Spaghetti Squash as a Substitute Spaghetti

There’s a huge craze right now, that I suppose has been a craze for a while, that uses spaghetti squash as a substitute for spaghetti. Having grown up in a household that had some form of “pasta”, be it macaroni or spaghetti, almost four times a week, it’s hard for me to imagine eating spaghetti and feeling like it’s been a fulfilling dish of spaghetti. However, I wouldn’t say no to a dish of spaghetti squash along side a protein.

small white bowl of spaghetti squash wtih fork on side and large bowl behind

I remember growing up, my mom used to ask me and my siblings, “Do you want spaghetti or macaroni tonight?” Once we decided on one or the other, we would rush to the pantry cabinet a choose specifically which kind of pasta we wanted. If it was “macaroni,” we would choose between ziti, penne, rigatoni, bowties, etc. If it was “spaghetti,” well then we would just grab a box of spaghetti.

There were many times my mom would make chicken or fish for dinner, instead of macaroni. In this case, she always had a vegetable to accompany. I know that there were times that she made spaghetti squash, and I always enjoyed it.

Spaghetti Squash, the imposter Spaghetti

As there has been a more conscious effort to eat healthy, there have been a lot of ideas thrown around for what we can eat to replace complex carbs. I’ve tried “zoodles” a few times, but I’ll admit that they’re not my favorite (and I always overcook them). I’ve seen quite a few recipes where you use one whole half of a spaghetti squash, and essentially pour sauce and grated cheese over it. Voila! You have successfully created a bowl of substitute spaghetti!

Unfortunately, I just haven’t been able to subscribe to the idea of spaghetti squash replacing spaghetti. To me, the texture is all wrong, and I haven’t been able to convince myself that I’m actually eating pasta.

Spaghetti Squash, the side dish

Growing up, we did have spaghetti squash. It was never as a substitute for spaghetti, but just as a side dish. More often than not, my mom would cut the quash in half the long way, put it in a corningware with some water, and cook it in the microwave. Once it was cooked, she would peel the strands away from the skin and scoop it into a bowl with some oil, salt, and pepper. Easy peasy, and usually delicious.

Roasted spaghetti squash on foil with beige potholder

I made some recently, a recipe that I took from a Skinnytaste cookbook – Calco e Pepe Spaghetti Squash. Essentially, it is roasted squash with grated cheese and pepper. And it’s delicious.

large bowl of spaghetti squash with fork

Substitute Spaghetti – it just doesn’t work for me.

At the end of the day, I just can’t get on the bandwagon of eating spaghetti squash in lieu of pasta. Maybe I just haven’t found the right recipe yet. But I have found a recipe for a spaghetti squash side dish that is just delicious. The carbs aren’t complex carbs, and there’s protein from the cheese. It’s a great side dish to go along with whatever protein you’ve chosen for lunch or dinner!

small white bowl of spaghetti squash wtih fork on side and large bowl behind

Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash has recently become a substitute for Spaghetti. While this Spaghetti Squash could definitely be eaten as a meal (There is such a thing as Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti), I love it as a side dish to protein.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Servings 5
Calories 185 kcal


  • 1 Spaghetti Squash (ab 3¾-3 lbs)
  • 1 ½ Tbsp Olive Oil
  • ½ cup Romano Cheese grated
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Kosher Salt as needed


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Cut the squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and yellow strands. Season the flesh with salt and pepper. Place the squash cut-side down on the foil lined pan.
  • Bake until you can easily pierce the outside flesh with a fork (about an hour). Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
  • Using a fork, scrape the squash out of the flesh into a bowl (it will look like spaghetti!). Add the olive oil, grated cheese, and pepper. Toss well, and eat immediately.


Recipe adapted from SkinnyTaste
Nutrition is calculated as a somewhat large side dish – but it can be eaten as a main meal.
Nutrition Facts:  Servings 5.0 * calories 185 * Total Fat 12 g * Saturated Fat 1 g * Monounsaturated Fat 3 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 0 mg * Sodium 5 mg * Potassium 228 mg * Total Carbohydrate 13 g * Dietary Fiber 3 g * Sugars 5 g * Protein 8 g
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.*
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I am not a doctor or a dietitian.  The information I provide is based on my personal experience.  Any recommendations I may make about nutrition, supplements, lifestyle, or fitness, or information provided to you on this website should be discussed between you and your doctor.  The information on this site does not take the place of professional medical advice.

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