If you’re looking for a healthy low carb, gluten-free substitute for pasta, this is it! Spaghetti squash is a simple and versatile swap for spaghetti—and cooking it whole makes it quick and easy. Here’s how to cook it in an Instant Pot in 15 minutes!
What is spaghetti squash?
Spaghetti squash is a winter squash that naturally forms strands like spaghetti when you cook it. It’s pale yellow in color and has a slight sweetness to it that complements savory dishes. I love spaghetti squash with Bolognese sauce or spicy sausage and olives in a fresh tomato sauce, or simply tossed with olive oil and garlic like spaghetti aglio e olio.
Like other winter squash, it will keep for weeks uncooked so you can keep it on the counter until you need it. It has a hard, thick skin that is difficult to cut when it’s raw. That’s why it’s much easier to cook spaghetti squash whole and cut it after it’s cooked.
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Is it keto friendly?
Wondering how many carbs are in spaghetti squash? With about 7 grams total carbs per serving, spaghetti squash is a great low carb, keto-friendly alternative to pasta (traditional spaghetti noodles have over 40 grams of carbs in one cup!). Just be careful of how much you eat if you’re tracking macros to stay under your daily carb budget. I find that I need less spaghetti squash to fill me up so I’m not tempted to overeat it.
Spaghetti squash is also naturally gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, and vegan. So it works as a vegetable substitute for pasta for just about everyone.
Ways to cook it
There are several ways to cook spaghetti squash:
- You can bake whole spaghetti squash without cutting it in half first. It’s simple to do but it will take about an hour to cook.
- You can cut your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Drizzle with olive oil salt and pepper. Bake until soft and edges start to caramelize remove from oven. Separate the strands with a fork and leave them in the shell. Then fill the baked spaghetti squash “boat” with your toppings or sauce of choice.
- You can cut it around the equator into four sections and bake it. Cutting it this way leaves the spaghetti strands longer so it’s even more like traditional pasta.
- You can cut it open and cook it in the microwave.
- You can cook it in a slow cooker either whole or cut open first. Of course, this method takes several hours.
- But the fastest and easiest way to cook it is whole in the Instant Pot (I use this one). You don’t have to cut through the hard squash and it’s faster than roasting or slow cooking. Win-win!
The best way to make it
Instant Pot spaghetti squash is the best way to cook it because it’s so fast and easy it practically cooks its self. You just put the whole spaghetti squash on top of the reck, add a cup of water and turn it on. Pressure cooking it is also great for busy weekdays. You can whip up a quick sauce while the Instant Pot is doing its thing.
Depending on which Instant Pot pressure cooker model you have, you’ll want to make sure your squash fits in the pot comfortably without going above the max fill line. A medium spaghetti squash will fit in the 6-quart models and a large spaghetti squash will fit in the 8-quart.
Once the squash is cooked, let the pressure release naturally vs. using a quick release. Remove the lid and carefully lift the hot squash from the pot onto a cutting board. Once it’s cool enough to handle just cut it in half (either way you prefer) and scoop out the seeds. Then simply separate the strands with a fork and your spaghetti squash is ready for topping and eating!
You can also freeze your cooked spaghetti strands for later. I freeze it in different size glass containers so I can thaw as much as I need for dinner at any time.