Skip to main content

Spaghetti squash: Your new favorite low-carb fall vegetable swap

You might have the wrong idea about spaghetti squash — let us help

Spaghetti sqaush in a pile
Nastya Korenkova / Pexels

Named spaghetti squash for its spaghetti-like texture, spaghetti squash is a vegetable that offers tons of health benefits, yet many people often forget about it. As you walk through the grocery store, do you tend to gravitate toward the same vegetables every time?

Veggies such as broccoli or spinach are “go-to” vegetables for many shoppers, especially since they require minimal effort to cook. But don’t shy away from cooking spaghetti squash — a veggie that is simple to cook, that tastes delicious, and is high in nutrients.

Spaghetti squash is a perfect lower-carb substitute for classic noodles or high-carb vegetables, making it an excellent choice to help you shed a few pounds. Perfect for fall and winter dishes, don’t pass by this vegetable on your next grocery run. Below, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about spaghetti squash nutrition and how to incorporate it into your meals.

The inside of a spaghetti squash
Henry perks / Unsplash

About spaghetti squash and its taste

Spaghetti squash is a large oval vegetable that comes in many varieties. Each variety may differ slightly in color, but most have an off-white to orange-tinted color on the outside. The outside of spaghetti squash is thick and hard, however, when cooked, the inside contains lots of “flesh” that closely resembles spaghetti. In addition, the center of the vegetable contains many seeds, which you remove and don’t consume.

In some ways, you can think of this vegetable as similar to pumpkin or zucchini. But don’t get spaghetti squash confused with butternut squash, which contains more of a creamy inside instead of a spaghetti-like texture.

The taste of spaghetti squash is often described as mild, with a slightly nutty, smooth flavor. The mild flavoring of spaghetti squash makes it an excellent, versatile vegetable to use in a variety of dishes and cuisines. When prepared properly, this delicious vegetable can be used as an enjoyable alternative to noodles, great for those on a ketogenic or low-carb diet.

Yellow spaghetti squash
Eric Prouzet / Unsplash

Spaghetti squash nutrition

Although this veggie is often forgotten, spaghetti squash is packed with great nutrients. Spaghetti squash is considered a nutrient-dense food, which means it contains a high amount of nutritional value yet very few calories. Since this veggie is low in calories, low in sugar, and low in fat, it’s one of the most versatile vegetables for people with varying nutritional needs. Plus, it’s a great fall and winter vegetable to incorporate into healthy holiday dishes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

One cup of cooked spaghetti squash contains:

  • 42 calories
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 10 grams of carbs, with 2.2 grams of fiber
  • 2 grams of sugar

One of the reasons that spaghetti squash is so low in calories is because of its water content. About 90% of the vegetable is made up of water, an ideal trait for a low-calorie veggie. Due to the high water content, most recipes recommend salting spaghetti squash after slicing but before cooking. Salt helps draw moisture out of the vegetable, helping ensure your noodles aren’t left soggy or mushy.

Although the carbs in spaghetti squash and calories are low, the veggie contains an amazing amount of vitamins and minerals. Some nutrients found in spaghetti squash include:

  • Vitamin C (6% of DV in 1 cup)
  • Vitamin B6 (9% of DV in 1 cup)
  • Niacin (8% of DV in 1 cup)
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
Orange spaghetti squash
Maria Chyzh / Pexels

Other spaghetti squash benefits

Another great reason to consume spaghetti squash is for its antioxidants, which can help promote overall improved health and assist in the fight against oxidative stress in the body. One antioxidant it contains, known as beta-carotene, is responsible for its orange and yellow hue. When consumed, beta-carotene can help protect our body’s cells from DNA damage. Incorporating foods into your diet that are high in antioxidants, such as spaghetti squash, might even help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease.

The fiber content found in spaghetti squash is also great for promoting a regular GI tract. Each 1-cup serving of spaghetti squash will help you get about 8% of your daily fiber needs. Fiber is not only important for good gastrointestinal health but also helps keep you fuller for longer.

Cooked spaghetti squash
Anjelika Gretskaia / Getty Images

Methods of preparation

One of the most common and effective ways to prepare spaghetti squash is by baking it in the oven. After slicing it length-wise, place each half face down on a standard baking sheet. At this point, you can cook the squash as-is or drizzle it with olive oil before cooking.

After cooking for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, the inside of the squash will become soft. At this point, it’s easy to scrape out the inside “flesh” by using a fork. From here, you can season or flavor the spaghetti squash however your recipe calls for. An alternative to the oven-cooking method is to use an instant pot, which can cook your spaghetti squash fast if you’re in a rush.

Once you get the hang of cooking this veggie, you’ll find so many great spaghetti squash recipes to try. Nearly any dish or meal prepared with noodles can be adjusted to use spaghetti squash instead! There are also a ton of great stuffed spaghetti squash recipes and casserole recipes that incorporate this versatile vegetable. Give all these methods a try to find your favorite.

Emily Caldwell
Emily is a freelance writer with a special focus on health, fitness, lifestyle, food, and nutrition topics. She holds a B.S…
How to grill the steak of your dreams: An aspiring steak master’s guide
Grill up your steak just like a pro with these tips
Sirloin steak on a grill

With summer coming faster than expected, you’re likely firing up that grill every day to cook ribs, grill vegetables, or smoke a brisket. We love them all, but to be frank, nothing beats a perfectly grilled steak. Its succulent, smoky flavor alone is enough to bring your loved ones together for a protein-packed cookout in the backyard. And that makes grilling steak a rewarding culinary experience.

Grill masters have probably mastered the art of grilling. But if you just purchased your first grill or are looking for some beginner-friendly pointers, we’re here to help. We enlisted the expertise of Dusmane Tandia, executive chef at Mastro’s Steakhouse in New York City, for some expert tips on how to grill a restaurant-quality steak. Light up your grill, don your best apron, and read on to learn how to grill a perfect steak.
How to grill the perfect steak

Read more
Grilling safety tips (so the only things roasted are your meat and veggies)
Follow these tips and your outdoor cooking experience will be free of mishaps
Man grilling over large flame

Here we are, right at the beginning of barbecue season, with nowhere to go but outside. In some places, it's definitely summer weather while in others, you're probably just now pulling the cover off for the first or second time, visions of amazing cuts of steak dancing in your head.

If you're going to use your grill a lot, you're also going to clean it regularly, right? And of course, you will periodically check the connections on the gas line for leaks, yes? And you'll always dump the ashes from from your charcoal grill into an all-metal receptacle, correct?

Read more
Our super-easy guide to perfectly smoked vegetables
Yes, you can smoke your veggies. Here's how
Smoked veggie and tofu kabobs

Spring is here, and summer is fast approaching, and that means it is time to grill! Most people are familiar with grilling and the specific flavor that food cooked on a grill picks up. That one-of-a-kind flavor comes from the smoke that the grill puts out, and while many are familiar with how delicious smoked meats are, this is where the familiarity stops. Smoking vegetables sounds like way more work than it’s worth, right? Wrong -- smoked vegetables at home are not that tough, and the smoke imparts flavor on your vegetables that can't be duplicated otherwise.

If you’re a seasoned smoke pit operator, this may not be news to you, but even some meat-smoking aficionados won’t mess with vegetables. Whether you know your way around a smoker or not, keep reading to find out how to smoke vegetables and bring an unexpected flavor to your next cookout.
A bit about smoking

Read more