Learn how to break down and bake a whole spaghetti squash in no time with this helpful guide.

By Elizabeth Laseter
September 26, 2018
Elizabeth Laseter

Spaghetti squash is the perfect easy side dish to make when you have a laundry list of other stuff to do—and the last thing you want is to take the time to cook something complicated. Simply toss it in the oven, let it cook, and you can knock out a multitude of other tasks at the same time. Tackle other prep work, read a book, let the dogs out, take a shower...the possibilities are endless.

The characteric noodle shape of baked spaghetti squash makes it the ideal pasta substitute—and it’s a staple for anyone on a gluten-free or low-carb diet. Did I mention that spaghetti squash is also Keto-friendly? Best of all, there are endless uses for a pile of cooked spaghetti squash. Top it with your favorite pesto sauce or spin it into a stunning lasagna dinner. Below, I’ll walk you through an easy method for cooking spaghetti squash in the oven and I'll also give you plenty of easy spaghetti squash recipes to try. 

Step One: Cut the Squash

Elizabeth Laseter

Before you do anything, preheat the oven to 400° F. Next, note the size of your squash—did you buy enough? On average, spaghetti squash weighs between 3 to 5 pounds, and feeds 4 to 8 people. Its thick skin can be difficult to cut through, but if you own a sturdy serrated knife and a sharp chef’s knife you should have no problem. (If not, then here’s a clever little hack that softens the skin of the squash so it’s easier to cut.)

Lie the squash on a cutting board. Using your serrated knife, slice off the tip and the bottom part of the squash and discard (this trick makes it easier to cut). You should be able to stand the squash upright on your cutting board now. Using your (sharp) chef’s knife, carefully cut it in half lengthwise. It should come apart naturally, but you may have to use a little muscle.

Note: Yes—you can just toss the spaghetti squash into the oven whole, but slicing it in half gives you the chance to add seasonings (flavor!) and allows it to caramelize (more flavor!).

Step Two: Remove the Seeds

Elizabeth Laseter

Using a large spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp from the cavity of each squash half. If you want, wash the seeds and roast them like you would pumpkin seeds. You won’t get too many seeds from one squash, but they do make a nutritious snack or they can add nice crunch to salads.

Step Three: Season the Squash

Elizabeth Laseter

Next, place the hollowed out squash halves on a medium sheet pan lined with oven-safe parchment paper. Brush each squash half generously with olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. That’s a tasty, but pretty basic combo—so feel free to jazz it up however you like. Rub it with spices like smoked paprika and curry powder, or sprinkle over fresh herbs like chopped rosemary and thyme. 

Step Four: Bake the Squash

Elizabeth Laseter

Flip each squash half over so that the cut side faces down on the sheet pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes—and go do something else with your newly-found free time. The squash is cooked when the skin feels squishy and you can easily poke through it with a paring knife. Make sure to let it cool for about 10 minutes before digging in.

Step Five: Scrape out the Flesh

Elizabeth Laseter

The easiest way to do this is with a fork, and it's best to wait until the squash is no longer steaming hot. If you’re impatient like me, then you can protect your hands with a towel, but do this at your own risk. Use the fork to gently scrape out the flesh from each half, then place it in a bowl. Discard the scraped-out skins.

Step Six: Add Mix-ins and Toppings

Elizabeth Laseter

Spaghetti squash is the perfect vehicle for a multitude of sauces, seasonings, and more. Be as creative as you like here. Mix in pesto or fresh tomato sauce, use it as a bed for other veggies and proteins, or pile it over toast. Need inspiration? Try these easy recipes.

You don’t have to stop here—there are plenty of other clever ways to spin spaghetti squash into an easy side or main dish. Sneak it into the batter for this delicious Buttermilk Spaghetti Squash Spoonbread or form it into patties for these meatless Spaghetti Squash Fritters.

And there you have it—a foolproof method for easy baked spaghetti squash. Keep in mind, this isn’t the only way you can cook spaghetti squash. You can also make spaghetti squash in an Instant Pot or you can cook spaghetti squash in the microwave (this helpful video shows you exactly how to do it). Leftover spaghetti squash? You can freeze the extras for later—just put them in a freezer-safe plastic bag, label with the date, and toss them in your freezer. Pull it out the morning of, let it thaw, doctor it up, and you'll have a super simple, super versatile side dish just in time for dinner.