How do you cook spaghetti squash so it isn't so watery? My air fryer spaghetti squash recipe is a great way to get squash that comes out perfectly every time. With so many using this winter squash as a low carb pasta alternative, we need to prevent mushy squash strands! Air frying is an excellent cooking technique to get al dente spaghetti squash with no mush.
Hello, friends! Autumn is in full swing, and with it, local winter squashes are back in season. I'm enjoying picking up some of my favorites each week.
My favorite winter squash based on taste is definitely delicata squash. If I have to choose a squash for versatility, my vote goes to the spaghetti squash.
Stuffed squash recipes aside, most recipes for winter squash relegate them to side dish status. Since spaghetti squash works so well as a pasta substitute, we can serve it front and center.
What I am giving you today is a basic air fryer spaghetti squash recipe along with an easy Bolognese sauce. If you don't want to use the Bolognese, I have several other serving suggestions for you below. Once you get the squash in your air fryer oven, you're well on your way to prepping an easy dinner.
Since you're using an air fryer, the rest of the kitchen will be free for whatever else you'd like to prepare. You could roast a chicken in the oven, make a pasta sauce on your stovetop… whatever you wish! Air frying spaghetti squash is a hands-off cooking method, allowing you to focus on the rest of the meal.
Benefits of Making Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash
Why should you make spaghetti squash in the air fryer? Let's talk about some of the (many!) reasons I love this recipe:
- Inexpensive Gluten Free Pasta Alternative: Though I love some of the whole food gluten-free pastas available (hello, Jovial!), they can be pricey. One large spaghetti squash makes enough "pasta" for 2-4 people and will cost much less when purchased in season.
- Increase Your Vegetable Intake: Most Americans are not meeting the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for vegetables. This spaghetti squash helps to increase your veggie intake.
- May Decrease Your Refined Grain Intake: Sometimes when we add something to our meals, another food gets pushed out. Spaghetti squash is often used as a pasta or noodle alternative in place of refined grain pastas. This is a good thing for many Americans since most of us exceed the recommended limits for refined grains.
- Low Cal and Low Carb Food: Are you looking to lose weight or just maintain a healthy weight? Replacing the wheat flour pasta in your meals with cooked spaghetti squash strands will help you create low calorie and low carb meals.
- (Almost) Hands-Off Cooking Method: As I will detail below, this recipe for cooked spaghetti squash is very easy! Split the squash in half, remove the seeds, brush with oil, and air fry. That's all there is to it!
- Great Addition to a Wide Variety of Recipes: Try cooked spaghetti squash in all of your favorite pasta recipes. You may be surprised at how well it works in your favorite noodle dishes!
- The Best Way to Cook Spaghetti Squash: If you want mush-free spaghetti squash strands, this air fryer squash recipe is where it is at. I love how the edges get slightly caramelized as it cooks; it adds even more flavor.
Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash Ingredients
You need very little for the basic air fry spaghetti squash recipe. Here's the roundup:
- Fresh, whole spaghetti squash
- Avocado oil (another oil can be used, but I prefer this flavorless oil for cooking at higher temperatures)
- Salt and pepper
If you'd like to make the easy Bolognese, you'll also need the following:
- Lean ground beef
- Fresh garlic
- Olive oil
- Dried basil
- Large can of crushed tomatoes
- Dried parsley
- Dried oregano
I also like to have a little shaved Parmesan cheese on hand to sprinkle on top when everything is done. Yum!
How to Cut a Spaghetti Squash
Ok, so you bought a spaghetti squash from the supermarket or the farmer's market, and you're ready to cook! If you've never prepared a spaghetti squash before, it might feel a little intimidating. No worries, though, I've got you covered!
First things first, make sure to wash and dry the outside of your spaghetti squash well with cool water. Then dry the squash with some paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Winter squashes are often a bit dirty on the outside, and we don't want the dirt to get inside the squash when we cut it.
Cut the squash lengthwise (i.e., the long way), from the stem to the blossom end. Check out the recipe video below if you would prefer to have visuals of this process.
The inside of the uncooked spaghetti squash will not look stringy- that is normal! Scoop the seeds out of the spaghetti squash halves and set them aside. I like using an ice cream scoop to remove the seeds, but a regular spoon works too.
Don't throw the seeds out! We're not going to use them in this recipe, but they can be roasted for a snack later. I have more on this in the FAQs!
How to Air Fry Spaghetti Squash
Now that your squash halves are cut, you are ready to air fry! Brush each spaghetti squash half with one tablespoon of oil and sprinkle the halves with salt and pepper.
Spaghetti squash halves can be quite large. I was only able to fit one of the halves at a time in my 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven. I had to remove the upper rack from the oven and put the squash on the lower rack to get it to fit.
If you use a smaller spaghetti squash, you may be able to fit both halves on one air fryer tray. Keep in mind that using a smaller squash (or a different air fryer oven) may result in different cooking times. Always keep a close eye on your food the first time you try an air fryer recipe!
Put your oiled squash half (or halves) into your air fryer oven, cut side up. Set the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and air fry your squash for 25 minutes. You can prepare the rest of your meal while the spaghetti squash is cooking.
After the cooking time is up, remove the squash from the air fryer. After the squash has cooled a bit, you can remove the squash strands from the squash skin with a fork. The spaghetti-like strands should scrape out easily when the squash is adequately cooked.
Making Easy Bolognese Sauce
While your spaghetti squash air fries, you can prep a simple Bolognese sauce on the stovetop. My basic Bolognese has been closely adapted from a Food Network recipe. I see no need to make major modifications to this easy, healthy recipe that my family enjoys.
To make the Bolognese, I put the olive oil, onion, garlic, carrot, and celery in a skillet and heat them over medium heat. After the veggies become very soft (not brown), I add the ground beef and let it brown.
I break the beef into crumbles with a spatula as it cooks. Cooking the beef takes around 10 minutes.
Next, I turn the heat down to medium-low and add the canned tomatoes and herbs to the skillet. I let the sauce simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.
Once you've cooked your squash, top it with the Bolognese and a little shaved Parm. Pretty easy, right?
I like that this is a recipe for Bolognese without wine since we rarely have alcohol in the house. If you did want to modify this sauce, you could add ½ cup of liver pate in there, as I did in the Simple Stuffed Pepper Recipe.
If you're looking for ways to increase your preformed vitamin A intake, liver is a super food, and Bolognese sauce is an excellent vehicle for hiding a little liver. My family is extremely sensitive to the strong taste of liver but finds it tolerable when added to a nice Bolognese.
All of that said, I served the Bolognese without the liver this time. Either way, I think this humble dish of air fryer spaghetti squash with meaty Bolognese is lovely comfort food. It's a delightful way to warm up on a chilly autumn evening.
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Using spaghetti squash instead of a flour-based pasta is a super way to create a high volume meal for few calories. Wondering why?
A typical 2-ounce serving size (dry) of flour-based pasta is 180-210 calories. This includes both grain and legume-based pastas. This is actually a very small serving size of pasta; most of us have several servings of pasta in a sitting.
Think about it. When you purchase a standard 16-ounce package of dry pasta, how likely is it that you'll split it into 8 servings? We typically split a one-pound box of pasta into 3-4 servings in my household. That means we're getting 400-500 calories of pasta per serving (or more, in some cases).
In this recipe, we're using one large spaghetti squash for four (rather voluminous) servings. The spaghetti squash plus the small amount of oil used for air frying provides approximately 130 calories per serving. That means I have reduced the calories in my meal by almost 300-400 calories with this simple swap.
Consistently making (relatively) small changes like this in your diet may have a big impact over time. It's an easy way to improve your diet quality if you tend to eat too many refined grains and not enough vegetables.
Plus, you don't have to track anything (macros or calories) to get the benefits of swapping out spaghetti for spaghetti squash. I suspect that this sort of simplicity is part of the appeal of low carb diets for some people. Swapping out grain foods for lower calorie (but high volume) foods may help support weight loss – no math required!
How to Serve Spaghetti Squash
Once you've cooked your air fryer spaghetti squash, it is ready to use in your favorite recipes! Because of the stringy nature of this squash, it works well as a low cal substitute for wheat-based pastas. Here are a few recipes that use flour pasta or zucchini noodles where you could use this spaghetti squash instead:
- Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Noodles and Sauce
- Healthy Halloween Recipes: Poppyseed Butter Noodles
- Carrot Leaves Recipe for Super Yummy Pesto!
Spaghetti squash also works well as a side dish. Try serving it on the side with some shredded Parmesan cheese and a few twists of black pepper.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you eat the entire spaghetti squash?
Aside from the stem, the entire air fried spaghetti squash is technically edible. However, I don't recommend eating the skin of the spaghetti squash because it tends to be tough. (FYI, other squash skins that I DO NOT recommend eating include pumpkin, acorn squash, and large butternut squashes.)
We're only using the fleshy strands of the spaghetti squash in this recipe, but please do not discard the seeds! Spaghetti squash seeds can be roasted in the oven just as you'd roast pumpkin seeds. You essentially get a free bonus snack each time you purchase a fresh spaghetti squash.
Is spaghetti squash a "good carb"?
Spaghetti squash is actually a low carb food. That is why you often see it make an appearance in keto and low carb recipes.
That said, all whole fruits and vegetables do contain at least a small amount of carbs. These carbs can be considered "good carbs," the whole food sources of carbohydrates. They are rich in fiber, potentially beneficial phytonutrients, and essential vitamins and minerals.
I don't like labeling foods as good and bad because some take this sort of dichotomous thinking too far. Unfortunately, it can lead to some disordered thinking about food and eating behaviors.
However, it is definitely true that some food choices that are more health-promoting than others. The carb sources that are not the best choices are typically ultra-processed foods that are high in added sugars and refined grains. No surprises here, but carb-rich foods that have been fried (e.g., fries, chips) are also not so health-promoting.
Things like cookies, muffins, cakes, pies, chips, many breakfast cereals, many breads, etc. don't fall into the "good carb" category by most standards. Whole fruits and vegetables, such as this spaghetti squash, are the "good carbs" that should play the largest role in your diet. Most Americans are getting far, far more calories from the highly refined carb sources than from whole fruits and veggies.
What happens if you overcook spaghetti squash?
With most recipes, spaghetti squash will become watery and mushy if you overcook it. In this air fryer spaghetti squash recipe, the squash will begin to burn and dry out too much if it is overcooked. This difference is due to differences between air frying and traditional baking methods.
Air fryers do an excellent job of drying out the outer surfaces of food. That is why air frying is one of my favorite cooking methods for foods that tend to become mushy.
Remember my Air Fryer Frozen Vegetables recipe? We turned what would otherwise be a soggy frozen veggie side dish into a crisp (almost) roasted perfection!
The cut edges of the spaghetti squash will just begin to caramelize when it is cooked just right. If you keep going, the lightly browned edges will turn black, and you'll have a burnt squash on your hands.
Is an air fryer healthier than a normal deep fryer?
In general, yes, air frying is healthier than normal deep frying. With air frying, you do not submerge foods in added oils as you would to deep fry.
When you air fry, we can either skip the added oil or add a minimal amount to cook the food. In this recipe, I only used 2 tablespoons of avocado oil to cook about 2.5 pounds of squash.
Some foods absorb an extraordinary amount of oil when they are submerged in oil for classic deep-frying. Eggplant is a typical example of a food that is an oil sponge. However, other foods (like spaghetti squash) can absorb a lot of oil too.
If you have a weight loss goal, you may find it helpful to reduce the added oil in your diet. One tablespoon of oil contains about 120 calories. If you are trying to sustain a 1200-1800 calorie/day diet to lose weight, one oily fried dish could quickly put you over your limit.
Using air fryer recipes is one way that may help you to cut back on added oils. Air fryer cooking is also a great way to reduce the fat (and calories) in certain foods that are naturally fatty. For example, in my Pork Belly Air Fryer recipe, a lot of fat drips away from the pork as it air fries.
What are some other recipes that use spaghetti squash?
I love spaghetti squash recipes! Here are a few more recipes that use this versatile winter squash:
- Chickenetti (Low-Carb, Buffalo-Style!)
- Cincinnati Chili Recipe: 5-way, lower carb!
- Air Fryer Sausage and Peppers (serve it over spaghetti squash rather than in a hoagie roll for a lower calorie and lower carb meal!)
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And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash with Easy Bolognese Sauce
- 1 large whole spaghetti squash (approximately 2 lbs, 10 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the easy Bolognese sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes (from a can)
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 tablespoons shaved Parmesan cheese
- 4 tablespoon fresh basil, for garnish
- Rinse your spaghetti squash with cool water and dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
- Cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. I use an ice cream scoop to remove the seeds, but a regular spoon will do. (Set the seeds aside. They can be roasted later just like pumpkin seeds.)
- Brush each squash half with one tablespoon of the avocado oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- If you use a large squash as I am using, you may only be able to fit one half at a time. Remove the upper rack from the oven and put the squash half, cut side up, on the lower rack. Keep in mind that using a smaller squash may result in different cooking times.
- Air fry the squash for 25 minutes at 375°F. Make the Bolognese sauce while the spaghetti squash cooks. (Note: if you need to air fry the squash halves in separate batches, keep in mind the total cooking time to finish all the squash will be 50 minutes.)
- After the cooking time is up, remove the squash from the air fryer. Let the squash cool a bit, then remove the squash strands from the squash skin with a fork. The spaghetti-like strands should scrape out easily when the squash is adequately cooked.
To Make the Easy Bolognese Sauce:
- Put the olive oil, onion, garlic, carrot, and celery in a skillet and heat them over medium heat on the stovetop. After the veggies soften, add the ground beef and let it brown. Break the beef into crumbles with a spatula as it cooks. It will take about 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and add the canned tomatoes and herbs to the skillet. Let the sauce simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.
- To serve: Divide the air fried squash between four bowls. Top each bowl with ¼ of the Bolognese sauce, 1 tablespoon of Parm, and 1 tablespoon of fresh basil. Enjoy!
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Using spaghetti squash instead of a flour-based pasta is a super way to create a high volume meal for few calories. Wondering why? A typical 2-ounce serving size (dry) of flour-based pasta is 180-210 calories. This includes both grain and legume-based pastas. This is actually a very small serving size of pasta; most of us have several servings of pasta in a sitting. Think about it. When you purchase a standard 16-ounce package of dry pasta, how likely is it that you'll split it into 8 servings? We typically split a one-pound box of pasta into 3-4 servings in my household. That means we're getting 400-500 calories of pasta per serving (or more, in some cases). In this recipe, we're using one large spaghetti squash for four (rather voluminous) servings. The spaghetti squash plus the small amount of oil used for air frying provides approximately 130 calories per serving. That means I have reduced the calories in my meal by almost 300-400 calories with this simple swap. Consistently making (relatively) small changes like this in your diet may have a big impact over time. It's an easy way to improve your diet quality if you tend to eat too many refined grains and not enough vegetables. Plus, you don't have to track anything (macros or calories) to get the benefits of swapping out spaghetti for spaghetti squash. I suspect that this sort of simplicity is part of the appeal of low carb diets for some people. Swapping out grain foods for lower calorie (but high volume) foods may help support weight loss – no math required! Nutrition information is for one serving of the recipe.