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Spaghetti Squash Gratin

5 stars based on 6 votes

Spaghetti squash is like a gift from the diet gods. When cooked, it miraculously transforms into low carb, golden, spaghetti-like strands. Here, I’ve tossed it with with marinara sauce, sprinkled it lightly with crispy breadcrumbs and cheese and baked it in the oven until golden brown. It makes a wonderful vegetarian main course — trust me, you’ll feel virtuous eating it — or side dish to Italian sausage or meatballs.

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

First, boil it in a covered pot for about 30 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced with fork.

Spaghetti squash 2

Slice off the ends.

Spaghetti squash 3

Cut in half lengthwise.

Spaghetti squash 4

Remove the seeds.

Spaghetti squash 5

Finally, use a spoon to scoop out flesh (go from side to side to keeps strands intact).

Spaghetti squash 6

That’s all there is to it.

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Servings: 4 as a main course, 8 as a side dish


  • 2 small or 1 large spaghetti squash (4-1/2 - 5 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-3/4 cup jarred marinara sauce, best quality such as Rao's
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend (such as Fontina, Asiago and Parmesan)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Fill a large pot with about 2 inches of water and bring it to a simmer. Place the spaghetti squash in the pot, cover with a lid and simmer, turning once, for 30-40 minutes, or until the squash is tender and easily pierced with a fork. Let cool.
  3. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, being careful not to shred the strands (it is best to go from side to side, rather than lengthwise). Place the strands in large bowl.
  4. Add the extra virgin olive oil, marinara sauce, salt, pepper, and thyme to the bowl and toss gently until squash is well coated with the sauce. Taste and add more salt if necessary (I usually add quite a bit more but season to your own taste). Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over top. Combine the melted butter with the panko and sprinkle evenly over the top of the cheese. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the top is golden. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Information

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  • Serving size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 421
  • Fat: 21 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 52 g
  • Sugar: 22 g
  • Fiber: 11 g
  • Protein: 13 g
  • Sodium: 1350 mg
  • Cholesterol: 39 mg

Reviews & Comments

  • How will this hold up if I assemble it one day and bake & eat it the next? Or will it be better if I assemble & bake one day and reheat the next? Thank You.

    - Kate on October 2, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Kate, I think you could go either way with good results. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on October 3, 2017 Reply
  • Spaghetti squash is difficult to find here in Portugal, could ordinary butternut squash be used instead in this recipe?

    - Amanda Walker on September 26, 2017 Reply
    • Unfortunately, because butternut squash doesn’t form spaghetti-like strands, it won’t work here– sorry!

      - Jenn on September 26, 2017 Reply
  • Does this freeze well?

    - Karen on September 23, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Karen, I’ve never frozen this so I can’t say for sure, but I suspect you could freeze it.

      - Jenn on September 26, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My roommate and I just discovered the joy of squash and have enjoyed the leftovers of this recipe everyday for fantastic lunches!

    - Clara on April 27, 2017 Reply
  • 4 stars

    This was my first experience with spaghetti squash. I’ve been skeptical, but how exciting that it really does work as a delicious pasta substitute! I made this with my homemade tomato sauce with sausage, au gratin per Jen’s recipe. The following week, I used the other half of the squash (which I had frozen) with a white clam-and-shrimp sauce. Also incredible! I think next time I’ll try without cutting the squash in half so that I can get nice, long “noodle” strands. Fabulous.

    - Michelle on January 11, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    OMG!!!! Have tried to make spaghetti squash 2-3 times over the years and have been more than a little disappointed. No more! I just made this recipe, using ingredients I had on had (i.e., no panko bread crumbs, just plain; mozzarella and cheddar, no Italian cheese blend; and I had a meat sauce in the freezer).
    Can I say I’m moaning with delight in every bite!!!! Cannot wait to take leftovers to work and share the love. This recipe is a hit.

    - Denise McGraw on November 13, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Wow wow wow! This was delicious! Very filling and so easy to assemble. Can’t wait to make this one again.

    - Monica on November 10, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Delicious and easy. I was very pleased with myself for serving this dish up. Reheated well for leftovers too.

    - Jason on October 26, 2016 Reply
    • Thanks for sharing the “reheated well for leftovers”! I live alone, and hesitate to make some dishes, because I eat leftovers ALL THE TIME! So glad to know in advance!

      - Doreen Sanders on March 9, 2017 Reply
  • How do you keep the spaghetti squash from getting soggy? I usually roast it or microwave it and when I scoop it out, there’s always so much water in the bowl. Do you drain it repeatedly?

    - adele on January 5, 2016 Reply
    • You can certainly drain it or, if you want to get even more water out, you can squeeze it gently with a clean dish towel.

      - Jenn on January 5, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Love this recipe. Even my picky eater ate this!

    - Tobi on August 27, 2015 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Would you serve this with your glazed chicken meatballs?

    - Mary on August 6, 2015 Reply
    • Absolutely!

      - Jenn on August 7, 2015 Reply
  • 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!

    - Jennifer on January 20, 2013 Reply
    • It holds up beautifully so no worries….you can reheat in oven or microwave. Hope you enjoy it!

      - Jenn on January 20, 2013 Reply
      • Oh good, thank you!

        - Jennifer on January 20, 2013 Reply
        • 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!

          - Jennifer on January 21, 2013 Reply
  • 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!

    - Jodi on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • 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.

    - LaurenS on March 7, 2012 Reply
  • 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!

    - dana on April 15, 2011 Reply
  • 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!

    - Sue Berner on January 9, 2010 Reply
  • 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!

    - Heather on January 7, 2010 Reply
  • Jenn, you are a genius! This dish was amazing and even my kids ate it.

    - Vanessa S. on December 22, 2009 Reply
  • 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!!!

    - Carrie on November 16, 2009 Reply
  • Made this for dinner last night and my whole family loved it. I never made spaghetti squash before but always wanted to try. Thanks!

    - Gail on November 10, 2009 Reply
  • 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)

    - Anonymous on November 7, 2009 Reply
  • Love squash – love cheese/cream — can wait to try this one

    - ilona saari on November 6, 2009 Reply
  • Looks amazing!

    - Lynne on November 6, 2009 Reply
  • 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.

    - Amy Latham on November 6, 2009 Reply
  • 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.


    - MickMil on November 6, 2009 Reply
  • I’ve been obsessed w spaghetti squash lately. That looks great, will have to try it asap. =)

    - Jessie on November 6, 2009 Reply

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