Spaghetti Squash Gratin

spaghetti squash gratin

Spaghetti squash is a low-carb, low-cal alternative to pasta; when cooked, it miraculously transforms into golden, spaghetti-like strands. My favorite way to prepare it is to toss it with with marinara sauce, sprinkle it lightly with crispy breadcrumbs and cheese and bake it in the oven until golden brown. It’s like a gift from the diet gods.

Spaghetti squash 7a

If you’ve never spaghetti squash, it can be a little intimidating. It’s one of those vegetables you’re not quite sure how to go at. To cut it raw is suicidal, unless you have a giant cleaver or very big muscles. I think it’s easiest to boil it first, then cut it when it’s nice and soft. See my pics below for the step-by-step.

Spaghetti squash 1a

You can serve this as a vegetarian main course – trust me, you’ll feel virtuous eating it – or as a side dish to Italian sausage or meatballs.

Spaghetti squash 9a

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Printable Recipe

Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side


2 small or one large spaghetti squash (about 4 ½ – 5 pounds total)*
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 ¾ cups jarred marinara sauce, best quality (such as Rao’s)
½  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1½ teaspoons fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend, best quality (typically Fontina, Asiago and Parmesan)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Fill a large pot with about 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place spaghetti squash in pot, cover with lid and simmer, turning once, for about 30 -40 minutes, or until squash is tender and easily pierced with a fork. Let cool.

3. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Use a spoon to scoop out flesh, being careful not to shred the strands (it is best to go from side to side, rather than lengthwise). Place strands in large bowl.

4. Add extra virgin olive oil, marinara sauce, one teaspoon salt, pepper, and thyme to bowl and toss gently until squash is well coated with sauce. Taste and add more salt if necessary (I usually add quite a bit more but salt to your own taste). Transfer mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle grated cheese evenly over top. Combine melted butter with panko and sprinkle evenly over top of cheese. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until top is golden. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

*Select spaghetti squash that feel heavy for their size.

How to Prepare Spaghetti Squash

1. Boil in a covered pot for about 30 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced with fork
Spaghetti squash 2

2. Slice off end
Spaghetti squash 3

3.Cut in half lengthwise
Spaghetti squash 4

4. Remove seeds
Spaghetti squash 5

5. Use a spoon to scoop out flesh (go from side to side to keeps strands intact)
Spaghetti squash 6

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  • I’ve been obsessed w spaghetti squash lately. That looks great, will have to try it asap. =)

  • MickMil

    I’m glad to get your reminder about spaghetti squash. It’s a great dish that somehow got dropped from my already sparse repertoire. And the instruction for cutting it will prevent the awful mess I made the first time I made it.


  • Amy Latham

    I recently made this using a lite alfredo sauce, mushrooms and grilled chicken. My husband thought I was a culinary god – he was totally mesmerized.

  • Lynne

    Looks amazing!

  • Love squash – love cheese/cream — can wait to try this one

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  • This was yummy.

    I used freshly grated fontina, asiago and some Parm for the cheese topping, and the panko bread crumbs gave it a nice crunch.

    When I made this (years ago) I baked it, and it came out mushy. With your boiling method, the strands were perfectly separated and held their shape. Love it.

    I served it with meatballs so my meat loving hubby would not be asking “Where’s the beef?” LOL (he loved it btw)

  • Gail

    Made this for dinner last night and my whole family loved it. I never made spaghetti squash before but always wanted to try. Thanks!

  • Carrie

    This recipe was incredible!!! I have never cooked spaghetti squash before and this method was full proof. I truly felt like I was eating spaghetti and knowing I could eat more and more without the guilt, was amazing!!! Thanks for this recipe, you made my day!!!

  • Vanessa S.

    Jenn, you are a genius! This dish was amazing and even my kids ate it.

  • Heather

    I have made this twice already, and last night when I served it my husband exclaimed, “Yay! You made my favorite dish!” My husband cannot eat gluten, and this tastes much better than any rice pasta we have made. I love it also and did not feel guilty indulging in seconds. Instead of the panko, I used Aleia’s brand seasoned GF breadcrumbs – still tasted delicious without the gluten! I prepped the squash earlier in the day – you can boil it and scoop out the spaghetti strands and put them in the refrigerator until you are ready to combine them with the other ingredients and bake. Saves time and effort at dinnertime!

  • Sue Berner

    Never knew how to make a dish with Spaghetti Squash. This was wonderful,Jenn.Ironically, made it the next night right after Heather did. Shared it with all my teacher friends and they loved it also. I sent them your site Thanks!

  • dana

    I have a trick for you…..puncture the spaghetti squash with a knife all over and microwave each one for ten minutes. So much easier than trying to cut them raw…and faster than boiling!

  • LaurenS

    My oldest son always begs me to buy spaghetti squash and I never do because I don’t like it. Next time he asks, I will buy some and try this recipe. This recipe will make us all happy I think.

  • Jodi

    I might have to try this for my kids and see if they notice it isn’t real spaghetti. Great way to limit calories and carbs for me too!

  • Jennifer

    Hey Jennifer! I’ve never made spaghetti squash before but am going to try this recipe! It looks awesome! How well will the squash stand up as leftovers? I’ll be cooking this only for myself so will have 3 portions leftover that I’ll probably use to bring as lunches to work. Will the squash keep its spaghetti shape or will it get mushy? Just curious…thanks!

    • Jenn

      It holds up beautifully so no worries….you can reheat in oven or microwave. Hope you enjoy it!

      • Jennifer

        Oh good, thank you!

        • Jennifer

          Jenn, I made this tonight and it was AWESOME! Instead of using jarred sauce I used homemade turkey bolognese (I wanted some more protein in it). It was my first time cooking with spaghetti squash and it definitely won’t be my last. Thank you for a delicious recipe!

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