This is a super simple air fryer spaghetti squash recipe that is as delicious as it is healthy. I have also included four additional recipe variations to try (so you have options).
Air fryers have become very popular for their convenience and fast cooking time. I consider myself a pro when it comes to spaghetti squash, however, cooking it in the air fryer? That took some trial and error – which I will discuss in this post.
Follow these directions on how to cook the perfect spaghetti squash using an air fryer, with no mushy strands. As an Italian who is picky about their squash, I did the leg work here to try and figure out the best way to cook spaghetti squash in an air fryer. I was actually shocked at how amazing it turned out!
The Pros and Cons of Using An Air Fryer to Cook Spaghetti Squash
– It’s faster! The air fryer takes about 20 minutes as compared to about 40 minutes in the oven. However, this can vary depending on the size of the squash.
– More al dente squash with a bite to it, which I usually can only get with cutting the squash crosswise and baking it in the oven.
– Minimal cleanup
– If the spaghetti squash is too large, both halves won’t fit in the air fryer at the same time.
– Can’t feed a large family unless you air fry each halve separately. However, I found that cooking two halves separately took about the same amount of time as it would in the oven!
– Air fryer cooking time varies depending on the model.
Tips For Success
It’s very important to understand that size definitely matters when cooking spaghetti squash in an air fryer. If the squash is too big, both halves won’t fit at the same time! Ensure that your squash is about 2 pounds or less – this may mean you have to weigh it at the store, and not rely on a grocery delivery service (like I did at first).
You may want to measure your air fryer basket to figure out the correct length of the squash, but most air fryer baskets will fit both halves of a smaller squash.
If you’re cooking for at least 4 people, opt for a larger spaghetti squash and cook each half separately.
Look for a squash that is yellow in color, as this typically means it’s more ripe – and easier to cut. If you have difficulty cutting it, poke a few holes in the squash and microwave for 3 minutes to soften.
When I typically cook spaghetti squash, I cut it crosswise (it’s usually much more al dente and produces longer noodles). I quickly found out that both halves of my squash would not fit into the air fryer this way, so I ended up buying another squash and cutting it lengthwise.
I was shocked at how al dente the “noodles” were with this air frying technique! If you like your squash with a little less bite to it, I recommend cooking at 25-30 minutes – but check on it a 20 minutes.
Why Choose Spaghetti Squash?
Spaghetti squash is a healthy alternative to pasta. When cooked correctly, it closely resembles al dente spaghetti. It’s low in both calories and carbohydrates – and perfect for a high volume, lower calorie meal.
One cup equals just 40 calories – so eating a huge bowl (or two) provides a large, nutritious meal without all the calories. It’s high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium – which helps to control blood pressure and regulate fluid balance.
Due to its mild taste and flavor, it’s versatile – with many different variations (see my recommendations below). I love it so much, I cook it once a week!
- One small spaghetti squash, about 2 pounds (feeds 2-3 people) or a larger spaghetti squash to cook in batches (feeds 4 people)
- Avocado spray or olive oil
- Garlic Powder
- For the simple sauce: Rao’s vodka pasta sauce, parmesan cheese, 1/2 lb. ground beef, turkey, or Italian sausage
Steps to Cooking Air fryer Spaghetti Squash
1. Preheat the air fryer
Preheat your air fryer according to your specific model. I am using the Cosori Pro Gen II 5.8 quart.
2. Cut the Spaghetti Squash Lengthwise
Although I usually cut my squash crosswise for oven baking, I highly recommend cutting it lengthwise in the air fryer!
Using a sharp knife and cutting board, cut the squash in half. If it is too hard for your knife to puncture, poke a few holes in it and microwave for 3 minutes.
3. Prepare the Squash for the Air Fryer
Once you’ve cut your spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp using a spoon. Spray each half with cooking spray. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Italian seasoning if you like. Use your hand to evenly spread the seasonings.
4. Place the Squash in the Air Fryer for 20 Minutes
Place the squash cut side down in the air fryer at 380 degrees F for 20 minutes. If you like your squash with a little less bite to it, I recommend about 25 minutes.
5. Make the Sauce While Squash is Cooking
While the squash is cooking, brown up some ground beef until no longer pink. Add your favorite pasta sauce (I prefer Rao’s) and cook on low until the squash is finished cooking and resting.
6. Let It Rest
Once the squash is finished cooking, take it out of the air fryer and let it rest cut side facing up for about 5-10 minutes.
7. Assembling the Dish
Once the squash has rested, use a fork to pull the strands away from the outside of the squash towards the middle. You can either scoop the meat sauce into the squash half and eat it that way, or combine it in the pan itself.
Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Other Variations of Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash
Garlic and Oil
If you’re a garlic lover, this version is for you. Mince 4-5 cloves of garlic and cook on low heat with 1/2 cup of olive oil for about 8-10 minutes. The garlic should soften and turn golden. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Add your spaghetti squash to the pan and combine. Top with parmesan cheese. Serve with a side salad and baked chicken!
A healthy twist on an Italian classic. Prepare an alfredo sauce using parmesan cheese, chicken broth, whipped cottage cheese, and garlic. Add diced chicken breast or thighs, and it’s a decadent but nutritious low-carb meal.
Click here for the entire recipe.
Tex Mex Southwestern Inspired
When using spaghetti squash as an ingredient, it doesn’t have to be Italian inspired.
Sauté diced chicken, black beans, onions, and bell peppers with 1/4 cup of water and taco seasoning for 20 minutes. Once spaghetti squash is cooked in the air fryer, add it to the pan. Serve in a bowl topped with shredded cheese and avocado slices. Add hot sauce, salsa, or any other Mexican inspired sauces of your preference.
Creamy Garlic Sauce with Peas
One of my favorite spaghetti squash recipes of all time is this creamy garlic spaghetti squash.
Add onion and ground beef to a hot pan and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Remove from pan and set aside.
Using the same pan, you’ll make a cream sauce with butter, flour, milk, parmesan cheese, and garlic. The addition of peas gives the dish a little more texture and color.
Super Simple Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash
- 1 small spaghetti squash
- 1/2 lb. ground beef or Italian sausage
- 1/2 jar of Rao's vodka sauce, or sauce of your choice
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 habanero pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the air fryer. Using a sharp cutting knife, cut the spaghetti squash lengthwise. If unable to cut, poke a few holes in the squash and microwave for 3-5 minutes.
- Scoop out all the seeds and pulp using a spoon. Spray the inside with olive oil or cooking spray and season with salt and pepper.
- Place each squash half cut side down in the air fryer. Set the air fryer to 380 degrees F for 25 minutes.
- While the squash is cooking, start the super simple meat sauce. Add ground beef to a hot pan on medium heat and cook until no longer pink.Add diced habanero peppers if you like. You can drain the fat, or not. Whatever you prefer (I did get some of it out, but left a little).
- Once the beef is cooked (or almost cooked), add 1/2 the jar of pasta sauce and combine. Cook on low for 5-10 minutes.
- Once the spaghetti squash is done, let it rest on its side for 10 minutes.
- Use a fork to pull the squash strands away from the outer edges towards the middle.
- Add spaghetti squash to the pan. Combine with the sauce. Top with parmesan cheese, and enjoy!
Leftover Spaghetti Squash
If you have any leftover spaghetti squash, it can be stored in the fridge for up to four days. You could also freeze it for up to 3 months!
Like I said earlier, I was SHOCKED at how delicious this turned out. My crosswise, oven cooking days may be over. Even when I cooked the larger squash in batches, the taste, texture and convenience was just as good – if not better.
Hope this recipe will inspire you to enjoy the nutritional benefits of a spaghetti squash meals with the convenience of an air fryer!