yields a delicious and nutritious meal that's a perfect low-carb, low-calorie spaghetti substitute. It can also be cooked in a variety of ways, from roasting in the oven to cooking in the instant pot. Read up below on how to cook perfect spaghetti squash in the oven, microwave and instant pot.

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If you’re looking to cut down on your carb and calorie intake or just lead a healthier lifestyle in general, spaghetti squash is the perfect ingredient for you. It’s incredibly delicious, with a firm yet tender bite that’s a great dupe for pasta, and packed with powerful nutrition, including vitamin C for the immune system, manganese for connective tissue health, and vitamin B6, which helps support the metabolism and creation of red blood cells. With the right tips, it’s also super easy to make and prepare. 

Spaghetti squash is great alone or served with an array of sauces, which we’ll get into after we list a few different ways to cook this comforting dish. It also keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple days, making it a great meal-prep dish that can be prepared in bulk on Sunday and served different ways throughout the week for a quick, nutritious and wholesome meal. 

There are a few different ways to prepare spaghetti squash, depending on how much time you have and what you want to do with the ingredient. Below, you’ll find instructions on the most popular ways to cook spaghetti squash.

Table of contents

  1. How to Roast Spaghetti Squash in the Oven 
  2. How to Roast Spaghetti Squash in the Oven (Whole)
    1. Preparation
    2. How to Cook
  3. How to Roast Spaghetti Squash in the Oven (Halved)
    1. Preparation
    2. How to Cook
  4. How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in Rings
    1. Preparation
    2. How to Cook
  5. How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave
    1. Preparation
    2. How to Cook
  6. How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in an Instant Pot
    1. Preparation
    2. How to Cook

How to Roast Spaghetti Squash in the Oven 

Spaghetti Squash with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Lime Butter

Whole Spaghetti Squash

Roasting it whole is one of the most popular and probably the easiest ways to cook spaghetti squash. It has a very short prep time, and requires no cutting, which can be an arduous process.  However because the noodles are covered under the squash skin during baking, they tend to come out a lot softer and less crispy than other cooking methods, and with a more mild flavor. As a result, you’ll want to serve them with a sauce that you would with a softer pasta, something has a bit more texture and flavor.


Preparing your spaghetti squash for whole-roasting is super simple. Simply rinse it under warm water, towel-dry and cover it with a little olive oil. Next, you’ll to want to prick around 10 holes around the upper and side areas of the squash, which ventilates the inside during cooking and helps the moisture escape more slowly, resulting in more evenly-cooked and tender noodles. Make sure the holes are evenly-spaced.

How to Cook

Place your spaghetti squash on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast at 400°F for about an hour for a standard-sized spaghetti squash (about 3 lbs.). For a smaller spaghetti squash, aim for 45 minutes, and for larger spaghetti squash, add about 10-15 minutes. Turn the spaghetti squash half-way through cooking.

Your spaghetti squash will be done when it’s fork-tender, or when a knife or fork can easily pierce the skin.

Take your spaghetti squash out of the oven and let cool so it’s easy to cut and handle, around 15-20 minutes. Next, take a large knife and cut your spaghetti squash in half from stem to end. If you want smaller spaghetti strands, you can cut it again crosswise as well.

Remove all the seeds which sit in the middle with a spoon and discard. Next, take a fork and simply scrape the spaghetti strands away from the rind, starting from the inside and working your way out, and fluffing as you go. Place the strands in a bowl and toss with your favorite sauce.

Halved Spaghetti Squash

Roasting in halves is probably the most popular way to cook spaghetti squash. While it requires a bit more prep time than cooking whole, the results are a more al-dente, crispy noodle that holds up to a wider array of sauces and a deeper, nuttier flavor from the open heating source hitting the spaghetti strands. 


Rinse your spaghetti squash under warm water and with a larger paring or cutting knife (4” is ideal) cut it lengthwise, from stem to stem. This can be a bit tough with the squash’s tough outer skin and oblong shape. To make it a little easier, try microwaving your squash for about 5 minutes before cutting, which will make the skin softer. Make sure to score the skin before microwaving.

Using a large spoon, scoop out the seeds in the middle of each piece and discard, working not to scoop out too much of the squash. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper. You can always add more after cooking, so use a consrvative hand here. Feel free to add other ingredients here as well for more flavor during roasting. I like to add some minced garlic and basil or dried spices like paprika or cumin, depending on the recipe. 

How to Cook

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place both halves of your spaghetti squash on the sheet cut side down. Bake at 400°F for about an hour, or until fork-tender.

Take your spaghetti squash out of the oven and let it cool about 10 minutes, until it’s still warm but easy to handle. Using a fork, scrape away the strands from the rind, fluffing as you go. Add salt, pepper and olive oil to taste.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash Rings

Cooking spaghetti squash in rings might not be as common as preparing it whole or in halves, but countless gourmands swear by this time-honored trick. Though cooking spaghetti squash in rings takes a bit more prep time, the resulting strands tend to be more spaghetti-like, firmer and with an al-dente bite all around, as there is more surface-level that is cooking. They’re also longer, making them the perfect option for traditional pasta dishes like spaghetti and meatballs. Another advantage-- cooking spaghetti squash in rings can cut down on the oven cooking time from about 20-30 minutes, making this a good option if you’re pressed for time.


Rinse your squash under warm water, and using a large paring knife, cut off the ends of the spaghetti squash and discard. Starting from the side, cut the squash lengthwise into 1-1.5” rings. To make cutting a little easier, cut a thin slice off the side so that you have a flat surface to prevent the squash from rolling around. This helps keep the squash flat onto the cutting board. Using a spoon, carefully scrape out the seeds in the middle. Pat both sides of each ring dry, then lightly drizzle both sides with olive and season with salt and pepper and any other spices to your taste. Garlic powder, onion powder or paprika are all great additions to add savory flavor.

How to Cook

Place the rings on a parchment-lined baking sheet with at least a .5” of space between them. 

Bake at 400°F for around 35-40 minutes, until the squash is tender and browning slightly underneath. Let cool for 8-10 minutes, then using a fork or your hands, pull the strands away from the peel, gently enough not to rip the long strands in half. Season with a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave

Cooking in the microwave is by and far the easiest way to prepare spaghetti squash. It takes far less time to cook and prep, and so long as you cook it for enough time, yields a delicious if slightly more soft and mild spaghetti, that’s perfect for comforting pasta dishes with high-flavor sauces. All you need is 15 minutes for a delicious, healthy pasta dupe that makes for a perfect and low-stress weekday dinner.


Rinse your spaghetti squash under water and using a knife, make small, .25” cuts all around the spaghetti squash, approximately 8-10. Cooking in the microwave is all about getting the right ventilation so the strands will cook fully and evenly, so make sure your cuts are deep enough they’re piercing the skin, but not so deep they reach the flesh.

How to Cook

Place your spaghetti squash on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on medium-high for approximately 15 minutes, pausing every 5 minutes to rotate the squash until all sides have been on top.

Remove from the microwave and let sit for 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Using a paring knife, cut the squash lengthwise. If you need a stabilizer, simply cut the very bottom of the squash so it sits flat. Remove the seeds with a spoon, and using a fork, gently shred the spaghetti strands away from the rind, fluffing throughout. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in an Instant Pot

Spaghetti Squash Pasta with Asparagus and Pine Nuts

This is a great, fast way to make spaghetti squash without a lot of monitoring on your part. Cooking in the instant pot tends to produce a more soft spaghetti, which has some positives (perfect texture for comforting meals) but drawbacks as well (more difficult-to-extricate seeds). That said, if you’re looking for a super-quick and nutritious dinner or lunch, an instant-pot spaghetti squash can’t be beat. It cuts oven-roasting time in half and takes all the guess work out of other cooking methods, ensuring a well-cooked spaghetti squash every time, as long as you follow the right prep. 

When cooking spaghetti squash in the instant pot, one thing to consider is size. You must make sure your spaghetti squash is small enough to fit in your sized instant pot. The average size spaghetti squash, around 3 pounds, is a good size to aim for for more assistant pots. 


Rinse your squash under warm water, towel-dry and pierce the skin around 10 times, keeping your cut around .5” in length. 

How to Cook

Place your steamer basket in the bottom of your instant pot with 1 cup and add the whole spaghetti squash. Secure your lid, making sure it’s sealed tight. Set time for around 20 minutes on high pressure. Remember that when your timer goes off, make sure to quick-release pressure. Remove squash and let cool, 8-10 minutes. Cut in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds with a spoon. Using a fork, separate the squash strands from the rind, fluffing throughout. Season with some salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

If you’re pressed for time and trying to eat healthy, spaghetti squash should be a staple in your kitchen. Whether you’re roasting it in rings or microwaving it whole, spaghetti squash takes minimal prep and cooking time, yet yields a nutrient-filled and comforting meal that only needs a little pasta sauce to shine. 

Want to know how to cook spaghetti squash another way, or have a suggestion for the next installment of our How To Cooking Basics series? We'd love to hear from you! Shoot us an e-mail at

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