Trying to incorporate more veggies in your menu? Gluten free? Cutting carbs? Here’s how to cook spaghetti squash in the Instant Pot, slow cooker, or even in the conventional oven. This easy veggie is going to be your new best friend!
Spaghetti squash is a winter squash, much like pumpkin or acorn squash. The thing that sets this variety apart is its flesh, which — once cooked — pulls out of the shell in noodle-like strands. Cooked spaghetti squash has an al dente feel to it, as it holds onto a bit of its crunch after it’s cooked.
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Spaghetti squash is a new one for me — I only tried it for the first time a few years ago. It’s something that’s available here locally, and I picked one up at the farmers market. Turns out? It’s a winner! For those of us who are avoiding wheat or gluten, this vegetable makes for a great pasta substitute. Love zoodles? This squash gives you low-carb veggie noodles without all the work of spiralizing.
You’ll start to see it in markets when it ripens in the fall. Don’t hesitate to pick up a few — spaghetti squash stores well. A whole squash will last at room temperature for months. (And hey — isn’t this enough to convince you to try to grow it??)
How to cook spaghetti squash
If you have an Instant Pot, it’s your ticket to a fast meal. This spaghetti squash only takes seven minutes to cook once your Instant Pot reaches pressure (about 10 minutes or so). Or you can prepare this vegetable in your slow cooker or conventional oven.
With the exception of the conventional oven method, you can opt to cook spaghetti squash whole or halved. Like fresh pumpkin, spaghetti squash has seeds. I find that it’s easiest to leave the seeds in during cooking; it’s easy to scoop them out once they’re cooked and soft. If you prefer to remove them prior to cooking (maybe you want to save the seeds for planting?) try using an ice cream scoop.
Preparing to cook
Whether you cook the squash whole or halved, be sure to wash the outer the skin first.
Cutting a whole spaghetti squash takes a bit of brut force. A sturdy, sharp knife is a must. Place the squash on a cutting board and use the knife to cut a thin slice on one side. This creates a flat surface that you can set down on the cutting board, preventing the need to chop through an entire wobbly squash. With the squash sitting on that flat slice, place the blade of the knife against the skin. Using your hand at the center of the blade, push the knife into the squash. (Be careful that your hand isn’t too close to the point of the blade; you don’t want to slip and slice yourself!) Use the handle to rock the knife back and forth until you cut all the way through the squash.
To cook spaghetti squash whole, all you need to do is pierce the skin in several places, then follow the instructions below based on the method of cooking you choose.
Scooping the squash
When cooked, the skin of the spaghetti squash becomes hard and brittle; the inside is soft. If you’ve cooked the squash whole, first use a spoon or ice cream scoop to scoop out the seeds. (My chickens love to eat these cooked seeds!) Then use a fork to scrape out the veggie “noodles,” separating them into strands.
How to cook a whole spaghetti squash in the Instant Pot
Follow the instructions below for cooking a whole spaghetti squash in your electric pressure cooker. You’ll just need to increase the cooking time to 15 minutes. Instead of cutting it in half, wash the squash and pierce it with a knife in several places before placing it in the Instant Pot. (Truly one of the easiest Instant Pot recipes you’ve come across, right??)
How to cook spaghetti squash in a slow cooker
Here again, you can cook this squash whole. Wash the outside of the squash and pierce it in several places with a knife. Place the squash in the slow cooker, add a cup of water, and set the lid in place. Cook whole spaghetti squash on high for 3 to 4 hours, or on low for 6 to 8 hours.
How to cook spaghetti squash in a conventional oven
Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Place spaghetti squash halves on a baking sheet.
- Setting them cut-side down helps retain some moisture in the squash and is ideal if you’re planning to use the squash as a pasta substitute.
- For roasted spaghetti squash, with some crispy browned bits to enjoy, place the squash cut side up on the baking sheet, and brush on some olive oil.
Cook spaghetti squash halves in a 350º oven for about 40 minutes, until a knife can easily slide into the flesh.
How to use these veggie “noodles”
Cooked spaghetti squash “noodles” can be used to replace pasta in all of your favorite dishes. Top it with butter and herbs and serve it as a side dish, spoon on Grandma’s Alfredo sauce, or use it as the main ingredient in a “pasta” salad. You can also serve your spaghetti squash right in the shell. Use a fork to loosen the strands, then top top with your favorite Italian meat sauce and a bit of parmesan cheese.
Roasting spaghetti squash seeds
If you like salty little snacks and getting the most out of your grocery bill, consider making roasted spaghetti squash seeds. Made just like roasted pumpkin seeds, when roasted, these seeds are tender and flavorful. To do this, you’ll need to remove the seeds prior to cooking the squash. Scoop the seeds into a bowl, then use your hands to separate them from the stringy flesh. Rinse the seeds in cold water and rub them to remove any remaining pulp. Drain on a towel, then place seeds on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Stir seeds around until they’re coated, then spread evenly on the baking sheet. Place into a 350º F oven and bake until they’re browned, about 20-30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes or so.
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Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash makes a great low-carb substitute for pasta. Making it in the Instant Pot is a snap!
- 1 spaghetti squash
Cut spaghetti squash in half. Remove the seeds now or cook the squash with the seeds in. (I find it easier to scoop the seeds out once it's cooked.)
Set a wire trivet in the base of the Instant Pot insert; add 1" of water. Place squash on trivet. (If the halves don't fit into your Instant Pot, cut them again making quarters.
Set lid in place, close vent, and set the cook time to 7 minutes on manual.
When the timer goes off, use a quick release to allow steam to vent. To do this, use tongs to move the valve into the "venting" position. Once pressure is released, remove the lid and carefully lift the spaghetti squash out onto a plate. Allow to cool.
If you left the seeds in for cooking, use a spoon to remove those, then use a fork to separate the cooked strands of spaghetti squash from the pot.
To cook a spaghetti squash whole, increase the cooking time to 15 minutes and pierce the spaghetti squash in several places rather than cutting it in half.
To cook a spaghetti squash in a conventional oven, cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove seeds. Place cut sides down on a baking sheet. Cook in a 350º oven for about 40 minutes, until a knife can easily slide into the flesh