If you're looking for a low carb, gluten-free substitute for pasta, this is it! Spaghetti squash is a simple and versatile swap for spaghetti—and cooking it in the Instant Pot makes it quick and easy.
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 compliments 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.
Is spaghetti squash keto?
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 spaghetti squash
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. You don't have to cut through the hard squash and it's faster than roasting or slow cooking. Win-win!
How to cook spaghetti squash in the Instant Pot
Instant Pot spaghetti squash is my favorite way to cook it because it's so easy it practically cooks its self. You just put the 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!