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How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave AND a Spaghetti Squash Recipe with Basil, Garlic and Parmesan Cheese

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Spaghetti squash is a fun and versatile fall and winter vegetable that can be used as an alternative to pasta or as it’s own delicious ingredient, but it can be intimidating and time consuming to cook. Not anymore! Here are my tips on how to cook spaghetti squash in the microwave, as well as a simple recipe to get you started.

Spaghetti Squash with Lemon-Herb Gremolata and Creamy Ricotta

What is Spaghetti Squash?

Spaghetti squash is a member of the winter squash family. It is oval shaped and yellow on the outside. When cooked, the flesh of the squash comes out in strings, like spaghetti, hence it’s name.

It’s recent popularity is, in large part, due to the carb-conscious and low-calorie fads, which encourage people to find alternatives to pasta. While it can be used to serve this purpose quite effectively, I prefer to think of it as it’s own valuable and delicious ingredient.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave

Nutritional Benefits of Spaghetti Squash

While it may not be the nutritional powerhouse that some of it’s vegetable cousins are, spaghetti squash contains a number of important vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, Manganese, Beta Carotene, and Potassium. In addition, spaghetti squash is a good source of fiber, which is important for our digestion and for helping us to feel full.

How to Prepare Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is incredibly simple to prepare. In fact, the hardest thing about making spaghetti squash is trying to cut it when it’s uncooked. Because of it’s very hard outer shell, penetrating it with a knife and then slicing it in half can be a bit tricky, and actually kind of dangerous if you are using a dull knife (check out my tips on what knives you need and how to keep them sharp here).

While there are people who argue that the flavor that you achieve by cutting it in half and then roasting it is superior because you gain some caramelization (if you want to try this method, check out my friends Deanna and Serena’s directions), I believe that when you are first starting out cooking a spaghetti squash, the best approach is to cook it whole and then cut it in half once it is soft.

how to cook spaghetti squash

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

There are multiple ways to cook a spaghetti squash: in the oven, in the slow cooker, in the Instant Pot (or pressure cooker), or in the microwave. I’ll briefly cover the oven, slow cooker, and Instant Pot (pressure cooker) methods, but highly recommend trying the microwave method as it is quick and the results are equally as good as any other approach.

Important Note: No matter which way you try, it is essential that you poke a few holes in the spaghetti squash before you begin to cook it. This will allow steam to escape, so that you avoid any unfortunate squash explosions.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Poke a few holes in the spaghetti squash with a sharp paring knife or skewer and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Cook for 45-60 minutes, flipping once about halfway through the cooking time.

You will know your squash is cooked when it is sort of collapses and feels soft. You can also test for doneness by using a paring knife – if it pricks the flesh of the squash easily, it is ready.

Carefully remove the squash from the oven (it will be hot!) and let it sit for 20 minutes to cool. If you must cut it open before then, hold the squash with an oven mitt and cut carefully as steam will need to escape.

When you are ready to cut it, slice in half (a crosswise cut will give you longer strands, while a lengthwise cut can be easier to scoop out). Then remove the seeds. Use a fork to scrape the strands into a bowl to top with your favorite sauce or just use butter, herbs, and Parmesan cheese to season it.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Slow Cooker

You will need a large slow cooker in order to fit the squash. Poke a few holes in the spaghetti squash with a sharp paring knife or skewer. Place it in slow cooker, along with 1/4 cup of water, and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.

You will know your squash is cooked when it is sort of collapses and feels soft. You can also test for doneness by using a paring knife – if it pricks the flesh of the squash easily, it is ready.

Carefully remove the squash from the slow cooker (it will be hot!) and let it sit for 20 minutes to cool. If you must cut it open before then, hold the squash with an oven mitt and cut carefully as steam will need to escape.

When you are ready to cut it, slice in half (a crosswise cut will give you longer strands, while a lengthwise cut can be easier to scoop out). Then remove the seeds. Use a fork to scrape the strands into a bowl to top with your favorite sauce or just use butter, herbs, and Parmesan cheese to season it.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Instant Pot (or Pressure Cooker)

You will likely need to use a smaller (2-3 lbs.) spaghetti squash here in order to allow it to fit in your pressure cooker or Instant Pot.

Place 1 cup of water in the bottom of you pressure cooker or Instant Pot.

Poke a few holes in the spaghetti squash with a sharp paring knife or skewer. Place the it on a pressure cooker trivet.

Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes and then allow the pressure to decrease naturally for 10 minutes.

You will know your squash is cooked when it is sort of collapses and feels soft. You can also test for doneness by using a paring knife – if it pricks the flesh of the squash easily, it is ready.

Carefully remove the squash from the pressure cooker (it will be hot!) and let it sit for 20 minutes to cool. If you must cut it open before then, hold the squash with an oven mitt and cut carefully as steam will need to escape.

When you are ready to cut it, slice in half (a crosswise cut will give you longer strands, while a lengthwise cut can be easier to scoop out). Then remove the seeds. Use a fork to scrape the strands into a bowl to top with your favorite sauce or just use butter, herbs, and Parmesan cheese to season it.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave

poke holes in spaghetti squash

Poke a few holes in the spaghetti squash with a sharp paring knife or skewer and place it on a microwave safe dish.

Microwave for 10-20 minutes. Start with 10 minutes, check your squash, and then continue microwaving in 5 minute increments until your squash is done.

poking spaghetti squash

You will know your squash is cooked when it is sort of collapses and feels sort of soft. You can also test for doneness by using a paring knife – if it pricks the flesh of the squash easily, it is ready.

Carefully remove the squash from the microwave (it will be hot!) and let it sit for 20 minutes to cool. If you must cut it open before then, hold the squash with an oven mitt and cut carefully as steam will need to escape.

halved spaghetti squash

When you are ready to cut it, slice in half (a crosswise cut will give you longer strands, while a lengthwise cut can be easier to scoop out).

remove spaghetti squash seeds

Then remove the seeds.

making spaghetti squash strands

Use a fork to scrape the strands into a bowl to top with your favorite sauce or just use butter, herbs, and Parmesan cheese to season it.

Watch the video

Here’s the recipe:

Basil Garlic Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan Cheese

Basil-Garlic Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan Cheese

Jessica Braider
Spaghetti squash can serve as a lighter and healthier option than flour-based pasta, but cutting a spaghetti squash in half can be quite intimidating, until you learn the trick shared in this recipe! The combination of the simple preparation and fantastic flavors in this dish make it a perfect weeknight meal. Some kids prefer it with tomato sauce spooned on top of it to make it taste more familiar, so be sure to have a bowl available.
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lbs. spaghetti squash 1 large or 2 small squashes
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot or use 1/2 onion, finely diced, use 2 cloves
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic about 2 cloves
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup red pasta sauce optional

Instructions
 

  • Pierce the squash several times with a metal skewer or the tip of a sharp knife. Put it on a microwave-safe dish, cover it with a damp cloth towel, and cook it for 15 – 20 minutes on full power in the microwave, rotating and checking it after 10 minutes and then every 5 minutes, until it collapses or you can easily press in the skin with your thumb. (Alternatively, bake the squash whole at 400 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes or put it in the slow cooker with a cup of water for 8 – 10 hours).
  • Wearing oven mitts, halve the squash lengthwise, remove the seeds from the middle, and scrape the flesh into a serving bowl, using a fork to separate the strands.
  • While the squash is cooking, heat a medium skillet over medium heat, add the oil, and when it is hot, add the shallots and cook them for about 2 minutes or until tender and are just starting to brown.
  • Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until it is fragrant, and pour the mixture over the squash.
  • Top it with the basil and cheese and stir gently to combine. Season it with salt and pepper at the table, and serve it with additional cheese and/or pasta sauce, if desired.

Notes

Do Ahead or Delegate: Dice the shallot, peel the garlic, chop the basil, and grate the Parmesan cheese, if necessary.
Tip for roasting the seeds: Like pumpkin seeds, roasted seeds from winter squash make a healthy snack. When you remove the seeds from the squash, remove the pulp and place the seeds on a single layer on a baking sheet. Season them with salt and pepper (or seasonings of your choice) to taste. Lightly bake them for 15 – 20 minutes at 170 degrees or the lowest temperature your oven will go. Roasting them for a short time at a low temperature helps to minimize the damage to their healthy oils.
Scramble Flavor Booster: Add 1 – 2 Tbsp. sliced kalamata olives or capers with the basil and cheese
Video: Watch Jessica make this on Facebook Live!
Nutritional Information per Serving (% based upon Daily Values):
Calories 217, Total Fat 10.5g, 16.5%, Saturated Fat 2.5g, 12%, Cholesterol 5.5mg, 2%, Sodium 162.5mg, 7%, Carbohydrate 29g, 9.5%, Dietary Fiber 6.5g, 26.5%, Sugar 14.5g, Protein 5.5g
Like this recipe? Check out The Scramble’s family-friendly meal plans to see just how simple getting dinner on the table can be!
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