But you absolutely can microwave spaghetti squash. So if your oven isn’t available or you just prefer the microwave, then it’s a perfectly good way to do it. And it’s just a little bit faster than baking, too.
It’s all actually really easy, and there’s no difficult trick to getting the strands. And you’ll be in for a delicious treat, kind of like pasta but not quite. Mild enough to taste great with all kinds of sauce, but much lighter than pasta so you’ll feel better after eating it.
Here we go!
Preparing the Squash
Before you microwave spaghetti squash, you need to prepare the squash, get it nice and ready for cooking. How you do it is a bit more important for microwaving than it is for baking!
Wash the Squash
First things first. Washing the squash helps remove any bacteria or dirtoff the surface of the squash. Not that you’ll be eating the rind, but when you start cutting it and handling it, you can transfer some stuff from the surface to the fleshy center.
To wash it, just scrub it under lukewarm water. Be sure to dry it carefully afterwards, so that it’s not slippery. A slippery squash can cause some nasty accidents when you try to cut into it!
Cut the Squash or Leave It Whole?
Once your spaghetti squash is nice and clean, you have two options: cut it in half or leave it whole. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages when you microwave spaghetti squash.
- Cutting a spaghetti squash in half is hard work. An uncooked squash is hard – the flesh is hard, and the rind is even harder. You’ll need a big sharp knife, a steady hand, and a good deal of effort. Once it’s cooked, it’s a lot easier to cut, which is why some people prefer to cook it whole.
- Most microwaves will fit a whole squash, but not all will fit two squash halves. If you have a big squash and a small microwave, you might not be able to place the halves side by side and cook them together. It just means you’ll have to cook them in two batches – not a huge deal, but it does take a bit more time and teensy bit effort.
- Microwaving spaghetti squash whole can have unfortunate consequences. That is, the squash might explode. If you’re lucky, the mess will be contained to the microwave and you might even get a few usable chunks from the mess. If you’re not lucky, the door to the microwave will fly open and you’ll have spaghetti squash all over the kitchen. Not so fun!
- Microwaving a whole squash takes a bit longer. If you’re short on time, you may just want to go ahead and cut the squash in half. You’ll save a few minutes cooking time.
- Cutting a hot squash can be tricky, too. It’s not as hard as cutting a raw squash, but if you’re not careful, you can burn yourself. And then you have to scoop out piping hot seeds! Again, it’s not as hard as when it’s raw, but you still need to be careful.
Whether you cut it or leave it whole is up to you. Personally, I think cutting it in half is the way to go. It’s a bit annoying, but I’d rather cut 50 squashes than have a single one explode!
It’s worth noting though, that whether or not the squash will explode seems to depend a lot on your microwave and how powerful it is – the higher the power, the more chance you have of getting squash wallpaper. So if you have a really powerful microwave, cut the squash in half – or cook it on medium or medium high power.
Option 1: Cut the Squash
If you decide to cut the squash before cooking it, you’re in for a little bit of work. But don’t worry, every bit of time you put in now is time you save later – best to get the hard stuff over with!
You can cut the squash lengthwise or crosswise. Cutting it crosswise will give you longer strands, because the strands wrap around the squash instead of going end to end. You’ll also have a better chance of fitting both halves in the microwave. I tend to like the shorter strands because they’re easier to eat, but longer strands do look a bit more elegant, like real spaghetti.
To cut the spaghetti squash, use a big, sharp knife. Try to keep the squash as steady as possible. You can try to go straight through the squash. I’m not all that strong, though, so I just end up cutting halfway through, then turning it around and cutting through the other half.
Once you’ve cut the squash, scoop out the seeds. If they’re stubborn and don’t want to come out, just scrape the flesh crosswise with a spoon – the raw flesh is really hard, so you won’t scoop out any flesh. You’ll just get the seeds.
Option 2: Leave It Whole
If you decide to microwave spaghetti squash whole, you just have one more little preparation step to take care of. Poke the squash 8 to 10 times with a sharp knife or a skewer. It’ll allow some steam to vent out of the squash while it cooks, and will reduce the chance of it exploding in the microwave. And that is a very good thing!
How to Microwave Spaghetti Squash
Compared to preparing it, microwaving spaghetti squash is super easy. Here’s how you do it:
- Place the spaghetti squash in the microwave. If it’s whole, just put it in as is. If you cut it in half, place each half cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish.
- You can put a little bit of water in the dish to keep the squash from drying out. You don’t need much, just 1/8 or 1/4 of an inch or so.
- If you don’t want to add water, cover the squash and dish with a bit of microwave-safe plastic wrap, leaving a vent for steam to escape. This’ll keep in all the steam that the squash itself creates, and prevent it from drying out.
- Microwave the spaghetti squash on high or medium high power 5 minutes at a time, until the squash is done.
- Poke the squash with a sharp knife every 5 minutes. When the knife slides in pretty easily, the squash is done. Don’t overcook it, or your strands will turn to mush!.
- Turn the squash every 5 minutes. It helps the squash cook more evenly, especially if you don’t have an automatic turntable.
- It can take anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes to microwave spaghetti squash. It depends on how powerful your microwave is, how big the squash is, and whether or not you cut it in half.
Once you’ve cooked your first squash, you’ll have a better idea of how long it takes in your microwave. So that next time, it’s even easier to microwave spaghetti squash!
Scooping Out the Strands
Now you know how to microwave spaghetti squash, and you’re almost ready to get those neat spaghetti strands. But not quite ready. Let the squash rest a bit so that it has a chance to cool down. It’ll make getting the strands out a lot less painful!
A whole spaghetti squash should rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Squash halves don’t need to rest quite as long, because they’re more exposed to the cooler air, and so they cool down faster.
And now for the spaghetti strands!
- If you cooked your squash whole, you’ll have to cut it now. Slice it in half lengthwise or crosswise with a big, sharp knife. Then scoop out the seeds.
- Using a plain old dinner fork, scrape the sides of the squash.
- Try scraping lengthwise. It goes against the grain of the strands, and it’s easier to get them out that way. Crosswise works better at the two ends though, where the strands attach to the rind.
- Scoop out the strands and place them in a bowl. You should be able to scoop out most of the flesh, until you just have a tiny little rind left.
And that’s it! Your delicious spaghetti strands are ready. You just need a little sauce or some seasoning, and you’ll have a tasty meal. Or, you can store the spaghetti squash strands. They’ll keep in an airtight container in the fridge for weeks. Or for months in the freezer, although sometimes they’ll just turn to mush after freezing – better for a purée.
That’s all there is to it! Now you know how to microwave spaghetti squash. And as long as you avoid any squash explosion, it’s easy, quick, and delicious!